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March 23, 1998

Readers tell how to tweak DirectX, let NT show its true colors

Readers generally write to me about their problems with Windows 95 and Windows NT. They also offer solutions. It's great to report these fixes that have recently been passed along to me.

NT and the True Color crash

Reader Brent McCraney discovered a very irritating problem on his NT system when viewing Web pages with Java applets. His machine would crash every time such an applet started. Even replacing all his drivers, including mouse and video drivers, didn't cure the problem.

McCraney's clues pointed me to Microsoft documents regarding the problem. It turns out that installing Service Pack 3 to NT 4.0 with Internet Explorer 3.02 causes Java applets to crash if your display properties are set to True Color (which is approximately 16 million colors).

In the short run, you can fix this problem on NT systems by setting your video driver to a lesser number of colors. McCraney finally fixed his system by entirely removing and then reinstalling his ATI video drivers, which may have reset his color depth.

A more long-term solution is to download a patch from Microsoft called Getadmin-fix. This is available at

At this site, read the Readme.txt file, then download ADMNFIXI.EXE for Intel x86 platforms or ADMNFIXA.EXE for Alpha. Run the appropriate program to install the patch.

Note: Microsoft distributed an earlier patch called Java-fix to solve these crashes and a separate program called Dblclick-fix to solve a mouse problem. Microsoft warns you not to run either of these two older updates after you've run the Getadmin-fix. Running the older patches would create problems on your newly patched NT system.

If you need to know exactly what is going on with this type of crash on a True Color display, set your browser to

DirectX marks the spot

One related item deals with Microsoft's DirectX, a set of fast graphics and sound drivers for Windows 95, NT, and Internet Explorer 4.0. Installing NT's Service Pack 3 gives you DirectX 3.0 files, which are updates of older files supported under NT 4.0. Windows 95 users can get the latest DirectX drivers (known as Version 5.0 under Win95) from

Assuming that Service Pack 3 didn't put your system into an infinite loop, as it did with McCraney's above, you may want to tweak your DirectX drivers to better suit your preferences.

Now there's a convenient way to do that. Alan Miller of Socorro, N.M., raves about a new DirectX control panel that enables you to configure Direct3D, DirectDraw, DirectSound, and other aspects of the drivers.

You can download the 21KB .ZIP file containing this control panel from Unzip that file, then drag Directx.cpl into your Windows\System folder. As soon as you do this, you can run the Control Panel, then choose DirectX.

McCraney and Miller will receive free copies of Windows 95 Secrets for being the first to e-mail me these pointers.

Brian Livingston is the co-author of several best-selling Windows books, including the most recent Windows 95 Secrets (IDG Books). Send comments to Unfortunately, he cannot answer individual questions.

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