Rants of a deranged squirrel.

#137: My Win95 Experience

[F.U.C.K. is an e-zine that I started on January 24, 1993 and ended on January 24, 2000. One concept is that articles should be timeless if possible, so they were not released with dates. As such, the date on this blog is not exact but I will try to use a date as close as possible.]


The other day at work I had the (mis)pleasure of installing Windows 95 on a new computer. I have delayed writing this until a version was made available to almost anyone, and was considered a ‘stable’ release. I installed the version released to retail stores to preview it to customers. The following is a log of my install and comments to go with it. Judge for yourself if you want to install it.

The install was done on a Packard Bell Pentium 75, with 8 Megs of RAM, a quad CD-ROM, using the CD version of Win 95.

5:16 pm

Put the CD-ROM in, and run the setup program. I chose ‘Custom’ Install. It gave me several screens of little bits about what it was doing, and why I was waiting. The first major screen where I had something to do gave me a list of features and asked which I wanted to install. I went through and flagged EVERY available feature. It kept increasing in ‘space required’ as I chose options. As the last feature was chosen, Win95 reported that I would need 57.X megs to do the install. Now I understand why Microsoft recommends the user of their new OS to buy a new hard drive. On top of that, the install program suggested the space required was above and beyond that of the essential OS files.

While it copied these files I was hit with Microsoft propaganda saying “What you want to do will be more fun” and “Win95 is the easiest Windows yet”. Does that mean that Win 3.11 was not easy?

It goes on to claim it offered “New Improved Interface”, that it would be “Faster and more efficient”, it would offer “Smoother Multitasking”, “32 Bit Networking”, and “Faster printing and disk access”

Lets see.. Smoother Multitasking. Once again this implies that the old operating system was not smooth at all (which it wasn’t). But from the sound of it, Microsoft is ditching Win 3.X in all respects. Faster printing and disk access… is this software operating system going to break the hardware barrier on printers? Physically speed up your hard drive? Nope. With an improved FAT (File Allocation Table) it may increase some disk access, but with larger hard drives, you are still limited by a small physical ‘read/write head’ and a large disk for it search through.

5:40 pm

Thirty four minutes had passed, and it was still loading. Each minute or so, new propaganda for the user to read. “Faster video revs up action” and “DOS games run better and more reliably“. These two sentences seem somewhat misleading to me. For the past year, the hardware market has been flooded with new and better video cards. On top of better video cards, the stores have been flooded with ‘windows accelerator cards’. That alone should tell you how Microsoft codes their operating systems and operating platforms. Faster refresh rates, higher resolutions, more memory, and the market is hot. If software can do all of that, why not sooner? I imagine Microsoft finally removed enough bugs out of their original OSs and produced a close to bug free video routines.. if what they claim is true. This line regarding DOS games running better doesn’t make much sense either. DOS games were meant to be run out of DOS. People were scared of that fearsome ‘c:\’ so they launched DOS apps and games through the windows platform. These same people are the ones that are a constant nuisance to customer support/service.

‘Plug and play’ flashed across the screen at one point. Unfortunately, I haven’t read much in the way of tech docs or specs on this feature yet, but from what I have read, if you have a PCI bus, and Win95, you are now able to do ‘plug and play’ upgrading. This quote comes to mind…

I’ll believe it when I see it” – John Dvorak

Start watching out for “Designed for 95” logos on hardware hitting the stores soon. This sign designates that it was designed for Plug and Play in the Win95 platform. Isn’t the idea of Plug and Play to put in any device, and have it recognize it without specific drivers?

I next read “communicate with everyone“. Hmm.. Does this happen through the (anti-trust?) Microsoft Network? Or do I have to go 4 and 5 layers down in the ‘Start’ structure to find my own provider’s icon before I can do that? “Connect directly to multiple e-mail systems” comes across next. I take it this means that with my own software (still buried) that I can do it. However, if I choose to use The Microsoft Network (MSN), it is “Affordable, and easy to use“.

5:45 pm

I am 78% done with first setup/install step.

5:46 pm

Version Conflict! My version of winsock.dll is more current than the one we are trying to install! That makes me feel really good.. here is this state of the art OS with advanced networking features, easy access to the (yawn) Information Superhighway, and they have an old version of an essential file for connection. I specified to keep my own version and proceeded.

To get most of.. you need to register“. Notification of updates, access to tech support, and info about other services available from Microsoft are a few reasons to do so. This implies that without registering you will not get any technical support, even if you purchase the product.

With online help you will: learn to use common tasks, get answers to questions asked by 3.1 users…” Wait, what good are answers to questions about Windows 3.1? Isn’t this the new and improved Windows?

5:49 pm

Preparing to restart your computer…” and it reboots for me. Watching the boot sequence, I notice only three errors during bootup!

This will take a few minutes…

5:54 pm

Sound! Same dull windows entry sound as Windows 3.0 and beyond. Another great way to introduce the ‘new and improved’. “Now setting up…”

5:59 pm

Here it asks me for registration information.

Your fax number:” I left it blank and tried to proceed, only to get this: “Please put your voice number in… In some countries you are legally required to provide this info“. What the fuck? Is this a mock threat to get me to register? Are the gestapo going to bust down my door if I don’t?

I did not take this step, but this has to do with registration.

According to literature FROM MIRCROSOFT, the program WILL inventory your hard drive, and report the contents to Microsoft’s databases. Furthermore, it will not let you register for the Microsoft Network until you allow this procedure to take place, after it tells you what it is doing.

6:02 pm

Click to restart so changes take effect..” One click, the computer reboots and instead of the familiar (and welcomed) ‘Starting MSDOS’, I get “Starting Win 95“. By now, the changes should have been made and the new OS fully installed… only three errors (still) during boot.

After all this, I find out what they call this release: “Win 95 June Release

Finalizing settings..

6:05 pm

Done!

All this… for the install of the new OS. Worth it? You judge.

Interested in un-installing it? Read on…

I also had the pleasure of removing Win 95 from another computer. The actual process was quite simple, and it left all of my files alone. Of course, it also left three other hidden directories with files in them for me to clean up. That was the one smooth thing about the whole thing.

Have any TRULY good points about the OS? Bad experiences? Interesting rumors? Verified rumors? Mail me.. let me know.

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