The QuickCD PowerToy, a brief look back


One of the original Windows 95 PowerToys was a tool called QuickCD. Though that wasn't its original name.

The original name of the QuickCD PowerToy was FlexiCD. You'd think that it was short for "Flexible CD Player", but you'd be wrong. FlexiCD was actually named after its author, whose name is Felix, but who uses the "Flexi" anagram as a whimsical nickname. We still called him Felix, but he would occasionally use the Flexi nickname to sign off an email message, or use it whenever he had to create a userid for a Web site (if Web sites which required user registration existed in 1994).

You can still see remnants of FlexiCD in the documentation. The last sample INF file on this page was taken from the QuickCD installer.

Comments (27)
  1. Vilx- says:

    Heh, although I do remember Windows 95 (which came out shortly before I got interested in computers), I never had the PowerToys for it. :) I wonder what QuickCD looked like? I can find no screenshots of it on the internet.

  2. skSdnW says:

    @Vilx-: IIRC it was mainly to control playback from a tray icon (Sorry Raymond, I mean Taskbar Notification Area)

  3. ChuckOp says:

    Felix had the most interesting "display name" in the GAL and wondered about it.  I loved the days where nifty little tools could be written and gotten out without the overhead required.  Not that I disagree with the overhead, it's very necessary.

  4. xpclient says:

    Ah PowerToys. I could pay for them if they were still available. When I first got them, I didn't even know INF files had an Install command and that is how you installed them. Alas, the Windows shell team is now Satan's incarnate. They will be left "simplifying" Windows for grandma while Android takes over in the tablet market also.

    For some nostalgia read: en.wikipedia.org/…/Microsoft_PowerToys

    [Could you lay off the insults? You're violating the "no disrespectful behavior" rule. (In general, insulting people is not an effective way of getting them to take your side.) -Raymond]
  5. @WinGaurav:

    Several of those PowerToys provided features that are now built in. The features of CabView, CDAutoPlay, Command Prompt Here, and Send to X are all part of Explorer now. The Windows 8 search interface has similar features to what I just read about FindX.

    Some of those PowerToys don't make much sense on a modern system, such as QuickRes and Telephony Location Selector.

  6. MikeBMcL says:

    So xpclient is now WinGaurav. Just in case anyone missed that. (I wonder what name it'll be tomorrow…).

    I saw QuickCD and thought "CD Burning in Windows 95?". Then I remembered that CD drives were still new then (let alone burners). It's odd how ubiquitous some technologies become. Though with tablets and netbooks, CD/DVD drives are starting to become less common. It's as though every storage medium is destined to go the way of the 8 track. I wonder what will replace SSDs?

  7. AnonymousCoward says:

    Since xpclient seems to keep changing his name every other day, we'll need some kind of perma-handle to reference him by.

    I suggest we use the standard of using his real name, "Gaurav Kale".

  8. Funnily enough, you can find more easily screenshots of QuickCD (well, of its context menu) in Google Images by searching FlexiCD (probably because it's more original as a name).

    @AnonymousCoward: his profile id (371317, which is also quite easy to remember) should suffice. But I think he'll be remembered as xpclient anyway.

  9. John says:

    xpclient is my hero.  I am not joking.

  10. Chris B says:

    @MikeBMcL…Looking forward, I'm sure the next technology will be interesting (at least technically), but looking back, I wonder if SSDs will even be remembered. We don't associate the contents of an SSD with the SSD itself, it's just a storage medium. People don't have any emotional attachment to them like they did with 8-tracks, records, cassettes, or CDs. I would also bet that we will be able to easily transfer everything from our current SSDs to whatever the replacement is with no loss of fidelity, making the SSD even more irrelevant in our memory.

    Not sure why your comment got my head spinning in that direction…

    /offtopic

  11. Matt says:

    @Paul.

    Sadly that was never my experience. If I wanted to open Photoshop that you've just installed, is it in your start menu under "Accessories", "Adobe", "Macromedia", "Photoshop" or "Adobe Photoshop"? Or is it in fact in none of those places but in your QuickLinks bar or a link on your Desktop?

    And if you want to play Hitman2:Silent Assasin (for example), is it in Games/IOA/ Games/IoActive, Games/Hitman, Games/Hitman2:Silent Asassin, IoActive/Hitman, IoA, Hitman/ or Games/SilentAssasin/ or SilentAssasin/?

    The problem is that the heirarchical list always sucked because there was never a rule for how links must be organised in the start menu. And even if you wanted to organise it yourself, you couldn't – because the start menu was a dumping ground for installers regardless of how much you wanted to restrict access to it.

    We've always needed search on the start menu. And ever since Windows7 has had it, I've never once used the stupid "heirarchical" list ever again because frankly the term heirarchical isn't really justified – the start menu has pretty much always been just a big pile of links with no real ordering.

    Windows7 got the start menu pretty much right by just showing common tasks, MRU programs and allowing you to pin desktop shortcuts to the "taskbar". Windows8 realised that Windows7 made the Start Menu obsolete, and just did the decent thing and killed it. All this "start menu" nostalgia is phoney-baloney BS. The start menu was crap, and good riddance to it.

  12. Evan says:

    @Matt: "And ever since Windows7 has had it…"

    Minor nit, but Vista introduced the Win7-style start menu.

  13. mikeb says:

    @Matt:

    It's fine if you have no need for the start menu.  

    I still often like browsing for what I want, so whether or not it's nostalgic phoney-baloney I'd like to have it.

  14. Matt says:

    @mikeb: In that case you can still do so. Put a shortcut on your desktop (or hell – pin it to your taskbar) pointing to C:Users…StartMenu.

    All the clunky fun of being unable to find what you want through a messy dreadful heirarchy that acts as a shortcut dumping ground for installers, without the need to have a full-blown shell-integration of a start-menu!

  15. RE: Start Menu says:

    Probably not even a need for such a shortcut, because the new start screen can show all the installed programs, metro or not, pinned or not. I forgot exactly how to trigger it though… maybe start typing on the start screen, then click All Programs on the charm(s) bar?

  16. voo says:

    @AnonymousCoward: Personally I think his "unique" style of going off-topic in every post with the most tangential rants about XP (the apparent pinnacle of UX and OS design apparently), makes him pretty easily distinguishable.

    He was kind of fun for some time (I mean anybody who thinks that typing the first few letters of a program you want to start is worse than going through a long hierarchical list of programs and claims to be an utmost UX expert *is* funny), but it's getting old :(

  17. @voo Problem is, if you can't remember what that program is called (or rather, more to the point, how it is labelled), you have to scroll through a non-hierarchical list.  At least with a hierarchical list, organised by topic, you can *discover* what tools you have available for a particular task (and it is scalable to hundreds of programs, unlike the current arrangement).  Of course, this is not a problem with everyday tools, like Office applications, but just try remembering all those little ninny-pinny tools that collect around Visual Studio and other complex suites, given that a number of them have multiple common names.  Besides, I like my computer to remember things for me so I don't have to.

    Not that I'm saying Windows 8 is bad – it would, however, be nice if they improved the feature set so that it catered for (and scaled to) all of the old scenarios as well as the new.

  18. xpclient says:

    @voo, I agree that when using the keyboard, search is the fastest way. Doesn't mean the user should be forced to use the keyboard.

    P.S. I had to change my user name because I "upgraded" to Windows 7 and I can't put Msft before my user name. :(

  19. voo says:

    @Paul: I have to agree with Matt here. The problem with the hierarchical list always was that MS guidelines (if they existed) were ignored by everybody and you ended up with lots of different conventions. Not to speak of the problem that somebody who can't remember the name (or an approximation of it) of a program is probably not that likely to know which company actually created the program.

    Quick example? I do have a "Bullzip" folder in my startlist on this Win7 machine and I had absolutely no idea what that was until I opened it and saw that the next item in the list was called "PDF Printer". I agree that having to know the name (or some approximation thereof) of a program you want to open is for rarely used apps problematic, I just don't think that the startmenu is the right solution. Imo the next step should be to be able to search by functionality instead of specific programs.

  20. Lascaille says:

    I don't see why the start menu is described as 'unorganisable' just because all installers dump stuff in it. Perhaps if you install 10 applications a day every day maintaining it would be a chore, but I've never found it hard to organise – from the perspective of an XP-style start menu:

    1. In the start menu root, create several folders such as 'office' 'work' 'utils' 'sysutils' and 'games'
    2. Stuff like Word, Excel, Photoshop, goes in office

    3. Job-specific stuff (matlab, visual studio, ETAP, CASPOC, whatever) goes in 'work'

    4. Instant messengers, skype, CD burners, ftp clients, ssh clients go in 'utils'

    5. System stuff like sysinternals tools and powertoys go in 'sysutils'

    6. Games go in games

    7. Delete everything else or stuff it in accessories, move accessories to the second-bottom of the start menu and startup to the bottom.

    8. Create a folder 'installed' in accessories – when any program installs a folder to the start menu root, drag the folder into 'installed' so you don't lose the uninstaller and special 'start in safe mode' or similar shortcuts.

    9. Drag the main program icon out into the relevant main folder.

    10. Add more main folders as you see fit

    Perfectly organised…

  21. alcexhim says:

    @Lascaille: That sounds oddly like something a non-Windows operating environment named for a diminutive fantastical creature already does by default…

  22. Neil says:

    Things that you need should be favourited in whichever way is appropriate on your system. Things that I need to help other people will exist in the Start menu, and it's my job to know that they are there.

  23. Lockwood says:

    @WinGustav

    Why not xpmodeclient?

  24. The Windows 8 all apps list still keeps things grouped according to start menu folder. If your desktop or pinned shortcuts and search aren't helping for some app you don't run often (such as in Paul's example), you can still use all apps to browse for it.

  25. Brian_EE says:

    @Lascaille: That's exactly what I do. Although recently my employer has made that more difficult by restricting user accounts and use Avecto Privilege Guard.

    Fortunately, there is a "Folder Permissions Helper" tool, so as long as I go to a command box, and "subst" the start menu to another drive letter, I can change the permissions and move things around using Explorer on the subst'ed drive.

    It's always a game of cat and mouse between IT and those of us who need to get work done. (Pre-emptive reply: I am not saying that IT people serve no purpose in a company, just that their perspective is different.)

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