A basic internet orientated desktop PC install that features Windows ME. Very similar to the HP Pavilion and the eMachines system that were looked at previously. Compaq was a major OEM of Wintel machines, with the Presario line being orientated for the home consumer market. Systems like these typically come quipped with a Celeron, Intel or S3 onboard graphics an ‘Internet’ keyboard that features dedicated web browser nd email keys and Windows ME or 98. The will commonly have bundled software or ISP offers to entice you to join.
You can kind of see Compaq trying to stylise their computers, as a response to the funky looking iMac and the eMachines eOne, rather than having them appear as a typical beige box.
This appears to not be the actual recovery program, as the original would have been restricted to function on that actual machine. However using this bootable utility we can restore the hard disk image back to the system. This fruitions even if the hard disk isn’t initialised or formatted, as the utility can do this for us.
This recovery image is password protected,
Starting Windows ME for the first time. After the splash screen it lingered on this screen for a while with the mouse cursor flickering between the pointer and the hourglass, indicating it was working in background.
What’s actually happening is Windows ME is detecting and installing the new hardware and unlike Windows 98, it does not spam you with a dialog box indicating as to what’s going on.
At least for system devices, since it did pop up for the video card, along with the PS/2 keyboard and mouse.
Normally this wouldn’t be an issue, since the hardware detection stage is done during the OS install, but since the recovery program transferred an existing install to the disk which was designed to be used on different hardware, it has to go through the detection process again.
After around 10 minutes we are presented with out desktop.
A utility pops up soon after logging in. This appears to be an. The Compaq engineer would install any additional software or hardware drivers if the customer had requested it, and would then click on the ShutDown button in this utility. Then when the end customer would boot up their system, they would be greeted with the registration wizard, along with the tutorial. This would mean the end user would already have their additional software installed and ready to use,
In my case, this was an excellent opportunity to get the video and sound drivers up and running, as Windows ME did not have a driver for the video card I had chosen (S3 Trio3D)
Windows ME had a infamous reputation for stability which was undeserved im my opinion, as I’ve found 98SE to be more unreliable. Part of the issue was ME dropped some DOS support which upset the luddite’s that wanted to use their own ancient hardware when the rest of the world was trying to move on, and OEMs slapping together botched installs with tons of adware as they race to the bottom of their profit margins.
The truth is, Windows ME is a perfectly fine OS, so long as you get the drivers right which can be said for any OS really. The 9x series of operating systems were not known for the reliability and were more of a botch that just about managed to work. Frankly I can understand why Microsoft wanted to jump straight into NT with Windows XP.
The introduction and setup wizard, complete with a speaking wizard, Merlin who sounds like a chronic smoker. Once you have accepted the licence agreement you are presented with your new desktop.
Compaq included a few wallpapers that are selectable and are pretty much the same pattern but with a different colours (Ruby, Sapphire, Amethyst, Amber, Emerald, Jade and Grey. This kind of reminds me of the iMac G3 colours.
There is also a custom colour scheme set by Compaq but it has no pre-set name. So if you choose another colour scheme then its lost.
Theres even a custom Internet Explorer throbber that appears
A screensaver that is included called BackWeb. This appears too be some sort of bulletin board what pulls information online and displays it in a news ticker format (like in SimCity 3000) With no server connectivity it just appears to refresh itself repeatedly.
This isn’t a bad idea of a screensaver, being very similar to the Active Desktop Channel screensaver or the Wii News Channel.
The utility that manages content going into the Backweb screensaver
Compaq Remote Support: A utility where a customer representative can remotely control you PC, useful for support purposes if the end user requires support or is experiencing technical issues. Typically this would be sold as part of a support package and is aimed for novice issues who are not experience in diagnosing issues or perhaps installing software. Still im not sure how well this would have functioned over a dial up connection.
Windows would later included a utility into the operating system itself with Windows XP.
Netscape Communicator – A popular alternative web browser, for those that do not wish to use Internet Explorer, Netscape also included an email client. Version 4.7 is included here ad features the Compaq throbber.
Microsoft Money – Finance and accounting software, version 2000 is used here
Compaq Help – A customised version of the Windows Help & Support with additional links to Compaq programs and utilities
Compaq.Net – Opens the Compaq branded internet connection wizard
There are also some premade web shortcuts located on the desktop like Compaq Treasures and another for online backup.
A weird omission is Microsoft Works, or any office applications which allows for basic word processing or spreadsheet use. Possibly this would be bundled with a specific SKU of the system that would have been installed by the engineer before shipment.
Control Panel Items
Compaq Connection Helper: Lets you change the default internet browser and the internet connection to use.
Digital Helper: Lets you customise the digital dashboard, which is the LED light that are present on the keyboard. In addition to the standard Caps/Num/Scroll lock indicators there’s a message/alerts and a power/sleep indicator.
There is also a internet time sync feature that allows the system to be synchronised the time & date with a server, as Windows ME lacked this feature. Microsoft would introduce this with Windows XP.
The email notification light can also be configured here, which requires you to manually setup the email server connection settings and would light up if there’s an unread email in your inbox. It does not appear to detect email from applications like Outlook or Eudora.
Easy Access Buttons: The keyboard that was shipped with these machines featured a dedicated easy access buttons that could be assigned a function for customized look.
Intel Graphics Technology: As this computer would have featured integrated Intel graphics, this utility would let you adjust advenced graphics settings.