Article ID 20040205B
Subject Windows 98 boots to empty screen
Concept Fix for when Windows 98 boots up to an empty screen with no icons/taskbar
OS Windows 98(SE)

Standard Disclaimer: I this procedure screws up your computer more than it is already, I take no responsibility whatsoever. I am just documenting the fix that worked for me.

You come home, do some work on the computer, and a little window pops up indicating that your system has detected Spy-ware or a Virus, and asks if you want to clean it. Not thinking anything of it, you click on the "OK" button and the window goes away. Hah, a major catastrophe averted, yeah! Some point later in time, you need to reboot the computer (heh, it's a windows box after all) and when the system comes back up, the icons and taskbar appear for a split second and disappear. Thats it, you are stuck with a blank screen, the system is not locked up, but you cant do anything... help!

This is another scenario that I ran across with several customers last month (all within a week of each other). The first computer that I encountered belonged to a family member. The family member had received photo editing software for Christmas and installed the software. The install required the system to be rebooted and when they did so, blank screen. The family member was pretty good about keeping the antivirus software up to date and a check showed that the latest definitions had been installed. I just assumed (you know the saying) that kind of system file had been replaced by the photo editing software. I then googled to see if anyone else had run into this before, and that turned up nothing. After spending a couple of hours trying to get the system back up, I gave up and just ended up scrubbing the drive and upgrading the computer to Windows XP. End of issue, or so I thought.

The next week, I had two customer computers from the same household with the same exact problem. This time, the customer indicated that they have been getting these virus alert windows. Up to this point, the customer said that they had been clicking on the "No" or "Cancel" buttons and ignored the problem. The problem started when visiting grandkids clicked on the "OK" button and rebooted, causing the system to stop working. The customer also had antivirus software installed, had somewhat recent definitions installed, but not the latest. I pulled the drive from the computer and scanned the drive from another computer with the latest definitions. No files infected, hmmm, stumped. Three computers within a week of each other showing the exact same problem, surely someone else has run into this. I fire up google again, and jackpot, a whole slew of people within the past week have the same problem, and someone found a fix!

Turns out the blank screen boot up is the work of an email distributed trojan horse. As far as anyone could tell, all it did was pop up a system window with the message that the computer has detected a virus or spy-ware and prompts the user if they want to remove the offending program. When the user clicks on "YES" or "OK" the trojan renames 3 system files and deletes itself and thats it.

How to Fix

1) Shutdown the computer and reboot. When the BIOS summary screen appears, press F8 to bring up the Windows boot menu.
2) Select the option to boot to command prompt.
3) From the C:\ prompt, type in the following commands:
dir shdoc*.*
4) You should see three files, SHDOCXXX.BAK (where XXX is the version number, like 401), SHDOCVW.BAK, and SHDOCLC.BAK.
5) Now type the following commands:
(where XXX is the version number)
6) Now reboot the computer, things should be working properly now. If this does not resolve the problem, you can try to copy the files from another functioning Windows 98 computer, or extract them from the Windows 98 CD. If this still does not work, you may need to bite the bullet and scrub the computer.

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