Description of Microsoft System Information (Msinfo32.exe) Tool


Windows 98 includes a tool called Microsoft System Information (Msinfo32.exe). This tool can be used to gather information about your computer, to diagnose issues with your computer, or to access other tools that are included with Windows 98. This article describes the Microsoft System Information tool.

More Information

Microsoft System Information collects system information, such as devices that are installed in your computer or device drivers loaded in your computer, and provides a menu for displaying the associated system topics. You can use Microsoft System Information to diagnose computer issues, for example, if you are having display issues, you can use Microsoft System Information to determine what display adapter is installed on your computer and view the status of its drivers.

Microsoft System Information also provides access to other tools you can use for troubleshooting.

Microsoft System Information maintains a history of device drivers that are installed on your computer. If you are unsure of a computer's recent history, use Microsoft System Information to better understand what has happened in the past. If a device does not work correctly and its history indicates a recent upgrade to a new driver, replace that driver with the original driver and test to see if the issue is resolved. If you install an update from the Windows Update Web site and it fails to meet your expectations, restore the original files by running the Update Wizard Uninstall from the Tools menu in Microsoft System Information. If your computer worked fine yesterday, but is not working properly today, try restoring yesterday's configuration files by running the MS-DOS-based Registry Checker program with the /restore parameter.

For more information about how to use the Registry Checker in Windows 98, see the following article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:

ARTICLE-ID: 183887
TITLE : Description of the Windows Registry Checker Tool (Scanreg.exe)

To start Microsoft System Information, use either of the following methods:

Method 1

Click Start, point to Programs, point to Accessories, point to System Tools, and then click System Information.

Method 2

Click Start, click Run, type "msinfo32.exe" (without quotation marks) in the Open box, and then click OK.

NOTE: When you start Microsoft System Information with this method, you can specify a .cab file that was generated by the Windows Report Tool.

For information about the Windows Report Tool, click Start, click Help, click the Index tab, type "windows report" (without quotation marks), and then double-click the Windows Report Tool topic.

The information displayed in Microsoft System Information is divided into the following three categories:

  • Hardware Resources
  • Components
  • Software Environment
The following sections describe the categories and sub-categories that are displayed in Microsoft System Information, and explain how you can use this information when you troubleshoot issues with your computer.

System Information

The System Information category provides a general profile of your computer. This information includes:

  • The version of Windows
  • The version of Internet Explorer
  • The type of central processing unit (CPU)
  • The amount of memory and system resources
  • Total and free hard disk space
  • The file system for each partition
Use this information at the beginning of the troubleshooting process to develop a basic picture of the environment in which the issue occurs.

Hardware Resources

The Hardware Resources category displays hardware-specific settings, such as assigned or used interrupt requests (IRQs), input/output (I/O) addresses, and memory addresses. The following list is the sub-categories included in the Hardware Resources category.


Lists the identified resource conflicts between Industry Standard Architecture (ISA) devices, and identifies resources shared by Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI) devices. Use this information to help identify hardware conflicts.


Reports the direct memory access (DMA) channels in use, the devices using them, and those that are free for use.

Forced Hardware:

Lists hardware devices in which the PnP configuration has been disabled and resource settings have been manually set to user-specified resources. Forced hardware would also apply to devices which do not participate in the PNP process such as legacy ISA devices. This information is useful when you want to troubleshoot Plug and Play resource conflicts.


Lists all I/O port ranges in use and the devices that are using each range.


Summarizes IRQ usage, identifies the devices using the IRQs, and lists free IRQs.


Lists memory address ranges in use by devices.


The Components category displays information about your Windows 98 system configuration. This includes the status of your device drivers, network components, and multimedia software. There is also a comprehensive driver history and a summary of devices that may not be working correctly. The following list is the sub-categories included in the Components category.


Lists sound card and game controller information.

Multimedia - Audio:

Lists the audio codecs that are loaded.

Multimedia - Video:

Lists the video codecs that are loaded.

Multimedia - CD-ROM:

Lists the drive letter and model of your CD-ROM drive. If a data CD-ROM is in the drive, Microsoft System Information also performs a data transfer test.


Lists video card and monitor information.


Lists Infrared device information.


Lists keyboard and mouse information.


Lists information about any miscellaneous components.


Lists modem information.


Lists network adapter, client, and protocol information.

Network - Winsock:

Lists Winsock version, description, and status information.


Lists serial and parallel port information.


Lists information about hard disks, floppy drives, removable media, and controllers.


Lists installed printers and printer drivers.

Problem Devices:

Lists devices with issues. Lists each device that is flagged in Device Manager, and displays the corresponding status information.


Lists Universal Serial Bus (USB) controllers and drivers that are installed.


Lists complete driver history, or the history for the last seven days. This may be useful for tracking changes to your computer's configuration.


Lists information about your computer's Basic Input/Output System (BIOS), motherboard, and other system devices.

NOTE: You may choose to view Basic Information, Advanced Information, or History if the component has a device driver.

Software Environment

The Software Environment category displays the software loaded in your computer's memory.

Drivers - Kernel Drivers:

Lists kernel-mode (ring 0) device drivers that are loaded.

Drivers - MS-DOS Drivers:

Lists real-mode device drivers that are loaded.

Drivers - User-Mode Drivers:

Lists user-mode (ring 3) device drivers that are loaded.

16-bit Modules Loaded:

Lists 16-bit system-level dynamic link libraries (.dll) and programs that are loaded. This may be useful for debugging software issues, such as application fault errors.

32-bit Modules Loaded:

Lists 32-bit system-level DLLs and programs that are loaded. This may be useful for debugging software issues, such as application fault errors.

Running Tasks:

Lists the currently running executable files or programs. This provides a comprehensive view of the processes running on your computer.

Startup Programs:

Lists programs started automatically either from the registry, the Startup folder, or the Win.ini file.

System Hooks:

Lists programs that are resident in memory and hook system calls.

OLE Registration - INI File:

Lists OLE file associations controlled by various .ini files.

OLE Registration - Registry:

Lists OLE file associations that are controlled by the Registry.

NOTE: Hardware information is not available in Safe Mode. While Microsoft System Information can be run in Safe Mode, it is limited to displaying information about system components and the software environment.

When you want to troubleshoot issues with Windows 98, Microsoft recommends you start with the Microsoft System Information tool. To reduce the time needed to start other troubleshooting or system tools, you can start the following programs from the Tools menu in Microsoft System Information:
  • Windows Report Tool
  • Update Wizard Uninstall
  • System File Checker
  • Signature Verification Tool
  • Registry Checker
  • Automatic Skip Driver Agent
  • Dr. Watson
  • System Configuration Utility
  • ScanDisk
  • Version Conflict Manager
For additional information about how to use these programs, click Start, click Help, click the Index tab, type "the title of the appropriate system tool" (without quotation marks), and then double-click the appropriate related Help topic.