Hidden ‘tools’ in XP

June 17, 2008 at 9:13 pm | Posted in Humor, Software, Strange | 1 Comment


I’m a techie and have been using Windows XP for awhile now. But every so often I run into a surprise. Over on Office Messaging, I talked about setting up an internal messaging system for the office. In the days of Windows98, some of us used the built-in ‘Winpopup’. That was left behind by the NT family and its command line ‘Net Send’. There didn’t appear to be a local IM tool in XP.

Turns out there is. Its called Winchat. Or more specifically Microsoft Chat. Version 5, updated with SP2 no less.

Click Start, Run, then enter winchat. Voila.

Now – there is a couple of caveats. It requires the Network DDE service to be running. And that requires the Network DDE DSDM service running. On both computers in the connection. It also uses NetBIOS so that has to be on in the properties of your LAN network. In other words, old tech. It even expects you to “dial” a computer. But its there.

Curiously, there is another product called Microsoft Chat. Only this one is out of MS Research. Originally developed in the mid ’90’s, its a chat program that puts your conversation into balloons of an evolving comic strip…  Thus it was known also as Comic Chat. You could choose characters to express yourself, kind of like emoticons but more comix. The program is rarely used today as it was discontinued a couple of years later and the chat network was shut down. Seems others are hosting chat servers now though. And character editors. Theres even a comic thats been produced with it for over 10 years. The web is a curious place. And imagine what messaging would be like today if this had lasted into the IM era.

For a bit of trivia, it was one of the early ways you could get the font Comic Sans on your computer. It was indeed developed for comics.


Another semi-useful tool I’d forgotten about is the clipboard viewer. What did you paste in there??

Click Start, Run, and enter clipbrd to see.

Of course, free programs like Clipboard Recorder are far more useful. They let you keep common snippets for reuse (like your address), can hold multiple ‘copies’, and so forth. More suggestions here:

Windows Music

And finally, if you enjoyed the music of your XP install or forget entirely what it sounded like or never even heard it as it was preinstalled, here it is again, for your listening pleasure:

Again, in the run box, paste:

Start me Up!


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  1. BTW – heres a short page about Comic Chat


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