Tag Archives: Pre-release

Windows Longhorn Milestone 4

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


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)

Windows Millennium (Beta 3: Build 2499.3)

An operating system with a notorious reputation from people who have never ran or used it. ME mainly built off Windows 98SE and came bundled with an updated version of Internet Explorer, Windows Media Player 7 and Windows Movie Maker. Internet enabled games also make an appearance here.

Under the hood not much has changed, but some DOS compatibility has been broken or removed in preparation of migrating to the NT kernel, which was finalized by Windows XP. This means drivers that are reliant on MS-DOS real mode will not function.


The install process is very similar to Windows 98 and is divided into two parts, with Windows itself being responsible for the second part. (First part is somewhat MS-DOS/Win 3.11 like environment)


The default desktop features a revised taskbar and UI color scheme, being a lighter shade of grey. Gradients continue to be used in the title bar’s of active applications. Windows Media Player and MSN have more prominence in Windows Me and are featured on the desktop.


Windows Media Player

Windows Media Player 7 makes its appearance here, which was meant to combine the CD Player, Movie Player and MIDI music player into one application. And introduced a media library and a radio tuner guide for internet radio stations. This would form the basis of later media player versions and was meant to be more competitive to Apple’s QuickTime. Media player 7 is fully skinable, and come with a few preinstalled skins that give a minimal view and control of the media player.

Windows Movie Maker

Windows Movie Maker debuted with Windows Millenium, and was made as a separate download from the Microsoft website. This was a basic video editing applications where video clips could be combined into one video clip which could be exported or burnt to a DVD.

Outlook Express

The default email client bundled with Windows Millenium and integrated with Internet Explorer


Sound recorder, many of the utilities from Windows 98 like Paint and Volume Control remain unchanged.

Imaging for Windows – capable of opening JPG, GIF, BMP, TIFF and AWD files. Useful for images received by email, fax or that have been scanned in

Early version of MSN Messenger, Microsoft’s instant messaging service. Sadly not much use since the servers were shutdown.

System Tools

Maintenace Wizard

I believe this was present in Windows 98 but has been slightly revised here. Maintenace wizard lets you schedule when to run scandisk and disk defragmenter, which could be run in background to maintain performance.

System Restore

Windows ME marks the introduction of system restore, this was a feature that took snapshots of your system when applications or changes were made to the system in the event of the system no longer booting correctly. It has since been included with Windows XP.

On Screen Keyboard has been introduced

Feedback utility to provide feedback to Microsoft, does not appear in the final release

Internet Explorer

Internet Explorer 5.5 comes bundled with this build, and is somewhat able to load the modern msn homepage. I also decided to test it with some period correct websites from 2000

PCem Specifications

Motherboard: Asus P/I-P55T2P4

Processor: AMD K6/266

Video: Diamond Stealth 3D (S3 ViRGE)

Sound: Ensoniq AudioPCI ES1371

Network: NE2000

Windows NT Hydra (Beta 2: Build 1314)

Windows NT 4 was the next major release of the NT line of operating systems, and was to bring the new Windows 95 inface to the NT platform. Underneath the hood however it is very similar to NT 3.51


The only License agreement I agree to. The first stage of the install is done through a basic blue installer, where the disk volume and storage drivers are selected for install. Once that’s complete the second stage install pick up in a full Windows Nt environment. here the install can be customized.


SoundBlaster Install

Unlike Windows 95, NT4 did not feature a device manager or the Add New Hardware Wizard, making hardware instillation more difficult since Plug and Play was not supported in the NT family until the release of Windows 2000. Adding the sound card can be done through the Multimedia applet and adding a new multimedia device, just make sure you have NT driver files available (95/98 drivers will not work)

3DFX Voodoo Install

Installing 3Dfx Glide drivers, as NT4 shipped with DirectX 2 only with limited upgrade capabilities so having Glide support should allow a wider range of games to be played. Instillation was done using the setup wizard which came with the WinZip self extractor.

Iomega Zip

NT4 did not support Zip drives natively, so additional software is required in order to use Zip disc images. However the only version I could find required the instillation of Service Pack 3 in order for it to run. Accessing the Zip disk is done using that software instead of using Windows NT Explorer.



After the is complete the system will reboot and the default desktop will be displayed

One of the preloaded desktop backgrounds, on this build ‘Click here to begin’ appears on the taskbar after a fresh install or when a new user has been created.

The Windows 95 Explorer interface is present in this build on NT

Control Panel


Used to search and find files and folders, this is not an indexed search to the application has to manually search through the individual files


Command prompt (Also known as Console) allows commands to be entered that is not converted in the GUI interface and also allows MS-DOS 16bit applications to run. Not sure why the clock application was included here since the clock appears in the taskbar.


Windows 95 paint with a default background image

Object Packager

Not sure on what this is?

Imaging for Windows

Bitmapped image editor, designed to open an image from a scanner or a digital camera.

Hyper Terminal

HyperTerminal comes bundled with this build and allows for access to protocols like Telnet

CD Player

A regular CD Player, tracks can be played and renamed


Views detailed system information and the hardware/drivers currently installed


Windows NT requires you to press Ctrl + Alt & Del in order to logon to ensure the logon screen is genuine, which will bring up the login screen. On some systems this may be replaced by the Novell Client logon screen for Netware networks.


Shutting down Windows NT, from here you can log off, restart or shut down. If ACPI drivers are installed the system will power off, otherwise a power off prompt will appear instead

PCem Specifications

  • Motherboard: Packard Bell PB570
  • Processor: Pentium Overdrive MMX
  • Graphics: Built In Video – Cirrus Logic
  • Sound: SoundBlaster AWE32
  • Mouse: PS/2 Intellimouse
  • Network: Novell NE2000
  • 3D Accelerator: 3DFX Voodoo Graphics

Windows For Workgroups 3.11 Beta (Build 70)


MS-DOS (6.0) must be installed first before Windows 3.11 can be installed. At this point Windows was still reliant on MS-DOS, but were regarded as two separate products.

After install and some graphics drivers. By default Windows will use VGA mode which restricts you to 640×480 and 16 colours. Windows Sound System is not included in this build but can be installed and was required to use the Windows Sound System Soundcard.


  • Microsoft Anti-Virus: They had their own Anti-Virus application, before Windows security essentials, Defender or Windows Live OneCare. Different drivers can be scanned manually on request.
  • Smartdrive: Disk caching application
  • Undelete: As the concept of the recycle bin did not exist until Windows 95, Microsoft Undelete was offered instead which could restore files deleted by the user that had not been overwritten


  • Write: Predecessor to Wordpad, for when you don’t have Microsoft Office installed
  • Paintbrush: Paint
  • Notepad: Text editing application
  • Recorder: Used to record keyboard and mouse commands, useful for automation.
  • Calculator: On screen calculator
  • Clock: Displays the time in both analogue (Face) and digital format
  • Character Map: Insert and remap any characters that are not supported by the users keyboard
  • Media Player: Plays WAV and MIDI sound files supported by the users soundcard
  • Sound Recorder: Records sound from the line input to a WAV file

Control Panel

Control Panel remains unchanged from Windows For Workgroups 3.1


Some drivers that may be useful to users of PCem, depending on the machines they are emulating

AVGA2 Driver

The Commodore PC I was using used a Acumos graphics accelerator onboard and integrated to its motherboard, which was based on a Cirrus Logic CL-GD5402. Installing a driver lets you access further resolutions and colour modes that the graphics chip supports.

AVGA2 Driver – Vetusware

Windows Sound System

This build of Windows did not ship with Windows sound system drivers but can be installed.

WinWorldPC – WSS and SoundBlaster drivers

Windows 95 Chicago (Beta 3: 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.


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


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.


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


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.


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)


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

Windows 2000 (Build 1671)

NT 5 was to be known as Windows 2000, the successor and replacement for Windows NT4. Designed to be an enterprise focused operating system with the consumer counterpart being Windows 98, and later Windows ME. Both of which use an updated Windows Explorer shell with a webpage like interface.


The first stage of the install is where you select the volume to install NT5 on, and you are given a choice of which peripherals your computer will use. The install disk is bootable so providing your BIOS supports CD booting, you don’t need a boot floppy disk

Second Stage Install

The second stage of the install details with personalization and uses a graphical interface which appears different in the final release. Windows will ask for both the User and the company/organization name. From here you can specify any additional components that need to be installed.

The login screen, very similar to NT4

Windows NT5 BSOD

BSOD already and we haven’t got to the desktop yet. This is typically a bad sign and searching online didn’t yield much. Still we can boot in safe VGA mode without any issues.

Windows NT5 Desktop

I first tried to remedy this by removing any additional devices from PCem, the sound and network card was removed, along with the 3DFX Voodoo card. This still resulted in a BSOD

Epox P55-VA BIOS

Eventually I found somewhat of a resolution, which was to disable the motherboards onboard USB controller, which isn’t much use within PCem. Early motherboard that came with USB onboard were very primitive, and sometimes completely buggy. This combined with a beta operating system can spell trouble so its best to disable this. Funnily enough there is support for USB and 1394 devices in this build.

Windows NT 5 Desktop

The actual desktop which enabled active desktop by default. Everything has a webpage like interface with folders and buttons being links, by default you only need to click a folder one to select it.

This build did pickup and install a few device drivers by itself, but did not pickup the soundcard since I had disabled it on the account of the BSOD earlier.

This is an early form of device manager that is used to display a list of hardware devices that interact with your computer. There are a few quirks in this build, with some random error dialog boxes popping up that seems to relate to the management console.

Windows NT5 My Computer

The My Computer window, with an early sidebar design. Also note the navigation bar design and spacing

Installing the drivers


This isn’t part of the operating system, but I figured I could show part of the 3DFX interface since I had intended to try running glide games on an old NT based operating system. Despite running the 3DFX install utility, games would refuse to detect the accelerator card, and looking in device manager indicated it had a problem loading the driver for the device.

Hardware Instillation

Trying to add a soundcard, and failing. A new wizard like user interface is supposed to make device hardware instillation more easier but it seems to be buggy in this build.

Disk Management

Trying to format and mount a zip disk. At first I couldn’t get Windows to mount the disk image I already had until I released these old builds of NT lack FAT32 support of which the drive was formatted as.

Internet Explorer

Internet Explorer 4 is bundled with the operating system and is a major component providing the functionality of Windows Explorer. Like Windows 98 it has support for active desktop and channels.

Windows NT5 Outlook Express

Outlook Express 4 that is bundled with the operating system

Private Character Editor

Not sure what this is supposed to be, some sort of character map editor? Seems to crash a lot.


Windows NT5 Printers

The printer interface has been slightly altered, using the updated Windows Explorer engine

Power Management

Windows NT5 Crash

The result of trying to change the background wallpaper when you have active desktop enabled, Windows explorer crashed

Add Program Wizard

Looks like Microsoft had also intended to simplify the program install process, like the hardware wizard this takes you through a set of questions to install new software.

Removable Devices

Windows NT5 Device Removal

Windows features a device removal option that would allow you to stop a device, ready for it to be removed. That was probably intended for USB devices


Whilst I had intended to do more with this operating system, I found it too be too unstable and unfinished for general use and with lack of the ability to install 3D graphics and sound drivers limited what would be installed.

PCem Specifications

Motherboard: Epox P55-VA

Processor: IDT Winchip 2A/300

Video: Phoenix S3 Trio64

Sound: SoundBlaster AWE32

Network: NE2000

3D Accelerator: 3DFX Voodoo2

Windows Neptune (Build 5111)

Neptune was the supposed successor to Windows 98 and was to be the introduction of the NT kernel for home users.

It’s mostly the same as the Windows 2000 install, makes sense considering both were being developed at the same time, and have a lot in common in terms of visual elements.

When you first login you are presented with this dialog box. You can enter your name or just close it. It does not seem to make a difference.

One issue with this build the the Still Image Service which is faulty in this build and causes a minute hang at startup. This can be disabled without any consequence though the Service management panel (Start, Run, Services.msc)

Once disabled the system will startup and login without any delays or freezing.

Windows Media Player 7, very identical to the Windows ME version

Activity Zones

Windows Explorer has had a slightly new design bringing it closer to the 2000 interface.

Viewing the activity zones in Internet Explorer

Setting the Activity Zones as an Active Desktop background. This may have been the intended use. A lot of the items listed on the activity zone were integrated onto the Windows XP start menu. Shortcuts to the Documents, Music and photos appear here also appears on the XP start menu. E-Mail and Internet shortcuts also appears on the XP start menu where they would show the default respective applications at the top of the stat menu. So one could assume the activity centres made their way somewhat by being embedded in the Start menu.

Customising the desktop activity centre

Alternative background theme

The login screen, the Ctrl+Alt+Del style screen still exists and can be re-enabled.

Unreal Tournament

Unreal Tournament runs somewhat, the mouse aiming is broken partially due to the way Virtual-box captures the mouse, might see if this works better in PCem or 86box instead.

Sadly Neptune did not have a bright future and was scrapped in favour of Windows ME, which was identical to 98 with a few refinements and bringing Windows explorer design inline with 2000. It wouldn’t be until the release of Windows XP (Whistler) when home users would get to take advantage of Windows NT.

Windows Longhorn (Milestone 7 – Build 7074)

It’s no secret that Microsoft’s Windows Vista went through a troubled development cycle. Much of the features introduced in Vista were a reaction to Mac OS X Panther and Tiger. This is similar to what Apple went through when it developed the Copland operating system where feature creep took priority over stability and many new features would be added but were then left unrefined as the development team continued to implement more features.

Build 7074 pictured here is considered to be one of the more stable build prior to the reset, yet suffers from occasional explorer memory leaks that can impact the overall performance.

The setup utility looks very different compared to the XP and final Vista interface.

All Done

Now for the ritual of installing the drivers. I did run into an issue with the virtual box drivers initially not installing, this was fixed by running the VM addons setup applications in compatibility mode for Windows XP.

After a quick reboot and we have full graphics acceleration. The first thing you will notice is the side bar to the right, which houses the gadgets, clock, quick launch and the tray icons. These were previously on the task bar itself, freeing it for the running applications.

The start menu meanwhile remains unchanged from Windows XP aside from a new colour scheme

Pressing Ctrl+Alt+Del yields a new Windows Security Prompt screen, from here Task Manager can be invoked.

One of the many glitches that can happen in thus build, a quick reboot fixes it.

Windows Explorer has undergone a significant face lift, building on the change introduced in Windows XP, more information is shown in relation to the drive status, earlier access to common document shortcuts. While the new appearance is a welcome change, the waste in screen real estate is not, especially the blue area near the top of the screen. Storage favourites lets you bookmark folders in Windows explorer, similar to how bookmarks function in a web browser.

The new games area

I wonder if there are any updates for this build?

One of the main attractions of Longhorn was a redefined search facility, however in this build it still functions the same as how the XP search facility operated. Indexed search would not appear until after the Longhorn reset. Also no search assistant :/

Two Properties? One is for the start menu older properties and the other for the task bar settings.

Longhorn comes with several visual styles, Slate (currently set) and Jade

Jade version of the Start menu

Outlook Express has had a redesign

A new feature added was the hardware and Devices sections that lists all devices installed in the system, a more graphical version of device manager.

System Properties

Internet Explorer in action, I’m surprised the Windows Update page still works, although this seems to be for the final Windows Vista version

You can change how the operating system delivers notifications, presumably form the tray icons

Installing The Sims…

Whilst it works OK most of the time, running it in windowed mode and panning the camera can yield some interesting graphics glitches, thankfully they go away when you release the right mouse button.

Nice feature, you can change the starup programs without having to use MSCONFIG

Not sure I like the file details being in an explorer window, certainly not an efficient use of space

Sample of a crashed program in Windows Longhorn

Sadly GTA3 refused to install on this build, despite using compatibility mode.

Not sure what fast items are, the replacement for quick launch?

Also the side bar can be resized,

Shutting down Longhorn

Overall this is considered to be the last stable built of Longhorn pre-reset, as the next few builds would become incredibility bug ridden. The sidebar is also an unusual concept that may be seen as a distraction. Thankfully it can be set to auto hide. However a common theme is that a lot of windows have a lot of vacant space (see the top blue area of My Computer) which take up a lot of screen estate, and the UI buttons (search) in explorer are also quite large with no option to resize them. This becomes an issue when running this build on systems with a low resolution display, since it is easy for the screen to become cluttered, especially since low end laptops, ultra mobile PC’s and netbooks started to become popular towards the end of the XP era.