I note that many questions about Windows 3 appear regularly every
few weeks in threads on different network. I thought it might be
useful to post a summary for beginners and to refresh the
memories of other more advanced users (and those who forgot to
save the topic!). This list was originally compiled by Tom
Happenen of the University of Waterloo - to whom we offer thanks.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT WINDOWS
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1. Windows newsgroups
2. Free Windows applications
3. Getting Windows video drivers
4. Using a mail server instead of ftp
5. Windows memory requirements
6. Standard mode vs. 386 enhanced mode
7. Running Windows 2.x applications
8. DOS in a window
9. Environment space in DOS sessions
10. Lotus 1-2-3 under Windows
11. QEMM/386 with Windows *
12. Protected-mode software vs. Windows
13. Windows, MKS Korn shell and switchar *
14. Windows network compatability
15. Using COM3 or COM4 from Windows
16. Accessing the mouse in DOS sessions
17. Using TSRs for DOS sessions
18. 256 colors in Windows
19. Windows communications programs
20. Changing an application's icon
21. Creating new icons
22. Icon and bitmap directories
23. Installing new fonts
24. FaceLift, ATM and TrueType *
25. Converting a GIF or MS-Paint file to a bitmap
26. Using a bitmap as wallpaper
27. Permanent swapfiles and using SUBST
28. Installation problems with SHARE
29. Windows and large hard disks
30. Using Windows as "runtime" only
31. Windows Terminal and using the keypad
32. Date/time in Notepad
33. Using x87 math coprocessors with Windows
34. Starting up Windows applications in a different directory
35. Free system resources
36. Automatically opening applications on Windows startup
37. Windows opening logo
38. Using a mouse with DOS applications
1. Why are there two newsgroups for windows?
comp.windows.ms.programmer is for discussion about
developing Windows software. It is not intended for
discussions about Windows software or for questions about
the Foobar SVGA drivers. comp.windows.ms is for any Windows
discussions that do not concern development of Windows
2. Are there free Windows applications available? How can I get
Yes, there are quite a few. Of course, there is always
CompuServe (which has a LOT of them) and your local BBS, but
for us net.junkies the Windows Heaven is located at
cica.cica.indiana.edu, and is accessed using a program
called "ftp". This program is accessible from most Internet
sites, but is not usable through uucp links. If you do have
ftp available to you, follow the instructions below to
connect to cica; do not type in the // comments!
$ ftp cica.cica.indiana.edu // make connection
Connected to ... blah blah blah // cica responds
Userid ([email protected]
): ftp // enter "ftp" as userid
Password: [email protected]
// enter your own userid
ftp> tenex // for binary transfers ftp>
cd /pub/pc/win3 // where the goodies are
ftp> get ls-ltR // get the current
index ftp> quit // we're done
Of course, you can get multiple files at a time -- read the
ftp man page for more information. Please do not access
cica.cica.indiana.edu between 8am and 6pm EST to prevent
overloading the system. If your ftp program complains about
an unknown site, you can substitute the numeric address,
126.96.36.199, for cica.cica.indiana.edu in the ftp command.
Remember that shareware is not free: register the software
you use to encourage the development of more low-cost
3. Are there Windows drivers available for my Frobozz Super VGA
Turbo X clone display card?
First, unless the card is one of the major brands (ATI,
Orchid, Paradise, Video-7) find out which chipset the card
has, either by looking at the manual or the card itself.
Then check the /pub/pc/win3/video directory at cica for the
appropriate driver. The generic SVGA driver will let you use
800x600x16 on just about any SVGA card as long as you can
find out the appropriate video mode number. Finally, if you
get desperate, you could call up your video card
manufacturer/vendor and ask them why the drivers were not
included with the card, and to send them to you.
4. Is it possible to use a mail server instead of ftp?
There are a number of sites that archive the Usenet sources
newsgroups and make them available via an email query
system. You send a message to an automated server saying
something like "send comp.sources.unix/fbm", and a few hours
or days later you get the file in the mail.
There are several sites that will perform general FTP
retrievals for you in response to a similar mail query. For
information on using one of them, send a message like this
to [email protected]
(NOTE: this server is currently "down for repairs". No
estimate on when or if it will return.)
And for info on another one, send this message to [email protected]
Please be considerate, and don't over-use these services. If
people start using them to retrieve hundreds of megabytes of
GIF files, they will probably disappear.
5. How much memory do I need to run Windows?
The more the better! You can run in real mode with 640K
(assuming you don't have a lot of device drivers or TSRs),
but many large applications will run *very* slowly. Standard
mode requires 1 MB, but 2 MB is much better. For 386
enhanced mode, you need a minimum of 2 MB. However, you
should really have 3-4 MB available for good 386 enhanced
mode performance, especially if you wish to run several DOS
sessions. In addition to the memory above, you might wish to
have a disk cache (such as SmartDrive, included with
Windows) to improve Windows performance. Some applications
(such as WingZ, Excel or Word for Windows) are either
impossible or impractical to run in real mode due to lack of
6. Is there any advantage to running in standard mode instead of
386 enhanced mode?
Yes -- speed. Windows run substantially faster in standard
mode than in 386 enhanced mode. You lose virtual memory, but
if you have sufficient physical memory and don't have a need
to run DOS applications, you may be happier in standard
mode. Do remember, though, that some applications require
386 enhanced mode (wdeb386 is one example).
7. Can I run Windows 2.x applications in 3.0?
Yes. If you run in real mode, the applications behave just
like in 2.x, but have somewhat less memory available to
them. If the applications are "well-behaved", they will also
run in standard and 386 enhanced modes, but Windows will
first warn you with a "nag" message that the application
wasn't written for Windows 3.0. If you run a ill-behaned
application in standard or 386 enhanced mode, the
application will likely crash with Unrecoverable Application
If you have a 2.x application that runs well in all modes,
you can mark it Windows 3.0-compatible using either the
mark3.exe (?) or the nonag.exe utility. Both are available
freely by ftp.
8. Can I run DOS in a window?
Strictly speaking, you're running DOS even when you're in
Windows. However, you can run a command.com session from
Windows. In real mode, you are limited to a single session.
In standard mode, you can have multiple sessions, but they
must still run full-screen. In 386 enhanced mode, you can
have multiple sessions, and they can run in a window.
You can control the starting up in a window vs. full-screen
by setting up a .pif file for the program (command.com or
otherwise). You can also switch the state by pressing Alt-
9. Why do I run out of environment space when I run a batch file
in a DOS session?
When Windows starts up a DOS session, it by default gives it
an environment of 224 bytes, or the space required to hold
your current environment, whichever is larger. If you need
more space, there are two methods of circumventing this. In
order of desirability:
1. Use a .pif file for each DOS application you run. In
this you can specify the environment size by using the
/e:nnn option (see your DOS manual). You will need a
separate DOS file for each program. (You can, however, just
create a command.pif with a suitable /e:nnn, and then
specify in the win.ini a line such as
With this, you can create batch file icons freely, and still
get the options specified in command.pif.
2. Specify a dummy variable such as DUMMY1=xxxxx.... before
starting up Windows. Then, as the first thing in each DOS
session, do set DUMMY1= to reclaim the space used by DUMMY1
for other environment variables.
10. Does Lotus 1-2-3 work under Windows?
Versions 1.x, 2.x and 3.1 run in all modes, but do not
support any of the features of the Windows environment. For
all intents and purposes, version 3.0 doesn't run under
Windows. [Buy Excel or WingZ instead! --ed.]
11. Can I use DesqView/386 or QEMM/386 with Windows?
You can use versions 5.0 of QEMM/386 and below with real-
mode Windows only. QEMM/386 version 5.1 provides XMS
services for Windows, thus allowing Windows to run in all
modes under QEMM/386, plus providing compatability with VCPI
applications (see below). Windows will run in standard and
real modes as a DesqView/386 task.
12. Why won't my protected-mode software run under Windows?
Most protected-mode applications currently on the market use
an extended-memory interface called VCPI (Virtual Control
Program Interface), which is incompatible with Windows' DPMI
(DOS Protected Mode Interface (?)). Microsoft went against
an established standard in choosing DPMI, but there are
valid technical reasons why VCPI was not chosen for Windows.
At this point, you have three choices:
1. Run your protected-mode software under DOS. This means
that you must NOT use Windows or SmartDrive before running
your VCPI software, and may require you to have two
different config.sys files.
2. Plead with your software developer to develop a
Windows-compatible version. They should already be working
on it anyway, given the momentum that Windows 3.0 has.
3. Buy QEMM/386, which provides VCPI. You'll be able to
run your protected-mode software as well as Windows 3.0.
13. Why can't I use Windows from the MKS Korn shell?
There are two possible problems. First, with versions up to
and including 3.1c of the MKS Toolkit, the use of login.exe
precludes the use of Windows 3.0 in any but the real mode.
To avoid this, have your machine boot directly into the Korn
shell or command.com.
Second, somebody at Microsoft had a brain fade, and Windows
gets confused if it is started with a forward slash path.
Thus, if you simply type "win" in Korn shell, the shell
invokes Windows with something like
and Windows doesn't know where to find itself! To cure this,
specify an alias for Windows: I use
alias -x win='c:\\usr\\windows\\win.com'
Note that the double backslashes are necessary for the Korn
shell, even inside the single quotes.
The newer versions of MKS Toolkit allow (standard and 386
enhanced mode) Windows to run directly from the login:
prompt; but they still won't let you run standard/386
enhanced Windows from the shell (if you used login). An
updated version of init.exe is available from MKS for users
of older versions of the MKS Toolkit.
14. Which networks are compatible with Windows 3.0?
The following are known to work; see also networks.txt in
your Windows directory
Network earliest version
3Com 3 Plus 1.0
3Com 3+Open 1.0
Banyan Vines 4.0
BW NFS ?.?
IBM PC LAN 1.1 [except server]
LAN Manager 1.0
LANtastic 2.57 [server can not use enhanced mode]
Novell Netware 2.15 [shell & utilities must be version 3.01]
Sun PC-NFS ?.?
15. How can I use COM3 or COM4 from a Windows communication
This is a generally a problem only in 386 enhanced mode. To
use these ports, you will need to tell Windows where they
are located; the instructions for doing this can be found in
the Windows readme file sysini2.txt, which should be located
in your Windows directory. In summary, what you need to do
is tell Windows what memory addresses and interrupts (IRQs)
your COM3 and COM4 ports use. This should work, but is not
guaranteed to: COM3 and Com4 are not standardized, and this
is one of the most difficult things to get working with
Windows. If possible, move your devices to COM1 or COM2.
16. Why doesn't my mouse work in a DOS window?
If you are running a DOS application in a window, Windows
will retain control of the mouse for cutting and pasting.
You can use a mouse in a full-screen DOS session if you
install a mouse driver by running mouse.com (either before
starting Windows, or inside the DOS session), or by
including 'device=mouse.sys' in your config.sys file.
If you're running WordPerfect 5.1 inside Windows,
WordPerfect must be *started* full-screen in order to detect
the mouse. Once it has started, you can use Alt-Enter to run
in a window, if you wish.
17. Why don't my TSRs work in DOS sessions?
Some TSR programs will not work if you install them before
running Windows. Some of them will not work if you install
them inside a DOS session. Generally the best idea is to
avoid TSRs completely unless you really need them. See also
the description of winstart.bat in the Windows .txt files.
18. Can I use 256 colors in Windows?
Yes, given two caveats: First, your display card and its
driver must support 256 colors. Second, your application
must know about 256 colors, as this requires palette
switching and some additional programming. Most applications
currently on the market only support 16 colors. In order to
get 256 colors, your video card will need at least 320K (for
640x480), 512K (for 800x600) or 768K (for 1024x768) of RAM.
256-color drivers are also much slower than 16-color
19. Are there any good communication programs for Windows?
Well, maybe. There is not yet a consensus about any of the
current products. There are a number of free or shareware
ones: Terminal (included with Windows), WinQVT, Unicom and
WinKermit, but all have their problems and lack in some
features. All of them are also available on cica. Commercial
packages include DynaComm ("big brother" of Terminal),
MicroPhone, CrossTalk for Windows and Wincomm. Again, none
of them stands out as the perfect choice, although several
have shown promise.
20. How do I change the icon for a program?
Choose the item in Program Manager, and then select File
Properties. Click on "Icon...", and then enter the name of
the file containing the new icon. If the icon file is a DLL
or EXE containing multiple icons, you can cycle through the
icons by clicking "Next Icon". Click "OK", and then "OK"
again. You can also use icons from other programs by the
same method: just specify the name of the .exe file instead
of an icon or DLL file.
The icon that is displayed by the application when it is
minimized is controlled by the application. It is not
possible to change that.
21. Can I create my own icons?
Yes. You can use either IconDraw (shareware) or SDKPaint (a
part of the Windows SDK). Simply draw your icon, and save it
as an ".ico" file.
22. Do I have to keep my icons and wallpaper bitmaps in the
Wallpaper bitmaps have to be kept in the Windows directory
(unless you use a utility such as PaperBoy for changing the
wallpaper). Icons may be kept anywhere; it may be convenient
to create an ICON subdirectory under the Windows directory.
23. I installed some more fonts using Control Panel. Why can't I
access them in Word for Windows (or another application)?
Word for Windows shows in its font menu the fonts currently
available for the selected *output* device, not the
*display* device. You can still use, say, vector fonts that
you installed, by typing the name of the font in the edit
box. Windows will draw vector fonts on the output device
without problems -- you may or may not like the results.
Screen fonts are also used for printing on dot-matrix
In some cases, you may also need to force the application to
refresh its output device font list. The easiest way to do
this is to do File Printer Setup, click Setup, then click
OK, and finally OK again.
24. Do Bitstream FaceLift, Adobe Type Manager (ATM) and TrueType
really work? Are they worth the money?
Yes, they work -- except for TrueType, which is not yet
available. Both ATM and FaceLift also have some problems
with Ami Professional, which does strange things with its
screen fonts. On the whole, FaceLift will support more
applications and output devices than ATM, but the difference
may not be significant. FaceLift also lets you generate soft
fonts for the LaserJet series (for faster printing); ATM
does not give you that option. Finally, FaceLift is somewhat
more flexible than ATM, and uses less memory. However, ATM
can use the numerous free Adobe Type 1 fonts available free
from places like cica.cica.indiana.edu. Both provide high-
quality fonts and much better WYSIWYG at the cost of
somewhat slower screen updates and slightly slower printing.
And at street prices not much above $50, yes, both of them
are worth the money you'll pay for them. They are
compatible, so you can run both of them on the same system.
25. How can I convert a GIF or MS-Paint file to a .bmp to use it
as a wallpaper in Windows?
You can save a .msp file as a .bmp from Windows Paint. You
can convert a .gif file to a .bmp using the gif2bmp utility
from cica. wingif 0.90 will also do a good conversion,
including dithering 256-color images to 16 colors (rescale
26. Why won't my .bmp wallpaper display correctly?
Well, it could be a number of reasons. The most likely are:
1. Your .bmp file is corrupted. Try reading it into
Paintbrush to verify that it is readable.
2. You are trying to display 256 colors with a 16-color
3. You have insufficient memory to display the bitmap. A
800x600x16 bitmap requires 256K of memory; 1024x768x256
would require 768K! For 256-to-16 color dithering, you may
wish to try using PicLab 1.82 with the help of wincnv.zip
(available from cica).
27. I can't create a permanent swapfile. What could be the cause?
First of all, you must be running in real mode to be able to
create a permanent swapfile. Second, You must not have any
SUBSTed drives or Windows won't create the swapfile. Once
the swapfile has been created, you can re-SUBST your drives.
You also can't create a permanent swapfile on a drive
partitioned with third-party software such as SpeedStor (see
question 30). If you are installing on a Novell client, you
must first disable the "receive network messages" feature
(using the network icon in the Control Panel) and reboot.
Once you have installed the swapfile, turn messages back on
28. Why do I get floppy drive errors installing Windows or
If you have SHARE installed, you must rename share.exe (to,
something like noshare.exe) and reboot. Once you have
completed the installation, you can rename share.exe back to
its original name.
29. Are there problems with using Windows 3.0 on large hard
Yes, but only in rare cases. Your system is at risk IF:
- You are using 3rd-party partitioning software, such as:
- Disk Manager (dmdrv.bin)
- InnerSpace (edvr.sys)
- SpeedStor (sstor.sys or hardrive.sys)
- Vfeatures Deluxe (fixt_drv.sys)
*AND* you are using SmartDrive as your disk cache
*AND* your hard disk has more than 1023 cylinders
If your hard disk has fewer than 1024 cylinders, you may
still be at risk if the first two conditions hold true, you
are using DOS 3.30 or later, *AND* your hard disk is not
supported by your BIOS.
To avoid problems, you can either stop using SmartDrive, or
reformat your disk using the DOS FDISK utility.
Note that in 386 enhanced mode, Windows 3.0 supports only
ST-506, ESDI and IDE disk controllers. If you have a SCSI
controller, you need to load SmartDrive in order to allow
Windows to recognize your hard disk. As an alternative, you
may insert the following line in your system.ini file, in
the [386ENH] section:
If you are still having problems, call Microsoft Tech
Support at (206) 454-2030.
There are no problems with large partitions created by the
FDISK program included with MS-DOS 4.0 and some versions of
30. How can I make Windows 3.0 act like the runtime versions of
2.x, which exit Windows when you exit your application?
You can do this as follows (the example is for Excel; others
1. Create a new directory called c:\excel (it doesn't have
to be distinct; it could be your normal Excel directory, as
long as it's not the main Windows 3 directory).
2. Copy the following to the new directory from the Windows
3. In the new directory modify the [boot] section of
'system.ini' by changing the shell= line to point to the
one-and-only program you want to run. The original line
and the modified line should be something like:
Remember to type the complete fileid of the program to be
executed, including the '.exe' suffix.
4. To execute the dedicated Windows session just put the new
directory ahead of the normal Windows directory in your path
and issue the 'win' command, or start Windows with the
What we're doing here is making Windows think it's running
on a network where the actual executable files etc. are on a
network server, and only the basic control files (and
win.com) are on the user's local disk.
Note that this technique isolates any changes in WIN.INI and
SYSTEM.INI made in the dedicated task from any changes made
in normal Windows; this may or may not be desirable. If you
need to keep the two flavors of Windows in sync you'll have
to provide an outboard copy function to refresh the files.
31. How do I use the keypad in Windows Terminal?
Press ScrollLock to toggle the keypad between local and
remote mode. Default is local mode.
32. Why does F5 in Notepad insert only a date and not the time as
It's a bug. Maybe Windows 3.1 will fix it...
33. Does Windows take advantage of an 80x87 math coprocessor? And
what is this WIN87EM.DLL file in my Windows directory?
Windows itself does not take advantage of a math chip.
Windows apps, on the other hand, may or may not, depending
on the application: Excel will, Word for Windows won't. In
general, an 80x87 gives the greates speedup for trig/log
type of calculations, and does not improve graphics speed in
The WIN87EM.DLL is a dynamic link library which provides
floating-point emulation for Windows applications. Any
application which is capable of using an 80x87 will need
this library on a machine without an 80x87.
34. How do I start up Excel or Word for Windows in a different
To start up a Windows application in a default directory
other than the Windows directory, you have two choices:
i) Create a auto-execute macro for that application, which
will change your directory upon startup.
ii) Specify your application's path in Program Manager as
something like "d:\u\personal\letters\winword.exe". As long
as the application is on your path, it will be started as
usual, but with the default directory being the one you
specified in Program Manager.
35. What are "free system resources"? How do they differ from
Free system resources are things such as window handles and
global memory block handles. You can't increase them by just
adding more memory; the only real solution is to close some
applications if you are running low.
Windows 3.1 is reputed to have higher limits, and a later
version will do away with the limits altogether.
36. How can I automatically open applications when I start up
Windows, with predefined window sizes and positions?
You can load applications automatically in two ways:
i. By specifying them on the load= line in win.ini. This
will load the specified applications as icons.
ii. By specifying them on the run= line in win.ini. This
will load the applications with their default window sizes.
If you need specific window sizes or positions, you will
need to use another utility, either shareware (such as
Layout, Command Post or Aporia) or commercial (Batchworks,
Bridge or NewWave).
37. How do I get rid of the Windows opening logo?
Start Windows with the command line such as "win : ". Be
warned, however, that some people have had problems with
this. [A work-around has also been posted elsewhere (which
involves substituting a logo of your choice using the WINGIF
program to save it in RLE format - NG]
38. Why doesn't my mouse work when I run WordPerfect (or another
application) inside Windows?
To use a mouse with a DOS application, you need to install a
mouse driver (such as mouse.sys or mouse.com). Further, the
mouse will not work if you are running the DOS application
in a window, as Windows will retain the control of the
mouse. Finally, some applications (such as WordPerfect) will
only detect the mouse if the application starts in full-