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April 29, 1996

When left means right -- and other Win95 oddities

Some of you have been using Windows 95 for months, so you've probably found your share of irritations and foibles. (I've been using it since December 1993, when the so-called Milestone 6 was first released to developers, so I've seen how far it's come.) Others have been using Win95 for only a few weeks, and some people haven't installed it yet and perhaps never will.

With millions of users -- from novices to old pros -- clicking away at Win95, it was inevitable that Microsoft Corp. would find some, uh, anomalies that weren't caught in beta testing. None of these seems to be serious enough to qualify as a showstopper. Nonetheless, they can be maddening.

Here are a few flies in the ointment that Microsoft has found and what, if anything, you can do to work around them.

When left means right

One oddity that's actually bitten me a few times (before I found out that it was a known feature of Win95 and not a weird quirk in my particular system) involves the left and right mouse buttons. For no apparent reason, the left mouse button starts acting as though you clicked the right mouse button. Instead of selecting an object, as it usually does, a click on the left mouse button pops up the context menu that ordinarily appears after a click on the right mouse button.

It turns out that this occurs when Win95 experiences numerous mouse events in rapid sequence. No one seems to know the exact number or speed of mouse events that is required to exhibit this action. Multitasking several programs can trigger it and so can merely releasing both mouse buttons at once.

The mouse's activity can be quite alarming the first few times it occurs, because you might not know how to get your normal mouse function back. The solution has nothing to do with clicking the left mouse button, which is what you might instinctively do to try to correct the problem. Instead, a single click of your right mouse button resets the mouse and eliminates the errant activity. Microsoft is looking into a fix for this.

Speed performance with real mode

We expect that raw performance will be better under Win95 with its 32-bit drivers than was the case under Windows 3.1. But Microsoft has found cases where that isn't true. Using Win95's 32-bit CD-ROM drivers with older, single-speed CD-ROM drives can lead to worse performance than using real-mode drivers.

According to an internal Microsoft memo: "The Windows 95 protected-mode CD-ROM drivers are not completely compatible with single-speed CD-ROM drives."

One piece of hardware that Microsoft cites as an example of this syndrome is the Future Domain TMC-850 SCSI controller connected to a single-speed CD-ROM drive. Disabling the Win95 CD-ROM driver and installing the real-mode driver instead results in better performance -- at least until an improved 32-bit driver is available.


When we download more and more junk from the Internet (or from intranets) we often add more hard drive space. Users of Compaq Computer Corp.'s Deskpro systems, however, find that secondary drives named D: seem to disappear when they install Win95 and start their computers for the first time.

This is disconcerting, but there is a simple work-around. The second time you restart Win95, it recognizes and configures drive D: properly.

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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Copyright © 1996 by InfoWorld Publishing Company


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