Hot answers tagged

73

The short version is that Windows became the de facto operating system thanks to Microsoft’s business acumen (or shenanigans, depending on your point of view), marketing, skilled developers, a strong focus on backwards-compatibility, and the success of MS-DOS. The success of Windows in general can be traced back to the success of Windows 3.0, which has ...


56

The I/O model on "Cutler systems" -- RSX-11M, VAX/VMS, Windows NT -- is an asynchronous packet-driven I/O model, rather than the fundamentally synchronous I/O model of Unix. At its core, you fire off an I/O request, and get a notification of when it's complete. Meanwhile, execution continues. Of course, it's trivial for the system to provide synchronous I/...


33

At that time, developers at Microsoft were still dreaming the dream of version independent management of libraries, so newer, more powerful libraries could replace older, less powerful or buggy libraries - and best of all, deduplication of code. Think how bad it is today, there were dozens of different Visual C++ runtime libraries are installed on each ...


32

The other answers include a lot of sound historical information about how Windows evolved into its dominant role on PC's in both the home and business environment. But I think the most fundamental, simplest, "Occam's razor" answer is that consumers never had to make a choice. It was PC manufacturers that chose Windows as the default OS, not users and ...


25

By their contents. When Windows boots, the I/O Supervisor VxD (IOS) uses BIOS interrupt 0x13 services to read sector 0 (the Master Boot Record) of each drive. It then looks at two bytes at offset 0x0DA. If they are zeroes, IOS checks the following four bytes: if they are also zeroes (like in the standard MBR code written by Microsoft’s FDISK), IOS overwrites ...


24

Real PIFs are indeed “only” configuration files, but they are executable: running a PIF will run the corresponding program, with the configuration specified by the PIF. This can be used as-is: a “real” PIF can be sent to a user, and if that user runs it, the commands specified in the PIF will be run; starting with VMM 4.0 (Windows 95), PIFs can even include ...


22

While I am sure that the merits of Cutler's stated "low opinion" could be debated, I'm interested to better understand exactly what he was referring to here. There's no citation, and I haven't found a good explanation critiquing his criticism. Honestly, at face value, it's a naive criticism. Cutler was not naive, so, it's likely just a sound bite poke ...


19

At the operating system level – as seen by applications – files in VMS are very record oriented. Guide to OpenVMS File Applications (336 page, 2MB PDF) probably goes into far more detail than anyone should be expected to know, but you can get a feel from the Introduction (emphasis mine): 1.1 File Concepts A computer file is an organized collection of ...


18

I believe the game is Max & Sparky. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OQn3gF7RM4U It is: an isometric exploration/platform game with hazards given away with laundry advertainment compatible with Windows 3.1 and 95 associated with Skip available in Greece Internet Archive gives the following description: Isometric MS-DOS game on CD-ROM, with an ...


17

David Simunič maintains a website dedicated to Windows 1.0, which includes lists of third-party software for it. I don't believe he hosts the software itself, but knowing the names of packages may make it easier to track them down. The only software from the list that I've personally installed and used is Micrografx In*a*Vision.


16

It's great to look back at a technology developed nearly 30 years ago and say "whoa, those are poor design decisions". OLE, and then COM answered questions that were apparent in early Windows. In particular the first thing it attacked was the problem of "DLL Hell" and how to package components from multiple vendors that could be consumed by multiple ...


15

How exactly did Windows become the OS of the home PC? Is it true that the Windows OS, at it's core was originally designed to simply be the OS of the terminals of the windows server architecture. No. Windows started out as a GUI component of DOS - eventually hiding DOS beneath. Anything like a windows server architecture was only devloped way later. In ...


14

From the Start menu go to Settings then Control Panel. Start System. There are two sections Computer: and System:. Under Computer section is the Windows CE version number and under System section is the Processor Type. Note: The graphics and menu arrangements may be different among various Win CE versions, but the general guide remains the same. On the ...


13

Internet Archive holds a repository of retrocomputing software, some runnable in browser emulations. Searching for "Windows 2.0" and "Windows 1.0" software yields some hits for applications, including CD-ROMs of shareware collections. (The keyword search is imprecise and also locates software for later versions of Windows, but you may ...


13

If you change the lengths of strings in a binary, or indeed move any part of a binary around in any way, then you’re likely to break it: offsets to the data (and code) that the program expects to find are stored in the binary, and won’t be adjusted when you alter it. Thus changing text (or anything else, including code) while preserving the lengths is ...


12

Short answer: to ensure smooth transition from COM-less OLE 1 to COM-based OLE 2. Slightly longer answer: the foundational use case for COM was OLE2. OLE2, as well as OLE1 before that, was based upon the idea that server applications register themselves in a common repository so that OLE client applications can find them without foreknowledge about the ...


11

KB entry Q75131 provides the following answer for MS-DOS FORMAT: 320: 320-KiB (40 tps, 8 spt) DSDD 5.25” floppy 360: 360-KiB (40 tps, 9 spt) DSDD 5.25” floppy I don’t know about the Windows-only 640 format.


10

Microsoft's COM library storage was a poor use-case, and an even poorer implementation, of what was all the rage in academic computing research around that time - Object Storage. As you have noted, it sounds good in principle, but creates a host of new problems in real-world usage. This resulted in it being somewhat grotesque, in that it provided a "cure" ...


9

It wasn't anything to do with drive letters, or the Windows NT disc signature in the MBR. DOS-Windows 9x, in particular the infamous wdctrl virtual device driver (often known colloquially and misleadingly as "32-bit disk access"), after determining that it was reasonable for it to supplant the real-mode firmware in the first place, issued three INT 13h ...


7

At that time, computing model was very rich API, complex CPUs, complex tools, etc. Filesystem were almost structured files oriented, etc. UNIX came with its "uniform" vision of I/O, everything is a file, a file is just a stream of bytes. That wasn't so easy for people trained on former OSes to understand why UNIX is a good model. While I loosely remember the ...


7

Adding or removing some text has the effect that things coming later in the EXE file are now found at a different absolute location, machine code as well as the EXE file format rely a lot on absolute locations. So, it's important to keep the exact same byte length of the file. So, replacing characters is mostly safe (if you're sure that the bytes are really ...


6

In fact, you can use any of these formats (up to 1.44MB) on a 3.5" or 5.25" DSHD floppy disk. For the 40-track formats, an 80-track drive would need to double-step; for the single-sided formats, only one head of a double-sided drive would be activated. There are even extended formats which fit, say, 1.6MB in by using a still-higher number of sectors per ...


6

The history of windows goes back a long way. Windows 1.0 was released in 1985 and was simply a graphical interface for MS-DOS. This was neither revolutionary nor uniquely Microsoft, but a trend at that time. For example, GEOS appeared in 1986 and was the same thing for the C64. There was also GEM and a couple others. Since the development times on these ...


6

The first version of Windows to support out-of-the-box DVD playback is Windows XP Media Centre Edition*, which was created specifically to target the HTPC fad that you mention, and it also has some special hardware requirements. The only mainstream versions of Windows to play DVDs without additional software were Windows Vista Home Premium and Ultimate, and ...


5

I worked on some of that stuff at the time. Microsoft Transaction Server was a big deal and we used it in some major apps. By registering a DLLs interface in the registry, you did not need the physical file on your machine and could call into a library running on another machine. COM/DCOM was basically Microsoft's version of CORBA.


5

There is no other way to find it. The registry exists for COM. Other things use since Win 95. A COM server may be already running or on a different computer. There needs to be a way to tell programs where the files are and on what computer. ActiveX uses COM and is a type of COM server. It was also the marketing name for COM more generally but no longer. ...


5

Note: The following method was found through trial-and-error and backtracking the steps the installers require. The emulation is done via PBEmulator, not vs_emulator / DeviceEmulator (Recommended) Get a Windows XP VM. Windows 7 is possibly supported, but no solid evidence so far Download and install eMbedded Visual C++ 4.0 - download @ archive.org ...


5

Ignoring MS-Net, Microsoft has marketed server systems since 1987: first LAN Manager, based on OS/2, then in 1993 Windows NT 3.1 Advanced Server, and then the various Server editions of successive Windows NT and Windows 2000 releases, which gave way to Windows Server. MS-DOS 3.1 and later, and all versions of Windows, have been able to integrate with these ...


5

Background: Windows NT was the basis for all Microsoft Windows "Server" Operating Systems that had that name. Previous iterations of MS networking products were mostly add-on device drivers for simple file sharing. There was also the complete line of Windows Desktop OS's from Windows 1 through Windows Me that were marketed for both home and business use. The ...


5

Here is the solution I found. This probably isn't the only possible solution, but the only one that worked so far. Feel free to contribute, as it's likely imperfect The guide generally assumes the computer can boot off your device. The workaround to boot off USB will be posted, but it might be easier to just stop at this point if the computer cannot. Note: ...


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