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BlackFish

Windows 95 is 15 years old today

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I don't. Windows 95 is an unstable piece of crap compared to anything since Windows 2000. It was a lot nicer than 3.1, but yeah, crap. All the things I miss about 1995 involve me being a kid. Computer games seemed more exciting then, but I suspect that was in large part because I was a kid.

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Even if it was the worst of the 9x lineage, it was still tons stabler than contemporary MacOS, with is OS extension problems, its "cooperative multitasking" and its horrible memory management.

For the mainstream PC users, there really were no better alternatives at the time, if you wanted an OS with a GUI that was relatively easy to use and install -just pop some -well, a LOT - of floppies in (or a CD if you wanted to be fancy) and follow the on-screen instructions.

Yeah, there was OS/2, but seriously, who installed that back in the day?
Yeah, there were some flavors of UNIX with X11 GUIs, but back then it was still considered black magic for "normal" users (and was way more hefty than any version of Windows or OS/2), and unless you were a hardcore or highly specialized user, you'd have no practical use for such a system.

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Most people of this era remember the retail Win95, and not the kind that was updated and released in 1996-1997 (win95c), which was much more stable, could support more Processors, and had USB support. Win95c, with the right drivers, could connect wirelessly to an access point to the internet, which is amazing considering 3.1 had to have a crutch or trumpet winsock or whatever TCP/IP stack of the hour was to get on the Internet.

Win95 is legendary because it allowed (relatively painlessly) access to the Internet, allowed Multimedia to be feasible with directx, and Interoperability with any windows program under the sun. Dragging a sound file into a document? why not? It's entirely possible.

If it wasn't for Win95, I don't think the Internet would have made it as fast as it did.

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15 years? Goddamn. Yup, good times. I did find the "It is now safe to turn off your computer." screen somewhat freaky when I was younger. It seemed so... ominous...

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BlackFish said:



I miss those days.


Holy shit that brings back ALOT of memories. It always reminded me of Duke Nukem font for some reason.

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98 was the worst, it'd run your cpu at 100% when idling due to no HLT instruction usage, you had to get an (unofficial) fix for it to not do that.

I didn't play with windows 95a much, but 95b was okay and I tried 95c very briefly and reminded me a bit of 98.

nt4 was awesome, hardly any crashes in later service packs and was rock solid from memory

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The memory that screen brings back for me is my dumb neighbour. His family got their first computer in 1996 or so. One day Windows crashed and he was unwilling to turn it off because he hadn't seen that screen yet and was worried he would "lose unsaved information," which of course he did not have. He was literally in tears. Was funny and sad all at once.

Win95 was the first Windows I could get my mom using. It was also the first where the desktop was a useful construct. In 3.1 there was a desktop, but you never saw it because either the Program Manager or File Manager was always in front.

Still, I don't miss the days of crashy computers. Win9x, DOS and pre-OSX Mac can all rot in history's forsaken computer closet.

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Man, I remember that screen. Win98 was a much better OS, and I used it for YEARS. Probably from the time it came out until, oh 2006?

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No matter what rep user/office drone/helpdesk folklore has given Windows, they remain one of the most amazing and complex OSes under the sun, and the ones with the highest direct binary compatibility of them all (and I'm referring to compatibility with precompiled binaries, without recompiling everything like on Unix or resorting to emulation like MacOS).

No other OS can run anything from DOS, to early GDI/Win16 applications, to Win32 applications and beyond directly on top of the hardware or with minimal adaptation, and that's also one of the reasons they're so popular even now: people don't have to ditch their old apps when updating, which is generally not true on other platforms.

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That's also part of the folklore I was talking about ;-)

As far as mainstream OSes went, if someone wanted rock-solid stability on IBM PCs, the only solution was either to go single-tasked (DOS) or using some flavour of Unix, at the cost of being cut out from a wide range of software (DOS was for games, Windows and MacOS for office, DTP and multimedia, Unix for programming and net stuff, etc.)

If we just stick to desktop OSes, OS/2 looked promising for a while, Amiga OS was ok until it went into guru meditation (though it was probably better that Windows or MacOS) and MacOS was absolutely terrible until they switched to the Unix-based OSX.

Of course the catch was that each of those OSes also worked only on its own hardware platform, thus making OS-only comparisons moot. What good was it having a rock-solid or otherwise better OS if the platform that used it lacked software/hardware you needed?

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Aliotroph? said:

Still, I don't miss the days of crashy computers. Win9x, DOS and pre-OSX Mac can all rot in history's forsaken computer closet.

QFT.

Maes said:

No matter what rep user/office drone/helpdesk folklore has given Windows, they remain one of the most amazing and complex OSes under the sun

True. I hope MS will ditch it soon and start with something fresh and new, not limited by their past mistakes (maybe something based on Singularity?)

Maes said:

No other OS can run anything from DOS, to early GDI/Win16 applications, to Win32 applications and beyond directly on top of the hardware or with minimal adaptation

That's not entirely true. For example, you can't run 16b stuff on 64b Windows (which is kind of stupid, as NTVDM emulates 80486 on non-x86 HW, so why not emulate it on x86-64 too?). On the other hand, you can run DOS/win16 stuff on Linux using DOSEMU. It can run the code directly on CPU on x86, or it can use emulation and run anywhere. It also emulates some devices like the Sound Blaster, so you can e.g. run your games with sound, which is something you can't do on NTVDM AFAIK.

For win32 and win64 applications, there's Wine, which also runs code directly on (x86) CPU, as it's merely an implementation of Windows API for non-Windows OSs.

You might say that these solutions don't bring 100% compatibility, but neither does Windows. I can run (more or less, just like on Windows) everything you mentioned on my non-Windows OS, so your statement simply isn't valid (though you are obviously better off using Windows to run Windows software).

Maes said:

If we just stick to desktop OSes, OS/2 looked promising for a while, Amiga OS was ok until it went into guru meditation

I miss those :-(

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Does anyone know the OS had to do this? Did the hardware just not allow for the OS to be able to physically turn off the computer at the time?

Also the registry key having to do with this that still exists in Windows 7:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon\PowerdownAfterShutdown

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hobomaster22 said:

Does anyone know the OS had to do this? Did the hardware just not allow for the OS to be able to physically turn off the computer at the time?

If "the hardware" was AT PC, then the only way to turn it off was to push the button (or cut the power source).

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Grubber said:

That's not entirely true. For example, you can't run 16b stuff on 64b Windowswhich is kind of stupid


Trying to run 16-bit apps on Windows has been pretty useless ever since the driver/memory model was changed in NT, which was over ten years ago.

hobomaster22 said:

Does anyone know the OS had to do this? Did the hardware just not allow for the OS to be able to physically turn off the computer at the time?


Yes. At the time the power button was connected directly to the power supply, and none of the lines from it to the mainboard were for communication. The user had to physically turn off the machine. Today the power button is connected to the mainboard, which is always on(just a little) and it can now communicate with the power supply.

See this.

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hobomaster22 said:

Does anyone know the OS had to do this? Did the hardware just not allow for the OS to be able to physically turn off the computer at the time?

Also the registry key having to do with this that still exists in Windows 7:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon\PowerdownAfterShutdown


Yep with some PCs you had to "push the.button"

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Grubber said:

For example, you can't run 16b stuff on 64b Windows (which is kind of stupid, as NTVDM emulates 80486 on non-x86 HW, so why not emulate it on x86-64 too?


This had been brought forth in the past. Practically, you can't force-switch a x64-mode CPU into Real Mode (and then into Virtual x86mode) without resetting. So running 16-bit software in x86/32 mode is possible "directly", while it's not on x64.

DOSEMU and WINE are very special cases as they emulate a "clean" subset of the hardware and the API, respectively. You can't use them to run "funky" stuff like demoscene stuff etc. although their compatibility is impressive.

Still, I don't get what you mean by my statement "not being valid": Windows IS by far the OS with the maximum binary backwards compatibility, and achieved this even at the cost of per-app specific ad-hoc hacks (e.g. Simcity running under WIndows). Microsoft deliberately put thousands of work hours into making this possible, and even when there are OS transitions, Windows users almost never experience major planned application breakages/End-Of-Life situations like those that occured on Mac Os classic. Even at the cost of inelegant hacks and overall stability, which as it seems was a winning strategy on the long run.

Such is my statement: WINDOWS IS THE OS WITH THE HIGHEST BINARY BACKWARDS COMPATIBILITY EVER, ALONG WITH MS-DOS. I don't care if you can emulate it under other platforms, it's not relevant to the point.

On the converse, MacOS Classic was simply garbage in this respect, something that was NOT helped by undergoing through two CPU architecture transitions. Unix is only guaranteed to do so for "clean" apps and perfect dynamic library/ABI matching (and Linux still bears this legacy, to the point that every installation is supposed to compile its own programs which then become highly machine- or even user-specific).

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Scet said:

Trying to run 16-bit apps on Windows has been pretty useless ever since the driver/memory model was changed in NT, which was over ten years ago.


16-bit Windows apps still worked fine. For example, Wintex ran on here until I installed a 64-bit Windows. Now it's a no go, although I don't really consider that a bad thing. If I had such an old app that I really needed I could find a way to make it work with some virtualization or emulation.

64-bit Windows 7 also goes out of its way to stop people from running unsigned drivers. Fortunately there's a registry key that resolves that stupidity in a hurry. I suppose that might protect a few people from themselves sometimes. Really it's just annoying.

Hehe, lots of computers from the Win95 days had those turbo buttons. It was fun to see how many seconds per frame you would get in DOOM if you turned off the turbo button.

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Although pre-X mac OS was shit(and even then it took them several years to start using real hardware) writing walls of text about it now is...let me just say that binary compatibility is not desirable when sandbox emulation(dosbox et al) is possible.

I'm sure you know about it already but VDM introduced a huge security hole into EVERY 32 bit NT-based OS. Thx Micro$uck!!!!!!

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Aliotroph? said:

If I had such an old app that I really needed I could find a way to make it work with some virtualization or emulation.


Still, it's funny to use a Sound Card VDM like VDMSound, and letting some old DOS titles run to full speed directly on the CPU ;-)

For example, you can push Cyberbykes' software renderer (a 1996 game!) r to ridiculous VESA 2.0 resolutions and still get it to run at full framerate ;-)

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Maes said:
This had been brought forth in the past. Practically, you can't force-switch a x64-mode CPU into Real Mode (and then into Virtual x86mode) without resetting. So running 16-bit software in x86/32 mode is possible "directly", while it's not on x64.

He's wondering why Microsoft didn't bother emulating an 80486 to run 16-bit DOS/Win3.1 apps on 64-bit processors like they did for Alpha, MIPS and PowerPC.

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In other news, WINE can't even run some win95 and win3.1 applications. Still. Kernel Hooks have yet to be implemented.

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Maes said:

This had been brought forth in the past. Practically, you can't force-switch a x64-mode CPU into Real Mode (and then into Virtual x86mode) without resetting. So running 16-bit software in x86/32 mode is possible "directly", while it's not on x64.

What CODOR said.

Maes said:

Still, I don't get what you mean by my statement "not being valid"

Your statement that "No other OS can run anything from DOS, to early GDI/Win16 applications, to Win32 applications and beyond directly on top of the hardware or with minimal adaptation" is clearly not valid, because you can do everything you mentioned on Linux, which I believe qualifies as "other OS".

Maes said:

Such is my statement: WINDOWS IS THE OS WITH THE HIGHEST BINARY BACKWARDS COMPATIBILITY EVER, ALONG WITH MS-DOS. I don't care if you can emulate it under other platforms, it's not relevant to the point.

Not what your earlier statement said (see above). With this statement I do agree. I don't care about emulation too, that's why I mentioned DOSEMU, which does as much emulation as Windows' native NTVDM, and Wine, which does no emulation at all.

Maes said:

Still, it's funny to use a Sound Card VDM like VDMSound, and letting some old DOS titles run to full speed directly on the CPU ;-)

Let me again point out that I can do exactly that with DOSEMU, not on Windows, but on Linux!

Mr. T said:

I'm sure you know about it already but VDM introduced a huge security hole into EVERY 32 bit NT-based OS.

Well, there are worse things...

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Grubber said:

Your statement that "No other OS can run anything from DOS, to early GDI/Win16 applications, to Win32 applications and beyond directly on top of the hardware or with minimal adaptation" is clearly not valid, because you can do everything you mentioned on Linux, which I believe qualifies as "other OS".

Since it's a statement about backward compatibility, it should be understood to refer to the equivalent predecessors rather than to DOS and Win16...

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Heh, i remember once on here wishing for "an OS as simple as Windows 95" meaning, clearly, one that doesn't hold your hand through everything (this was in the dark days of early Vista, mind you). Some tit started sarcastically mouthing off "yerr lets go back to 640x480, 256 colours and bluescreens!", thick twat. He ought to be found swinging from a tree.

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