Category Archives: Software

Microsoft Plus! 95

Sort of like an expansion pack to Windows 95, this adds additional features that enhance the Windows 95 experiences such as desktop themes, maintenance utilities and some bundled software like Internet Explorer which would be its debut.

Install

Looks like your typical Microsoft installer of the era

Post Install

The boot screen has changed!

Desktop Themes

A selection of themes from the Plus pack. Users of Windows 98 will find these themes look familiar as these themes later appeared in Windows 98 (Along with the Space and Underwater themes). These themes change everything, from the desktop icons to the toolbar layout and fonts (that carry over to the programs that you use), to the sounds and mouse cursor. Science and Inside Your Computer where my personal favourite, used to rock those a lot back in the day.

Utilities

DriveSpace: Compresses the entire dis to allow for more efficient use of hard disk space at the expensive of performance, only works on FAT16 volumes

Internet Starter Kit: Designed to help get users online

Task Scheduler / System Agent: Allows you to schedule certain tasks, such as programs being run at a specific time. Useful for maintenance tasks like Scandisk or the Disk Drefragmenter but also for anti virus programs. Also useful if you wish to run a program at a reoccurring time.

Visual Enhancements

These were designed for high performance systems of the time that supported graphics acceleration

High Colour Icons: By default Windows 95 only supports up to 256 colour icons, with the Plus! pack you can have icons with up to 65536 colours.

Window Dragging: The contents of the windows can be seen when the user drags the application window around the desktop. Previously only an outline of the window could be seen

Anti-Aliasing: Softens the edges of screen fonts and UI elements, similar to ClearType in Windows XP, using the hardware acceleration of the graphics card

Wallpaper Stretching/Scaling: Desktop wallpapers can be stretched to fill the screen if the image resolution does not match the display resolution, using the hardware acceleration of the graphics card

Product Catalogue

The multimedia catalogue, this isn’t installed onto the user system, instead its run straight off the CD-ROM. A showcase for other Microsoft consumer software and products.

Microsoft BOB, which was released from around that period.

Microsoft arguably made the most ergonomic mouses, and loved to show them off

Pinball

The Pinball game was originally developed by Maxis (Yes, the SimCity and The Sims Maxis) makes it debut here although the actual retail game had a lot more levels/machines, in plus pack only one level is featured.

Letts Science Explorer

Science Explorer was a piece of software I remembered back in school which ran on RM Window Box PC’s (although it did not require it, able to run on 16 and 32 bit Windows systems). Designed as a learning tool for ages 7 to 11, it focused on a variety of different science subjects.

Letts Science Explorer

The user interface is reminiscent of early adventure games like Myst, it makes heavy use if CD-ROM technology to load pre-rendered 3D images that give the impression you are in a 3D environment, albeit with a heavily dithered colour palette. You are supposedly transported to a underwater science facility which provided learning activity related to science, with different sections dedicated to various subjects of science.

Whilst the software does install some files to the hard drive, Science Explorer is run mainly off the CD-ROM, since hard drives at the time had limited storage capacity. This means the software is constantly accessing the cd drive, A moderately faster drive is recommended since the program loads the images off the drive as the user navigates the facility.

Letts Science Explorer

Each user has their own account, which is accessed by entering their name which keeps track of what that they have learned, the subjects they have accessed and their test scores, however there are no passwords.

Map

Letts Science Explorer
Letts Science Explorer

User Interface: Like Myst you navigate thought the facility using the mouse, where the cursor changes to indicate the direction where you are going. Moving to a different area, the software loads a different image from the CD-ROM. You can teleport to a different area instantly (depending on the CD-ROM speed) rather than having to keep clicking on the screen to navigate, and you an jump to a specific component in the subject

Letts Science Explorer

Each subject has the same formula, a Briefing, Investigation and a Tell Me More

Investigation

An interactive exercise relating to the subject, this is like a practical exercise and can very depending on the subject. Either you have a problem to solve, or a test that you can carry out using various factors. One example was the sound insulation exercise, where you can discover which materials are better at insulating sounds of a different pitch.

Briefing

A introduction to the subject, the text on screen is narrated and is typically accompted by an image relating to the subject.

Tell me More

Gives additional information relating to the subject, may not be part of the curriculum but still interesting to know.

Fact Point

Letts Science Explorer

Gives a interesting trivia relating to the type of science.

Interesting, since this came out in the late 90s, where the tower of Pisa had been shut due to stability concerns. Thankfully they managed to stabilize the tower and was able to reopen.

Letts Science Explorer

Compatibility

Since this old software was designed to be run on Windows 3.1 to 95 & 98, it contains some 16bit components that prevent it from functioning on modern 64bit Windows systems. PCem v16 was used to emulate the Windows 95 environment that the software was designed to run on, which was running from a ISO image (PCem can access a physical CD-ROM drive on your host PC, but its slow and has a delay which leads to stuttering.

External Links

Archive.org

A look at: Adi’s Attic

Adi was learning assistant. I’m not sure if this would be classed as a game, it does contain a few games, but Adi is not considered a game in itself. Its kind of like Microsoft BOB, only more focused at primary and secondary school students, which had a focus on Maths and English exams.

Since the game was designed to run on Windows 95, I’ve captured these from a Windows 95 install running in PCem (Fantastic emulator), emulating a Pentium Overdrive based system. The game makes use in Intel’s Indeo technology and Microsoft WinG, not DirectX. Maybe this was to allow Windows 3.1 compatibility, but Adi is a 32bit application.

adi maths english

The splash screen, appears whenever you start Adi.

adi maths english

User selection screen each user has their own profile which was meant to track their progress with the math’s and English exercises and online activity.

adi maths english

Creating a new user for the first time, here you specify the Name, DOB, School Year and then your favourite traits. This would have been viewable online to other users, since Adi had support for online virtual classrooms, which as you have probably guess are no longer online.

adi maths english

Shortly after you will be transported to his attic, and its kind of a nice looking attic. This is where different sections of the application can be accessed. You can click on certain object to open different parts of Adi. Objects you can click on are indicated by the mouse cursor, which changes when you can select an item.

Objects will randomly animate if Adi is left unattended for a while, or you can animate the objects yourself.

adi maths english

Jukebox gives two options, Music and Background Music. Music allows you to play sample music from various genres, most likely from a generic sound library. Background music lets you select ambient music like city traffic and jungle rainforest sounds.

adi maths english

A picture editor lets you freehand draw on a canvas, basically MS paint but comes with some built in clipart.

adi maths english

Adi comes with a calculator, although you might as well just use the Windows one, unless you are already in Adi and need access to a calculator and Alt+Tab isn’t an option.

adi maths english
adi maths english

A notepad like component. This supports the use of passwords for certain memo’s

Simulations

adi maths english

These were an interesting part of Adi, these are like mini-games that learn you of real world issues, and how certain actions affect things like the environment or the economy. Although a bit relaxed since these simulations lack restrictions like budget, keep in mind this is aimed at kids.

adi maths english

Investigations the effect of water and waste pollutions near a seaside, you can change various options such as how clean the beaches are, if tanks should be cleaned at sea, the pesticides used in farming and the use of water treatment plants. Reminds me of SimCity where you had to be careful of the type of industry you zone in order to keep pollution levels in your city low.

Whilst this was engaging as a kid, its too sandbox, having something like a budget would be more realistic, i.e having cleaner batches reduced pollution but costs more since you would need to install bins and people to help clean the beaches up.

adi maths english

Set to emulate a random shithole in Africa, this investigates the effects on the savanna by local residents. A balance will need to be found to prevent the savanna from becoming dry, whilst keeping the residents happy and satisfied. Adding power and water infrastructure helps but again does not take into account the cost of such infrastructure.

adi maths english

The effect of pollution on a small valley/village, you have to balance the output of factory’s at the expense of the village health and the pollution of the environment.

The balance of nature, this explorers the relationship of Rabbits and Fox’s with human hunting, and how nature is a delicate cycle.

How a company works

adi maths english

A simulation of capitalism, you have to balance sales and market share with R&D in order to guarantee growth.

adi maths english

How a country gets developed, you choose what the type of war the country is currently in, the health and education of the population which has an effect on the population amount, farming and international investments.

Other Activities

adi maths english

The Solar System

adi maths english

Information relating to the solar system, from a time when Pluto was still a planet

Astronomy

Shows different consolations about Greek mythology

The Space Conquest

A timeline of different event from both the Russian and American space programs

Endangered Species

Animals that are at risk of being endangered, and animals that have already become extinct.

The Water Cycle

How H2O works

Online

There was an online component of Adi, where you could meet other users online and access chatroom and virtual classrooms. Unfortunately the online servers are no longer online.

adi maths english

Videos

Further Information

VIVENDI GAMES (UK) LIMITED – Overview (free company information from Companies House) (company-information.service.gov.uk)

Untitled (globalnet.co.uk)