Windows NT 3.51 (Build 854)

An updated release of Microsoft’s fledging new kernel, released in 1995.

Install: Attempt 1

First I tried installing it the normal way, inserting a floppy disk and booting from it and have the CD-ROM mounted. First hurdle was towards the end, where the installer complained about not detecting a valid partition, despite the hard disk being detected by the BIOS, and was recognized by FDISK on the Windows 95 boot disk

So I formatted the disk using FDISK on the 95 boot disk, making sure it was FAT16 (Using the FDISK /FPRMT switch) but to no success. It’s weird since it detects the CD-ROM ATAMP drive, but no hard disk

Install: Attempt 2

After a quick search I was advised to use a LOCK command to allow full access to the drive, even though the work LOCK signified you restricting the drive?

To do this I had to use the Windows 95 boot disk to get to a DOS prompt with CD-ROM drivers enabled. Then ran the command below

lock c:
d:\i386\winnt /b

This started copying the file (slowly) to the hard disk which then instructed me to reboot the system. Unfortunately this did nothing as the BIOS could not find anywhere to boot from. It seems this method neglects to install a bootloader

A program crashing in NT 3.51

Install: Attempt 3

After swearing relentlessly , I coped an existing VHD that had MS-DOS 6.0 installed and decided to use that as a base to install NT on, which thankfully had working CD-ROM drivers. Then from the DOS prompt I ran the CD-ROM installer . This copied files in the same manor as attempt two, and upon reboot had added another entry to the bootloader. I guess it only adds to the bootloader rather than create its own?

Either way after selecting the NT option, setup resumed install and gave options for the install.

Another reboot later and we are in the graphical installer, which is where t could customize our NT installation and where we can configure its networking settings.

What I learnt:

  • The lock command only works for MS-DOS 7 and 8 which were integrated with Windows 95 and 98 respectively,
  • NT 3.51 requires a DOS or Win 3.11 install, or assumes the PC already has this installed? Or maybe this is a quirk of the installer disk I was using
  • Maybe this copy is an upgrade copy, or early NT versions were designed to dual boot with DOS. That makes sense since this OS will still in a primitive stage and was probably not designed for regular use at the time.
  • Use the WINNT /B switch to stop the CD-ROM setup from creating blank floppy disks. It insists on creating three blank floppy’s and will not progress until these have been made.

Shortly after getting everything up and running, the OS decided to commit seppuku and would refuse to boot, ultimately crashing the emulator completely. Even VGA mode was unable to fix it. Possibly this build has issue running in this configuration.

PCem config

Motherboard: Elonex PC-425X

Processor: Intel i486DX4

Video: Cirrus Logic GD-5429

Audio: Windows Sound System

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