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Seven Ways The Start Menu’s Recent Programs List Works

start-menu.pngRaymond Chen is doing a series getting into the details of how the Recent Programs section of the Start Menu works, bringing some understanding to that automatic-customizing smart list. Some things we learn:

  1. The simplest explanation is, “Each time you launch a program, it ‘earns a point’, and the longer you don’t launch a program, the more points it loses.”
  2. The system tracks programs launched, so no matter how they are launched (like by several different shortcuts with different parameters), the target program earns all the “points” to make the list.
  3. The Start Menu doesn’t just track programs launched from the Start Menu, it also tracks programs you run by navigating through Program Files.
  4. When Windows is installed, programs get pre-assigned points based on the manufacturer of the computer (two), Microsoft’s choice (three, five if you install yourself, one less in XP SP2) and the U.S. Justice Department (one in XP SP2).
  5. Microsoft is afraid programs will try to game the system as a means of advertising themselves to users, so don’t expect to ever get the full details.
  6. There’s a patent pending for the system
  7. Some programs don’t make the list, like ones you’ve pinned to the top of the Start Menu, ones with certain names (Documentation, Help, Install, More Info, Readme, Read me, Read First, Setup, Support, What’s New, Remove) and certain file names (Setup.exe, Install.exe, Isuninst.exe, Unwise.exe, Unwise32.exe, St5unst.exe, Rundll32.exe, Msoobe.exe, Lnkstub.exe, Msascui.exe) and ones that tell Windows it doesn’t want to make the list.

June 18th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Windows, General | no comments

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