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Can't get back to Windows! Help!

By tinamarie ·
Hello- hope someone there can help me! I am A+ Certified and an MCP, I am experiencing problems with my sister's PC. It's on Windows 3.1.1.
Problem- I had computer booted, all was working ok, put a software cd-rom in and then- nothing!!! Except DOS! I can't bring it back to the Windows platform...I used the help and almost every command possible and nothing!!! I know it will run Windows as it was running before I put the cd in. My plan is to get it to run Windows and put it on WIN2K. It's an older machine- Gateway 2000 that's like brand new, lots of disk space, it just won't run Windows!!! Please help! I appreciate it! Tina

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by JamesRL In reply to Can't get back to Windows ...

Its probably just a corruption of Windows 3.11.

You are always best to format the drive and do a clean install anyway. Use DOS to back up any files you need to a floppy, then boot from the Win2000 installation CD.


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by In reply to Can't get back to Windows ...

Hi Tina,

Bad news on this one...

I remember the Windows 3.1 days well...same headache coming back...:-). Windows 3.1 was not as robust as Windows NT/2000/XP. But, one thing to remember is that the hardware back in those days was often proven to be less than 100% solid when people tried to upgrade to Windows 95 or NT. These 32-bit operating systems really utilize memory, disk, and motherboard circuitry. Not abuse, just thoroughly use. DOS seemed to run on that hardware because: (1) DOS and DOS apps didn't use the hardware that extensively, (2) DOS didn't do much while sitting at the C: prompt (unlike Windows 95/98/NT/2000/XP where there is constant preemptive activity), and (3) DOS and DOS apps crashed so often on their own we often did not have a chance to blame hardware.

Chances are, due to "less than 100%" hardware, some disk EXE and DLL files have become corrupted. That is why you currently cannot run Windows 3.1 anymore. You might be able to reinstall Windows 3.1 to "fix" the problem. I did that many times when running Win 3.1. But, the real problem is very likely that your sister's hardware is not 100% solid.

Recommendation: Retire this PC. Your sister should upgrade to a new fast PC running Windows XP.


-----Steve Jackson

Software Corporation (Softcorp)
Advanced pro bono tools and utilities free for personal use

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by willcomp In reply to Can't get back to Windows ...

Change to Windows directory and run See if Win 3.1 then loads.

I agree with the other responses. Time to upgrade. You are probably dealing with a Pentium PC at best. I have grave doubts that it would even run Win2K decently. A PC that old is likely limited to Win98SE as optimal OS.

Regardless, you must do a clean install of any later version of Windows, other than Win95, to preclude major hardware and software conflicts.


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by willcomp In reply to

Neglect comment from Blackcurrent regarding F8 for startup menu. Applies only to Win95 or later. DOS does not have such an option and Win 3.1 runs on DOS.

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by p.j.hutchison In reply to Can't get back to Windows ...

For Windows 3.x to load you need the C:\DOS;C:\Windows in the PATH (set in autoexec.bat) and HIMEM.SYS loaded (in config.sys).
Then run WIN to start windows up. There are some extra options such as logging to a file for some diagnostics if windows fail to boot. Type win /? to see options.
You can also check system.ini and win.ini files for any problems.

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by OTL In reply to Can't get back to Windows ...

Gateway 2000 best we could do was WIN 95 after upgrading to Pentium 1, 75 MHZ. Win 98 would not run as we could not get enough ram into it.

Going into "cd windows" from the dos prompt then type "win", if windows comes up add "Win" to the end of c:\autoexec.bat. Make sure answer #2's entries are in the config.sys and autoexec.bat files.

BTW - Have a Gateway 2000 with Win 3.1 at work, has worked for over 8 years.

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by OTL In reply to

Should have been answer # 4 not 2 entries, added note have a 2000 running Win 95 and is a Pentium 1, 75 MHZ CPU, so.... it can be done.

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by Blackcurrant In reply to Can't get back to Windows ...


Another option if you have not already tried it is restart the computer and press F8. Select Selective startup and answer the Y/N prompts for each command for the config.sys and autoexec.bat file entries. This will tell you immediately if any of the drivers or other programs are not loading properly.

Also, is the computer networked? If so take the network cable out reboot, switch it off and reinsert the cable. We have a Win 3.11 machine were I work, and this often solves problems when Windows will not start.

Do you get any error when Windows does not start? Have you tried typing 'exit' sans quotes, at the MS-DOS prompt?

Good luck

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