How does the Windows XP Start menu decide that a program is newly-installed?

Actually, I discussed this topic already, but I'm mentioning it again here since it's thematically related to the other Start menu articles.

I'm told that there have been a few tweaks to the rules for Windows Vista. Some installers set the time stamps on the program to match the time stamp of the install media. This makes for pretty directory listings but means that the Start menu fails to recognize the program as new. To address this, the Start menu also takes the creation time of the directory containing the program into consideration when determining which programs are new.

Second, a program that appears in the pin list will not be marked as new, since that would be pointless duplication. (This is only an issue for the "chameleon" pin list entries like "Internet" and "Email" which track your current default Web browser or mail program.) And third, the grace period after installation has been extended from one hour to five hours. This gives computer manufacturers more time to install all their shovelw^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hhigh-quality added-value software.

Comments (16)
  1. Scott says:

    "high-quality added-value software."

    high-quality addled-value software.

    There, fixed that typo for you.

  2. Joe Dietz says:

    And it takes just about 3 hours to clean all of it on a new box to get back to a more or less clean OS install so that I can then add back in the actually useful 3rd party stuff….

  3. I just start with a stock Windows CD and nuke the lot.

    It’s quicker to reinstall the base OS than to remove a lot of the carp that comes preinstalled.

  4. Jared says:


    Amen. I’ve used the PC-Decrapifier on new PCs at work, and at home, the first thing I do is wipe the whole thing.

  5. Leo Petr says:

    I usually disable mark-as-new because some things stay marked as new for weeks.

  6. Wolf Logan says:


    "high-quality addled-value software."

    high-quantity addled-value software.

    There, fixed that typo for you.

  7. John says:

    No, you don’t understand.  The shovelware is installed "in order to serve you better".

    Does Microsoft offer an option to download a clean installation CD/DVD image (assuming you have a valid license key)?  I am in the market for a notebook, but every single review of the current generation of products makes it clear that the systems come ONLY with a recovery partition; there is usually an option to create your own recovery CDs based on the recovery partition, but that would still result in all the crapware.  I could buy an OEM copy, but that’s $100 – $200 (depending on what version) that I shouldn’t have to spend.

  8. Daniel says:

    Does all this tracking and calculation occur if the classic start menu is in use?

  9. Rick C says:

    John:  Dell provides clean installation DVDs, or they did in 2005 when I bought an XPS laptop.  You get additional discs with drivers, applications, and shovelware.

  10. steveg says:

    Ah… ^H. Kids these days just don’t get it. Or at least the Young Thing here at work didn’t.

    BTW great series, very enjoyable — I’d never thought about how the start menu worked before.

  11. Dean Harding says:

    Rick: I too got a clean XP CD with my Dell, but that was a while ago as well…

    Daniel: I’m pretty sure Raymond already covered this: yes it does.

  12. ChrisMcB says:

    I gotta say marking newly installed programs as new is one of the coolest things that XP came out with.

  13. Nick says:

    Honestly I can’t stand the "Highlight newly installed programs" option and it’s one of the first things I turn off in a new install.

    I’ve come to love the XP-style Start Menu, but that option is just annoying. I figure that considering I *just* installed it, I should know to go find it in the Start Menu.  Maybe this is another example of "power" user vs "normal" user ways of thinking.

    Thanks again for doing this series Raymond. Series/articles like this are why I read your blog.

  14. foxyshadis says:

    Usually it’s impossible to get a clean installation or clean media in the budget models, even if you can get it for the high end (like dell’s XPS and Optiplex lines). That’s just part of the cost of the systems, the shovelware subsidizes the price tag.

    If you’re particularly clever with nlite, you can usually get around any removal restrictions that the OEMs put in their recovery discs, though.

  15. Monty says:

    Thursday, June 21, 2007 2:37 PM by John

    "there is usually an option to create your own recovery CDs based on the recovery partition, but that would still result in all the crapware."

    *scratches head*  Where do you normally see that option?  I’d love to attempt to create my own RCD but with SP2 installer on it.  :P

  16. Tomer Chachamu says:

    A friend got a Vista laptop from Dell’s "Home and Home Office" UK department a month or two ago (Inspiron I think) and it came with three discs – OS, drivers and crapware. (And another for MS Works, or something.) I didn’t try them, because the Decrapifier worked excellently.

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