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Window Manager
Brian Livingston
Windows Me, You Jane: How do you tame the new 800-pound gorilla from Microsoft?

MICROSOFT WILL RELEASE its Millennium Edition of Windows -- Windows Me -- on Sept. 14 with events in various cities. As you know, "Me" is an update to Windows 98 and will appear very familiar to users of Microsoft's Windows 9x family of operating systems.

Even though Windows Me isn't a radical break from the consumer products before it, there are enough new treats -- and quirks and surprises -- that I've used this occasion to publish my 10th book with IDG Books.

At 1,520 pages, Windows Me Secrets is the largest volume of undocumented features, bugs, work-arounds, and recommended shareware that I've ever written. And the printed book includes a CD-ROM with a fully searchable e-book that you can read from the CD or install to your hard drive. You can find the new book by searching for the title at

My co-author, Davis Straub, and I have packed into these pages everything we've ever learned about Windows 95 and Windows 98, plus all the new tricks we've found for Windows Me. Differences between Windows 95, 98, and Me are clearly described, so this one book now acts as a resource for any user of consumer versions of Windows. (Windows 2000 Secrets is for users of business versions of Windows.)

One thing I'll say about Me: It's big. With all of its options turned on during a clean install, I've seen figures as high as 590MB. A typical install is smaller, but this still includes many things you don't need.

I'd like to reveal some secrets that can help anyone who plans to install Windows Me when it becomes available at retail (or anyone who's already installed the final build of Windows Me sent to beta testers).

Windows Me's most intriguing new features, I find, are independent applications that Microsoft chose to bundle for free. Two of the more significant ones are Media Player and Movie Maker.

These applications compete with those of companies that provide multimedia players and video-editing software. Despite the fact that Microsoft has just lost a major antitrust trial for using Windows 98 to hurt competitors, bundling of applications continues with Windows Me.

To illustrate the confidence of Microsoft executives, they've made it impossible to install Windows Me without also installing Media Player and Movie Maker apps. They're stuck to Windows Me like glue.

Fortunately, I'm going to show you this week how to unglue 'em.

I'm pleased to announce the release of a new shareware product called 98Lite Me. This program creates items in Windows Me's Control Panel to uninstall Media Player, Movie Maker, and hundreds of megabytes of other programs.

98Lite Me is produced by Shane Brooks, a developer in Maryland. I originally wrote about his earlier product, 98Lite, which demonstrated in March 1999 that visible portions of Internet Explorer could easily be removed from Windows 98 (see "Cut Internet Explorer from Windows 98 with your own bare hands").

By inserting programs such as Media Player into the Add/Remove Programs control panel, 98Lite Me gives you the best of both worlds. You can uninstall these and other programs to gain valuable disk space and snappier performance. And then, if you ever want them back, you simply reselect a check box to install them once again (from the original Windows Me setup files).

Brooks says he easily runs Windows Me in less than 70MB of disk space, even with Me's version of Internet Explorer retained.

Brooks' previous product, 98Lite III, still works on all versions of Windows 98. The new 98Lite Me is specially tailored for Me.

To get either one, go to The registered version is priced at $25, and registered users of 98Lite III can upgrade to 98Lite Me for free.

And the best is yet to come. A major company is about to sign an agreement with Brooks to compress Windows into a 32MB space called DiskOnChip (see This will give handhelds fixed-disk-like storage and long battery life without the moving parts of hard disks.

You read it here first.


Operating Systems

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