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

This article was previously published under Q195052
You create a folder called "Program" in the root of the volume hosting theWindows NT installation (boot partition). When you delete or rename itlater, 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 thisfolder.

If you click Yes, applications installed under the Program Files folder may not be usable anymore because the registry location will point to theRecycle Bin instead of the correct location. The application will not loadfor registered extensions and it cannot be started as an OLE or COM serveranymore. You can still start the application through a shortcut to theexecutable or by double-clicking it in Explorer. The problem will happenwith any path where the folder name matches the directory containing anapplication. For example, on the German version of Windows NT, the folderC:\Programme\Windows can cause this problem in conjunction with thefolder 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.
On all Rename and Delete operations, the shell checks the files involvedagainst the registry of all installed applications. If the path to theapplication executables contains spaces, the entry should be placed intothe registry with double quotation marks around it because these entriescan also contain command-line parameters.

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

This means that the parser will read the string "C:\Program Files\WindowsNT\Accessories\Wordpad.exe" as if it were the application C:\Program withthe parameters Files\Windows and NT\Accessories\Wordpad.exe. Hence, it willdisplay this warning when you try to delete or rename the C:\Programfolder. It will also later change the path in the registry to the RecycleBin 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.
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: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.
You can prevent the problem before it occurs with either of the followingapproaches:
  • Turn off the Recycle Bin through its properties. This workaround doesnot help with renames.
  • Use File Manager (Winfile.exe) for graphical file system managementinstead of Explorer. Install Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.01 ServicePack 1 or later. It does not have the problem with deletions and onlyaffects the keys below the following path:
After the problem has happened, there are several approaches to correctingthe problem:
  • Undo the delete operation by restoring the directory from the recyclebin and then delete it through the command line. This workaround is notfeasible 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 youhave not deleted the folder yet, delete it through the command lineinstead of Explorer.
Microsoft has confirmed that this is a problem in the Microsoft products that are listed at the beginning of this article.

Article ID: 195052 - Last Review: 11/01/2006 07:35:25 - Revision: 1.3

  • Microsoft Windows NT Workstation 4.0 Developer Edition
  • Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0 Standard Edition
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