Tag Archives: PCem

Windows Chicago Beta (Build 347)

Compiled and made available in March 1995, this was to be the Final beta build of Windows 95, with the release candidates coming soon after.

Installation

Windows 95’s setup procedure which looks the same as the final release. Towards the end of the install procedure, there is an option to use the program manager as opposed to the 95 interface, in practice this retains the default Windows 95 interface, just opens the program manager window.

Stage 2

The second stage of the install boots into the kernel, and prompts the user to enter information. Also, in Windows 95 you were able to select a time zone by clicking on a location in the map, a feature that was removed in the later versions.

Windows 95 Beta boot

Boot screen, which was altered in the final release. The bottom segment is animated to indicate the system is actively loading. The final release replaces it with colour cycling bar

Desktop

When Windows 95 first boots, a welcome screen is displayed which shows useful tips

When a new plug and play device is detected, Windows will prompt for driver instillation. The Windows 95 CD has a moderate library of drivers on the disc, but this is mostly applicable to hardware from 1991-95

Adding additional features in Windows, some features don’t have their own icons and use the default Windows icon

Build Information

Microsoft Network

Microsoft bundled their own internet service platform, similar to AOL, Apple @World or Compuserve designed to get users online

The presence of this and the lack of a web browser being bundled with this release of the operating system signals that Microsoft intended for MSN to the primary way for users to access the internet, rather than using the http protocol that we all use today. Also TCP/IP not installed by default but can be added using the Windows components, you will be prompted to supply the Windows 95 CD to install it.

Accessories

Party Line

Not sure what this was intended for, some sort of multiplayer game like Microsoft Hearts? It seems to just open a blank window and sits there unresponsive.

Volume Control

The volume control, of which it’s appearance will vary depending on the soundcard and the driver installed

Microsoft Fax

Registration Wizard

You have the option to register your copy of Windows 95, which would send a description of your PC hardware to Microsoft, possibly for them to gauge which is the popular configuration of hardware (surely they can get that from the OEM sales?)

Disk Defragmenter

CD Player

Windows Explorer

The main Windows Explorer interface which gives a tree view on the left sidebar. This replaces the Windows 3.1 File Manager

Internet Explorer

Internet Explorer wasn’t included in this build, but was in development from around that time. To install I had to use the installer from oldversion.com, the WinWorldPC version failed to install.

This one failed

But this one worked instead, not entirely sure of the difference between the two installers but it could be due to this OS being a pre-release build.

Once installed a few changes need to be made before you can ‘browse’ the world wide web. Windows 95 did not include TCP/IP by default but could be enabled by installing it thorough the Network applet via the Control Panel.

The first version of Internet Explorer was based on NCSA Mosaic and incorporates various technologies that originated from Mosaic. Attempting to use these browsers on the modern web results in a bunch of garbled html, assuming the browser will even connect to a server. Most times you will gets an unsupported protocol since these browsers do not speak https. Here’s where theoldnet comes in

Trying to install Office 95 on Windows 95, which failed since it checks the OS build number

PCem Specifications

Motherboard: AMI WinBios 486

Processor: AMD Am5x86/P75

Video: Trident TGUI9440

Audio: SoundBlaster 16

Network: NE2000

Mouse: Serial Mouse

Windows Memphis Beta 3 (Build 1619)

One of the Beta 3 builds, closer to the final release build.

Despite being a beta 3 build, the boot screen used is from Beta 2.1

Install

Initial installation, looks very similar to the released product. The welcome program comes with an extra item dedicated to the beta guide which details whats been added in this beta phase.

Desktop

Booting for the first time

This build seems to have issues booting up in normal mode due to a botched device driver instillation when the OS was installed for the first time. To rectify this you will need to boot into safe mode and uninstall the corrupt device, in this case this was the network adaptor which was missing its hardware title. I’m not sure if this is an issue specific with this build or if its due to the hardware PCem is emulating (Could be with the emulator itself)

Tutorial

When Windows 98 boots for the first time, a welcome screen is shown giving the user an option to start a tutorial on showcasing the new features of Windows 98, and a section for users who are new to Windows itself. This is stored on the Windows 98 CD and is required to be inserted to run the tutorial. In this build there are some differences with the images and layout used from the final build.

WebTV Windows

Microsoft acquired WebTV and was intended to be used as an early precursor to the media centre applications as seen in Windows XP Media Centre edition. WebTV for Windows was to bring the WebTV guide interface to the desktop using the computers TV tuner. A TV Guide would be offered which delivers TV listings over the internet, whilst using analogue TV (Digital TV wasn’t widespread yet, US wouldn’t launch its digital terrestrial works from late 1998 onwards and cable slightly later)

Wavetop was a protocol to receive data from terrestrial broadcasts and was an early form of interactive TV. Web pages would be transmitted between the VBI of the analogue signal and would be related to the program being broadcast. A competing system was Intel’s Intercast

Internet Explorer

Internet Explorer 4 is bundled with the operating system and was integrated into the explorer shell.

Active Desktop

Active desktop was a feature that allowed a webpage to be set as a desktop background, with clickable hyperlinks.

If explorer crashed whilst active desktop was enabled, an active desktop recovery page was displayed instead which gave the user the option to re-enable the active desktop, this was to prevent explorer from crashing repeatedly should the webpage be the source of crashing.

Windows Explorer

Windows Explorer was updated to be remodeled giving folders a web like view which was meant to be more visually appealing to the end user. In practice this made the explorer shell more sluggish and buggy, taking longer for the computer to rendered the explorer page. This could be toned down to a basic interface view, but the explorer shell would still be rendered in Internet Explore.

Internet Channels

Channels could be opened within a web browser such as Internet Explorer. These acted as an earlier method of RSS where website updates are pushed to the user, rather than having the user checking the website manually

Using theoldnet.com, we can try to pull these websites as they appeared in 1998, which this browse should have no issues rendering. Unfortunately these links seem to be special active desktop links that load an exclusive page which the internet archive has not had a chance to index.

DVD Player

This build features a standalone DVD player application, however this requires a dedicated MPEG2 hardware decoder since CPUs of the time could not decode in real-time. Some video cards also featured partial MPEG2 acceleration and would feature their own DVD player software such as Cyberlink PowerDVD

No hardware MPEG2 decoder detected

Pressing F1 bring up the Windows help, which provides an HTML based help interface. Third party programs can also use this help system.

My Computer, with the channel sidebar enabled.

When Windows explorer crashes whilst active desktop is enabled, the recovery screen is enabled in the event of the web page being the source of the issues. The user can then manually restore the active desktop.

PCem Specs

Motherboard: Intel Advanced/ZP

Processor: Intel OverDrive MMX 200Mhz

Video: ATI Video Xpression (Mach64 VT2)

3D Accelerator: 3DFX Voodoo Graphics 3D Accelerator

Sound: Aztech Sound Galaxy Pro 16 AB

Mouse: Intellimouse PS/2 (Allows scroll wheel to be used)

Network: Realtek RTL8029AS