Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 15th Feb 2012 11:03 UTC
Windows Raymond Chen's The Old New Thing - one of the best Windows blogs on the web - has a very interesting item up about a certain bit of behaviour in Windows 95 I was unaware of. Basically, there's a neat little trick where you can close and move the Start button. It wasn't a feature, but a bug.
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The Old New Thing
by vaette on Wed 15th Feb 2012 11:48 UTC
vaette
Member since:
2008-08-09

The Old New Thing is an excellent blog all around, very interesting if you want to learn a bit about how the win32 wing of Microsoft thinks and deals with technical problems. Most notably it is highly informative to hear Raymond talk about compatibility and support. You can argue that Microsoft is doing the wrong thing by supporting every crappy old piece of software by adding more hacks and shims to Windows, but it is also certainly a real boon for a lot of real users.

Reply Score: 5

RE: The Old New Thing
by bouhko on Wed 15th Feb 2012 12:00 UTC in reply to "The Old New Thing"
bouhko Member since:
2010-06-24

And Raymond has an impressive knowledge of various areas of Windows.
I'm really not a windows user, been using Linux only for 10+ year, but I enjoy reading the old new thing.

It's really interesting and most of the time and as a programmer myself I often think "mmh, might have created this bug".

Edited 2012-02-15 12:01 UTC

Reply Score: 2

Hehe
by Glynser on Wed 15th Feb 2012 12:15 UTC
Glynser
Member since:
2007-11-29

I knew that "feature" back then ;) I read about it in a german computer magazine and found it quite funny too and was a bit sad when I realized that they fixed it in Win98 ;)

Reply Score: 2

For retro
by fran on Wed 15th Feb 2012 12:32 UTC
fran
Member since:
2010-08-06

It was really a feature so that you could shift between Windows 95's Metro, I mean Retro touch interface and voice activation.

Reply Score: 5

Alt-spacebar
by Lennie on Wed 15th Feb 2012 12:33 UTC
Lennie
Member since:
2007-09-22

I think it also worked with alt-spacebar, because I've done it and I've never used the alt-minus for it.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Alt-spacebar
by thurston on Wed 15th Feb 2012 15:12 UTC in reply to "Alt-spacebar"
thurston Member since:
2005-09-28

That's what I remember too.
I did phone support during the first xmas after Windows 95 launched. It seemed like every other call we received was due to that damn missing start button.

Reply Score: 2

Oh man!
by Drunkula on Wed 15th Feb 2012 14:25 UTC
Drunkula
Member since:
2009-09-03

I may have to install Win95 into a VM just so I can do this myself. ;-)

Reply Score: 1

That's how they did that!
by Bill Shooter of Bul on Wed 15th Feb 2012 14:39 UTC
Bill Shooter of Bul
Member since:
2006-07-14

I used to teach a basic computing class with a group of underprivileged kids who had never used a computer before. They did this every now and then to me. As well as changing the default template on word, and figuring out how to hide all of the menu. I'm maybe 50% sure they were just button mashing to figure stuff out. I don't think they read the MSDN article.

Reply Score: 2

RE: That's how they did that!
by lucas_maximus on Wed 15th Feb 2012 17:59 UTC in reply to "That's how they did that!"
lucas_maximus Member since:
2009-08-18

Kids always figure out how to do stuff on the computer that you can't ... My brother is a welder and says "You didn't know about this feature with Windows".

Mainly because I still use Windows with the Win 2K mindset.

Edited 2012-02-15 18:00 UTC

Reply Score: 2

Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

I was never 100% sure if they knew what they were doing and being jerks, or legitimately screwing themselves over.

Reply Score: 2

lucas_maximus Member since:
2009-08-18

Never underestimate kids ...

Reply Score: 2

Speaking of old pranks
by MechaShiva on Wed 15th Feb 2012 15:42 UTC
MechaShiva
Member since:
2005-07-06

Many, many moons ago, I used to work at a CompUSA and one of the more amusing pranks I learned was taking a screen shot of the desktop, setting it as the back ground, deleting the icons and finally hiding the start menu. For such a simple trick, I've had great success with it. Especially on the demo machines at said CompUSA.

Needless to say, I wasn't a very good salesman.

Reply Score: 4

Comment by Laurence
by Laurence on Wed 15th Feb 2012 15:49 UTC
Laurence
Member since:
2007-03-26

IIRC [alt]+[space] did the same when the start button was highlighted (I'm sure I managed that back when I ran Win95).

You could have all sorts of fun with the start button / task bar though. I remember writing a breakout game where the start button was the paddle. The code itself was very simple as it was basic Win32 APIs. As messy as those APIs were, they're lack of basic security made it great fun to write all sorts of weird hacks hehehe.

In fact, going back to the topic of MDIs (as the article referenced in relation to the WS_SYSMENU style), I wrote a basic program that would work as a winword 95 / 97 plug in (winword being an MDI back then) that would dump iexplore into winword so it would behave exactly like any other word document. This was done purely to get away with surfing the net in college as it was easier to hide your browser session behind a word document that it was to close/reopen it every time a lecturer walked past. IIRC that was just one API call (something like SetHwndParent?), but that was /years/ ago now and I've since left Windows development for Linux and Unix.

</nostalgia>

Reply Score: 4

haha... this was the best trick!
by Fusion on Wed 15th Feb 2012 16:39 UTC
Fusion
Member since:
2005-07-18

haha! This was my favorite prank as a stupid teenager. While the salesperson was busy buttering up their customer, I would sneak over to each computer on display and close the start menu. I loved watching the salesperson fumble from PC to PC, turning red from embarrassment, as they experienced "technical difficulties." For some reason, it never dawned on them to reboot the PC---maybe since the start menu was the main pathway to the shutdown function. =)~

Reply Score: 1

Wrong key combo??
by looncraz on Wed 15th Feb 2012 17:17 UTC
looncraz
Member since:
2005-07-24

I do not think "[Alt] + [-]" was the combo.. it was [Alt] + [Space]... and still is ( though not for the button ;-) ).

Reply Score: 2

Comment by shmerl
by shmerl on Wed 15th Feb 2012 17:20 UTC
shmerl
Member since:
2010-06-08

Talking about Windows 95: http://fsinfo.noone.org/~abe/Windoof/win95.c

Reply Score: 2

Depends on your perspective
by edvim on Wed 15th Feb 2012 17:48 UTC
edvim
Member since:
2010-03-12

>> ...I spent most of my time trying to circumvent the various administrator-imposed limitations to Windows.

I find it a little odd you appear to take pride in your ability to 'vandalize' your school's computers -- I'm sure that made things more difficult for your teachers as they had to work around your handiwork and the lost time was just as detrimental to your fellow students who didn't have access to computers that were down for unnecessary maintenance. Just sayin'.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Depends on your perspective
by lucas_maximus on Wed 15th Feb 2012 18:02 UTC in reply to "Depends on your perspective"
lucas_maximus Member since:
2009-08-18

It is standard among geeks. Once I am on a PC, I will control it. But then I am one of the few guys that runs everything as Admin even on *nix.

In other words it is fun to be a dick at the expense of others.

Edited 2012-02-15 18:09 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE: Depends on your perspective
by Thom_Holwerda on Wed 15th Feb 2012 18:08 UTC in reply to "Depends on your perspective"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

Who said anything about vandalism?

Reply Score: 1

RE: Depends on your perspective
by shmerl on Wed 15th Feb 2012 18:52 UTC in reply to "Depends on your perspective"
shmerl Member since:
2010-06-08

Vandalizing would have been making a program for burning old monitors with writing some random garbage to certain HW ports. It literally destroyed some old CRTs.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Depends on your perspective
by Morgan on Wed 15th Feb 2012 21:31 UTC in reply to "Depends on your perspective"
Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

"You've led a trite and meaningless life."

As others have said, it's not vandalism, it's having fun with your fellow students and your teachers. I don't know what college you may have gone to, but my brother and I used to prank our SQL/400 teacher all the time and he loved it! He would get us too of course, since his knowledge of AS/400 systems was vast and nearly infinite compared to ours. We were on Windows 2000 for the web development and Java classes at that time so no Start button shenanigans, but we did pull off the desktop screenshot prank on the entire Java lab one quarter. Fun times!

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Depends on your perspective
by edvim on Sat 18th Feb 2012 06:22 UTC in reply to "RE: Depends on your perspective"
edvim Member since:
2010-03-12

I was a tech support contractor at an inner city public school for several years. The central administration has to take extreme measures for content filtering and in the classroom computers I had to use the group policy editor on a master install image to lock down the systems so tightly they were barely usable. The teachers complained but understood the reasons why the kids' computer and online access was so crappy and restricted -- it only takes one or two kids who think their own needs are more important to wreck it for everybody. So yeah, I'm trite and meaningless to you but I at least grew up respecting others.

Reply Score: 2

Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

It was a quote from Office Space that popped into my head, not a personal attack. As for "growing up respecting others", one screenshot prank that everyone laughed at and several good-natured bouts with a teacher who not only approved but strove to one-up us all the time means I lack respect for others? Sorry, but that was a disrespectful thing for you to assume about me. Look to thine own self, my friend.

I have a feeling you are not a fun person to hang out with. You may want to consider that life isn't black and white; there are infinite shades of grey and you don't have to be Mr. Serious all the time. Color outside the lines once in a while, you might be surprised how much fun life can be if you actually live! ;)

Reply Score: 1

RE[4]: Depends on your perspective
by edvim on Sun 19th Feb 2012 16:29 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Depends on your perspective"
edvim Member since:
2010-03-12

That's a typical approach you're taking to demean me but it's not like I care. Yes, everybody laughed and had a great time in your example but you're only looking at the world through what happened in your class, it just doesn't apply everywhere. In a real world situation, a kid who does something like disabling a handful of computers in a classroom as a 'prank' may be a riot in his/her eyes, but to the adults who live with responsibilities you're not aware of, that prank is a problem. The teacher at that point will either have to double up some kids on the same computer, changing that day's lesson plan on the fly. Of if enough computers are out of service, cancel hands-on lessons for just book lessons. So while it was great fun for people like yourself. it was at the expense of others.
I also contracted with several community centers, and there were actually numerous instances when evening ESL or GED classes had to be rescheduled because some kids thought it was funny to do something like steal all the rubber balls out of the computer mice in day classes.
So yeah, your rose-colored idealism about what life SHOULD be is great, but reality always requires compromises when you grow up and get saddled with responsibilities, and that's the point I guess I failed to make clear about 'perspective'.

Reply Score: 1

Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

That's a typical approach you're taking to demean me


And once again, I never tried to demean or insult you. Repeatedly accusing me of it doesn't make it true.

but it's not like I care.


Obviously you do, as you keep bringing it up.

Yes, everybody laughed and had a great time in your example but you're only looking at the world through what happened in your class, it just doesn't apply everywhere. In a real world situation, a kid who does something like disabling a handful of computers in a classroom as a 'prank' may be a riot in his/her eyes, but to the adults who live with responsibilities you're not aware of, that prank is a problem. The teacher at that point will either have to double up some kids on the same computer, changing that day's lesson plan on the fly. Of if enough computers are out of service, cancel hands-on lessons for just book lessons.


Except you weren't there so you just make up some bullshit about classes being canceled and educational opportunities lost. How about once everyone was done laughing, we spent five minutes fixing it and moved on with life?

I also contracted with several community centers, and there were actually numerous instances when evening ESL or GED classes had to be rescheduled because some kids thought it was funny to do something like steal all the rubber balls out of the computer mice in day classes.


Which is actual vandalism and something I would never have done. If you see theft and destruction of property the same as a temporary software setting, no wonder this whole discussion is going downhill fast.

So yeah, your rose-colored idealism about what life SHOULD be is great, but reality always requires compromises when you grow up and get saddled with responsibilities, and that's the point I guess I failed to make clear about 'perspective'.


Finally we agree! Yes, life is full of responsibility and the need for mature actions. But if you don't make room for a little levity in your life, you will likely never be happy. I hope you find happiness in life someday.

Reply Score: 2

timl
Member since:
2005-12-06

know how to *restore* that button.

Yes, in my first year of university it was a prank that got pulled quite a lot in the lab. People go for a coffee, and find their start button missing upon return. Grumbling they close all their programs and reboot, with the bystanders sniggering. I must admit I was guilty of it too.

But it was much more satisfying when people pulled the trick on you, and you managed to get it back *without* a reboot. From memory, you just did a Ctrl-Alt-Del to get to the task manager, then killed Explorer. That would actually be restarted, and come up again with a shiny new Start button. And result in disappointed bystanders...

Reply Score: 2

TemporalBeing Member since:
2007-08-22

know how to *restore* that button.
<snip>
But it was much more satisfying when people pulled the trick on you, and you managed to get it back *without* a reboot. From memory, you just did a Ctrl-Alt-Del to get to the task manager, then killed Explorer. That would actually be restarted, and come up again with a shiny new Start button. And result in disappointed bystanders...


FYI - that's also called a "Developer's Reboot" and is commonly used by deveopers of plugins for Explorer to cycle the system. :-)

Reply Score: 2

We used to that...
by BeOSJim on Wed 15th Feb 2012 19:50 UTC
BeOSJim
Member since:
2010-01-20

I used to be in Windows 95+NT4 tech support (I left MS Tech Support running Linux and BeOS on my systems..)

We used to do that, change the boot and shudown screens so that when it booted up, the screen would display that it was safe to turn off your computer. We would take a screenshot of the desktop and then hide the taskbar. Create a wallpaper with hundreds of overlapping shortcuts, etc. ----- All to mess with the new trainees in the classrooms. It was actually kind of fun.

Reply Score: 1

RE: We used to that...
by zima on Wed 22nd Feb 2012 23:56 UTC in reply to "We used to that..."
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

Not a very good tech support, I wager... and let me guess, you used "problems" to convince some of those people that BeOS and Linux are so much better than Windows?

Reply Score: 2

Um, that was 17 years ago...?!?
by cmost on Thu 16th Feb 2012 02:10 UTC
cmost
Member since:
2006-07-16

I for one can't fathom why anyone would be interested in an obscure bug in Windows 95. This OS stopped being relevant LONG ago. While the start menu bug is an interesting factoid, it's not really very relevant so why would any of us care?

Reply Score: 1

RE: Um, that was 17 years ago...?!?
by boxy on Thu 16th Feb 2012 03:14 UTC in reply to "Um, that was 17 years ago...?!?"
boxy Member since:
2011-06-20

I for one can't fathom why anyone would be interested in an obscure bug in Windows 95. This OS stopped being relevant LONG ago. While the start menu bug is an interesting factoid, it's not really very relevant so why would any of us care?


You cared enough to post this message. You don't actually have to read the content of this website ya know. Clearly many of "us" (whatever that means) care as evidenced in the comments up to this point.

Reply Score: 0

RE: Um, that was 17 years ago...?!?
by siride on Thu 16th Feb 2012 06:07 UTC in reply to "Um, that was 17 years ago...?!?"
siride Member since:
2006-01-02

Some people think history is interesting.

Reply Score: 2

Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

They say that those who cannot learn the lessons of history are condemned to repeat it...

Reply Score: 1