How to Run Windows NT Explorer As a Separate Process

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Article ID: 156366 - View products that this article applies to.
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By default, the Windows NT 4.0 Desktop, Taskbar, and Explorer run in a single process using multiple threads. If you modify the registry, enabling the DesktopProcess entry, the Taskbar and Desktop will run in one process with each instance of Explorer in a separate process. Each new instance of Explorer.exe will use its own thread. The setting can be verified when two instances of Explorer.exe are visible using Pviewer.exe from the Windows NT 4.0 Resource Kit or the Process tab of the Windows NT 4.0 Task Manager.


This configuration is enabled on a per-user basis by modifying the registry as follows:

WARNING: Using Registry Editor incorrectly can cause serious problems that may require you to reinstall your operating system. Microsoft cannot guarantee that problems resulting from the incorrect use of Registry Editor can be solved. Use Registry Editor at your own risk.

For information about how to edit the registry, view the "Changing Keys And Values" online Help topic in Registry Editor (Regedit.exe) or the "Add and Delete Information in the Registry" and "Edit Registry Data" online Help topics in Regedt32.exe. Note that you should back up the registry before you edit it.
  1. Start Registry Editor (Regedt32.exe).
  2. Under the HKEY_CURRENT_USER subtree, go to the following subkey:
  3. Create a new value called DesktopProcess (REG_DWORD) with the data field set to 1.

    Valid entries are 0 and 1; 0 is the default.
  4. Quit Registry Editor.
This entry will allow access to the taskbar and desktop when Explorer becomes unresponsive.

NOTE: This setting should only be enabled on Pentium-based computers with more than 16 MB of RAM.

NOTE: Use default settings if you encounter shell problems.

If you encounter problems after you install Internet Explorer version 4.0 or 4.01, please see the following article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
ARTICLE-ID: 181562
TITLE : Problems Opening or Exploring Folders in Internet Explorer


Article ID: 156366 - Last Review: November 1, 2006 - Revision: 1.1
  • Microsoft Windows NT Workstation 4.0 Developer Edition
  • Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0 Standard Edition
kbhowto KB156366

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