Win 9x locks at Desktop
Problem addressed:  Win 9x locks at Desktop, before Icons appear. 

In my case, the conflict was that Win95 Plug and Play caused an old Ensoniq sound card to apparently be assigned to the same space in memory as some other driver.  BAD!  This caused Windows to freeze as soon as the Sound Card initialized, in other words, just before Windows Desktop appears, and when the Startup Sound plays. 

After reading all the technical information on it, my hunch was to Exclude Upper Memory from being used at all by Windows. I only needed to do this one time to force Windows "Plug and Pray" to assign a better location.  I could not use Device Mgr. to assign a different memory location, for some reason.  That method was blocked. 

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Here's what I did:
  • Hit the F8 key repeatedly at startup before the Windows splash screen appears. 
  • When the Boot Menu appears, pick Command Prompt Only, or the number 5 usually. 
  • At the C:\> prompt, instead of just typing WIN as in the old DOS-Win3.1 days, type WIN /D:X. 
  • The sound card became initialized at 6000 instead of the 220 memory range. 
  • When I rebooted, that setting stayed put. 

Gary Goodman
330 733 3518

Long explanation. (I wrote this as an email in 1996 so I'm not re-editing it.  Just ignore it if it's too wordy.)

TROUBLESHOOTING FIRST: The way to troubleshoot this is to  go into Safe Mode, by hitting the F8 key at "Starting Windows..., Find Device Manager in the Control Panel, and Disable some of the Devices, like Sound, Network, Video, etc. What you are looking at here, is "software" for running "hardware" AKA "drivers", which is different from "software applications".  As you will see, when you restart in Normal Mode, it will be "like" Safe Mode - no 32-bit fancy Virtual Drivers will be running, so no sound, Video will be "Standard" 16-bit VGA. Then enable one at a time, until you find the culprit. THAT'S HOW YOU TROUBLESHOOT HARDWARE/DRIVER PROBLEMS. 

Now my problem turned out to be my Ensoniq, everything worked fine as long as it was disabled. I was almost going to return the card, but it worked at first and I had a hunch it was software, Tech Suppt where I bought it couldn't help. I thought I'd sleuth it eventually. I bought a book, Windows 95 (now 98) Secrets. One chapter discussed Upper Memory, which some Drivers use, and Upper Memory conflicts. Briefly, old DOS used the first 640K for programs incl itself, and the next 380 something up to 1000K (1MB RAM) was used for Devices. Windows, after loading some basic DOS stuff, uses HIGH (not upper) Memory, which is everything ABOVE 1MB up to 32MB, 64 whatever you got, for all it's stuff. So the book suggested some Driver was hosing my Upper Memory, stepping on something Windows or the PC needed to use for more basic Devices, like it's motherbd or something. Two things using the same memory address is a no-no. Crash city. (Funny thing, my sound card worked at first, then one day, possibly after installing Office, it stopped working, and locked at a blank Desktop.) So they had a whole bunch of instructions for troubleshooting this, to figure out exactly which address range to "exclude" from use, but here's what I did instead. 

First I re-enabled the Sound Card in Device Manager, then I rebooted into Safe Mode, and Removed the Sound Card. Of course, on Reboot, Windows would automatically Detect it and put me back in the S**T again. But instead, I hit the F8 key when it said "Starting Windows..." and picked Command prompt only. So the Config.sys and Autoexec.bat ran, and I got a DOS C: prompt. Now, in DOS and old Windows 3.x, before 95, the only way to get to Windows was to type WIN at the prompt to run the file Instead, following my book, I typed 
WIN /D:x  which tells the PC to run Windows, BUT EXCLUDE ALL UPPER MEMORY FROM USE. So Windows booted up, found the Ensoniq Sound card, and asked for the CD with the Drivers on it. (Actually, I hit CANCEL and ran the Driver installation Setup routine off the CD.) Surprise, it worked, whereas before it would go into an endless loop during this setup and detection procedure. 
So I thought, am I gonna have to do this 
WIN /D:X EVERY time or troubleshoot this step-by-step? NO. It worked fine after that. 

Conclusion: Windows had used Plug-and-Pray to configure the Sound card OK when I first ran it, then Windows Dynamically re-Allocated it's memory resources on the fly, by itself, for NO KNOWN REASON, screwing it up. When I FORCED Windows and P-n-P to set it up and allocate resources BUT use NO UPPER MEMORY at all (the /D:X thing) it gave it "good" resources, locked those settings in the Windows registry, and used them thereafter. I did check Device Manager after, and the displayed Memory Address range, which had been 220, was now 6000. 

NOTE: Yours might not be the Sound Card, or could be some other Hardware or some other software starting up, or possibly a hosed installation of Internet Explorer, or basically ANYTHING, exp if you have other software installed. 

If it works in Safe Mode but not in Normal Mode, several things are eliminated, all the AutoStartup Routines in various locations, but mostly the 32-bit virtual Hardware Drivers. I'm betting that's it. 

Gary Goodman
330 733 3518

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