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Windows ME & Modems  (Updated 20-Jul-06)

Windows Millennium Edition (ME) has gone gold and is in stores and new computers.

All software modems - those that require an operating-system-specific driver - will not operate without a Windows ME driver: Windows 95/98 drivers might not work for these modems. (Microsoft is calling these drivers WDM: Windows Driver Model.)

WindowsME can use .sys drivers normally used with Windows 2000 (as long as the driver has been written to support the Win98/ME technology); ME also supports .vxd drivers.

WindowsME and 2000 ship with drivers for many software modem chipsets; however, these are often not the latest drivers. If the operating system is installed with these drivers, you may experience difficulty in updating the drivers.

WindowsME still retains much of the Win95/98 OS architecture, and is capable of running at least some older Win95/98 modem drivers - however, when ME is installed, it will load and install new, signed drivers that are included with the OS. It is possible to switch to older drivers, although doing so is not easy! (Hint: Try safe mode.)

IMPORTANT: If you purchase a new computer system with WindowsME installed, you are less likely to experience serious system stability problems than if you upgrade a Win95/98 system: early reports indicate many driver-related problems with WinME that cause system crashes including BSOD (Blue screen of death).

AOL & WinME: This MSKB article indicates a problem in a component of the ME operating system may prevent a connection to AOL, or cause the connection to drop or the computer to hang.

Microsoft has a web-based Hardware Compatibility List (HCL) that can be used to determine whether a modem is [supposed to be] compatible with Windows2000, ME, NT4, 95 and/or 98.

INSTALLATION PROBLEMS - Country selection. Some Conexant modems/drivers may cause a problem with modemui.dll / country selection. Installation of the modem may stop and prompt for country selection without any countries available for selection. You may be able to use the following procedure to complete installation:

When the country prompt comes up, press CTRL+ALT+DEL and End Task on the Select Country task. The install should proceed normally.

If the install stalls again at the end of the installation, press CTRL+ALT+DEL and End task on the Modem Installation task. The installation should be complete at this point.

ALSO SEE: For more technical info/description of modem drivers & Windows see the following Microsoft web pages:

What does WDM Mean to Device Driver Writers? 
Adding a VxD Interface to Sys Drivers 

Following is excerpt from MS Technet:

In Windows 2000, a new feature called System File Protection (SFP), will prevent the replacement of certain monitored system files. By preventing the replacement of essential system files, file version mismatches can be avoided.

SFP provides protection for system files by using a background mechanism that runs inside Winlogon.exe on a Windows 2000–based system. At the end of GUI-mode setup, SFP runs a scan of all protected files to ensure that they have not been modified by applications installed using unattended installation. After successful startup, the System File Protection service will perform a check of all catalog (.cat) files used to track correct file versions. If any catalog files are missing or corrupted, SFP will rename the affected catalog file and retrieve a cached version of that file from the dllcache directory. If a cached copy of the catalog file is not available in dllcache, SFP request the appropriate media (that is, Windows 2000 Service Pack, Windows 2000 Hotfix, and so on) to retrieve a pristine copy of the catalog file.

System File Protection is triggered when it receives a directory change notification on a file in a protected directory. Once it receives this notification, SFP will determine which file was changed. If the file is protected, SFP will look up the file signature in a catalog file to determine if the new file is the correct Microsoft version. If it is not, then the system either replaces the file from the dllcache directory or distribution media, depending on whether or not the file is located in dllcache. 

Code Signing

Code Signing technology, included in Windows 2000, complements System File Protection by using existing Digital Signature cryptographic technology to verify the source of a system file before it is installed.

A hash (encryption) of the driver binary and relevant information are stored in a catalog (.cat) file, and the .cat file is signed with the Microsoft digital signature. The binary itself is not touched; only a .cat file is created for each driver package and the .cat file is signed with a Microsoft digital signature. The relationship between the driver package and its .cat file is referenced in the driver's .inf file and maintained by the system after the driver is installed.

System File Protection uses the file signatures and catalog files generated by Code Signing to verify if protected system files are the correct Microsoft versions. System File Protection does not generate signatures of any type. So, while Code Signing is the means of tracking a file's version and creator, System File Protection is the enforcement mechanism that uses Code Signing signatures and catalog files to keep system files at their correct versions.

Driver Signing

To assure users that device drivers loading on their systems are certified production grade products, or notify them if such is not the case, Microsoft provides cryptographic signing on the binary driver code.

To promote and advance the quality of drivers, to provide a better user experience, and to reduce support costs for vendors and total cost of ownership (TCO) for customers, Microsoft has begun digitally signing drivers that pass the Windows Hardware Quality Labs (WHQL) tests. Such certification proves to users that the drivers they employ are identical to those Microsoft has tested, and flags any changes after a product is put on the Hardware Compatibility List.

Driver Signing operates as a driver is installed, rather than as a system boots. The three primary categories of driver verification can be simply described as Fail, Warn, and Ignore. Fail prevents unsigned code from being loaded. Warn provides a prominent message to tell the user that unsigned code is being loaded. Ignore loads drivers without notification, if the user or administrator so chooses. Driver Signing is configurable through a control panel to allow different types of drivers to be treated differently; for example, video drivers can operate in Warn mode, while network drivers operate in Fail mode.

It is important to note that digital signatures are associated with individual driver packages and are recognized by Windows 98, Windows 2000, and future operating systems. The operating system performs signature detection during any Plug and Play operation when the user runs the Control Panel Add New Hardware application.

Drivers will be digitally signed as part of WHQL testing if they run on Windows 98 and Windows 2000. (Only signed drivers are published on the Windows Update web site at .)

This page will be expanded and more information added as I learn more. Many of the software modem pages have information relating to Windows2000 which also applies to Windows ME.  

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