Force a shutdown in Windows XP and other useful shutdown information
The command shutdown -s -f typed into the Command Prompt brought up by entering cmd in the Start => Run box, or used in a batch file, will make Windows XP shut down even if some software or driver doesn’t acknowledge the termination command. Enter the search query how to create a batch file in a search engine to be presented with links to articles on how to do that for all versions of Windows.
To see the switches available for the shutdown command enter cmd in the Start => Run box and then enter shutdown /? at the Command prompt.
If a particular device driver or software isn’t allowing the computer to shut down quickly, if an update is available for your version of Windows, you should install the latest version, but it should always be obtained from the components’ manufacturers’ websites instead of from Windows Update, which can often install the wrong third-party drivers and screw things up.
The Windows XP implementation of the shutdown command is explained here:
The free PsShutdown utility is an enhanced version of Windows XP’s standard shutdown command that includes Suspend and Hibernation options. Shortcuts to PsShutdown can be created as described in the article linked to above.
For more about startup and shutdown go to Start => Help and Support and use shutdown as the search term.
You may be interested to know that the Windows Vista and Windows 7 shutdown command has additional options, as explained on the TechNet shutdown reference page:
A good third-party shutdown utility
If a computer doesn’t shut down due to a device-driver problem the utility linked to below can force a system shutdown.
Entering the commands Wizmo shutdown! and Wizmo reboot! (with the exclamation marks) in the Start => Run box are the Wizmo equivalents of the MS DOS shutdown -s -f and shutdown -r -f commands.
Unfortunately, a forced shutdown is sometimes the only option available when device drivers are the cause of the problem. Steve Gibson’s Wizmo utility is a multipurpose tool that can be used for several operations, including effecting system shutdowns. The use of Wizmo will work only if the shutdown trouble is caused by a device driver and not by a general system problem, so if you suspect it might be something other than a driver issue, then one of the following web searches entered in a search engine might help.
Many WinXP shutdown troubleshooting tools still exist. For example, to solve a difficult slow shutdown problem the following web-search should provide some useful links that may provide a solution: slow shutdown xp.
How to speed up the shutdown process by editing the Registry
Note that you should always create a restore point in System Restore before editing the Windows Registry so that it can be restored from Safe Mode should Windows fail to boot into normal mode. Safe Mode is run by pressing the F8 key repeatedly to bring up the boot menu options, which include SM, before Windows starts to load into normal mode.
To reduce shutdown delays in Windows XP,click the Start button and enter regedit in the Run box. When the Registry Editor opens, open Hkey_Current_User => Control Panel => Desktop in the left-hand window. In the right window, double-click AutoEndTasks (the entries appear in alphabetical order) and change its default value from 0 to 1 and click OK. This setting, which reduces long delays at shutdown, is only found in Windows XP.
In the same right-hand window, scroll down to the WaitToKillAppTimeout setting and double-click on it. Its default value is 20,000 milliseconds (20 seconds?), which can and obviously be changed to a lower value, such as 10,000 milliseconds (10 seconds) or even 5,000 milliseconds. Windows will wait for whatever time is set before it shuts down a program that it detects is not closing itself down.