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SYSTEM.INI was a basic INI file used in early versions of Microsoft Windows to load device drivers and the default Windows shell (Program Manager or Windows Explorer). Many of these settings were honored in Windows 9x, although the files had begun to be phased out in favor of the Windows registry. Windows XP still acknowledges some entries in the SYSTEM.INI file, to provide backwards compatibility with older 16-bit applications. However, when a fresh install of XP is performed, the SYSTEM.INI file created is initially blank.


Microsoft bundles two specialized editors for core configuration files (such as WIN.INI, SYSTEM.INI, CONFIG.SYS, and AUTOEXEC.BAT) with its operating systems. Sysedit is an MDI text editor that opens all of those files simultaneously, available in all versions of Windows since Windows 3.x. MSConfig is a simpler application that allows a user to enable and disable drivers and applications from being loaded at startup by the aforementioned files and the Run, RunEx, and RunOnce registry keys.


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