Windows 95/98

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Microsoft Information Utility (MSInfo)

Overview of MSInfo

MSInfo is simply an application that provides information on the customer's system. Think of it as a form of DMI that actually works and is useful. MSInfo allows you to view system information such as hardware devices installed and device drivers loaded. MSInfo is used to help solve software related issued like driver conflicts, etc...

All information that MSInfo provides is collected from the registry, system.ini, win.ini, autoexec.bat, config.sys, and from the operating system itself - such as what 16-bit and 32-bit modules are running. Instead of using Device Manager to discover conflicts, MSInfo can be used. Although you'll still need DM to actually solve the conflict by adding or removing drivers, MSInfo is much more powerful to discover what the initial problem is.

Starting and Using MSInfo

To start MSInfo, just open a Run dialog from the Start menu, type "MSInfo32", and hit enter.

When MSInfo comes up, it presents a window that is divided into two sections. The section on the left shows the various categories of information that can be provided about the system in outline form, complete with the + and - symbols we're all used to. On the right, the actual information from the category selected on the left is displayed.

The beginning screen displays general system info, including:

  • Windows version
  • Type of installation (including switches used in setup)
  • Internet Explorer version
  • Uptime (how long the system has been running since the last reboot)
  • Mode (safe or normal)
  • Type of Processor
  • Quantity of RAM
  • Available system resources
  • Disk Space Available

The listing of categories on the left is dependant on the hardware installed on the system. Here is list of the categories and subcategories, and what they display:

SYSTEM INFORMATION - Lists the information given above.

RESOURCES

  • Conflicts/Sharing - Lists resource conflicts as well as PCI devices that can share resources.
  • DMA - Reports the DMA channels used, as well as those that are free.
  • Forced Harware - Lists hardware devices that have been added manually or have manually set hardware settings.
  • I/O - Lists all I/O port ranges, and devices using each range.
  • IRQ's - Lists all IRQ's and devices using each one.
  • Memory - Lists memory address ranges in use by various devices, and the devices using each range.

COMPONENTS

  • Multimedia (Audio) - Lists audio CODECs used.
  • Multimedia (Video) - Lists video CODECs used.
  • Multimedia (CD-ROM) - Lists the drive letter and model of the CD-ROM drive.
  • Display - Lists video card and monitor information.
  • Input - Lists keyboard and mouse information.
  • Network - Lists network adapter and protocol information.
  • Ports - Lists serial and parallel port information.
  • Problem Devices - Lists all devices that are not working properly, why they are not working, and provides a possible resolution.
  • Storage - Provides information about FDD's, HDD's, and any other storage devices.
  • Printing - Lists installed printers and drivers.
  • USB - Lists USB controllers and drivers installed.
  • History - Lists a complete history of changes to the hardware in the last seven days.

SOFTWARE ENVIRONMENT

  • Drivers (Kernel Drivers) - Lists protected mode (ring 0) drivers that have been loaded.
  • Drivers (MS-DOS Drivers) - Lists real mode drivers installed.
  • Drivers (User-Mode Drivers) - Lists all User Mode (ring 3) drivers installed.
  • 16-bit Modules - Lists all 16-bit DLL's and programs.
  • 32-bit Modules - Lists all 32-bit DLL's and programs.
  • Running Tasks - Lists all tasks that are running.
  • Startup Programs - Lists programs in the StartUp group, or programs that are started by the registry or the win.ini file.
  • OLE Registration (INI file) - Lists OLE file associations controlled by INI files.
  • OLE Registration (Registry) - List OLE file associations controlled by the registry.

Of course, all this information can be exported to a .nfo file by choosing "Save" from the "File" menu. MSInfo can also be used to launch several other Win98 troubleshooting applications via the "Tools" menu.

Points to Remember

Launch MSInfo from the Run dialog.

MSInfo collects information from the Configuration manager, which is not available in Safe mode. Therefore, MSInfo can only report information while in Normal mode. You can sill run MSInfo in safe mode to view previously created .nfo files, however.

MSInfo is best used in conjunction with Device Manager to solve device conflicts.