The secret to a stable Windows 95, 98, 98SE, or Millennium Edition (ME)

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With the resurgence of people building “classic” and “retro” gaming rigs, I thought it would be important to reveal what might be my biggest secret. Sometimes I feel like I was the ONLY person on earth who liked Windows Millennium Edition.
Windows ME and I got along just fine. But why is that?

Immediately after installing Windows ME, I installed something called the “VXD_Fix.” Some people claimed this patch did nothing at all. What I can tell you is that I was the person who RARELY got Windows ME Blue Screen of Death (BSoD) or any other problems, and I never ran a Windows 9x or ME installation without the VXD Fix Applied.

The VXD Fix came from a user named “Revolution.” Some people accused his fix of being “snake oil” – but how can you call him a snake oil salesman when he provided the fix for free, and it’s a simple “.bat” script that lets you read exactly what it’s doing!? His solution was inspired by a Winmag Forum user named anthonyS who initially came up with the fix, and user Xin Li who inspired Revolution’s use of a BAT script to streamline the install.

Revolution’s website is long since gone, since the era of Windows XP his fix was largely irrelevant. His website only ever had a few hundred thousand visits in total, so it’s no wonder that this solution isn’t more widely known. But it increased the stability of my Windows 9x based systems so much, I’ve never let it go. I have recently decided to bundle multiple versions of the fix together for download again. Version 1.5 is specific to Windows 95, version 4.0 CAN BE used with 98/98SE, but I suggest using version 6.0 which to my knowledge is the final version which can be used with 98/98SE/ME. A changelog is included with the download.

The VXD Fix files, once downloaded, are easy to run from within your desired installation of Windows. The one thing to note is that you’ll need your Windows install disc, and you want to use the same media to install the VXD Fix! If you used 98SE instead of 98, use the 98SE disc; if you used “Windows 95B,” make sure you have the Windows 95B disc. Now that people are custom building their retro gaming rigs, it’s much easier to keep track of your installation media, unlike the days where people bought their Windows 9x computers and they didn’t include the discs!

I had gone so far as to exchange a few emails with him many years ago in the past, and I even provided a mirror of his files on the “old” NuAngel.net. From an archived version of his website, here’s what the fix actually did:

Q: Yeah, this all sounds great, but I am still skeptical. Can you explain VXD’s and what the file will do in detail?
A: This is a much-needed update to this FAQ, and I will be happy to try and explain it clearly.
Windows 98 installation builds a generic driver, which is named VMM32.VXD at the time of installation.
The vmm32.vxd file is not updated when you upgrade hardware, and has also been known to be less stable than individual vxd’s on most systems, even if they are brand new.
This is the reason that some users of 98 will never experience a problem related to vxd’s, and some will be plagued by continuous BLUE SCREEN’s OF DEATH screaming out to users: A FATAL EXCEPTION HAS OCCURED!
It is important to note here that not all Fatal Exceptions will cease in all cases. However, in almost all cases where users were getting Fatal Exceptions related to VXD’s the situation is corrected immediately, and does not continue or return later. Fatal Exceptions that contain errors not related to VXD files may continue to haunt you, and in fact might get worse, although not through any action of the VXD_FIX.BAT file, but rather because the problem that is causing the F.E. in the first place, if uncorrected may deteriorate system stability even further. Additionaly, the file specifically singles out the 7 “universal” VXD files, and does not address every single VXD file that may be needed by your system.
9x users who are curious can open their EXPLORER and navigate to C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM\VMM32 and view what vxd files are actually contained in the directory. Files that go into this directory will override or rather become the default driver to load, instead of the vmm32.vxd driver when Windows devices make a call to a VXD.
Users should note that none of the 7 VXD’s the BAT file extracts will be in the vmm32 directory prior to running the batch file, and that they are the same files listed in parenthesis in your Device Manager, which you might have discovered using the above mention method to look for them under Driver Details.
For the record the Seven “Mysterious” files I recommend extracting are as follows:
Configmg.vxd
Vcomm.vxd
Vdmad.vxd
Vdd.vxd
Vmouse.vxd
Ntkern.vxd
Vflatd.vxd

Q: What does the VXD_FIX do to my system?

A: VXD_FIX.BAT actually does little more than issue a DOS extract command, telling Windows to extract the 7 aforementioned files to the vmm32 directory.
I merely wrote the file to help users who are not as confident in their computer skills to attempt the process themselves, because I felt that everyone using Windows 98 had the right to possibly achieve a more stable computing experience.
VXD_FIX.BAT also offers some basic questions to act as “interactive” instructions on how to proceed, and what your system is doing at the moment. Additionally, it will scan the vmm32 directory first for one sample vxd to verify that your system does not already have these particular vxd’s extracted outside the monolithic vmm32.vxd. If the sampled file is in place, then the bat file will not run, to prevent accidentally overwriting possibly newer versions of the vxd’s already on your system.
ATTENTION! Users who have upgraded from Windows 95 to Windows 98, are more likely to experience problems than users who installed Windows 98 on a freshly formatted hard drive. Also, a large number of users who have upgrade from Windows 98 to Windows 98 Second Edition, have reported numerous problems. Where it is possible, I recommend fresh installs of all MS based Operating Systems as preferable to upgrading over an existing previous OS.
On this note, if you are concerned because you have a CD that says “Upgrade” not full version, fear not, you may do a Full installation. Merely have a CD of the previous Full installation CD you own handy. When the Upgrade CD searches for the files to verify you have a pre-existing qualifying product, it will not find it on your clean HD, and will prompt you to locate the files. At this point take out the Upgrade CD and put in the previous CD, and then use the Browse button to point to the files on the older OS’s CD, once found the installation program will then ask you if you want to proceed. Take the old OS’s CD out, and put in the new Upgrade CD, and click OK to continue installing.
** Some of the newest SE cd’s will say “This program requires Windows to run” if you attempt the above “upgrade CD bypass”. In those cases, you are forced to “upgrade” over a previous Windows installation.

Q: I have been to your page before, and you used to say that Windows 98 was missing the 7 VXD files, but now you are talking about some vmm32.vxd file, what’s the deal?!

A: Well folks, what can I say? I am not a perfect human being. I was aware for quiet a long time that the information on my site was not 100% factually accurate, and was being loudly denounced, and discredited by several sources on the net. The source of the missing files explanation goes way back to early Beta builds of Windows 98 in 1997. According to some, their actually was a Beta build that did fail to incorporate the 7 vxd’s that are pretty much universally used on all systems; according to some, it was always mere rumor that began in the Beta news group, and once unleashed on the net, continued to thrive. I myself was involved in the Beta program, but not until build 1650, commonly called Beta 3, and by that time the alleged vxd extraction failure had either been corrected, though many said it had not, or it never actually existed. I have trusted sources on both sides of the debate, and since I was not involved in the program prior to build 1650, I can not verify either sides claim personally.
I am a busy person and simply had not made the time to update the web site.
When I began this web site in January of 1999, it was with good intentions, but some misinformation, although I was not aware that it was misinformation at the time. As I learned more and more about Windows, about VXD’s, as I read resource kit documentation, tech net articles, and debated the various fine points via e-mail correspondents about how Windows manages memory, I became aware of the discrepancies, but lacked sufficient time, due in large part to major life changes, which included, but was not limited to: Multiple Major Medical crisis’s with 3 different immediate family members. Leaving a job of 5 years to begin a new business as partners with my old co-worker. House hunting, financing, closing, and moving 2 households, with 2 more moves scheduled before summer’s end!
Folks I don’t know about you, but that is an awful lot in 6 months! Not to mention that due to all that, I was hardly ever on my “home pc” but remotely logged on via others pc’s. I spent all my remote time answering inquires from users at my VXD related e-mail address, rather than administering the site.
So, that’s “the deal”. I apologize for any grief I might have caused anyone who was attacked as ignorant because they used my site as a reference, or their knowledge base. I certainly know what it is like to be accused of being ignorant of Windows…. And that’s fine with me. I think that inaccuracies must be brought to light.
This sites whole point was to bring to light the fact the MS is using a compression scheme that yields virtually 0 benefit, and can potentially cause a lot of grief that need not be a part of anyone’s computing experience.
Now others have held my feet to the fire, and kept me “honest” so to speak.
I commend them for their pursuit of the truth. I do not regret any part of my involvement. I feel it is my file and my web site, that have opened the dialogue regarding this subject to what is a mass market, as opposed to small techie groups, and have allowed, me, them, and so many other users to learn more about Windows memory management than I ever thought I would want to know.
I stand behind my assertion that by extracting individual vxd files which end up over riding the integrated version of the same file within the vmm32.vxd file, you increase the stability of Windows for most users, and will suffer no adverse effects, if your system is not unstable to begin with.
I personally do, and will continue to “fix” all 9x machines I use or come in contact with.
I have too many real world success stories to let those who wish to discredit me say that what my file does is a “placebo effect”. It just isn’t so. MS’s theory of a monolithic driver and the real world of computers and users just didn’t mesh perfectly, unfortunately, but I have a solution, and one that works quiet well.

Later,
Revolution

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