In an effort to offer a high performance system, Windows Server 2003 takes a couple of shortcuts that can prove more frustrating than useful. One of these shortcuts involves running all desktop-related functions--including Explorer, the desktop itself, and individual windows -- in a single process.

While this shortcut is great from a system performance standpoint, it can be less than useful if you have a particular application that's prone to crashing a section of the desktop or a folder. Unfortunately, this scenario can mean a single problem can bring down Explorer, the desktop, and open windows. And that isn't an ideal situation!

You can change this behavior by modifying the registry. Follow these steps:

1. Open the Registry Editor (Regedit.exe).

2. Navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\ CurrentVersion\Explorer.

3. Look for the SeparateProcess value. If it doesn't exist, create it.

4. Give it a value of 1 to separate desktop processes. (If you want to revert to the default behavior, give the key a value of 0.)

5. Close the Registry Editor.

You must restart the server after this change for it to take effect, so make sure to do it after-hours.

NOTE: Editing the registry is risky, so be sure you have a verified backup before making any changes.