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Author Topic: File names on Windows XP  (Read 2783 times)

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File names on Windows XP
« on: May 04, 2007, 05:10:08 AM »

Is there any reason why Microsoft does not allow me to use certain characters in file names when I use Windows XP?

I create a file for each story I write, and in it goes correspondence, research notes and the like, as well as the story itself. I name the file after the title of my story, but I've recently written one with a question mark in the title, and I'm not allowed a question mark in the file name.

It's an inconvenience rather than a problem, as I can leave the question mark out. But why are certain characters not allowed in file names ?

Does anyone know? Is there a technical reason, or is Microsoft inventing rules just to be awkward?

Lance Charnes

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Re: File names on Windows XP
« Reply #1 on: May 04, 2007, 06:13:25 AM »

There are certain special characters not allowed in file names, including colons, quotes, slashes/backslashes, and especially asterisks and question marks. Slashes and backslashes are used in fully-qualified file paths. Asterisks and question marks are wild-card characters for file searches. It's been this way forever (at least, forever in computer terms).
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Re: File names on Windows XP
« Reply #2 on: May 04, 2007, 10:47:38 AM »

As Lance said, the answer is technical, but lies in the mists of computer times.  Long before there was Microsoft there were a variety of home computers that used a variety of chips and operating systems.  The conventions of using various special characters as 'instructions' to the computer about what to do with what it accompanied developed in this world.

When IBM developed DOS, they used the same conventions.  All of this happened because the development of software far exceeded the development of the hardware.  This situation has gone on back and forth all during the development of computers.

Back to the story - by the time Gates came along  the hardware world had developed to the point that IF he had developed a new operating system these conventions could have been dropped.  But, for whatever reason, he choose to hang his ideas onto the old DOS framework, which it still is if you dig deep enough.

This resulted in the muddled mess we have today - the biggest mess being that the entry point for a tremendous numbers of viruses has been through the old DOS remnants - a smaller one is not being able to use all the special characters as you wish.

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