Over the course of the last year, I have been extremely busy looking for an absolute solution to a difficult problem. Since my company decided to purchase Win98SE and install it on all the new PCs in the company, we have been having a problem with lockups during the Windows shutdown procedure.

What could the problem be?
Since the installation of Win98SE, the computers will occasionally lock up on the shutdown screen. According to the Microsoft Knowledge Base, this problem could be caused by a number of factors: A video card with an improperly assigned IRQ, a TSR that does not shut down correctly, a malfunctioning or incorrect device driver, a damaged exit sound file, hardware errors, incorrect BIOS settings, incorrect power management settings, or it could simply be that the Fast Shutdown registry key is enabled.

However, the conditions suggested above would not necessarily cause a machine to function normally today and lock up tomorrow. The fact that the problem is intermittent leads me to deduce that this problem is not related to hardware or a hardware setting, because those types of problems are static. In other words, if you can’t get your car started today, letting it sit in the garage and trying again tomorrow will still leave you with a car that won’t start. The problem will not go away by itself. But this Win98SE problem will disappear and return without the user doing anything out of the ordinary.

It may be software related
Believing this problem to be software related, I left messages at several of the forum technical databases I belong to. I received several messages that echoed Microsoft’s solutions. However, I did receive one unique message from a guy who suggested renaming WIN.COM to some obscure name and then reinstalling Win98SE. He said this worked for him on several PCs for which he was responsible. I gave this a try, but unfortunately, it did not solve my problems.

Could MS Word be the culprit?
My most recent attempt at fixing this problem was to remove Microsoft Word’s startup applets that are installed during setup, namely Fast Find and Office Startup. I derived this idea from a message I received from a technical forum I subscribe to. After consulting Microsoft’s Knowledge Base to learn specifically what these two applets did, I decided to remove them and see what happened.

I was pleased as punch to find out that my test PC did not lock up after 40 startups and shutdowns. (Before taking out the Word startup applets, I could not get past five startup/shutdowns without locking up.) I then expanded my test base by removing these applets from all 12 of our training room PCs.

We’re onto something here
After two weeks of all 12 training PCs shutting down successfully, I decided to remove the applets from our developers’ PCs. Two more weeks passed, and the fix that I incorporated on the developers’ and training room PCs continued to be effective.

It was hard to restrain myself from succumbing to the temptation to declare the problem fixed. I was so pleased with myself for finding a cure that no one else in my entire organization could find. But based upon past experience, I knew the foolhardiness of making such statements before a lengthy test trial.

Just when you thought you’ve won
I soon learned that I had made the right decision in keeping my mouth closed regarding “The Cure.” I began to receive calls from one of the developers that her PC was not shutting down correctly. As each day wore on I received more and more calls from more of the developers saying that the problem had returned. Then, I received notice from our trainer that a couple of the training room PCs had succumbed to this problem once again.

So here I am today, at the end of a failed test trial. I will wait until I hear from Microsoft regarding this matter or until Microsoft’s Windows ME is released. Unfortunately, at this moment, Windows NT and 2000 version are not an option.
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