Tag Archives: 86Box

IBM Aptiva 1996

A 1995 OEM install that was deployed on their Aptiva line of systems which are IBM’s consumer line of home computers. Not sure of the specific model, but it could be a generic restore image used for the Aptiva systems of the era.

86Box has a limited amount of supported Pentium IBM machines, with the closets models being PS/ValuePoint P60 – an early Pentium PC. Since a system of this era would have shipped with Windows 95, this appear s to be the closest match

Once rebooting we are presented with a lot of hardware installation dialogue messages as this was intended to be used on a different machine. Windows 95 does support a lot of this hardware out of the box but we need to run the New Hardware Wizard for it to be detected and installed. For this I recommend only having the base hardware setup in 86box, don’t add any network, sound or SCSI controllers just yet.

86Box Configuration


Machine: IBM PS/ValuePoint P60
Processor: Pentium 60MHz
Memory: 32MB – 128MB Max
Graphics: Tseng Labs ET4000/w32 – 2MB
Sound: SoundBlaster AWE32 PnP (Has an additional IDE channel)
Network: Realtek RTL8019AS

After install we are treated to a tutorial application that goes through the basics of using a mouse. Next we are given the opportunity to register our PC, either via mail or modem.

Windows 95 B, released a few months later and adds few improvements compared to the original release.

Applications

A few bits of bundled software

Netscape 3: The internet browser that comes with the system, this must have been before Microsoft mandated that OEM bundle Internet Explorer into their systems. Speaking of which, Internet Explorer 3 also comes with the OS. I always liked this version of IE due to the background italics on the explorer bar.

IBM Lotus SmartSuite
Instead of Microsoft Office IBM opted to include their Lotus SmartSuite software which was a competitor suite of applications that bundled a word processor, spreadsheet and organiser software into one package

One of the premade templates, memo.

And Lotus 1-2-3 that was once the industry standard spreadsheet software. Possibly still being used

And lastly the organiser, this incorporates an early form of skemorphism with it representing a real diary book.

And the actual devil itself which looks like a Windows 3.x program. The big Push here button kinda makes it look like a pop up window scam.
Updates are delivered through floppy disk although you could probably download them from the IBM website. The program simply asks you for the file path of where the updates are located.

In the Accessories, Games folder there are a few options that relate to MS-DOS such as EMS boot and XMS. These would relates to certain types of memory that DOS had used and was needed to use certain games. Selecting these options will reboot the computer into that specific DOS mode. Honestly I’m not sure which games require a specific mode, but I remember my old TIME PC having a similar set of options in its bootup menu.

AptivaWare

In the Accessories, Games folder there are a few options that relate to MS-DOS such as EMS boot and XMS. These would relate to certain types of memory that DOS had used and was needed to use certain games. Selecting these options will reboot the computer into that specific DOS mode. Honestly I’m not sure which games require a specific mode, but I remember my old TIME PC having a similar set of options in its bootup menu.

Tutorials for Windows are also featured here, which follows basic Windows concepts such as the taskbar, expanding and minimizing windows to the taskbar and using the Start menu.

Thee are also links to the bundled software applications, meaning this acts as a software launcher.

Lastly a look at the systems BIOS of an IBM ValuePoint, with a clean looking setup utility. The hard drive is limited to around 520MB and it cannot address any further. Larger hard disks might be possible with a SCSI controller, plus it would let you add up to around 7 different drives.

The BIOS is straightforward to navigate, with the arrow keys being used to select and change settings. The Pg Up and Pg Dn keys can be used to cycle through the different screens.

Archive of recovery image

PCem or 86Box are your only means of running this, as virtual machine will run into the general protection error upon bootup.

Windows Chicago Milestone 5 (Build 73g)

Install was started in a similar fashion to the earlier build from DOS.
Setup looks similar to the earlier build, only we are prompted to agree to a few NDA’s, there are four in total that we have to accept.

Once there aps that we are prompted if we wish to install plus pack components, which consist of additional utilities. These would later come was the Windows 95 Plus! Expansion which added utilities like DriveSpace and high colour icons, kind of like a n expansion pack for Windows.

We are given an opportunity to add additional components, or amend the system configuration if we have any specific hardware that setup needs to know about. The Network Options is redundant as a message box is displayed informing us we can only configure network options later in the setup process.

The Chicago directory is used by default instead of the Windows directory, possibly to enable dual booting or too leave the previous install intact. This would be renamed to just the Windows directory once development had been finalised.

Additional component that can be added.

Machine configuration, we can see the setup utility detected the InPort mouse that 86box supports. VGA card wasn’t detected however, but our Tseng ET4000 can be selected s and used with the driver that comes with the install.

A weird message that came up, clicking cancel is recommended here since I started setup from the Windows 95 bootdisk. I think setup requires you to start it from a currently running MS-DOS session from the hard drive instead of a floppy boot disk which is why this happened.

Network configuration where you can setup the network card, the Novell NE2000 was used, though I had to amend the IRX to 10 instead of the default settings, 3.

Boot up screen with the windows logo dotting about.

The logon screen, from here you can enter a name and a password if you wish and Windows will create it for you. Pressing the cancel button will log you in regardless.

After the initial login we are prompted to setup a printer.

Setting up the VGA driver, at this point I realized the IDE CD-ROM drives were missing, leaving only the floppy, hard drive. I did try to used the MSCDEX driver to get them to appear but this did not seem to work.
The only workaround to get CD drives to appear was to use the SCSI CD ROM drive, which required be to repeat the install process. The Adaptec seems to be recognised and installed during setup.

Post Install

The Desktop, this build still has the separate start menu buttons, with the others being find and help.

The find button kind of mirrors Windows 10 in a way, that you can search directly from the taskbar. Chicago M5 just simply opens a menu to launch the find feature but does make it more accessible, later Windows versions would move this to the Start Menu itself.

Copying a file using the explorer interface. In this build this was still referred to as the File Cabinet

Disk drive properties window, this gives access to the capacity and used space of the drives present in the system.

Colour scheme settings, many of the Windows 3.x schemes are still present and can be applied, though some of the windows and buttons remain grey.

Advanced System, an early version of the Windows Device Manager which shows the current devices present in your system. The Properties button opens a separate window that lists the Manufacturer, Model, Device ID and Plug/Play capabilities. There is also a Resources tab for IRQ, DMA Channels and Address spaces. Many of the information strings are non functional and do not yet yield any information.

Microsoft changed the way printers are now configured, moving them to a separate folder in the Main program group.

Some applications in the Accessories group have change, and are now in 32bit flavour. The existing versions are still included.

The size of the taskbar can be changed by clicking and dragging the edge of the bar,. at a certain height the clock will shift to the left of the taskbar, likely to make room for further tasks and applications, something that later Windows versions do not do.

Software

32bit software will be hit or miss, as the API has not been fully implemented, if at all. Windows 3.11 era software should work but anything multimedia-rich appears to have issues.

Microsoft Works: Installs and works fine, this was a lightweight office suite intended for home users.

Microsoft Encarta 1993: Installs fine but complains about the soundcard not being detected towards the end of the install. Runs fine.

Internet Explorer 3: This was the Windows 3.1 version of Internet Explorer 3, Installs but fails to run, revealing the error message ‘Call to Undefined Dynalink’ Rebooting after install revels a weird error message to press Ctrl+Alt+Del to reboot your mac?

Acrobat Reader 2.0: Installs and runs fine

Netscape 1: The setup installers complains about a dialog box that it cannot display? Also fails to launch after install.

Microsoft Entertainment Pack (Best of): Works just fine

Pressing Ctrl + Alt & Delete will show this message, this is replaced by the End Task dialog box in later builds.

Shutting down Windows

Lindows 3.0

A follow up to Lindows 2, an popular Linux distro that was released in 2002, lets see what has changed in this version.
It’s also an operating system that’s a pain to search for since both Google & Bing think it’s a type and keep correcting it to Windows.

VM Specifications

86Box 3.7.1

Motherboard: Micronics M7S-Hi
Processor: AMD K6 233Mhz
Video: S3 ViRGE/DX 2MB
Sound: Ensoniq AudioPCI
Network: AMD Pcnet-ISA+
SCSI: Adaptec AHA-154xA

The install process is typically the same as before, with the install being booted directly off the CD

Upon bootup we still get the same selection process.

Desktop, not much has changed, but when clicking the Lindows menu we see a slightly altered font
The menu itself holds the same layout as the previous distro, with bundled programs being placed in their own category to make organizing much more easier. Not all applications will install into this folder, Simcity 3000 for example creates its own games directory instead of using the one located in the game folder. This can lead to confusion as you have two of the same folders unless the user manually changes the directory upon installation.

It also means whilst the menu looks relatively tidy, it will become cluttered as more applications are installed.

Click-N-Run applications are present, although there are no major changes, with only a few minor updates. Netscape browser comes as the default internet browser which is the exact same version as the preious release.

Missing from this build is the Microsoft Office viewers, with only the basic Text editor remaining in the Business & Finance category. I guess Redmond brought out the lawyers.

The KDE file manager is modeled after Windows Explorer which should make it familiar to switching users. Konqueror version 3.0.1 is used.

When software crashes in Lindows, a crash handler comes up explaining what has happened.

Software

Since there isn’t much that’s changed compared to Lindows 2, let’s see what period-correct software we can use.

Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri – Seems to work well, installs successfully and the opening FMV plays with a bit of stuttering probably because of the CPU chosen. I do wonder if these early Linux games were well-optimized or just quick and dirty ports. There is a bit of slowdown at the start of a level which could be an issue with no graphics acceleration with the video card chosen ( S3 ViRGE)

Civilization Call to Power – Installs and works fine, this game seems to be less demanding than Alpha Centauri and runs a lot better.

Descent 3 – Installs fine, but when running it prompts you to insert disc 2 which is not recognized after mounting in 86Box. Clicking Ok seems to launch the game but the graphics are pixilated. Had to hard reset the VM to get back into the desktop, After rebooting the game loads and plays the opening FMV, but still has blocky graphics.

SimCity 3000 – Still non-functional

Star Office – An office suite by Sun Microsystems that installs and runs perfectly. It’s very similar to Microsoft Office or IBM Lotus SmartSuite in that it bundles a word processor, spreadsheet software and slide show into one package.
The interface tries to mimic Windows, there’s even a start menu present, along with a taskbar.

Postal – Installs and works fine but the menus run too fast. The demo sequence starts after 3 seconds meaning you need to quickly navigate the menu. Quitting the game seems to cause a graphics error.

Wordperfect – Installs correctly and appears in the application. Upon launching it shows a message advising not to run the application as root, and another in relation to a missing font server. Unable to progress past this point, even after a reboot it refused to run due to this missing font server.

Soldier of Fortune – Installed and ran fine, but required a CD key. I think this is the first time I’ve used Linux software that requires a CD key? Performance isn’t good, it runs so slow on this VM at nearly 1fps. Checking the readme file indicates it needs some sort of 3D accelerator, I guess it’s time to add a Voodoo card but I figure the CPU that we have (AMD K6 233Mhz) isn’t enough to cut it.

Shutting down

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.

Sony VAIO PCV-90 (86Box)

Another machine that’s supported by 86box and has a recovery CD available online

A desktop PC with a Pentium 166Mhz (No MMX), 32MB of RAM (Although we will be giving it 128MB, the max amount), an 8X CD-ROM, floppy drive, and a 2.1GB HDD. The PCV-90 was a higher-end machine and featured the Pentium at 200Mhz and a 2.5GB HDD. Both systems use the ATI RAGE 3D graphics card with 2MB VRAM.

Setting Up

86box does not support all of the hardware that the PCV70 shipped with, the ATI RAGE graphics accelerator is missing and currently un-emulated so we had to substitute another graphics card instead.

Recovery Disc

A copy was posted onto the Internet Archive which was the full backup disc that shipped with the computer, which was intended to restore the PC back to factory shipped state.
This is where we encountered issues, the recovery utility rightly detected that the hard drive was unformatted since this was a new machine VHD, and instructed me to exit the interface and run a command, which would have initialized the disc. But these commands fail to run, they appear to be batch files that would have run FDISK with a specific argument to create the disc. There are two of these, one for each model since both models had different hard disk sizes.

When the CD-ROM boots, it mounts a virtual floppy drive to drive A: and the actual floppy drive is moved to B:
This image is located as an IMG file and can be extracted and mounted in modern Windows.
For some reason when this IMG file is booted, it loads some sort of customized boot disk but fails to load the CD-ROM drive despite it being detected by the Windows 95 or 98 bootdisks. As a result, the recovery utility cannot see the CD-ROM drive since that is running off the virtual floppy drive mentioned earlier.
The reconvey utility is non-functional due to the lack of CD drive detected by the emulated boot disk, likely Sony is using a custom boot disk that came with its own set of drivers. When the driver loads you can quickly see an error message informing no CD drivers were found.

So in order to make these CD’s work with 86Box we are going to have to work around them

Solution

The easiest way was to install Windows 95 RTM, then boot into the recovery program and have it overwrite the files and replace the install, this also involved initializing the disk. To save time I would opt for a minimal install and use the RTM version instead of the later OSR releases as that’s the version Sony used (They actually used the plus pack version, which is integrated into the recovery image and gets installed regardless)

Once Windows 95 is installed and fully bootable, I had to trick the recovery utility to load files from the G: CD-ROM drive, but the regular Microsoft boot discs will place the CD-ROM drive as D: which the Sony utility will refuse to see.
Multiple ways to do this was:
Both methods work best when you have a basic Windows 95 install, this is because the recovery software has issues writing to the bootsector.

Method 1: Bruteforce SCSI

Add a supported SCSI adaptor to the 86box machine, and add a load of both IDE and SCSI CD-ROM drives with the hope one of them would become the G: drive.

I would then use the Windows 98 recovery disc, which has the SCSI drivers to detect the drives and load the recovery program. Once the boot disk environment had loaded, verify the C drive was accessible (If not FDISK it using FAT16). You have to type ‘lock C:’ to enable full access to the C: (See the Note below)
Then I mounted the extracted OSBOOT file as a floppy disk in 86box. This was done by extracting the OSBOOT file from the iso and mounting it after the Windows 98 boot disk had loaded, once mounted I ran the recover.exe file and mounted the actual iso image under the G drive.

Once the recovery utility loads, select restore system without format, and it should begin the restore process, where it will copy the files onto the C drive, once completed you can reboot the system and it will go through the initial setup procedure.
Remember to eject any floppy discs

Note: The version of DOS that the Windows 98 bootdisk shipped with disables direct writing to the C: drive by default unless the lock C: command was used before the recovery software was loaded. Even then the software had issues writing to the boot sector, so even after transferring and unpacking the files we were still left with an unbootable system. This is why I advised installing an RTM version of 95 then using the recovery utility to overwrite it with the Sony image.

Once the OS is installed you can remove the SCSI drive if you prefer.

Here we modify the existing Windows 95 boot disk to set the CD-ROM drive to be G: instead of D: The easiest way to do this was to mount 9Make a backup first) the bootdisk in a working Windows install or use a third-party utility, and edit the AUTOEXEC.BAT file on the root of the boot disc and change the line:

LH A:\MSCDEX.EXE /D:mscd001 /l:d

See the /l:d
We want to change that to /l:g instead
Then save
This tells the DOS driver to start allocating CD-ROM or ATAPI drives from G: onwards

Now we mount and open the OSBOOT.IMG that was extracted from the Recovery CD, and pinch some files off it, namely the recover.exe, recover.ini, profile.ini and sony.exe
All four of the files total 236KB and we want to copy them to the Windows 95 boot disk, If you run out of space there are a few utilities like regedit that can be deleted off the boot disk.
Save and then mount the modified boot disc and boot the machine into it.
If prompted on the startup disc, load the NEC IDE CROM driver.
If everything is correct it should show

Drive G = Driver MSCD001 unit 0

At the prompt, type recover then hit enter (Should be on the A: drive)
The recovery environment will then load
Select Complete Restore
Select Restore Original Software w/o Format
You may get a few error messages that it was unable to copy certain system files, I believe this is related to the boot sector files I indicated earlier, as long as your original Windows 95 install was bootable then the recovery should work regardless.

I should note that despite testing both methods, both methods result in missing applications like Netscape Navigator. This wasn’t so much of an issue since I could reinstall them alter, and the recovery CD has dedicated options for reinstalling both browsers anyway, along with Microsoft Works and Money.

Update: It seems I had to do another reinstall, and on that one it did install both Netscape and Internet Explore, not sure what I did differently?

Windows 95 Bootdisk

Windows 98 Bootdisk

Post Install

We had to substitute a few device drivers in order for us to have a working system

The ATI RAGE card is unemulated in 86box, instead, I used an ATI MAch64VT2 instead. Do note this card lacks MPEG decoding support so some video sequences will be corrupted and will just display a pink color screen

ATI Mach Drivers

The Yamaha sound card was also unemulated, instead, I replaced it with a Crystal ISA soundcard instead. The originally bundled utilities will still function to an extent.

Crystal Drivers (VOGONS)

PreInstalled Software

There is a shedload of software bundled with this VAIO PC, with many titles requiring an additional CD-ROM to be inserted in order to run, which would have been bundled with the system.

VAIO Space

This was the default launcher that came with the system and would run in place of the Windows desktop, similar to the Packard Bell navigator and RM Window Box, oh and don’t forget Microsoft BOB.
VAIO Space tries to take full advantage of the hardware that Sony offered and many parts of the launcher make use of MPEG video (which isn’t functional in 86box since no graphics card can accelerate MPEG video, so your left with pink squares instead.

There are a few different areas of the VAIO Space that contains links to dedicated applications:
Home: Features links to My Space, a Welcome demo, the setting page. The Windows button takes you back to the 95 desktop
My Space: Add shortcuts to your favorite applications.
Windows: Take you to the Windows 95 desktop
Help: Gives you a short description on how to use the VAIO Space utility

Net Space
Accessible by clicking towards the top of the screen, this takes you ‘up’ and gives you a selection of internet applications like AOL, Netscape and Internet Explorer which were not installed on my system. There’s also links to Sony’s online website and an SOS button which opens up a phone dialler to dial 911

Screen 2
Click left from the home screen takes you to this screen, here you see four different categories:
Work Center: features productivity software like Microsoft Works, Microsoft Money and Paint
Reference Library: Links to reference stuff like Encarta, Family Doctor and Compton’s interactive encyclopedia. As the internet wasn’t very widespread it made sense to bundle this software/
Game Arcade: Links to various games like Wipeout and Mechwarrior 2, also featuring the entertainment pack games and the bundled windows games.
Kids Land: Child-friendly software like 3D movie maker

Screen 3
Multimedia applications like the CdPlayer and WAV/MIDI player. These do not open the standalone windows applications, rather Sony’s own that they have bundled. The More A/V button shows the Window standard programs.

Judging from the software bundled, this was designed to be a family PC with various bits of software to suit everyone.

Overall its defiantly a unique experience and was designed to make it easier for novice users to use the system. Not sure how Microsoft felt about it though, image developing a new user interface only for some OEM to replace it with their own.

VoiceView: Seems to be a gateway to various online services, has an online game but this crashes when you try to open it

Billboard Music Guide: Needs CD-ROM

Compton’s Interactive Encyclopedia: Needs CD-ROM

AOL: Desktop client for AOL, an internet service provider

Compuserve: Another Internet service provider client

Microsoft 3D Movie Maker: Popular movie maker application that was part of the Microsoft Home bundle

CyberPassage: Needs CD-ROM

DeltaPoint: Needs CD-ROM

Cartopedia: Needs CD-ROM

The Family Doctor: CD-ROM needed

Investor Insight: Another financial application

LAUNCH: Unknown, does not even open without the CD inserted

Microsoft Money: Accounting management software, the 96 edition is included here

Microsoft Phone: Looks like a phone dialer, to make calls through your PC

Microsoft Works: Microsoft’s basic productivity suite, version 4

Microsoft Reference: Works like an offline Wikipedia, needs a CD to run

Quicken SE Gateway: Looks to be a finance application and has a lot of links to various banks, requires a CD to fully run and appears to be trialware – limited to 10 launches.

Sidekick 95: Some sort of personal information manager, like Outlook that would store user contacts email address and phone numbers

Reader Rabbit: Needs a CD in order to run

American Heritage Talking Dictionary: Mainly functions as a dictionary, but has a few extras including an anagram generator and a thesaurus

Telephone Directory PC411: A phonebook application

Games

Wipeout: A 32bit version of the popular PlayStation game, running using the ATI CIF graphics engine. Sadly 86box cannot emulate this and using a 3DFX or the S3 ViRGE won’t work because it’s designed exclusively for the ATI CIF API, which I hope to cover later on as there are quite a few titles that use this technology.

Also to note, WipEout was one of the launch games for the PlayStation

MechWarrior 2: Retail game that I’ll cover separately at some point in the future, again it needs its own CD-ROM

Microsoft Entertainment Pack: Included games like Chip’s Challange, Dr Black jack, and Jezzball to name a few

Hover: That game that came on the Windows 95 CD

Other

USB Support

This was one of the first home desktops to ship with onboard USB, two years before the iMac which was said to have popularised the standard. However, the version of Windows 95 that Sony shipped with the computer had no USB support. The intention was to ship USB support in an update once Microsoft had released the upgrade for Windows 95, which would be introduced in a supplement update to OSR2 which was released in August 1997, nearly a year after Sony had released the PCV-70/90.

Early Windows 95 USB was a bit of a disaster and didn’t have much support, in fact, it wasn’t until Windows 98SE that USB support was to the standard that we accept today, with the earlier versions lacking many USB drivers.

86Box does not allow for USB devices to be connected, so there isn’t much point in upgrading to this version anyway. Regardless i did try to upgrader it to a USB supported build, which ended up bricking the OS completely. Apparently you have to upgrade in steps first, to OSR1, then OSR2, then install the USB supplement, whilst I tried to install the USB supplement update only, which resulted in a VxD error upon bootup. Not even safe mode could rescue me here, I had to reinstall from scratch.

You would think the Microsoft installer would check first and tell me to upgrade to a supported version of 95, instead it just happily installed

Packard Bell Bora Pro (86Box)

Another prebuilt system supported by 86Box that a restore disc is available for. From the looks of the software included this was intended to be a family PC, typically sold in computer stores of the era (PCWorld or Staples)

The PC itself

This motherboard featured onboard 3DFX Voodoo 3 graphics, along with the onboard audio. Although 86Box has support for the Voodoo 3, there are various issues with the emulation that cause sever graphical issues when just on the desktop.
The onboard soundcard is not emulated at all, meaning we have to use a discreet sound card instead.

Running the ititial recovery software was easys ince the disc is bootable from the CD-ROM itself. From here you can format and itialize the hard disk and begin the recovery process.

After the first stage, things went a bit wrong and the system crashed to a bizzare divide overflow error. This didnt affect anything and the install continued after a quick reboot

The last stage took you to the Windows desktop, but the recovery was not yet finished as additional software installers had continued to run.

Software

Lots of bundled software to look at here:

Packard Bell Tour

A browser based tour (You can see it launching Internet Explorer briefly), it gives a rundown of the features of your new PC, and gives you the option to register.

Packard Bell Support Center

This is sort of the replacement of Windows help, although that still exists by pressing the F1 key. It gives you troubleshooting and maintenance information and your computers specifications. It also links to the CyberCoach tutorials.

AT&T Special Offer

Signs you up with AT&T, the internet service provider. Not much use outside the US.

Packard Bell Internet Radio

Appears to be a link to an online website, but its probably long since discontinued. It also wont open, thinking that we have yet to set up an internet connection. This is despite using the PCI ethernet adaptor.

Cyber Coach

Targeted to novice computer users or for those who are new to Windows, gives a step by step demonstration of different software included on the system and how to perform basic tasks.

CyberTrio / Kiddos

An interesting program that affects the Windows environment. There are different modes:
Basic mode: sort of like a limited user mode seen in Windows XP, prevents users from modifying critical system settings
Advanced mode: Typical Windows environment
Kiddos: A restricted environment designed for young kids to allow them to use the computer without potentially damaging or affecting system files. Clicking on the icon will take you to a customized desktop. I’m not sure if this is a customized user account or just a custom version of Windows Explorer.

Also if you ever wondered where the ImgBurn sound comes from (The one that plays at the end of a successful burn) it originated from here and acts as the Kiddos logon sound.

You can manually add programs to the Kiddos area, such as any games or additional software that was installed after. Packard Bell have already set up and installed a few child friendly applications such as the games from the Microsoft Entertainment pack.

KiddoNet

An activity center for kids, with various different activities

Quicken.com Online Finance

Some shortcut to an online website, no longer active and an archived version does not exist.

Just opens a banner with shortcuts to various applications and tools like the internet, CD player. Kind of pointless since its located on the desktop so you will need to minimize to open the banner, would have been better off as a quick launch icon. My guess is the computer would have came with a bundled keyboard that had a dedicated button that opened the Navigator Assistant.

Microsoft Word 97

Just Microsoft Word is installed here instead of the whole office suite.

MGI Photosuite

Early photo editing software, typically shipped on systems that came with a flatbed scanner.

Other Screenshots

Expansion

There are four expansion slots, 3 PCI and one ISA slot

ISA: Sound Blaster AWE32 PnP 8MB
PCI: 3DFX Voodoo Banshee 16MB
PCI: AMD Pcnet-FAST III
PCI: Spare

The SoundBlaster card was part of the premade configuration in Winbox86, and features an onboard IDE controller that supports two drives. In combination with the motherboard IDE controller you can have up to 6 IDE drives, plus the two floppy drives for a total of eight. The SoundBlaster IDE is a bit temperamental due to the emulation so I recommend connecting a CD-ROM and Zip drive to it, and having the hard drives and one CD-ROM drive connected to the motherboard, since this BIOS is capable of CD-ROM booting.
In the end I swapped it for a ISA AWE32, and using a SCSI card for the additional drives since Windows 98 would sometimes fail to detect the SoundBlaster IDE device upon boot.
As mentioned earlier, the board also had onboard sound but the SoundBlaster was substituted instead, unless support comes in later 86Box versions.

The AMD PCnet card is automatically detected and installed as part of Windows setup and should work out of the box, the actual system did not have an onboard NIC or a modem.

The video card used was a 3DFX Voodoo Banshee which did not work out of the box, and required an additional driver to be installed. I would recommend a Cirrus Logic for the OOBE setup, then change to whichever graphics card you prefer. Since the motherboard included a 3DFX card onboard, you may prefer to have a Voodoo Banshee or Voodoo 3 instead

Uh-Oh

Gateway Tigereye (86Box)

Another OEM system, but this seems to be a motherboard that was used in multiple Gateway systems from around 1997.

Motherboard appears to be based on an Intel design, might be a clone of an Intel board but with a Gateway customized BIOS. This was possibly used in various different models used throughout the late Pentium era. I actually had a Gateway system that was in a similar time frame, but we had it second hand and the original owner had wiped it in favor of a fresh Windows 98 install.

Supports up to 128MB RAM
Supports CD-ROM booting
No sign of USB, 86Box cannot interface with USB currently

Install/Recovery CD

You will get the option to format as FAT32 or FAt16, whichever one you choose will depend on what build of Windows 95 you have, this restore Cd does not feature a Windows 95 install, instead it contains a set of drivers and utilities that are installed in conjunction to Windows 95, but you must use your own Windows install disk instead.
FAT32 is supported on OSR2.1 onwards, whilst earlier builds use FAt16, if in doubt choose FAT16. I believe you can ‘Upgrade’ to FAT32 once you update the OS.

One potential issue here was the IDE CD-ROM driver, the restore CD gives you the option to choose, possibly because some systems might have used a propriety CD-ROM interface, or might be using the IDE interface on the soundcard instead. This could potentially cause issues if you choose the wrong option. For this I chose the Generic IDE-ROM driver, which can be found all the way at the bottom.

Once you begin the restore process you are requested to insert the Windows 95 install Cd and reboot, of which the system will begin to copy the Windows 95 files.

From here setup runs like a typical Windows 95 retail install, however on mine I encountered an error with the OEM serial number, and had to manually enter another one. I’m not sure of eyes are specific to the OEM version they were bundled with, or if each manufacture uses a slightly different algorithm, or maybe something failed to validate in the background.

Reboot, then Gateway software proceeds to install


Installs keyboard multimedia utility, then install utility freezes. I had to force a reboot at this point


A quick reboot and it then installs McAfee Anti-Virus

Installs DirectX 5, reboots again. Kind of redundant since OSR2 already included DirectX 5

Installs Microsoft Intellipoint, Gateway possibly bundled the Microsoft mouse with their systems

Lastly the sound card software install, Windows had already detected the SoundBlaster on install, but here it inclused the Creative sound software.

Post Install

Megaphone

Appears to be a modem and address book software to manage internet connections and user contact information.

AudioStation2

A MIDI and CD player with a Hi-Fi like interface, something similar was also installed on the Sony VAIO PCV-90

Adding a second drive

The motherboard has two IDE channels for a total of four IDE drive, with the SoundBlaster 16 PnP card we can also add an extra two for a total of six IDE devices.

Adding the second IDE drive, I encountered a problem since after adding it as IDE slave (0:1), Windows 95 would freeze upon bootup. The way to fix it was to use the Windows 95 bootdisk, use the FDISK /FPRMT command to initialize the salve drive, format as FAT32 (Or FAT16 if you are using an earlier version of Windows 95), then reboot and format within the boot disk.
After then would Windows 95 boot up and mount the drive.

Preinstalled Software

This was a bit dry, I presume Gateway didn’t bundle much with their systems or this is typically stored on another disk. From browsing the CD-ROM it’s a generic recovery disk with a range of drivers that covered the hardware that gateway would have shipped in their desktops. Any additional bundled software would have been shipped on a separate disk.

Even the OEM branding was scarce, I expected there to be a cow-skin themed wallpaper like the cardboard boxes used

Adding additional devices

PCI: Video Card (S3 Trio64)
PCI: 3D Accelerator (3DFX Voodoo)
PCI: For future use
PCI: For future use
ISA: Ethernet (AMD PCnet-ISA)
ISA: For future use
ISA: Soundcard (SoundBlaster 16 PnP)

PCI slots are based on the amount found on the Vogons wiki, there are four PCI slots in total but there may be many more as this board could optionally come with onboard video (This could be AGP?) Or sound.
Some versions of the board came with an onboard S3 Trio64, the Phoenix in 86box was the closest match and as a bonus was automatically detected and installed during instillation.

Device Manager with some duplicate devices

Restore Image – Archive

Windows 95 OSR2.5 (2.1 might be a better fit, or the original Windows 95, make sure to choose the FAT16 option when formatting for pre-OSR2.1 Windows 95)

Motherboard Information – VOGONS – Not a 1:1 match but the Gateway might be a close match to it


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 attach 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…

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)

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.