Category Archives: Operating Systems

Windows XP Media Center Edition 2004

An update to Windows XP Media Center, again intended for OEM use. Very little has changed on the desktop side with most of the enhancements being done to the Media Center program. Again this version was intended solely for OEMs, so only OEM-type product keys can be used. When installing on an OEM system, like my Dell XPS Gen5, activation was automatic and I don’t remember it prompting for a product key. On VMWare, it’s a different story with it being locked out of the OS on the initial boot-up.

Some issues may occur regarding product activation since this is a Dell OEM copy, to get around this:
Spam F8 upon boot up
Select Start in Command Prompt
When the Command prompt window appears, enter ‘explorer’ and wait for the setup prompt to finish, this will reboot the PC automatically

Version Information

ComponentVersion
Internet Explorer6.0.2800.1106.xpsp11.020828-1920
Outlook Express6.00.2800.1106
Windows Media Player9.00.00.3005
Windows Messenger4.7.0041
Windows Movie Maker1.1.2427.1

The desktop remains the same as a default Windows XP, with the only noticeable difference being the Media Center icon on the Start Menu. A new Online Spotlight option is now present, This would take you to an online website, displayed within the Media Center application (possibly using the Internet Explorer engine) that would have provided further information with using Media Center.

Play DVD

The main DVD player, again we have difficulties playing DVD discs due to the lack of hardware MPEG2 decoder. You would think they would support software rendering by now.

My Videos

Videos stored in the My Videos folder are located and played back here. This does not include Recorded TV, which has its own section. Video playback requires a supported graphics card that will provide acceleration, that VMWare (Or its driver) does not support.

My Pictures

Similar has before, photos can be displayed as a single image or as part of a slideshow. Media center supports the common file formats and will display images from the My Pictures folder, or the Shared Pictures

My TV

TV functionality is still a mystery, as my DVB-T tuner adaptor is still not recognized by the Media Center Application. From looking at the help files, Media Center has full PVR functionality with the ability to schedule recordings, pause live TV & rewind. You can now watch TV in slow motion, which is useful for sports events or frame by frame to check if anything has been missed (or for any subliminal messages).
As with the previous version, you can configure the TV source to be through an antenna, using a satellite or a cable feed. The latter two probably need a set-top box along with an infrared blaster to control it.
Pay-Per-View also appears to be supported, but I’m unsure how this is implemented. Possibly it interacts with your cable box’s PPV application?
As for the TV listings, as Microsoft has killed off the EPG servers we are unable to load any channel listings.

My Music

Little here has changed compared to the previous version. Music stored in the My Music folder can be played or organized into a playlist, and played through the media center application.

More Programs

Additional programs that integrate into Media Center are displayed here, which can include games or links to the website. Dell has bundled a few WildTangent games that are intended to be played using the Media Center remote.

Otto: The objective is to turn all of the squares into your colour, whilst avoiding the enemies.

Gem Master: Similar to Sega Columns, clear the board by matching three or more colours together

Shutting down within media center

Windows Home Server

Microsoft Server operating system spin-off, intended for home users who were looking to create a home server to back up their files and share their media across multiple PCs and devices, like the Xbox 360. Built off the Windows Server 2003 codebase, it bares a resemblance to Windows XP and is generally compatible with it.

Install

So this took a few attempts to install, as Microsoft had implemted strict system requirements.

Attempt 1

Failed due to using a SCSI drive instead of an IDE or SATA drive, as the installer did not support VMWare’s SCSI controller which was enabled by default. Another issue was the VM memory was set too low, as Windows Home Server needs at least 512MB to pass the install

Attempt 2

Failed because the virtual hard drive was not large enough, by default VMWare created a 40GB and the installation needs 65GB

Attempt 3

Failed again because the first hard drive was 40GB, even though an 80GB HDD exists on the virtual system, it wants the primary disk to the over 65GB.

Attempt 4

Managed to make inroads into the install but after completing the setup wizard, the system restarted to a blank screen and would reboot back into the setup wizard where it would begin from the start.

Attempt 5

This time I removed both hard disks and created a new blank 80GB and attached it to IDE 1 master. Again it installed but rebooted to a blank screen,

Attempt 6

This time I created a new blank 80GB SATA disk and installed it to that. I managed to get further as at this point the install was completed and rebooted into a setup sequence similar to Windows XP, and then it BSOD

Attempt 7

Same as above but replace SATA with IDE, eventually we are able to get this cunting thing to install. At this point, the install identifies itself as Windows Server 2003 which the OS was possibly based on. Later we reboot again aback into the Windows Home Server and install the setup design looks remarkably like Windows Vista with its light auras,

Eventually we get to the desktop but the setup isn’t finished yet, and the system is rebooted once more.

Although it wants to check the disk, maybe its procedure: You can skip it but it will nag you every time it boots, so might as well get it done with.

After that we are back into the install to complete once more, this is getting like Windows Fundamentals for Legacy PCs where we had to reboot a fair few times before we got a usable system. I’m guessing it’s using the same setup procedure? It does look remarkably similar to FLP.

So to summarize, to install Windows Home Server in VMWare:

  • Have an IDE Hard Disk, 80GB or larger
  • Set at least 512MB of memory, more is recommended but remember this is a 32bit operating system

VMWare will autodetect the ISO image as Windows Server 2003, which is technically correct but will cause it to set the default virtual machine settings incorrectly.

Desktop

Here we see a unique desktop background that looks similar to the ones that appeared in Windows Vista.

Windows Home Server Console

This is the main user interface for setting up and configuring your home server. As this was intended to be used by a home user who may not be knowledgeable about servers.

Computers & Backup

A list of computers that are linked with your home server. This requires the installation of the Home Server Companion software in order to function on the client machine. Once added, you can schedule backups on a fixed scheduled basis.

User Accounts

You can add multiple user accounts who are then able to log into the server. Each user has their own folder to store their files in. Typically default folders will include a Picturer, Music & Videos folder.

Each user can set their own password for secure access, and user accounts can be disabled at any time.

Shared Folders

By default, there are five folders, Music, Photos, Public, Software & Videos. All are dedicated folders to help store and share files on your network. Very similar to a typical home NAS drive. Each user account also has its own folder, of which only the user themselves has access to the drive, although this can be configured by the server administrator.

After the installation, a link to the server’s network share is placed on the user’s desktop. No network drives are mapped.

Server Storage

A list of all volumes currently connected to the server shows the disk status and the capacity. The storage usage is displayed.

Windows Desktop Search

The version comes included with the operating system which replaces the Windows XP style search and is more akin to the one found in Windows Vista (Windows Search was also available as a downloadable upgrade for Windows XP) Benefit here is a full indexed search that looks in your documents folders.

Start Menu & Themes

By default, the Start menu is barren compared to a regular Windows install since this is really intended for server management rather than day-to-day application use. But we can easily customize it to look like the regular Windows XP Start Menu.

The Windows Classic theme is set by default, and upon attempting to change it appears the Luna themes from XP are missing or are not included. Even when trying to install additional themes has little to no effect (Like the Zune or Media Center Royale theme)

To enable the use of Luna themes, the Windows Theming (Visual Styles) service must be enabled by enabling it within the Windows Service management console. Once enabled, a Luna theme can be set, even the default themes included in XP are now available.

Windows Media Player 10 comes integrated into the operating system, along with Internet Explorer 6 and Outlook Express (6.00.3790.3959)

Component Version
Internet Explorer6.0.3790.3959
Windows Media Player10.00.00.3997
Windows MessengerDoes not appear to be installed
Outlook Express6.00.3790.3959
Windows Movie MakerDoes not appear to be installed

Software Compatability

Installing Anti-Virus software seemed to be problematic, with Windows Live OneCare and Avast refusing to install. Possibly this requires the server versions of these applications?

Zune software also failed to install

Internet Explorer – Version 6 comes included, but we cannot install regular versions of Internet Explorer 7 or 8. Unless there are specialized versions of these that were released, it appears these browsers are not supported, despite running Service Pack 2. (A specialized build of Internet Explorer 8 can be found here)

This probably ties into the fact Windows Home Server isn’t a consumer operating system, so later versions of Internet Explorer were not released.

Still, DirectX 9.0c comes integrated into the OS and in testing a few titles seem to work ok.

Graphis drivers should be fine, although be aware this is running on the Server 2003 codebase (NT5.2) so I’d recommend using Server 2003 drivers instead of XP. This is also a 32bit only operating system.

Windows Home Server Companion

This is a utility that is installed onto a Windows XP system to allow full compatibility with the Home Server and is required to use the Home Backup features. It requires a version of Windows XP running Service Pack 2, although it runs as fine on Windows Fundamentals for Legacy PCs.

This isn’t required to access files on the server, as you can do this over SMB as long as the server is part of your Workgroup (All must use the same workgroup name, typically MSHOME or WORKGROUP)

Shutdown

Power Packs

Major updates were released as ‘Power Packs’ which added additional functionality to the Home Server component, particularly Power Pack 2 which adds support for Windows Media Center for editions of XP and Vista that were released around the same period. The Home Server companion was also upgraded to take advantage and adds a link to the shared folders to the media menu. This allows pictures and music stored on the server to be streamed directly to the media center PC.

Windows Fundamentals for Legacy PCs

Because calling it Windows XP Basic Editon wasn’t elaborate enough…

Logon screen

Windows Fundamentals for Legacy PC (FLP for short) is basically Windows XP but for old systems and was intended to be used in an Enterprise environment since it was only offered through this channel. It was not made an option for OEM or Retail channels and was intended to be used for computers that were previously running say Windows NT or 98, who wanted to run an XP-based os but due to the limited specifications were unable to run the ‘Full fat Xp’.
As this was released in 2005, and 98/NT4 was due to lose support the next year, this OS was intended to be an upgrade path for those old PCs that were still running those operating systems but were not capable enough of running Windows XP.

Install

You will notice that this installs differently compared to stock Windows XP, and using a newer Windows Installer. Gone is the blue install screen. This is similar to what Windows Vista would use, and the Longhorn Beta’s (Pre-Reset) would install in a similar method.

After the installation has been completed you are prompted to reboot your PC. After the initial reboot, you are treated to a configuring screen, of which you are prompted to reboot again, and again. There are several reboots needed before the install finished and we are presented with a desktop.

Well, it looks just like a regular Windows XP install, minus the desktop background which has been replaced with a regular solid blue colour.

A lot of personalization themes are missing, there are very few screen savers or desktop backgrounds available, although the desktop styles can be changed.
I’m curious as to why Luna is included and selected by default? Surley an OS intended for low-end usage would use the Windows Classic theme, or maybe there is very little performance difference between the two?

So let’s see what missing and if anything has been removed or added.
On a note, a fresh install is using 1.33GB (post-VMWare addon installed)

Windows classic theme with 16bit colour

The security center from the XP service pack 2 is included and will warn that updates are not enabled and that no antivirus software is installed.

Windows Media Player 10 is included with the OS and was the latest release at the time, Again I’m confused why this is included instead of Media Player 9 or 8, which would have helped reduce the install size

There are no built-in games with this build, and they cannot be optionally installed (The Windows components section is missing)

No option to add Windows components

Windows Messenger 4.7 comes with this build also. Strangely the audio tuning wizard does not work, just giving the error message when we try to open it

An observation I found was how Windows handles an application crashing, an error message appears in the same fashion Windows NT 4 would crash, with no option to generate a useful error report, no apology, just a notification that the program has crashed.

Software Testing

Curious to see how it handles software of the era it was released in. Most 32bit Windows software should run fine, though I wonder how well DirectX games will run. DirectX 9 does come included with the OS preinstalled.

Sonic Stage

Sony’s music player software for their Walkman music player (Think of the iPod but better), this can playback ATARC files, which was Sony’s own file format, and could connect and purchase music from the CONNECT store, which they shut down in 2008

Unreal Tournament

A DirectX-based game, but can run in software rendering instead. Here it works but is prone to graphical glitches, possibly due to the VMWare graphics acceleration

San Francisco Rush 2049

One of my favorite games in the San Franciso Rush series, and only 17 years until it becomes reality. Runs without any issues

Norton Internet Security 2006

Standard Anti-Virus and security software by Symantec

WordPerfect 2006

An alternative basic office suite similar to Microsoft Office suite included a word processor and a spreadsheet application.

Matchware Mediator

Similar to Adobe Dreamweaver, this lets you build rich multimedia pages

Microsoft Intellipoint & Intellitype 6.2

Utility commonly bundled with Microsoft keyboard and mice, adds additional functionality that is not covered by Windows but can be used with third-party keyboards. I like to use it because it adds a volume indicator when using the volume keys on a keyboard that features one.

Upgrades

By default Service Pack 2 is included, and service pack 3 can be installed as an optional upgrade. Internet Explorer 7 and 8 can also be installed as upgrades to Internet Explorer 6.

Support for Windows FLP ended on the same date as Windows XP – April 2014.

Well, I’m not sure what happened but I seem to have broken the OS, at least when it comes to shutting down. A few errors with winlogon.exe come up, before the OS BSODs completely.

Uh Oh

Windows XP Media Center Edition

Windows comes to the TV

One of the many editions of Windows XP, this time intended for use in the living room and to react to the growing popularity of media centers of the era like the Tivo in the US, and the Sony PSX DVR in Japan.

Install

Mostly appears the same as Windows XP Professional and even identifies itself as such.

Has its own boot screen, which would disappear in service pack 2

Desktop

The desktop will resemble a stock version of Windows XP. The only difference you will notice is the Media Center icon in the start menu.

Media Center

This is the main attraction to the Windows Media Center edition and is only included in these editions of Windows XP. It’s intended to be controlled using the media center remote which would have been included with the Media Center PC, although third-party remotes, along with their dongles would come available. As such it’s fiddley to use with just the keyboard and mouse.

MyTV

The place where your TV channels are located. Here you can browse the TV Guide, also known as an EPG, and set up and configure recordings that allow your PC to become a DVR (Digital Video Recorder, like a Tivo or Sky+) There are various options to set up your TV signal, either through cable (with or without a set-top box), satellite or terrestrial/antenna signals.

Settings up the TV signal requires you to connect to Microsoft and provide your Zip or postal code (only US zip codes work, my postcode wasn’t recognized at all despite my locale being set to the United Kingdom)

I was curious to see if my DVB-T tuner was recognized over USB, since Freeview had only recently launched back in 2002 when this operating system was released, Sadly this was not the case as DVB-T wasn’t supported, despite being a thing in 2002 (Freeview in the UK launched in 2002, and we had DTT since 1998 with the launch of ONdigital, however, the USofA uses ATSC which Media Center might support since Microsoft tends to be US-centric for its first generation products)

In a way this is the successor to Web TV for Windows that shipped with Windows 98

My Music

Music tracks ripped from an audio CD will appear here, and sync with Windows Media Player so any tracks added with also appear in Media Center. Presumably, this would also support DRM music from either MSN Music, since this predated Playsforsure or the Zune DRM (Microsoft had a lot of music stores).

My Pictures

Photos and image files located in the My Pictures folder will be displayed here and can be played in a slideshow. Images can be sorted into albums if you have sorted them into folders within the My Pictures folder. Pictures can be sorted by name or date

My Videos

Similar to Pictures, but videos are shown instead. We seem to run into the same issue with playing DVD video as documented below, likely due to requiring graphics acceleration for video playback.

Windows Media Player doesn’t seem to give a shit and will play the file regardless, so why can’t Media Center?

Play DVD

I was unsuccessful in getting a DVD movie to play, and I believe this is due to the lack of a hardware MPEG2 decoder that is required to play back DVDs. This was a Microsoft OEM requirement and meant some TV tuner cards were incompatible as they decoded MPEG2 in software instead, using the main CPU to do the decoding.

As VMWare lacks a hardware MPEG2 decoder, Windows Media Center and Media Player are unable to play back DVDs in their current form. Even after installing the K-Lite codec pack, we are unable to play.

We might have better luck installing on an actual system from the era, specifically one with a graphics card that has onboard MPEG2 decoding, assuming Media Center is compatible with it. I should note that some ATI All-In-Wonder graphics cards of the time also used software decoding to reduce costs and had issues getting their cards certified for the media center due to this implementation. As for why Microsoft did not allow for software decoding, it could be because of multitasking concerns if the user tries to do something else whilst watching a DVD, or DRM concerns. In contrast, the Xbox console decodes MPEG2 in software on its Pentium 3 processor, but it’s unknown if the GeForce GPU accelerates this somewhat.

Maybe later versions are more flexible when it comes to decoding but for now let’s skip ahead.

Conclusion

And that’s it, its pretty much Windows XP with an added Media Center application bundled in. As for why it wasn’t sold as a software upgrade package was due to Microsoft imposing strict hardware specifications in order to use Media Center, specifically with the processor, hardware MPEG decoding, 3D graphics acceleration and an IR remote and sensor. Microsoft really didn’t want anyone using this on hardware that was subpar or missing any components in order to give a consistent experience for the end user.

Version Information

These version numbers will change once later service packs are installed.

ComponentVersion
Internet Explorer6.0.2800.1106.xpsp1.020828-1920
Outlook ExpressExact same as Internet Explorer
Windows Media Player8.00.00.4487
Windows Messenger4.7.0041
Windows Movie Maker1.1.2427.1
DirectX8.1 (4.08.01.0810)

Windows XP Starter Edition

Diet Windows XP

A very crippled version of Windows XP intended for use in developing countries and for users new to desktop computers.
One of the limitations is you can only run up to three programs at a time, and Windows Explorer will prevent you from opening more. So what counts as a program?
Well, it seems anything that has an icon on the taskbar. Background programs or programs that hide in the system tray don’t seem to count until you click on them. One example is MSN messenger which will run in the background, but we cannot get to the main window if we have three programs already running.
Also because of this, it likes to group applications into the same icon on the taskbar even if we only have one instance running. Opening Internet Explorer and creating a new window is a good example of this.

The screen resolution is limited to 1024 by 768, not a huge issue since that screen resolution was common back when this was released, although it seems a silly limitation to implement. I’m also not sure how it handles widescreen resolutions. After installing the Vmware tool and trying to resize the resolution by expanding the window, Windows just restored the resolution back to 1024×768.
There probably are ways to get around this, via the use of registry modifications but then you might as well install a properer version of Windows, not Diet Windows XP

Install

The installer is the same as every other Windows XP installer and even identifies as Windows XP Home Edition

Desktop

Well, it looks like we’re stuck with the Windows Classic theme, no Luna themes here. In face we don’t even have the ability to customize the classic themes, all colour schemes and even the theme tab of the display properties has been disabled.
I even tried to install the Royale and Zune themes but they have no effect. The only thing you can customize is the background (Only ships with one) and the screensaver, which included two exclusive screensavers.

Another annoying thing is the removal of context menus, the ones that come up when you right-click. Why they removed that I have no idea.

Programs

There are a few bundled programs that are exclusive to this edition of XP:

Getting Started

A user guide of sorts for new and inexperienced users which goes through the basics of using Windows, and how to perform common tasks like browsing the internet, Email, listening to music and importing photos from a digital camera. All of this runs within the Windows HTML help engine

Video Help

A more interactive version of the Getting Started program, complete with sound and visual demonstrations. Some of these would be presented in a different language

My Support

Very similar to the Getting Started program, but resembles a knowledge base website and provides more information on using the various applications on the computer. Also includes a glossary.

Change Language

A utility to change the systems language is likely intended to be used by a system builder since the average user won’t use this often.

Control Panel

Seems we are stuck with the category view, with no option to use the traditional classic view

Also, there are a few options here that are non-functional, like the option to set up a windows workgroup or a home network since it does not exist in this version, but the link to it still remains. You would think Microsoft would remove the link to it at least.
This does make it difficult to share files other a network with the lack of direct Samba support, FTP seems to still be functioning.

Windows Firewall is set to be always on and cannot be directly controlled.

Screensaver

Image Spiral

Wind Silk

Conclusion

In terms of compatibility, it seems to be a regular version of Windows XP, with support for DirectX 9.0 that gives 3D gaming support.

16bit programs will also run without any issue, although DOS compatibility will be the same as Windows XP

You have to wonder why this even existed, as Windows XP was already a few years old at this point & PCs of the time shouldn’t have too much trouble running it, and even if it did you would prefer to install an older version like Windows 2000 or ME.
Possibly Microsoft wanted to curb piracy in these developing countries and fend off competing Linux distributions. But again why would you prefer a legal but crippled version of Windows over a pirate copy that has little to no restrictions for the end user?

Microsoft would also make starter editions of their successive operating systems, Windows Vista and Windows 7 starter editions but would ease up on the restrictions

Version Information

These version numbers will change once later service packs are installed.

ComponentVersion
Internet Explorer6.0.2900.2180.xpsp_sp2_rtm.040803-2158
Outlook ExpressSame as Internet Explorer
Windows Media Player9.00.00.3250
Windows Messenger4.7.3000
Windows Movie Maker2.1.4026.0 (This build brings up the Windows version in Help, About)
DirectX9.0c (4.09.0000.0904)

Windows XP Tablet PC Edition

Beating the iPad by 8 years (What’s a Newton?)

One of the many editions of Windows XP, Intended to be used on portable tablet PC systems, this can be seen as an early implementation of Windows for Tablet systems, something which is more common today than it was in 2002 when this version was released. Major differences stem from the pen and touch support and the inclusion of the tablet input panel.
This kind of makes this version of Windows suited to touchscreen-based PCs, at least they can use the added touch functionality. System requirements are mostly the same as XP Professional, with it being heard for use with the mobile variants of X86 processors like the Transmeta Crusoe or the VIA/Cyrix M3, there is no ARM version.

Despite being branded for Tablet PCs, there is nothing stopping you from using it on a regular desktop PC, although some of the added features will be of little use unless you have some sort of touch functionality, like a Wacom graphics tablet. Pretty much all Windows software that can run on regular XP editions will function here.

Install

Not an issue with the build, some weird VMware trickery it tries to do.

Installation is very similar to a traditional Windows XP install and even reveals itself to be Windows XP Professional in the installer. It’s only after the install we see the first signs of Tablet PC Edition.

Post-Install

Shortly after the first boot completes, we are treated to a tutorial that explains how to navigate Windows using the Pen and Touch controls. This may differ compared to OEM branded versions as they may include special tutorials included by the manufacturer themselves, especially if any additional features or capabilities have been added.

Once we get to the desktop it looks like a typical Windows XP install, the only major difference is the keyboard input panel to the right of the start button, this will bring up the Tablet PC Input panel which is used to type.

Tablet Components

Microsoft bundled a few extra applications to help and complement the use of a tablet PC. Some OEMs would also include their own software.

Get Going with Tablet PC

A tutorial that runs after you first log in and will go through the basics of using your tablet device, it will also ask questions in regards to what features your device contains and the type of stylus used. You can run this later at any time since it’s accessible from the start menu.

Sticky Notes

Before its well-known debut in Windows Vista as a desktop gadget, Sticky Notes first appeared here albeit in a different incarnation. Here we can only capture drawing done by the stylus or mouse. Audio can also be captured by using the record option. From using it, there does not seem to be a way to enter text based notes, nor can the background colour be changed. Flags of different colours can also be added, but this seems to be only cosmetic, it does not activate anything in the journal.
Notes can be exported in the EMF image format, which can then be opened in the Windows Picture and Fax viewer. Compared to other image formats, this one seems to handle text a lot better, especially when zoomed in up close. Originally this format was used for Clip-Art in older versions of Microsoft Office.

Windows Journal

Acts as a literal notepad or scratch book where you can jot down notes written using the stylus. You also have the option to write in a regular pen or use a highlighter, and an eraser can be used to delete writing. Images can also be added and removed.
Text cannot be entered unless you manually add a textbox and position it on the page.
Windows Journal viewer was later made as a separate download from Microsoft, which allowed for Journal files created to be viewed on regular editions of Windows XP

Inkball

A game that was later included in Windows Vista, the objective is to guide the ball into the hole using your style to draw black lines which cause the ball to bounce and reflect in the opposite direction, later levels feature multiple coloured balls with the objecting to ensure the correct coloured balls enter their respective coloured holes.
Vert difficult to play with the mouse since the cursor will disappear, making it difficult to determine where your pen is located.

Keyboard Input

As tablet PC devices lack a physical keyboard, an onscreen keyboard is included to make text entry and input easier. This is not the same as the On-Screen keyboard that came with Windows 2000 and is still included here, the Input panel being larger and more suited to a touch screen.

Conclusion

Although this wasn’t the first version of Windows to be designed for a mobile or portable device, as the Windows CE line of operating systems were intended to be used on PDAs and smartphones of the time, and there was also Windows Pen Computing, a touch input based OS that was similar to Windows 3.11. But it pushed the NT line of operating systems into a more mobile direction and with the arrival of the ultra-portable Sony VAIO UX Micro PC models which started the handheld PC market, and the upcoming netbooks and tablets which would become popular years after the release of XP Tablet PC Edition

Regarding the touch input and control, Microsoft would later incorporate pen and touch-based interfaces into all editions of the operating system, foreseeing as they could be standardized on future systems. Windows 7 introduced a new pen and handwriting recognition, whilst Windows 8 would make touchscreens the center point for its user interface, this would come at the expense of general usability, and traditional users would feel ostracized by the new interface.

Version Information

ComponentVersion
Internet Explorer6.0.2800.1106.xpsp1.020828-1920
Outlook ExpressExact same as Internet Explorer
Windows Media Player8.00.00.4487
Windows Messenger4.7.0041
Windows Movie Maker1.1.2427.1
DirectX8.1 (4.08.01.0810)
Inkball1.0.2201.0

Windows Chicago Milestone 4 (Build 58)

One of the earliest Windows 95 builds

Install

An existing Windows 3.1 installation is required to launch setup, and this release can be considered an upgrade of sorts. However very little gets transferred over, likening it to a fresh install

Results of the hardware detection, our SoundBlaster 16 is not detected, and neither is our network card.

A crash towards the end of the setup, this left the VM unbootable and we had to reboot into MS-DOS to launch the Chicago installer again. Providing you told setup to install in a different folder (Chicago instead of WINDOWS) then you can easily boot back in Windows 3.x

Installing again fixed it, no hardware change was done. Could just be a random bug in the install?

Upon first boot, Windows ‘explorer’ will convert your program manager groups to the ones that Chicago will use.

You will see that what we know as Windows Explorer will be known as File Cabinet.

The File Cabinet looks a lot like My Computer from the final builds of Windows 95.

The Main program group, it seems there are still elements of the old Program Manager present.

Windows Metrics, also known as just Metrics lets you adjust various user interface components, and lets you save and apply certain themes. There are currently no themes included by default.

Disk drive information for both floppy drives and hard disk drives, looks a lot better and more detailed than the final release.

System Information, shows build version and the amount of memory installed. Resourceses refers to the Windows GDI.

What looks to be device manager, a lot of things here are incomplete and show up as blank dialog boxes.

A heavily dithered graphic.

Right-clicking and bringing up the properties pane.

The full file browser, known as the file cabinet. An issue I found was this build does not show more than five drives, which is possible if you attach multiple SCSI drives. Since the floppy drives are useless in this build you might as well get rid of them.

Viewing and modifying the screensaver. All of these came from Windows 3.1

Modifying the desktop background

A list of games, and a look at Minesweeper game that comes included

The task pane, also you can customise the size of the taskbar. This seems like a docking area where icons can pinned for quick access, instead of displaying the active windows like Windows does today. Instead the tasks window serves this purpose.

Software Compatability

Seems to be a very mixed bag in terms of what works and what fails to run. The full Win32 API has not been implemented so 32bit applications will not work and existing Windows applications seem to have a mixed compatability with some programs refusing to run or crashing.

Microsoft BOB

Installs but does not run. Instead a Dr Watson error comes up

Microsoft Office

Microsoft Office 4.3 installs and runs without issues

Netscape

This is odd, it installed but then claims not to find the exe file when we try to open?

Opera

Opera browser, installs fine (in another language for some reason, despite English being selected)

Internet Explorer

Internet Explorer 3 had a 16bit release for Windows 3.1 which should work on Chicago build 58 but it’s unable to run

Simpsons Cartoon Studio

The application tried to run in full screen, but the task bar on the bottom remains visible. Alos the Office toolbar (From the Office 4.3 install) remains visible. Another thing to note was the game failed to start using the shortcut provided by the installer, and only worked instead by navigating to the CD-ROM drive and launching the CD-ROM executable from there.

Adobe Reader

Installs and works fine, but it looks like a few graphics are missing from the installer and are replaced instead by a white box. This could be a driver or emulation issue with the Cirrus Logic video card used.

Virtua Cop

An on-the-rails arcade shooting game, here you only have to worry about aiming and shooting and all the movement is done automatically. There is still a challenge though and fast reflexes are essential to get a good score in Virtua Cop. If you’ve played Time Crisis you will be familiar with the concept, but Sega have implemented different mechanics.

Don’t Shoot! Proceeds to run in front of player

By default you start off with the revolver, which is a standard pistol. Over the course of the game other weapons can be picked up like the shotgun or an automatic, which holds more ammunition and can fire more rounds without being reloaded, but can only be used through one ammo clip.
You will lose the additional weapon if you get shot by an enemy or if you hit a civilian, when this happens you will revert back to the standard revolver.

The whole objective of the game is to shoot the bad guys, whilst avoiding the civilians. Shooting a civilian will cause you to lose a life whilst shooting and disarming an enemy gives you a justice shot bonus. You can use the environment to help you, by shooting the red barrels you can create explosions that can take out several enemies.
Occasionally enemies will pop up on the screen and will throw an axe, you will need to shot them before their axe makes contact otherwise you will lose a life. These can take you by surprise, but remain consistent through multiple playthroughs, so over time you can memorise the enemy sequences.
Some enemies will also throw a grenade, you must shoot the grenade before it lands.

Levels:

There are three stages in total, at the end of each stage is a boss fight where you will need to shoot both the boss enemy and their projectiles.

Stage 1: Arms Black Market, Starts off on a shipping yard, where this is suspected criminal activity going on with the illegal import of weapons. The end boss is Kong, who uses a rocket launcher.

Stage 2: Underground Weapon Storage, Takes place on a construction site. Here the enemies start to become more frequent, with many popping up on screen, and environmental hazards involving vehicles now talking place. End boss here is called King (No, not the one from Tekken), and uses a flame flower that shoots balls of fire.

Stage 3: Gang Headquarters, We’re here in the EVL corporation headquarters. You fight shoot your way through the Skyscraper, through the various offices (equipped with Apple Macintosh Quadra 900s, guess we know what computers Sega was using back then). Here the enemies are a lot more quicker to react compared to the previous stages. At the end there are two gang bosses, Boss and Fang. Boss desk transforms into a mecha-suit that fires missiles, whilst Fang is an attack helicopter.

Versions

Arcade

Virtua Cop debuted on the original Model 2 arcade board and was a light gun based game. The player uses the gun to aim at targets to fire and shoot enemies. Reloading is done through aiming the gun away from the screen and shooting.
In total there are 3 stages, and can be played in any order. By default you have 5 lives, which can be amended in the games test mode. After all your lives have been lost, you need to insert credit in order to continue, but the game does allow you to pick up where you left off instead of starting from the first level again.

Sega Saturn

Sega ported the game to the Saturn in 1995 and was one of the fist games to be developed using the Saturn Graphics Library, which was intended to make it easier to develop games for the Saturn. Like other Model 2 to Saturn ports, the graphics quality has been reduced in order to adapt to the Saturn’s graphics hardware.
The Saturn does make use of pre rendered FMV for some of the opening sequences, however the arcade opening sequences is rendered in engine, although modified to account for the Saturn’s design.
The Saturn compensates for this with the addition of a couple of features like the training mode which helps you get used to the shooting mechanics by shooting a set amount of targets under a time limit. There is also a two player mode that can be access through the training menu.

The Saturn version also makes use of the Virtua Gun which is a light gun that functions only on CRT TV’s or the Saturn mouse.

Windows

Sega also ported the game to Windows in 1996 and makes use of DirectX X
Like the Saturn version it also features a couple of features. However it still lacks the visuals of the arcade, even though some high end systems of the time were capable of Model 2 like graphics. It’s likely Sega assumed most players would be using software rending as opposed to a dedicated 3D card, and designed the game as such rather than targeting high end hardware.

Settings screen in glorious Comic Sans, and when 640×480 was considered high res

The PC port does suffer from a few issue’s in regards to how it is controlled. Navigating the menus is a pain, as you have to use the keyboard arrow keys and the enter key to select, the mouse cannot be used at all. Seems like the game was designed to be used mostly with the gamepad. The mouse can be used to aim and shoot, with reloading being done by double clicking the right mouse button quickly.

In terms of support the game was meant to be used for Windows 95, but will also work with Windows 98. No support for NT (Not tested yet). The game makes use of DirectX 2 for its 3D API. There is also support for the Nvidia NV1 accelerator, which Sega’s early 3D PC titles had support for, this also makes use of a special executable that runs on that graphics card only. No modern API wrapper for that card exists, and many emulators (PCem/86Box/QEMU) have no support for this unique card.

As with all CD-ROM based games from this era, this makes use of CD Audio for the games background music. In order for this to play back you must have the game in a BIN/CUE format since this preserves the audio subchannel data. PCem and 86Box do support this form of audio when mounting those images directly into the emulator, providing the correct image format is used. On an actual system an IDE hard drive with the CD Audio header must be connected to the CD Audio port on the soundcard, otherwise the music will not play, modern SATA drives and onboard soundcards will likely lack this interface.

IBM Thinkpad X41

One of the last generation of Thinkpad laptops branded as IBM before Lenovo was introduced. Let’s take a look at what software was included with a typical IBM Thinkpad install.

Desktop after a fresh install, complete with an IBM custom wallpaper and a link to the Access IBM for the OEM Link.

Access IBM

A program that goes through the features of the ThinkPad and allows easy access to common functions that Windows does not typically cover. It also has links to various support topics and articles, acting as an electronic alternative to the bundled documentation.

A shortcut to Access IBM appears in the Windows Help & Support center.

IBM Update Connector

Checks for driver updates and any new versions of bundles software. In a domain environment you can also set up your own IBM update server where approved and tested updates can be distributed, instead of downloading from IBM directly.

Battery MaxiMizer Wizard

Helps monitor the battery health and how to get the best battery life.

ThinkVantage Technologies

Shows off the different features of your ThinkPad like the rescue and recovery software to recover any missing or corrupted files. The active protection system with shuts off the hard drive when a fall is detected, possibly a sensor is embedded into the laptop to allow it to detect this.

SONIC Expresslabeler

Adobe Reader

Appears to be present but not completely installed by default. Opening it for the first time reveals some sort of unarchiver. Also a look at an interactive wallpaper also provided by IBM, which displays a graphical view of the hard drive and its space used, and the calendar which shows the correct date (But not any schedules or reminders). There’s also a section for email, but I have yet to get this to show anything, possibly only works with Outlook Express.

InterVideo WinDVD

DVD playback software for the included DVD drive, this does not function in the virtual machine as it complains about the lack of copy protection. Even Windows Media Player had issues playing a DVD.

InterVideo WinDVD Creator

You can create and burn your own DVD video discs, intended for use for home movies (Through I wonder if DVD-rip torrents could be imported and burnt in this way). here we can create and manipulate the DVD home menu using its own design and navigation. Alternatively, a static slideshow can be created using photos captured from a digital camera.

IBM (Sonic) RecordNow!

A popular CD recording utility I’ve seen bundled on various laptops from this era (Toshiba A60). You can burn a regular ISO image or an audio or MP3 CD. Sonic would later be acquired by Roxio and would be integrated into their products.

Norton Antivirus / Internet Security

Typical virus protection of the year, Norton AntiVirus was bundled with various IBM products. Norton has the ability to scan and detect any virus embedded in email applications, providing you use an email client that Norton supports (Like Microsoft Outlook)

I’m surprised it even allowed a version this old to be activated, I doubt it would perform well against modern malware.

Desktop Themes

Two desktop themes come included, which feature their own sounds, desktop icons and wallpaper. Both will use the Luna silver theme

Wallpaper

Three wallpapers are included, with the second one being a dynamic active desktop wallpaper mentioned earlier.

Screensavers

A few screensavers that show off and advertise the features of the laptop.

Control Panel

Various control panel applets that have been preinstalled by IBM

IBM Active Protection: controls the freefall hard drive protection

ThinkPad Configuration: Supposed to change various options for your Thinkpad

Misc

Sony VAIO PCV-RD620G

A mid-2003 desktop PC that functions as a media center of sorts, and features dual optical drives (CD burner with a DVD reader) and remote control with an IR receiver. Some models featured an analog TV tuner and a dial-up modem fitted to one of the PCI slots.

VAIO Style

Recovery Wizard

Our VAIO journey starts with the Recovery Wizard, which takes us through the formatting process.

Remarkably it looks like a Windows 2000 environment.

Post Install

The Sony-branded OOBE, which presents the opportunity to register with Sony and Microsoft.

Norton Internet Security comes bundled with the laptop which provides virus protection for a year since it is activated, along with a firewall. Norton also integrates itself into Internet Explorer, providing popup protection. It also appears within Windows Explorer itself.

After the first bootup, we are prompted to insert one of the VAIO recovery disks, these are tied to the machine and will not work inside a virtual environment, and rely on different copy protection

Interesting, Norton seems to be able to pickup and download a few updates, considering this product is nearing 20 years old that’s quite impressive. But I doubt these cover the latest virus definitions, Norton possibly still operates the server that holds these aged definition updates.

There are a few programs missing since the final part of the recovery wizard specifically checks that you are running on a Sony VAIO PC. I wonder if this checks for the exact model, or if there is just the Sony string in the BIOS, would this work for other Sony models?

SonicStage

SonicStage was the software used to manage and playback Sony’s ATARC format audio, which was their own property audio format that was initially used on the first MiniDisc models, and was later used for their Walkman digital music players. ATARC was more efficient than MP2 and MP3 at higher bitrates but compared less with AAC or WMA. ATARC was also only supported on Sony products, and even then not all of their electronics supported it, Sony Ericsson phones in Europe had no support for ATRAC, and neither did the first PlayStation or the PlayStation 2, with the PS3 introducing support for the codec.

SonicStage was very similar to iTunes in concept and acted as a way to play purchased songs from Sony’s CONNECT store. As these files were protected by DRM, an account and correct authorization was required to playback the songs purchased by the user. SonicStage could also sync and transfer songs to supported Walkman players, and only Walkman players.

This was during a dark period of time where record companies insisted that much purchases online had to be digitally protected using some form of DRM, which meant purchasing music from one vendor would mean you could only play that track on software or a device that the vendor had support for. This meant music purchased from iTunes could not be played back on a Walkman or a Microsoft PlaysForSure device without burning it to a CD, then reimporting it as MP3 or whichever format the program and device supported, basically the analog hole.

Was it any wonder people turned to piracy?

DRM free music stores later came about, and many vendors eventually started offering DRM free downloads for their songs and all was well. Then the music industry went one step further and insisted streaming was the next best thing, meaning you no longer owned or had direct access to music, instead of being steamed from the cloud for a monthly fee.

As for Sony, the CONNECT store closed down in 2008, and Sonic Stage was discontinued and replaced a few years later with MediaGo, which was mainly intended for the Sony PSP but could work with compatible Walkman devices. Sony would later try again in the music market with Quircity, a streaming playroom before being rebranded to PlayStation Music, and then been killed off in favor of Spotify on the PS4.

For a company that has its own major record label, Sony does suck with online music services.

Screensavers & Wallpapers

Theirs a VAIO screensaver bundled which is a bunch of stock photos taken with a few transition effect applied, with stock music being placed in the background.

You can of course customize it with your own photos, or memes if that is more your thing.

Various backgrounds, these would blend in with the laptop design and supported a variety of resolutions (whilst the internal LCD would use its optimal resolution, Sony provided different wallpaper resolution’s in the event you connect an external monitor.

PrintStudio

Appears to be a creative photo editing application where you can import photos from a digital camera (maybe a Sony CyberShot camera) and apply effects or add clip-art to them. You then have the option of printing these out or attaching them as an email. you can also create greeting cards with this, so it acts similar to Microsoft Publisher in a way,

Netscape browser version 6, a popular alternative browser (Didn’t Microsoft discourage OEM’s from doing this? Sony clearly didn’t give a fuck)

Moodlogic

I think this is some sort of last.fm service from before its time, where it will organize and find similar artists depending on the ones currently in your library, whilst organizing your current music collection. This no longer works and requires a connection to a server that is long since defunct. It sort of similar to Apple Genius playlists.

Memory Stick Formater

Formats a Sony Memory Stick, nuff said. Not sure why you can’t do this in Windows Explorer, possibly due to Magic Gate encryption?

Quicken 2004

Software that Sony loved to bundle with their VAIO systems, is some sort of account and spending management software.

AOL

An advert for AOL, looks a bit basic for 2003 standards.

Help & Support

Sony’s help center branding

External Links

Sony Support