Everyone knows the windows key. It's that little button over next to the alt key, that you keep accidentally pressing while playing Doom. Why did Microsoft feel the need to make a key for a program you're always in? Because they're egotistical idiots. Plus, sometimes it's useful.

The windows key dates back years ago, when people were too stupid to press the start button with their mouse. The windows key was born. Now they had to decide where to put it.

At first, it replaced the space bar, but that was later revised when wordsstartedtoruntogether. Then they put it on the side of the keyboard, but then, no one ever saw it, much less used it. They needed to put it in a much more annoying space.

Games that were coming out around then often used the alt and control keys. Microsoft figured that if they put it between the alt and control keys, people playing would be more likely to press it accidentally, and it would be used more.

So now that you know more about the windows key, please do us all a favor, and pry it off your keyboard with a screwdriver. Do it for the good of humanity.

While compiling KDE for a new Gentoo Linux system, reading e2 in lynx, chatting in BitchX, and working on a perl program the other day, I found that the windows keys on my keyboard had acquired a very useful function: they switched between virtual terminals. The "application key"* could also be used to go back to the previous terminal.

These keys allowed me to switch between tasks before I even knew that I wanted to, since they were easily accessible whether my hands were in the regular typing position or just on the arrow keys**. I have never seen a better use for them.

* The key between the right windows key and the right ctrl; this is the only name I've ever heard for it. Does anyone know a better name?

** The arrow keys in lynx are used to follow links, go to the previous page(s), and move up and down on the page. Other keys are rarely needed.

Windows key shortcuts

  • Windows Key - Display/hide the Start menu
  • Windows Key + R - Open the "Run" dialog
  • Windows Key + E - Opens Windows Explorer
  • Windows Key + F - Open the Find Files or Folders window
  • Windows Key + D - Minimizes everything to show the desktop
  • Windows Key + M - Minimize all windows
  • Windows Key + Break - Display the System Properties window
  • Windows Key + F1 - Open Windows Help

    Thanks to Servo5678 for the update.
  • This process works on Windows XP and 2000; I can't guarantee any other platforms.

    Right. So the Windows keys are helpful when you’re on the desktop. However, if you've happened to bump into one in the middle of a game that uses the whole screen, you are likely aware of the tendency it has to revert you back to the desktop -- causing you not only precious seconds, but your voice in addition if you make a habit of yelling at your computer when it disobeys you. If the game designers felt particularly devious, they wrote the game so it crashes upon your re-entry from the desktop, making the Windows key the Rick Fox of Qwertyland. Therefore, one of two scenarios are likely: A) You’ve already pried them off and incinerated them, or B) You desperately want to pry them off and incinerate them. But wait! Perhaps B can be avoided?

    The following process has been vaguely mentioned a few times in different nodes; none are very specific. In that light, here is a step-by-step, five minute process that totally h4x0rZ your comp and makes the keys in question do blissfully nothing upon a slight nudge.

    1. Start the Registry Editor (Start --> Run --> type "regedit")
    2. Go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \ SYSTEM \ CurrentControlSet \ Control \ Keyboard Layout
    3. From the Edit menu select New --> Binary value
    4. Give this new value the name Scancode Map
    5. Double-click the new value, and enter the following hexadecimal data (0 = zero): 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 03 00 00 00 00 00 5B E0 00 00 5C E0 00 00 00 00 (Note: After the 8th set of 00, you will probably be sent back to the beginning of the next line. This is normal.)
    6. Close the registry editor
    7. Log off, or restart Windows for the changes to take effect

    That's it. The end. Decades of anguish solved in five minutes. It will affect all users on the computer in question, so be warned. The end, again.


    - Node upgraded thanks to suggestions from Kit and OldMiner.

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