\Program Breaks Applications Installed Under "C:\Program Files"

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Article ID: 195052 - View products that this article applies to.
This article was previously published under Q195052
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SYMPTOMS

You create a folder called "Program" in the root of the volume hosting the Windows NT installation (boot partition). When you delete or rename it later, a dialog box comes up:
This change may impact one or more registered programs. Do you want to continue?
This message appears even though no applications are installed in this folder.

If you click Yes, applications installed under the Program Files folder may not be usable anymore because the registry location will point to the Recycle Bin instead of the correct location. The application will not load for registered extensions and it cannot be started as an OLE or COM server anymore. You can still start the application through a shortcut to the executable or by double-clicking it in Explorer. The problem will happen with any path where the folder name matches the directory containing an application. For example, on the German version of Windows NT, the folder C:\Programme\Windows can cause this problem in conjunction with the folder C:\Programme\Windows NT.

Another symptom of the same problem occurs when the root folder contains a file named Program or an executable file with a base name of Program (such as C:\Program.exe). If this is the case, all the programs under the C:\Program Files folder with paths that do not contain quotation marks stop working.

CAUSE

On all Rename and Delete operations, the shell checks the files involved against the registry of all installed applications. If the path to the application executables contains spaces, the entry should be placed into the registry with double quotation marks around it because these entries can also contain command-line parameters.

However, many applications do not use quotation marks when adding the registry entries during installation. The parser, on the other hand, relies on those quotation marks to work correctly.

This means that the parser will read the string "C:\Program Files\Windows NT\Accessories\Wordpad.exe" as if it were the application C:\Program with the parameters Files\Windows and NT\Accessories\Wordpad.exe. Hence, it will display this warning when you try to delete or rename the C:\Program folder. It will also later change the path in the registry to the Recycle Bin or the new name for C:\Program.

If you have a file named C:\Program, the problem occurs when the shell tries to start a program with a path that does not contain quotation marks because the file produces a match against C:\Program, which is the first part of the full file name.

RESOLUTION

A supported fix is now available from Microsoft, but it is only intended to correct the problem that is described in this article. Apply it only to computers that are experiencing this specific problem.

To resolve this problem, contact Microsoft Product Support Services to obtain the fix. For a complete list of Microsoft Product Support Services phone numbers and information about support costs, visit the following Microsoft Web site:
http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=fh;EN-US;CNTACTMS
NOTE: In special cases, charges that are ordinarily incurred for support calls may be canceled if a Microsoft Support Professional determines that a specific update will resolve your problem. The usual support costs will apply to additional support questions and issues that do not qualify for the specific update in question.

The English-language version of this fix should have the following file attributes or later:
   Date       Time    Version     File name     Platform
   -----------------------------------------------------
   11/12/99   00:16   1.854.736   Shell32.dll   Alpha
   11/12/99   00:18   1.279.248   Shell32.dll   Intel
				

After you apply this fix, the rename operation problems described in the "Cause" section no longer occur. The parser has been improved to check for these conditions.

However, because of the ambiguity of the path name, the second issue (having a C:\Program.exe or C:\Program file on the on the disk), cannot be solved. The only solution is to change the program in one of the following ways:
  • When you register the program, make sure to include quotation marks if the path contains spaces.
  • Instead of registering the long path name, use the shortened path name. For example, use "c:\progra~1" for "c:\program files." Note that short file names might not be enabled on all computers and that they might change after restore operations.

WORKAROUND

You can prevent the problem before it occurs with either of the following approaches:
  • Turn off the Recycle Bin through its properties. This workaround does not help with renames.
  • Use File Manager (Winfile.exe) for graphical file system management instead of Explorer. Install Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.01 Service Pack 1 or later. It does not have the problem with deletions and only affects the keys below the following path:
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\App
After the problem has happened, there are several approaches to correcting the problem:
  • Undo the delete operation by restoring the directory from the recycle bin and then delete it through the command line. This workaround is not feasible with a rename operation.
  • Restore a recent backup of the registry, especially the SOFTWARE hive. Do this restore through an emergency repair.
  • Reinstall (remove may be required) all affected applications. If you have not deleted the folder yet, delete it through the command line instead of Explorer.

STATUS

Microsoft has confirmed that this is a problem in the Microsoft products that are listed at the beginning of this article.

Properties

Article ID: 195052 - Last Review: November 1, 2006 - Revision: 1.3
APPLIES TO
  • Microsoft Windows NT Workstation 4.0 Developer Edition
  • Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0 Standard Edition
Keywords: 
kbhotfixserver kbqfe kbenv kbprb KB195052

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