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We're writing these answers to the typical end-user. Other computer types will probably find things that they'd describe differently. If you are one of those people, please bear with us and see if you agree that the general idea is correct.

Illegal Operations are the most frustrating and least understood condition that Windows 95 users face.

Back in the days of Windows 3.xx, the problem was GPF or General Protection Faults. Fortunately Microsoft fixed that problem. . . they changed the error message description to "Illegal Operation".

The thing that makes Illegal Operations so frustrating is that there are at least 100,000 potential error conditions in Windows. A programmer can, if he wants, specifically handle EVERY one of those of those conditions. From a practical point of view he'll cover the top dozen or so. Everything else than can go wrong will be reported by Windows as an "ILLEGAL OPERATION".

Illegal Operation is the grand catch all. It tells YOU nothing except that something failed somewhere.

Illegal Operations that occur predictably and consistently are probably bugs in the application that the programmer simply didn't expect. Those can often be fixed if you can get the programmer's attention.

If you're using one of the major general-purpose commercial software packages it's unlikely that a bug will be fixed. The truth is that nobody fixes errors anymore except in high-end business software or custom packages. To paraphrase what Bill Gates recently told Congress, the life of a software product is measured in months. Companies are always working on the next release.

In point of fact, however, most illegal operations are NOT program bugs. Instead they're caused by the interaction of unrelated programs. The culprit could be the application you're running or one of a thousand Windows routines that your application might call, which likely calls some other routine which calls yet another etc, etc, etc. It's almost impossible to backtrack from the actual error to see what condition down that long chain of calls actually CAUSED the error.

Illegal Operations are frequently the result of a sequence of events. It may be impossible to recreate that sequence. That's because there are things always going on that have nothing to do with what you think you are doing.

Windows is continually "watching" the system. Anytime something happens Windows reacts. Each time you move the mouse Windows notices and tells every active program that the mouse moved. Everyone stops and looks to see if it affects them. There are programs watching the clock, the disk, the modem, the screen, the keyboard, the mouse... all that stuff, all the time.

So what causes most Illegal Operations? Could be anything. It's probably a combination of things. Think of it this way:

Imagine a throng of people moving down a busy street. Everything usually works fine and everybody gets where they're going. Then suddenly someone steps on a tiny piece of gravel and slightly stumbles. That person bumps someone else who turns his head to look which causes him to tap the next person's wallet which causes that person to jump suddenly which scares six other people into jumpping and one of them hits a person next to the curb who stumbles into the street and gets run over by a truck and killed. Opps... ILLEGAL OPERATION.

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Write to MMCC Technical Support at:
MMCC, Inc.
600 W. Midland
Bay City, MI 48708
(989) 686-8860
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