When i launch an (old) appication thru nal, cmd.exe does not give me the
same representation on the environment variables as when i launch
cmd.exe locally.

to clarify:

launching cmd.exe via nal, and type "set" gives you unicode contents of
the variables.

launching cmd.exe locally via the start button gives you 8.3 contents
when typing "set".

Why? Is there a way of controlling cme.exe or does nal use some other
way to start applications?

A tip though... start the application via command.com gives you the 8.3
representation... but it feels outdated to use command.com!