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Window Manager
Brian Livingston
Free utility X-Setup takes the prize away from Microsoft's TweakUI application

IN TWO OF my recent columns, I mentioned some of the things you can do with an applet called TweakUI (see "The best new tips for Windows 2000 and Windows 98 as we wait for Windows ME," June 5 and "Fixing NT slowdowns, sharing your Favorites folders, and tilting against Windmills," May 1). This is a user-interface utility that emerged from Microsoft's Redmond development team but was never officially supported by the company.

Microsoft included TweakUI on the Windows 98 CD-ROM for those who wished to install it. Unfortunately, the applet disappeared from the Windows 98 Second Edition (SE) disk.

Various versions of TweakUI are floating around -- some for Windows 98, some for Windows 95, and I've even heard of a "hacked" version that supposedly works with Windows 2000. But rather than hunt around for this prodigal child of Microsoft, you can use a utility that far surpasses it.

X-Setup, by Xteq Systems, is a free utility that works on all 32-bit platforms: Windows 95/98/98SE/2000 and Windows NT 4.0.

A new version of X-Setup has recently been released that configures more than 500 hidden functions of these flavors of Windows.

As with TweakUI, you can use X-Setup to disable the irritating "Shortcut to ... " prefix that Windows attaches to every icon you drag onto the Desktop. It's much better to make changes such as this in a utility than it is to edit the Registry manually.

But X-Setup goes much further.

* You can change the search engine that's used if you click Start, Find, On The Internet on the Task Bar or click Search in Internet Explorer. For example, you could switch from Microsoft's default search engine to another one you prefer.

* You can increase the lag time before Windows switches away from a menu item you selected. By default, Windows switches away 0.4 seconds after your mouse is no longer hovering over an item. Many users find this "reaction speed" way too short to easily navigate their mouse through these menus.

* Two years' worth of Windows tips from the popular Web site are now included with X-Setup. For example, you can hide information in an Excel 2000 or Excel 97 spreadsheet so that it won't show up on-screen or when printed. Only if you know the proper cell to select will the information appear in the Formula bar. To do this, click Format, Cells, Number. In the Category list, click Custom. In the Type field, select the existing codes, delete them with the Backspace key, replace the codes with three semicolons (;;;), and click OK.

Besides tweaking the user interface, X-Setup offers tools for system managers.

Probably the most powerful tool is X-Setup's Record Mode. When this is turned on, any changes you make in X-Setup will be recorded to a .reg file. You can run this file on any number of other PCs to make the same changes to them automatically.

You can also turn on X-Setup's log file. With this enabled, all actions you've taken in X-Setup are written to a text file. This can help you try different changes and then reverse what you did.

As have many shareware programs, X-Setup has gone through several version numbers quickly. It began with a tiny Version 1.0 that controlled a mere 30 settings, with menus only in German.

After several interim versions, including some that weren't released, Version 5.0 (in English) came out with more than 300 settings. The program then jumped to 5.5 and just came out as Version 5.6.

To get X-Setup, go to Xteq Systems also offers many other free programs here for downloading.

X-Setup requires the services of Microsoft's Distributed Component Object Model (DCOM) and the Microsoft Scripting Engine (MSE). These are parts of Internet Explorer (VBScript Support must be enabled for X-Setup to work).

If you have Windows 98 or Windows 2000, DCOM and MSE services are already installed. If you are using Windows 95 or Windows NT 4.0, you may need to upgrade one or both of these services from Microsoft's Web site. Before installing X-Setup, look at the instructions at to find out whether you need to upgrade.

I'd like to thank Sandy Goseland of the Web site, where the latest release of X-Setup was recently featured. links to a variety of beta software programs and encourages users to provide feedback about them. Goseland will receive a free copy of Windows 2000 Secrets for her help with this column.

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