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Windows Server® 2008 Administrator’s Companion by Charlie Russel and Sharon Crawford

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The Origins of the Registry

Back in the days of Windows 3.1, applications and Windows stored configuration information in .INI files. These files were simple to edit, which was both a blessing and a curse—users could easily make changes when needed, but they could also easily make changes when they weren’t needed. The proliferation of Windows applications soon meant that computers were littered with dozens of .INI files, each with its own combination of settings—not all of which were documented or even understood by anyone other than the application programmers.

Windows NT 3.1 largely eliminated .INI files, replacing them with the registry. Indeed, the Windows NT 3.1 registry has some important features that have survived more or less intact to ...

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