169 votes
Accepted

What algorithm did Microsoft use to dither colour in early versions of Windows?

Basically, Windows used the basic 16-color CGA palette, which included 4 shades of monochrome, and 12 basic colors (two each of red, green, blue, yellow, purple, and teal), which later formed the ...
  • 2,399
146 votes
Accepted

Why does part of the Windows 98 Setup program look older than the rest?

Basically, because it is running under Windows 3.1 at that point. Windows 98’s setup process goes through three main phases, in three different operating environments; each one installs the operating ...
137 votes

What are the software logos in MORICONS.DLL?

I wrote a short python script that extracted the icons, matched them with entries from APPS.INF and generated an HTML file. Some entries were missing, so I entered them manually, except for the ...
  • 993
92 votes
Accepted

What key factor led to the sudden commercial success of MS Windows with v3.0?

Stephen Kitt covers the bases well, but I think the majority of the reason relates to fact that Windows 3.0 finally brought 286 protected mode execution to the masses. Even though the 80286 was first ...
  • 4,386
90 votes

What key factor led to the sudden commercial success of MS Windows with v3.0?

There were a number of factors involved. Windows 3.0 introduced a more refined user interface than available in Windows 2.0: more colours, proportional fonts everywhere, smaller icons, and MDI ...
87 votes
Accepted

How did Windows 3.1 implement multitasking?

For Win16 programs, Windows implemented co-operative multitasking. Its implementation was based upon the "message loop" architecture of every Windows program. The duty of every program was ...
57 votes
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Did INI files work in a different way on Windows 3.x than today?

You have been wrong for 30 years. I wrote the test program below and compiled it with Borland Pascal 7: uses WinTypes, WinProcs, WinCrt; var buffer: string; len: Integer; begin len := ...
  • 18.6k
45 votes

How did Windows 3.1 implement multitasking?

Found a great answer on Super User that explains it really well! Windows 3.1 uses cooperative multi-tasking – meaning that each application that is in the process of running is instructed to ...
  • 2,355
41 votes
Accepted

What are the software logos in MORICONS.DLL?

You’ll find the mappings for these icons in SYSTEM\APPS.INF in Windows 3; this is the file which is used by Windows Setup to detect pre-existing DOS applications on the system, and set up icons for ...
38 votes

What algorithm did Microsoft use to dither colour in early versions of Windows?

As @phyrfox mentions, it is ordered dithering using a Bayer matrix. I recently was trying to find a 16×16 Bayer matrix (256 discrete values) but all the ones I could find were 8×8 max, so I derived ...
  • 497
35 votes

How can I extract the contents of a Windows 3.1 (16-bit) game EXE file?

Executable files for 16-bit Windows are usually laid out in the now-rather-inaccurately-named New Executable format. Most current Windows executable analysis tools do not support this format; they can ...
  • 18.6k
33 votes
Accepted

Is there a better way to the 6 disks install of Windows 3.1

If my memory serves well, Windows can be installed from a directory on hard disk. You need a means of reading all disks and storing its files on the same directory on the hard disk of your target ...
33 votes

What algorithm did Microsoft use to dither colour in early versions of Windows?

The other answers already mention that the algorithm is based on an 8×8 Bayer matrix. But that’s not the whole story. Most how-to guides to colour Bayer dithering, like the one cited in @phyrfox’s ...
  • 18.6k
33 votes
Accepted

Was OS/2 a viable alternative for daily DOS and Windows tasks?

The short answer is yes, starting with version 2.0 and even more so with Warp, OS/2 was a viable alternative for daily DOS and Windows tasks, up to and including Windows 3.x. Starting with OS/2 2.0, ...
28 votes
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Why the DOS extender and DPMI were unavailable to DOS programs on 286 standard mode of Windows 3.0

TL;DR: on 286s in standard-mode Windows, DOS programs run one at a time in real mode, with Windows suspended, so the restrictions of enhanced mode which rendered DPMI necessary don’t apply. The “trick”...
28 votes
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Why did Microsoft start Windows NT at all?

Windows 1.0 most certainly did not have Win32; it had limited DOS support, and its multi-tasking was cooperative only (so one wayward program could lock up the whole system). Like MS-DOS, early ...
25 votes
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Sound driver for DOS or Windows 3.x that used the PC speaker?

It was a DOS-Windows 3.x and DOS-Windows 9x/ME thing. It was a driver named speaker.drv, written by Microsoft. It turned off interrupts for significant periods of time, which caused I/O problems ...
  • 2,159
24 votes

What key factor led to the sudden commercial success of MS Windows with v3.0?

One reason that Windows 3.0 was popular with software authors: it included a DOS extender, meaning that on 286 / 386 processors Windows programs could run in protected mode and access as much memory ...
  • 5,942
24 votes
Accepted

Running DOS, Windows 3, and Windows 98 from one FAT32 partition?

The first part isn’t too difficult: install Windows 98 as usual, then edit MSDOS.SYS to change its BootGUI setting to 0. This will disable the automatic GUI startup, and the computer will boot to a ...
23 votes
Accepted

Was it feasible to create Win16 software using pre-existing DOS development tools?

Windows executables are in NE format rather than the MZ format used by DOS, so a developer would need a toolchain capable of generating files in that format. Windows functions are not accessed by ...
  • 5,942
23 votes

Windows 3.1 Hardware acceleration API

In Windows up to version 3.x included (and early versions of OS/2), the only interface available for graphics was the Graphics Device Interface. This defines a large number of 2D graphics primitives, ...
21 votes

Strange version of Windows 3.1 marked with a "W" logo

It was usual for OEMs to provide their own disk labels. My Windows For Workgroups disks say "DELL", rather simply, no fancy logo. No Microsoft Windows flag, either. Didn't that only come ...
  • 29.2k
20 votes
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Mind-Controller User Input from the late 90s

The device was called the MindDrive, from a company called "The Other 90%". It had a few games available including MindSkier, which was a downhill slalom game. Nothing in particular ever happened to ...
  • 4,012
20 votes

Video playback software/formats for a 386?

On a 20MHz 386 (or really, any 386), the main animation format was Autodesk Animator (.fli or .flc files). A number of players are available, e.g. FLIC! (which was written specifically to be usable on ...
19 votes

What algorithm did Microsoft use to dither colour in early versions of Windows?

As I recall, the Windows code did have some special cases. If you asked for #C0C0C0 you would of course get solid #C0C0C0. This was a special case; if you asked for #BFBFBF then you would get a ...
  • 331
19 votes
Accepted

"Your program is testing for optimal display performance" in older Windows games

Well, turns out the Wikipedia article has the answer already: WinG would also perform a graphics hardware/driver profiling test on the first execution of the program in order to determine the best ...
18 votes
Accepted

Why did Mac OS 7 perform poorly with virtual memory enabled?

There are several reasons for the low performance of virtual memory. The implementation had a significant effect. It keeps ALL of the contents of memory in the VM Storage file, plus however much ...
  • 18k
17 votes

What key factor led to the sudden commercial success of MS Windows with v3.0?

For me, the main advantage of Windows 2.0 over MS-DOS was that I could configure my printer just once and then all Windows programs used the same configuration. Also it printed graphics better than ...
17 votes
Accepted

How does Notepad store text files in memory?

Notepad (at least originally) was implemented as a simple wrapper around the Windows EDIT control. EDIT is not really designed to handle large amounts of text -- it stores text in a single block of ...
  • 12.5k

Only top scored, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible