Proper configuration of Windows is critical for optimal performance. There are three methods for managing or changing Windows configuration: Control Panel, Windows Setup, and .INI files.
The primary method for changing the Windows configuration (and the one familiar to most users) is to use the Control Panel. This is a Windows application (found in the Main Program Group) that provides a visual way to make changes.
By selecting icons and using the associated dialog boxes, a user can customize the working environment. The following items can be changed from the Control Panel:
Other desktop options (such as screen savers and wallpaper)
COM port settings
Date and time
Sounds (used by system)
Drivers for hardware
Multitasking and virtual memory settings
Windows setup will operate from within Windows if it is already loaded-click the Setup icon in the Main Group. Or it will start from MS-DOS-type SETUP when in the Windows directory. Using setup should be done only by experienced computer users. The results of improper setup can be disastrous-Windows won't run. If this happens, you can use the MS-DOS version of setup. From an MS-DOS prompt, change to the Windows directory and type the command SETUP.
Windows Initialization Files
The third method for modifying Windows configuration is to edit the Windows .INI files. As with the setup method, this should be used only by experienced operators. The Windows .INI files, which are found in the Windows directory of the bootable drive, initialize (configure) everything from device drivers to applications. Windows itself creates at least three .INI files, and any application can create initialization files of its own. Knowing how and what to edit in these files is critical to repairing and optimizing the performance of a computer.
You can use any text editor to edit .INI files. (MS-DOS provides a program for editing text files called EDIT. This program can be run from the MS-DOS prompt.) All .INI files are broken up into logical areas called groups. Each group starts with a line of text, in square brackets, called a group header. Underneath each group are its settings. They are organized as item=settings.
For example, see the following PROGMAN.INI file:
[Settings] Order= 4 21 13 25 3 8 17 29 27 7 15 6 14 16 10 18 32 23 22 20 11 12 9 19 24 26 28 5 2 30 1 SaveSettings=1 AutoArrange=0 Window=28 22 628 433 1 [Groups] Group1=C:\WINDOWS\MAIN.GRP Group2=C:\WINDOWS\ACCESSOR.GRP Group5=C:\WINDOWS\STARTUP.GRP Group8=C:\WINDOWS\PROSHARE.GRP Group13=C:\WINDOWS\LOTUSAPP.GRP Group14=C:\WINDOWS\DIGITAL.GRP Group15=C:\WINDOWS\MODERNAG.GRP Group7=C:\WINDOWS\SOUNDIMP.GRP Group10=C:\WINDOWS\PHONEBOO.GRP Group18=C:\WINDOWS\DESIGNCA.GRP Group20=C:\WINDOWS\ALDUS.GRP Group12=C:\WINDOWS\APPLICAT.GRP Group17=C:\WINDOWS\UTILITIE.GRP Group4=C:\WINDOWS\MICROSOF.GRP Group6=C:\WINDOWS\LOGITECH.GRP Group21=C:\WINDOWS\IOMEGA.GRP Group22=C:\WINDOWS\PARSONST.GRP Group23=C:\WINDOWS\PHOTOENH.GRP Group25=C:\WINDOWS\WINZIP.GRP Group27=C:\WINDOWS\QUICKBOO.GRP Group29=C:\WINDOWS\ADOBEACR.GRP Group16=C:\WINDOWS\FAXWORKS.GRP Group32=C:\WINDOWS\IMS2.GRP Group3=C:\WINDOWS\NETSCAP0.GRP Group11=C:\WINDOWS\FIRSTCLA.GRP Group9=C:\WINDOWS\FAX.GRP Group19=C:\WINDOWS\PROGRAMS.GRP Group24=C:\WINDOWS\DESKTOP.GRP Group26=C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEMTO.GRP Group28=C:\WINDOWS\DOCUMENT.GRP Group30=C:\WINDOWS\MULTIMED.GRP
Windows uses two .INI files for configuration: SYSTEM.INI and WIN.INI. The SYSTEM.INI is the Windows version of the MS-DOS CONFIG.SYS file. It initializes all the resources. The WIN.INI file is like the AUTOEXEC.BAT used by MS-DOS. It defines the "personalization" of Windows such as screen savers, colors, fonts, associations, and how resources will interact with applications. The WIN.INI file is also the dumping ground for settings that do not seem to have a home anywhere else. The information stored in these two files holds the secret to operating, optimizing, and troubleshooting Windows. Even though Windows has SYSTEM.INI and WIN.INI, it still uses the CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT files of MS-DOS for the basic setup of devices and the computer. Windows also needs to use the MS-DOS files to configure the machine so that it (Windows) can run.
Windows 3.x and Windows 95 offer a utility called SYSEDIT.EXE in the Windows\System directory that lets you edit the context on the WIN.INI, SYSTEM.INI, CONFIG.SYS, and AUTOEXEC.BAT files quickly within Windows, using a notepad-like editor.
Starting with Windows 95, most of the tasks performed by SYSTEM.INI and WIN.INI are now performed by the Registry.