Category Archives: Operating Systems

Windows 98 SE Beta

98Se was an updated released of Windows 98 operating system, similar to how Windows 95 received updated builds that introduced support for new technologies. (98SE extends it support for Plug and Play, especially with USB devices and shipped with a lot more USB drivers, allowing for these devices to be detected.

Other changes was an updated version of Internet Explorer, DirectX, NetMeeting and Windows Media Player.

For this build (and many others) First issue was actually getting the installer to start, as the DOS bootdisk was unable to see the win98 directory. Attempting to change directory would result in a directory not found error message

The solution was to modify the iso image and amend the win98 folder to WIN98 instead. Easiest way to do this was to use 7ip to extract the contents of the iso image, and then use Imgburn to recreate the iso file.

Windows 98SE desktop

Software

UltraHLE: An early Nintendo 64 emulator that was capable of high level emulation. This allowed for acceptable framerates of Nintendo 64 games. Whilst it starts up, it will crash the entire emulator when you try to start a game.

QuickTime: Apple’s video and internet streaming application, for streaming video over a network. Also used on multimedia software and is installed automatically with that software

Netscape Communicator: A popular web browser that ultimately lost the first browser war to Internet Explorer

RealPlayer 7: Works but the title bar is glitched out, might be more to do with the PCem emulator or its graphics card (3DFX Voodoo Banshee)

AOL Instant Messenger: Popular in the US, but did not take off in the UK as MSN messenger was more popular here, sadly both died in favor of Whatsapp and Facebook messenger

Musicmatch, Background theme is from 98 Plus! expansion pack

Winamp: Null soft’s legendary music player capable of playing MP3 files

McAfee: An anti-virus security software, typically found preinstalled on Dell computers and uninstalled after 30 days

Adobe Acrobat Reader: For viewing PDF documents, commonly distributed with other CD-ROM software. I really like the splash screen art from this era of Adobe software.

Nero Burning ROM: A Very popular CD-ROM burning application, sadly PCem does not emulate a CD-R drive.

WinZip 7.0: Popular compression software, its like WinRAR with its user interface but also offers a wizard like interface

Pun on Hans-Solo?

Simcity 3000: Works well on this build on Windows, this was the original release that has a different opening movie compared to the later release (Unlimited), the background music has also been revised

eMachines T2200

Product Information

The Bliss wallpaper, with a touch of eMachines

We all know eMachines, and have probably used an eMachines system at one point in our lives, known for being very affordable (Cheap) computer systems for first time buyers or for people who just need a basic system. Typically found at PCWorld or Currys, These computers are typically paired with either an Intel Celeron or an AMD Durion or Athlon.

Install

eMachines made use of Norton Ghost to operate the recovery media, this initially presented us with a Windows 9x style boot menu which gave us the option to boot into the recovery environment.

Ran into a few issues getting this one up and running. Whilst the initial restore process went through without a hitch, I was greeted with a BSOD upon bootup

Following the guidance on the archive link, I booted into Hirens and ran a script that reset the hard disk driver, which was causing the BSOD.

When the command windows open’s, choose option T first to set the target root, this is the Windows install directory (C:\WINDOWS). Just check that Hirens actually mounted it to C as it may have assigned the hard drive to another letter.

Programs > Registry > Fix Hard Disk Controller

Programs are located in the Hirens Program launcher, Not the start menu

Alternatively, navigate to the CD-ROM root and go to HBCD\Programs\FixHDC.bat to launch the program

After a reboot, we were able to boot into Windows and progress through the OOBE section, which has some eMachines customizations.

OEMLink

The start menu here has an OEM link which I’ve rarely seen on Windows XP systems. This is an option that can be selected in the Windows XP start menu that takes you to online OEM information.

Realtek AvRack

Some sort of bundled media player that makes of the sound cards processing functions, none of these are functional under a virtual machine since it emulates a different soundcard. I was able to play a regular MP3 file but none of the effects would work. These would have included echo and voice pitch changing effects

AIM AOL Instant Messenger

Another popular instant messaging application, this was supposedly popular in the US, but didn’t take off in the UK where MSN was more popular.

ICQ

ICQ was a popular instant messaging program before the likes of AIM and MSN Messanger took over. Each user would have a unique ICQ number. I personally never used it myself since it was already obsolete when I first heard of it (2004) and barely anyone I knew had an ICQ account.

McAfee

Bundled antivirus software, this also comes with a firewall bundled. Sadly this version can no longer be updated and we are stuck with virus definitions from 2002.

Although once you enable the firewall, be prepared for endless connection alerts whenever you open a program or even do anything that uses its own socket.

Winamp

A popular media player bundled with this system. A little redundant with Windows Media Player, unless Winamp is capable of playing a file that WMP cannot.

Microsoft Works

Microsoft’s entry-level productivity suite that provided a word processor, spreadsheet software, and a basic database. To make the program more user-friendly to use, a a task launcher is used to open various elements of the application since this is designed to appeal to users who are not familiar with office productivity software. Here a user can select from a list of tasks they wish to complete, and Works will open the correct template for them.

Some of these are very specific like coaching a sports team or planning a family reunion. Some of these are quite useful, there’s a template to create a fitness log using a spreadsheet that helps keep track of your workouts, or if you want to keep track of road trips.

Microsoft Money

Money 2003 – used to organize your finances and bank accounts, back in the early days of internet banking. Nowadays most banks offer something similar online.

Cyberlink PowerDVD

PowerDVD is software intended to allow DVD video to be played, it was commonly bundled with PCs that came bundled with a DVD drive. Although I’m sure Windows Media Player is capable of doing the same thing so this software would be redundant?

BigFix

Appears to be a utility that monitors your PC’s performance, and is preinstalled from the CD. There are also links to eMachines technical support. In normal operation, it will notify you if a software update or patch is available and will prompt you to install it (It does not install automatically). Although if Windows Update is enabled then this kind of redundant, possibly that would have checked for driver updates also?

BigFix was later acquired by IBM and was renamed IBM Bigfix.

RealPlayer

Realplayer was a popular way to stream video over the internet since it was cross-platform, supporting both Windows and Macintosh.

Compuserve

Another internet service provider provided its own software to access its services.

HP Vectra VEi8 (86Box)

Vectra is a line of desktop PC’s by HP that are targeted towards the business/Home Office segment, like the Dell OptiPlex or the Compaq Deskpro series of computers. Typically come with Intel Celeron/Pentium processors and onboard video.

The VEi8 can feature a Pentium II running at 350/400MHz or a Pentium III at 450/500MHz. with a Intel 440ZX chipset. Onboard video is the Matrox Millennium G200 with 8MB of graphics memory, which 86Box does not yet emulate

Not much branding here…

Recovery Disc

We have the option of restoring either a Windows 95 or Windows 98 image.

Windows 95 didn’t go as planned as we encountered a protection error upon boot up. At first I though the CPU used was too fast for Windows 95 as early builds had issues with CPU’s over a certain speed due to a race condition that’s executed upon boot up. A patch is available but you need to be in the Windows environment in order to install it. Downgrading the CPU and its speed had no effect in 86box.
Sadly I wasn’t able to fix this, and went for the Windows 98 option instead.

Post Install

There isn’t much to see here, since its pretty close to a vanilla Windows install compared to the Compaq Presario, just a few HP utilities. I guess the Vecta line were intended to be used in business and office environment who would prefer to control and maintain the software that they would install.

Upon the first reboot a tutorial is run which gives a basic demonstration on how to use a computer. This looks like some sort of Windows 3.1 environment and only appears once.

Installed Software

HP TopTools

HP TopTools

Looks to be a hardware diagnostic application that shows detailed information on your system.

McAfee

McAfee Antivirus and crash monitor are preinstalled by default and provide basic protection.

Supplementary Hardware

The real motherboard supports two floppy disks, and four IDE devices across two channels. Additional drives can be added by installing a SCSI adaptor in 86Box. Here I was using the Tekram DC-390 which Windows 98 detected as a AMD PCI SCSI controller automatically and installed a driver for it.
This wasn’t 100% perfect as adding a hard disk or a writable ZIP or Magneto optical disk would cause a blue screen upon boot up. Since we want to attached a writable drive to the computer, this was far from ideal
I tried installing a driver I found online but it had no effect, there is an issue when using this adaptor in 86Box. I switched it out for another PCI SCSI card, Buslogic but it had the same issue with a BSOD upon boot up when a writable drive is attached.

That’s a lie, it wouldn’t continue normally

Couldn’t find anything online relating to the BSOD above, any results turn up of that video of Windows 98 crashing in front of Bill Gates after plugging in a scanner.

In the end I tried to use another SCSI card instead, this time a ISA based card which required me to disable PCI IRQ steering for IRQ 10 & 11 to free up an IRQ slot for both the SCSI and the sound card.
Which made no difference, it still BSOD upon boot up.

I even mounted the image as write protected but it made little to no difference.
The rest of the devices (Zip 250/CD-ROM drives) worked fine, just hard disks and the magneto optical drives caused the BSOD.

I did notice an odd issue when I added the slave IDE hard drive, where Windows would BSOD with an error about drive D: which it would have been mounted as. Booting from the Windows 95 start disk and formatting as FAT32 seemed to fix it as after booting up the system was fine, and the new volume was detected and mounted in My Computer.
My guess is HP are using some unorthodox driver that interfacing when another volume or partition is added.

For networking the Realtek RTL8029 was used, which Windows 98 has built in drivers for.
3D acceleration is possible by adding a 3DFX Voodoo card, which Windows 98 will also have a driver for but you will be better off installing an updated driver instead.

In terms of expansion, the motherboard itself has 3 ISA and 3 PCI slots

  • ISA: BusLogic BT-545S, IRQ: 10, 0x334 DMA 7
  • ISA: Realtek RTL8029AS
  • ISA: Crystal CS4236B
  • PCI: S3 Trio64V+
  • PCI: 3DFX Voodoo graphics accelerator

Technical Manual

Uh Oh…

Simpsons Cartoon Studio

Create your own Simpsons episode

The games introduction and user interface, characters can be added from the main Simpsons roster. First the cartoon background is selected which are taken from the show. Props, characters and special effects are later added which can include music or speech quotes.

Whilst the program is easy to learn and pick up, the challenge is trying to get all the animations to line up with each other, since each character animations are set in pre-defined sequenced like a walking, jumping and running being separate set animations. If you wish to chain multiple animations together, care must be taken to ensure this is seamless since its possible for animations sequences to be placed freely in the frame, the previous animations might end on a different position to when the new frame starts resulting in jerky appearance. Custom animations cannot be made, you are limited to what the game has shipped with and for the additional Simpsons characters there are a limited amount.

The only real good use of the game is to make screenshots, getting good animation is a pain to do.

Changing the background image of the frame from the predefined section

Marge gets fed up with Krusty showing violent cartoons and takes matters into her own hands

Homer and Ned decide to have a race at the power plant

Principal Skinner, concerned with Bart’s grade tries to talk to Homer and Marge

Microsoft Windows

Installing the game which uses a 16bit installer which means it won’t install under a 64bit operating system, but will work finer if you manually copy the files over. Something crashed towards the end with a device read error. This didn’t seem to impact the game in any way as it still ran just fine.

Mac OS

There was also a Mac OS release which runs on the classic Mac OS

The Sims Hot Date

The third expansion pack and one that brought a major change to the mechanics of the game, the main one being the introduction of community lots and the concept of your sims leaving their lots (well they could technically leave to go to work in the base game)

Also included a nice jazzy soundtrack when editing or vising downtown lots.

Installing the game requires the original game CD, or the House Party disc if that expansion pack is installed, as the game will install the original audio files to the hard drive. Previously the game would stream the audio from the CD to save disc space at the expense of performance.
If installing over the Deluxe Edition expansion pack, the user will need to run the deluxe edition installer before they can play the game, this is because the deluxe edition was released after Hot Date.

No new neighborhoods have been included with this expansion, but if you are missing the created neighbourhoods from the House Party expansion (Hoods 5-8) then the installer will create them for you. They will be typical blank neighborhoods without any houses or premade sims.

Upon starting the game, new sims will be generated. These will be your townies that are used for downtown.

Downtown, a new sub-neighborhood. Each hood has its own version of downtown with its own generated set of townies. Sims cannot visit a downtown from another hood.

The user interface has been updated with new features

Original user interface
From Hot Date onwards

The house meter and the friend’s meter have been removed and have not been replaced. They were removed in favor of adding the inventory and interests panels.
The inventory panel shows objects that are stored by the sims, these can be gifts that have been received by other sims, or prizes won by various games.

Downtown

A new sub-neighborhood, and the first to be included in the Sims engine. There are lots that your sim can visit with other sims.

You can have different themed downtown lots that cater to a specific
Restaurants typically have a podium, a kitchen with a commercial over, and a dining booth or dining table/seats

Shops generally have till’s and can have clothes racks that sims can browse and buy new clothes, or skins as they are referred to. There are also entertainment lots that have activities like pool tables, pinball machines and slot machines

The default lots for Hot Date make use of objects from the base game and the expansion itself, but not objects from other expansions. With this in mind, you can create new downtown lots using objects or themes from other expansions, like a nightclub using the DJ booth and dance floor from House Party. A spare downtown lot exists (23 Wright Way) for this purpose.

Objects

The buy mode catalog has been updated, and new sub-categories have been added to help classify items better. Downtown lots also have their own categories, depending on what type of lot you wish to build. Here objects are sorted into shops, restaurants, outdoor

Niagra Love Tub

A hot tub that can seat two sims, who can cuddle and woohoo play

Dawnette Hooded Stove

An oven that occupies two titles, can be placed downtown and is required to operate a restaurant

Bachmeier Grand Piano

A more expensive piano, placing this downtown will spawn a dedicated piano player NPC

Boggs Home Canning Center

Allows your sim to make preserves at home to sell, also increases the cooking skill

Laguna Vista Instand Pond

A fish pond where your sim can feed fish and place boats, multiple sims can use this

Bel-Air Dining Booth

Sims will sit after they order a meal at the podium, works as part of a restaurant set otherwise function as a regular table and chairs

Kiosk

Items such as flowers, toys, chocolate, and a copy of the game itself are sold here and can be bought by your sim, A cash till nearby is required to order

Food Counters

Two exist, one for ice cream and another for burgers, bars also exist for drinks

Social Interactions

New social interactions have been added, and the social system has been revamped for each sim to better handle interactions. Many have been grouped into one main social interaction, which then has a few sub-interactions. E.g. Talk has the ‘About Interests’, ‘Gossip’ & ‘Brag’ interactions. Entertain has ‘Joke’ and ‘Juggle’ interactions.

Mac Version

Hot Date was later ported to the Mac OS platform and was a Carbon application from the onset which meant support for older Mac OS versions was dropped. Only Mac OS 8.6 onwards and OS X 10.1 is supported.

Compaq Presario 4500 (86Box)

86box has been able to emulate a large amount of motherboards, and has recently added a few OEM desktop systems to its roster. These are mostly faithful to the original hardware to the extent that you can access their bios. Quite a few OEM recovery discs have popped up on Archive.org which will only run on those actual systems they were intended for, since they often include an OEM copy of Windows.


Whilst this emulates the motherboard and the BIOS firmware that was shipped, certain pieces of hardware are left unemulated like the graphics adapter or the soundcard. Fortunately you are able to substitute alternative components, but you might run into issues upon first boot up since Windows may not have drivers preinstalled. The machine here I’m trying to emulate is a Compaq Presario 4500, of which the specifications can be found here: http://h10032.www1.hp.com/ctg/Manual/bpb12296.pdf

Compaq QuickRestore Utility

This ran straight off the CD-ROM which was bootable from the BIOS and performed a few tests before initialising the hard drive, which had been newly created and had no partitions. After copying was done, the system rebooted and Windows 95 started up.
This utility did require me to enter the serial number of the system, which I was able to find online.

Setting Up Windows 95

After the first reboot Windows seemed to have problems finding the graphics driver and reverted to using the failsafe VGA driver instead, which limited us to 16 colours. At this point we were prompted to register our system and to fill out the registration form. I somehow doubt Compaq (Or HP as its now known) have the registration servers active.
After manually installing the graphics drivers for the S3 ViRGE that I had selected for the system, Windows went to the desktop and we are presented with the default Compaq desktop theme.

Bundled Applications & Utilities

Compaq Quick Access: Runs in the background and provides functionality for shortcuts to be used on the keyboard that would have shipped with the system. Here you can reconfigure the different ‘Easy Access Button’ to perform different function. By default they are used for the calculator and to open in the internet browser.
This utility also manages the on screen display, which appears when the volume keys are pressed or if one of the media control keys (Play, Fast Forward, Rewind) are used. I’m not sure if 86box is capable of passing these commands through since it only emulates a regular PC keyboard.

Compaq Diagnostics: Displays information about your computer system and the Windows OS. You can view the specifications here

SPRYNET Connection Manager: Manages internet connections for the dial up analogue modem, replaces the standard Windows utility.

The Palce: A third party application that was bundled with the system, it seems to be some sort of online chat room server, similar to IRC but uses animated avatars and colour backgrounds to give the illusion of environment. Users could join different room dedicated to certain subjects. This Compaq system would have come with a free trial allowance to entice the customer to subscribe, beck before social media mould datamine the hell out of you.
Sadly the servers are long gone.

SimCity 2000: Not sure what this is doing here, its just the network client and not the full game, maybe it was bundled with the Palace as a game that could be played using it? The full game is not bundled here.

Microsoft Works: The OG Oxymoron, this was a basic version of Microsoft Office bundled with OEM systems to give them basic Office functionality. It is considered productivity software suite which combines a word processor, spreadsheet and a basic database system. As it was a lot cheaper than Microsoft Office, it was commonly bundled with OEM systems to increase their value, although it was also available separately.

Money 97: Software to help manage your bills and bank accounts, before internet banking was widespread. I like the interface design and art used here, you defiantly wouldn’t expect to come across design like this in accounting software

AOL: Also bundled with the system and serves as the recommended ISP

Compaq Quickrestore For Compaq Presario 4500 Series

86box Github

The Palace (Archive)

The Sims House Party

The second expansion pack for The Sims that allows them to party (or Partay)

Objects

Some of the objects that come with House party, there are other items like chairs and tables that are not listed here since they have a similar function to the base game objects.
Granny Raymond’s Holiday Cookies: A plate of cookies you can buy direct from buy mode. If you leave them on a table next to the fireplace, along with a Christmas tree from Livin It Up, Santa will appear.
Birthday Cake: Another buyable food item, kids can choose to blow out the candles, although this does not age them up (You need a charm in Makin Magic for that)
SimFarm Turkey Dinner: A piece of turkey sims can buy and carve up
Punchucopia Extraordinaria Punchbowl: sims or their cater can refill to keep guests satisfied at parties
The Elegant Chef Buffet Table: Used to serve a starter, main meal and desert from one table, excellent for parties or for large gatherings.
Fancy Feet Cake Treat: Spawns a male or female dancer (Stripper), or if it’s a kids party, a giant bear. Give a boost to the fun motive.
KampRite Instant Campfire: Sims can sit round the camp fire and sing songs, tell stories or roast marshmallows
Spazmatronic Plasmatronic Go-Go Cage: A Dancing cage, boosts fun. Best place with the dance floor and the DJ booth
Turntablitz DJ Booth: Used for the dance floor but can also function as a radio, has access to all radio stations in the game.
Jukebox: Two versions of this seem to exist, the first is just labelled as the Jukebox and has access to only the fault radio stations in the game. An updated version comes with Hot Date that can select all music tracks House party has to offer.
Bounce My Booty Dance Floor: The dance floor where sims can get their groove on. It’s a 2×2 tile than can be combined together in various patterns. When sims are dancing, the floor will light up in various different patterns and colours.
Porta-Parody Costume Trunk: A costume trunk that can be used to give your party a fancy dress theme. When one sim changes their costume, all sims will change to that costume theme.

Screenshots

Sims carving some turkey, which is buyable from buymode. When carving, sims will stand round and clap until its served.

The dance floor, in the front of someone’s living room. Puts Dance Central to shame

The costume trunk is ideal for theme parties. Available themes are Western, Disco, Toga

Here sims are rocking the disco theme

The buffet tables and the hireable caterer, sims can restock the table themselves at a cost of §20. A punchbowl can also be restocked.

The campfire, sims can tell a ghost story, roast marshmallows or sing a folk song.

Neighborhoods

The expansion pack adds support for multiple neighborhoods if you’ve not installed Livin It Up, Neighbourhoods 6-8 are added since the game assumes Livin it Up has been installed and takes the place of 2-5. It’s easy to add custom hoods. More hoods can be added by going into the games directory in the Program Files folder and adding a new UsedataX folder, where X will be the new number (since the game creates 8 hoods, you would start at 9) and can support up to 99 unique hoods.

NPCs

The Mime: Appears when you are throwing a shit party, and sometimes tries to steal your items. Leaves automatically once your party score has increased
Party Crashers: Appear when you are throwing a good party, these two (Pete and Pauline Dropinsky) will arrive and will try to wreck anything in the party, including breaking objects as they use them. Best to get rid of them as soon as possible.
The Caterer: Can be hired through the phone, the main purpose is to restock the buffet table and the punch bowl. He will also socialize with the guests if he has nothing to do. You must have a buffet table or a punch bowel or he will leave.
Drew Carey: Some American celebrity who appears when you have thrown a great party, arrives in a limo of which sims will rush to it upon arrival. For those who don’t know who Drew Carey, he was a popular late-night show host, like Jimmy Kimmel back when late-night talk shows weren’t biased towards a specific political party.

Some new NPCs have additional roles:
Police Officer: If you throw a party after 8pm, Officer meddling will appear regarding a complaint by one of your neighbors regarding the noise. You are supposed to disband and end the party by asking the guests to leave. Should you fail to do so she will reappear after 2 hours (10pm) and will find you.

Install

The game’s installer will pick up from the previous install, and will automatically install the game patch.

Disc read error upon install, caused by a scratched CD.

HTML view of The Sims House Party, listing sims that are currently moved into the neighborhood. Sims could be viewed here before they were uploaded onto the Sims exchange, which was a place where families and houses could be downloaded.

Mac OS Version

The expansion pack was made avaliable for the Mac OS platform, which a Carbon patch being released later for OS X compatability.

Packard Bell Platinum (86Box)

A mid-range OEM system released in 1996, when Windows 95 was beginning to hit its stride, and another system we can (mostly) recreate in 86Box

Full Specifications here

The S3 ViRGE is supported on 86Box, albeit a slightly different variant that the Packard bell had used, possibly an OEM exclusive model. The SoundCard differs, using the Aztech 2316R, whilst 86Box is able to emulate the Aztech SoundGalaxy Washington instead, being the closest match.

Install

A floppy disk was required to initiate the installation, since the CD was not bootable, despite the motherboard BIOS supporting CD-ROM booting. Once started, a recovery version of Windows 95 started up, and we were presented with the Packard Bell recovery screen where we were given a list of a few options:
Restore the original boot files
Re-Install the Packard bell software
Re-Install the Windows 95 operating system

The only option that worked was the Windows 95 recovery since our virtual machine had currently lacked a formatted drive.
When starting the OS recovery process, we were prompted to enter the system serial number to identify the system that we were running on. Since we did not have this to hand, we were able to bypass this by entering a series of random numbers. A warning message popped up regarding the number not being recognized but offered to install anyway.
The recovery process then started, with a Windows 3.11 looking dialog box appearing to transfer various files to the hard drive.

Setup

After the file had finished copying over, the computer rebooted and started the Windows 95 setup utility, which looked the same as a generic install. You will be prompted to enter an OEM serial key, so be sure to have one when installing.
Once again the system reboots and performs the device detection process.

USB Support?
The motherboard BIOS has references to USB support, but this seems to randomly appear and disappear when entering setup, possibly an issue with the emulation?
I’m not sure if the actual system even had onboard USB ports or if they were even functional, this was early 1996 when the motherboard was designed.

Additional drivers
S3 Drivers

Packard Bell Navigator

This serves as a replacement shell for Windows and as a way for novice users to navigate their system. From here you can open various applications that were bundled with the system itself, and add future applications that have yet to be installed.
Some of these programs require their own CD-ROM to be inserted, as only the minimal install files have been installed, and many were intended to be run off the CD-ROM to conserve disk space.


Navigator (Packard Bell, Not Netscape) uses a house metaphor to present the interface to the user, which was intended for novice users and was exclusive to Packard Bell computers of the era. Some other OEMs also provided their own interface such as Sony with the VAIO Space, which offered a 3D-like user navigation interface for advanced users.

You can see there are a few custom icons for launching the applications, with the facility to install more. Packard Bell presumably sold additional software packages that were navigator friendly and included icon art that suited the navigator interface, and would automatically add themselves to the software room

Also to note was Navigator only runs in 640×480 resolution, when running the desktop at 800×600, Navigator retains its default resolution, personally I prefer it like that since it lets you quickly jump back to the desktop, although it does break the immersion of the Navigator interface.

Bundled Software

The example start menu items, organized by Packard Bell

Microsoft Works & Money

These two were very commonly bundled with OEM system bundles and serves as basic productivity suites for Office and accounting respectively.

Quicken

Some sort of finance application that helps you keep control of your accounts. Bills and monthly payments, it’s a bit redundant considering Microsoft Money is installed, based on what I’ve seen so far.

Macromedia Action!

It’s like Microsoft PowerPoint where you can create and showcase sideshows, although it has no compatibility with PPT files. There are a few premade templates available to choose from. Files are saved in either the Act format or (Player) ACP or (Stationery) STA.
There is an option to export the presentation to an external VCR, this would involve connecting the VGA output, or composite if the graphics card supported it to the VCR to record from. This is known as Print To Video.

Microsoft Word Viewer

For viewing Microsoft Word DOC document format, you would think Microsoft Works would be able to handle this format (It does, but I’m not sure if its fully compatible with certain features/formatting)

Microsoft Entertainment Pack

A few selections of games are included from the Best Of Entertainment pack, this is fairly common to be included in Packard Bell’s prebuilt systems. Skifree, Rodent Revenge and JigSawed are common games included here.

Call Center

Looks to be some sort of modem/phone line dialer to make phone calls through your PC. Could also be used to contact Packard Bell support.

Stick Ups Lite

Stick ups

It’s the MacOS sticky notes but for Windows, you can create various sticky notes to help remind you of upcoming tasks and reminders. You can customize the colour of the note itself and the font/style of writing. This is kind of a good addition as its rather useful, and Microsoft wouldn’t bundle something like this in Windows until Windows Vista as one of the widgets gadgets, although a few third-party applications included similar functionality

Conclusion

Packard Bell was one of the few hardware OEM systems builders to make their systems unique from both a hardware and software perspective, despite the restrictions Microsoft had enforced following the use of alternative shells post Windows 95, however, Packard Bells’ bundled applications help give off a certain personality with the system being aimed for family and novice users.

SimCity 3000

The next installment of the popular SimCity series of games, where the goal is to build and maintain your own city. All aspects of city-building have to be managed, from the power stations to building roads and zoning for different houses/buildings, all whilst being prepared for any disaster that might strike.

Playing SimCity

Residential:
Where sims will live, the density relates to how large the buildings are, with low density being used for small houses, and higher density for apartments.

Commercial:
Shops and businesses, where sims go to work and spend their money

Industrial:
Another place where sims can work, but also where materials are manufactured and produced, and also helps with jobs for your sims.
Farms are one of the types of industry available, but they are difficult to actually have them be built. Every time I zone for farmland, it does start to build a farm but eventually, it will lose out to dirty industry with farm lots being replaced with a bunch of smog-o-matics. I cant see why they would not just give farms their own industry zone?
Supposedly the key is to not give them any water, just power and roads. But then the news ticker will keep bugging about sims being too far from any water.

Have no idea why the text is missing…

Versions / Ports

SimCity was ported to most of the popular PC platforms, even a port for Linux operating systems. Sadly a port for OS/2 was not released, as IBM had phased the operating system out by then.

SimCity 3000 was not released on any consoles of the era.

Windows (Original Release)

The Windows release only supports Windows 95 or 98 onwards, it does not support NT 4 unless service pack 3 or higher is installed. DirectX does not seem to be used, running solely through the Win32 API.

Windows (Unlimited/Edition)

Released a year later and features a few changes compared to the original release.

  • The user interface was changed slightly, with the query button being moved to a more prominent place on the UI
  • The music was changed with some tracks being added and others being removed
  • This version of the game is available on gog.com and will run effortlessly on modern Windows versions.
  • New city templates have been added which are based off real world locations, like Liverpool, London, Berlin, Madrid, etc
  • Some existing cities have been renamed, Metropolis has become Europolis but remains the same
  • Some exisiting cities have been removed in favour of the new cities: Littleburg, Big Mountain City, Sim Isle
  • New scenarios mode has been added, which are small ccities that have objectives to complete
  • Outside of the game, new tools have been made like the scenario creator tool whic uses the Microsoft Access engien to create and customize customs senarios

MacOS

Simcity 3000 was released for the PowerPC Mac OS platform and was targeted for the classic Mac OS. The Mac platform only had a port of the original Windows version, it did not receive the updated unlimited edition that was released for Windows and Linux.

Compared to the Windows version, there are a few differences, the opening FMV seems to have less compression compared to the Windows version and appears to be of higher quality, the animations on the menu buttons are much more fluid on the mac (Is this due to the graphics card?), lastly the close button on the menu box is on the left side for the mac, and on the right side for the PC.

Playing this on modern Macs is a challenge as modern MacOS does not have native support for PowerPC or applications using the older mac libraries. You must use emulation software like QEMU (screenshots above) or Sheepsaver. The last version of OS X to support PowerPC applications was OS X Leopard (10.5)

Linux

Corel Linux

The installer worked, but the game would not run.

Ubuntu

A Linux port of the game was released by Loki games in 2000, and is a port of the Windows PC version. It’s mostly accurate to the Windows version but is more difficult to install and get working, depending on the distro and the libraries/packages installed. I’ve tested it on a few distros of the era, and some more modern distros.

Installing and running the game on Ubuntu

  1. Install the game as normal, remember to note the install directory – you will need it later
  2. Download the official Loki Simcity 3000 patch
  3. Run the patch installer, preferably as root. Easy way is to open a root terminal session (Should be an option in your Linux application launcher) Easy way is to copy the patch file to your home directory/folder, open the terminal and run the command: sudo sh sc3u-2.0a-x86.run -keep (Why you cant just double-click to run the installer in Linux I do not know)
  4. Once this finished, you should see a success message
  5. Now you need to run the game in a specific way, in the terminal you have to run the below command: LD_ASSUME_KERNEL=2.4.26 /usr/local/bin/sc3u

Hopefully, it should now start the game and you should see the intro movie play. This worked well on Ubuntu 4.04 running inside a VirtualBox VM, although there were a few issues. The sound was rather high-pitched and played too fast, and would stutter at high resolutions or when having a busy/large city map. Also running in a windowed mode wasn’t perfect, since it would display in the upper left part of the screen whilst the Ubuntu desktop remained in the background. The fullscreen mode works fine though. This could be due to the lack of drivers in my Ubuntu VM, it’s likely using stock/fail-safe drivers which provide little to no acceleration.

You could just use the Windows version running through Wine, although where is the fun in that? Plus it’s nice to play a native Linux game and in early 2000 there was a push for certain developers to embrace Linux as an alternative to Windows, That said, I can see why this didn’t take off…

Mandrake 7

Worked but had issues but these could be due to the emulation in 86box. The game installs and runs mostly Ok but some of the colors are messed up, the game also runs very slowly. Interestingly this uses a graphical installer which is missing when running in either Ubuntu or Corel Linux.

Windows Longhorn Milestone 4

Forth major milestone for the pre-reset development phase of Windows Vista

SESSION3_INITIALIZATION_FAILED

Well this was another great start, To fix this had to create a new VM, but using the workstation 14 configuration. It seems the newer VMware configurations break compatibility.

The second stage install process which looks the same as Windows XP

The logon screen, similar design to XP but with a new colour scheme. It shows the date and time along with any user accounts, similar to how Windows 8 and onwards show it on their lock screen. If there is only one user account without a password, the system will automatically logon to that user.

The desktop after a fresh install, still resembles Windows XP

Didn’t take Windows Explorer long to crash, the later pre-reset Longhorn builds were not known for their stability.

The My Hardware section, a more user friendly version of the Device Manager. This would later evolve into the Devices & Printers in later Windows versions.

The display properties has been overhauled and contains more user friendly options. In my opinion its too dumbed down since it takes longer to find the settings that you want to change. If you were used to navigating the old Display Properties (Which can still be accessed) then its a backwards step.

Its not 100% complete however and there are a few missing sections that have yet to be fully implemented.

Not a very good desktop look..

This is a lot more better, setting a gradient colour background. This was never carried forward in the final builds, closest was setting a solid colour.

Windows Media Player 8 ships with the operating system

Logon screen with a user account displayed, again very similar to XP but with a different colour scheme.

Desktop with the sidebar enabled, these were an early form of Windows gadgets

Internet Explorer 6.05 which comes with an alter toolbar background.

Plex style theme, one of the shipped visual styles that come with this build. The older Luna styles are also included, along with the Windows Classic scheme.

Lastly the Windows Explorer panes have been updated and reflect the type of content in those folders. The photos/picture folder will give you options for creating an album, viewing a slideshow and burning photos to a DVD. Back in the days when cloud storage wasn’t a thing. The music folder will give link to playing or ripping a CD, or where to purchase music online (Might as well give a link to Napster)