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January 8, 1996

Developer offers new tips for jumping back and forth from Windows 95 to DOS 7

Nearly a year ago, I wrote about an idea for shutting down Windows 3.1. (See "Now, run any command when Windows exits," Jan. 9, 1995 or look for it in our archives) Gary Tessler, of Tessler's Nifty Tools (TNT), had developed a utility called WrapUp to perform a number of end-of-day tasks. This utility provides a very convenient way for you to clean up temporary files, run backup programs, log off network resources, or start other tasks when you won't be needing Windows again for a while. (The Microsoft Plus Pack, a $49 add-on to Windows 95, has a System Agent utility that allows tasks to be scheduled, but not at shutdown time, oddly.)

Tessler has now released WrapUp for 95, a utility upgrade for (what else?) Windows 95. A shareware version is available on the World Wide Web at, or on CompuServe in GO WINSHARE, Library 15, keyword: WrapUp. The registered version costs $34; a set of dozens of useful TNT programs costs $164. To order, call (510) 244-5449.

In the course of developing WrapUp for 95, Tessler learned an interesting fact about how the new Windows launches and exits on top of DOS 7. His findings update a tip from Windows 95 Secrets, which I coauthored with Davis Straub.

In the book (page 222), we describe a way to jump from Windows 95 to a DOS 7 prompt and back. Microsoft Corp. has made this fairly hard to do, in an attempt to make it look like there "is no DOS" under Win95. When you click Start, Shut Down, and then choose "Shut down the computer," Win95 doesn't exit to a DOS prompt, as Win 3.x did. Instead, you see a graphic screen with the message "It is now safe to turn off your computer."

Actually, you are in DOS 7 at that moment. The graphic screen stays up just so the old C: prompt isn't visible.

To see this for yourself, reboot your PC, then, just after the system beep, press the F8 key when the message "Starting Windows 95..." appears. Select "Command prompt only" from the resulting menu. When you get a C: prompt, type WIN to start Windows 95. Then click Start, Shut Down, and choose "Shut down the computer." When you see the "It is now safe" screen, type MODE CO80 (you won't see any keystrokes) and press Enter. Voila! You instantly see the C: prompt. The old DOS "80-column color mode" command forces Win95 to let DOS reappear.

Switching between Win95 and DOS in this way isn't necessary for most character-mode programs, of course. If you often need to run an ill-behaved DOS program under Win95, you should first try the new MS-DOS Mode, which removes all but 4KB of Windows.

Either use the Start, Shut Down menu to reboot into MS-DOS Mode, or right-click in the Explorer any DOS executable, then click Properties, Program, Advanced to select "MS-DOS Mode under Windows" for that program.

If you really need to jump back and forth from Windows 95 to bare DOS 7 (to test software under both environments, say, or to play a particular game), Tessler describes a better way than the book does:

* Step 1. In the Explorer, click View, Options. Turn on "Show all files" and turn off "Hide MS-DOS file extensions for file types that are registered."

* Step 2. Still in the Explorer, right-click C:\Msdos.sys, then click Properties. Turn off the "Read-only" and "Hidden" attributes. Click OK.

* Step 3. Open C:\Msdos.sys in Notepad. In the [Options] section, insert the line BootGUI=0 and save the file. This makes Win95 boot to a C: prompt.

* Step 4. Open C:\Autoexec.bat in Notepad (or create one). Make sure you have at least Path=C:\Windows;C:\Windows\Command near the top, then add WIN as the last line and save the file.

* Step 5. In the Explorer, select LOGOS.SYS in your Windows folder, press F2, and rename the file Logos.Original or something similar. This file contains the "It is now safe" bitmap. In this case, "Logos" stands for "Logo, Shutdown."

The next time you restart Windows and then exit, you will see a plain C: prompt and a text-mode instruction that it is now safe to turn off your PC. You can now run any DOS programs you like. Type WIN to return to Windows 95 whenever you wish.

Brian Livingston is the coauthor of the new Windows 95 Secrets and author of three other Windows books (IDG Books). Send tips to or fax: (206) 282-1248.

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