What is Windows?
During the first decade of Microsoft
Windows (versions 1.01 to Windows
ran on MS-DOS
and was merely a glorified shell, not
really an OS (OS). It
does not matter how many times Microsoft says
otherwise. For the first ten years, Microsoft marketed
a stand-alone OS.
With the release of Windows 95B (Windows
4.x running on MS-DOS 7.x) on 1996, Microsoft marketed
a stand-alone OS. Windows 98, 98SE and ME continue this
misunderstanding and misconception. For these reasons,
many people say that Windows 95B and
up are real operating
systems. Because Windows 95B and
up run on MS-DOS 7
even though it is buried in C:\WINDOWS\COMMAND,
many others (myself
included) say that Windows
4.x in general is a descent tool, but not a real OS.
With the release of Windows NT
3.1, Microsoft finally
dropped the MS-DOS-dependent Windows
Windows NT 4.0
and up offered some compatibility with 16-bit applications. Windows XP (NT 5.1) offers
little to none whatsoever.
I rebuilt an old i386 PC for
fun, just because I could.
I installed MS-DOS 6.22 as the OS and the
Windows 3.11 users with
the Calmira shell.
Rebuilding an old computer makes
interesting project, from which one can learn a lot
about old hardware and old software. Note that
this page mostly covers my experience with Windows 3.1x to
98SE. I really do not care about
any version past 98SE since I stopped using Windows
after Windows 2000
(descent version) in favor of PC-BSD (2005) and then Linux
soon after (original run in 1999 and then ever since
For Windows 3.1x
first edition), you must first install MS-DOS because they are not bundled with MS-DOS. Read the
instructions on installing MS-DOS.
For Windows 95B (1986) and up, you can bypass installing MS-DOS running FDISK.EXE and
using a boot disk (FAT 32-bit). Windows
4.xx (95, 98, & ME) includes MS-DOS 7 and does not
have low-level memory
Because MS-DOS 7
is direly limited, I
recommend you to install MS-DOS 6.22 and run memory
management. Note that MS-DOS has MEMMAKER and PC DOS has RAMBOOST.
4.xx (95, 98 & ME) has CONFIG.SYS,
a system file that
can create a RAM drive to speed
up whatever you do. Of course, do not save anything
there that you need or want to keep. Add the following
line to CONFIG.SYS
to optimize your system.
DEVICEHIGH=C:\WINDOWS\RAMDRIVE.SYS 2048 /E
The latter creates a virtual disk of 2048 bytes (2 MB) assigned as
E:, which is nothing by today's standards but
significant if using an i386 or i486.
Do not install Windows 1 (1985) or 2 (1987). They are merely useful.
If you are installing Windows 3.1x,
(6 floppies for Windows 3.1x; 9
floppies for and the
Windows 3.11) do not forget to install Calmira on
your PC. Also
refer to the batch file that I wrote (coded) to take
care of my i386 computer running MS-DOS and Windows
If installing version Windows 95A), get
ready for 21 floppies. For the
record, IE is not
included. You can get any 16-bit web browser on
Installing Windows 95B
If installing Windows 95B or
later, make sure the BIOS will read
CD-ROM first. Reboot the system
with the Windows CD-ROM. Once the CD-ROM starts
running, watch TV or something exciting for the next
half an hour or longer. Finally follow the last steps of
the installation and registration (no way
around it nowadays).
The architecture of Windows
4.xx can be FAT 32-bit while MS-DOS is FAT 16. Do not change the
structure of the File
Allocation Table (FAT)
running C:\WINDOWS\CVT1.EXE. If you do, you
would have wasted about an hour of work and possible
access to your upper
memory and extended
If installing Windows 95B or
later from a recovery disk,
forget everything that you have read so far. Most recovery disks
do not have the OS with a
SETUP.EXE and all the .CAB files (as you
would buy it in a computer shop).
These recovery disks
are merely an image of a HDD with the
OS, drivers, and
whatever other junk the manufacturer wants to promote.
These recovery disks
are also BIOS-locked.
This means that only an recovery disk
from manufacturer A will work with a certain BIOS specified
by manufacturer A. Therefore a recovery disk
from manufacturer A will most likely not work
on a PC from
manufacturer B most of the times. Try booting your PC with
the recovery disk.
Most likely the PC will boot to an installation program
and follow whatever instructions you are given. Every
manufacturer makes these recovery disks
differently. There is no way to work around this
problem. This is the result of Microsoft's Piracy
If installing Windows NT
4.0 or later (including Windows 2000
and XP), first get a
list of what hardware is in your
PC. At the
beginning of the installation, there are various questions
about hardware. Follow
the same steps as for 95B, but you will not get much of a break. The
installation is more interactive. Make
sure that you select NTFS (New Technology File
System) instead of FAT 32 (File
Allocation Table 32-bit) when asked
for the file format
system. NTFS will give you more
protection and privacy,
in a multi-user OS. After
you finish installing Windows 2000 or
later, refer to the Black Viper
website to know what services (programs running in the background,
sometimes without your control or interaction; referred
to as a daemons
in Unix) can be stopped.
Calmira, Making Windows 3.x
Look Like Windows 95:
originally developed by Li-Hsin Huang under the name
of Calypso. Nowadays Erwin Dokter, Brian Johnson and
other developers work on this "shell for
that adds Windows 95 look
and functionality" written (coded) in Delphi.
If you are still running Windows 3.1x at
home or work, Calmira is a shell worth
trying. It is very good, user-friendly and free.
Calmira requires an
i386 microprocessor or
higher, Windows 3.1x,
at least 4 MB of RAM, a
VGA monitor or
better and a mouse, of
The new version of Calmira has an installations. Just follow the proper
instructions. The older versions do not have installers. Simply copy the decompressed
files to a directory outside C:\WINDOWS
or C:\DOS. A good idea is C:\CALMIRA. At
this point, run CALMIRA.EXE.
If you want to bypass PROGRAM
MANAGER (PROGMAN.EXE) to start, edit SYSTEM.INI
changing SHELL=PROGMAN.EXE to SHELL=C:\CALMIRA\CALMIRA.EXE
considering that the latter is the correct path for
the Calmira executable. It is
a good idea to back up the
COPY SYSTEM.INI SYSTEM.BAK
I installed Calmira on the
no-name i386 computer running a whopping 40 MHz with 20 MB of RAM
that I owned at
the time. Calmira merely uses
4 KB of RAM.
It took me under
twenty (20) minutes to learn what Calmira can and
cannot do. As usual, I did not read any instructions because
"real men do not need instructions"
(a joke between my best
friend and me).
Other Replacement Graphic User
Interfaces for Windows 3.x & 95:
Before you do any changes, remember to back up SYSTEM.INI.
COPY CONFIG.SYS CONFIG.BAK
Then you can change SHELL=PROGMAN.EXE to SHELL=[path].
Packard Bell Navigator (c. 1994) by Packard
TabWorks (1994-1997) by Xerox
Read about OpenGEM as a
full Windows 3.1x
replacement on old i386 and i486 PCs.
Probably from all the operating
systems I have
Windows might have the worst memory
management. I have had
to write batches to
clean up left over
garbage. As such, CLI
might still be the way to manage a Windows
There are also third-party utilities
that handle memory
management, but most of these are not loaded on
Registry hacking can also be used to clean the
When I first
started working on this page, not to mention VintageOS, Windows NT
4.0, Windows 2000,
XP and 7 were the newer
technologies. The mobile device
versions of Windows
were shabby and have never acquired a descent market share.
Case in point, sales of Windows CE and Windows
Mobile were nowhere near iPhone (iOS) or
My experience with Microsoft's
attempt of a mobile device
OS has been
less than exciting. Windows CE was Microsoft's PDA, which was a pain to configure its
synchronization via a serial
attempt to make a smartphone has
included acquisitions of Danger Hiptop
(Sidekick) and the Lumia
division from Nokia.
Although I use a Windows Phone
for work, I do not
care for it. My unit is
nothing more than a glorified portable FM radio with a MP3 player and a 4" display.
Surprisingly I found an
app in the Windows
Phone Store that I really like MS-DOS Mobile 1.0
released by Microsoft
Studios, which emulates MS-DOS 5.0 with Windows 3.1x
and includes an ASCII/CGA
It is said that an OS is as
good as its applications (apps, in this
case). Windows Phone
has a poor library hence its weak market share.
The latter is heavily impacted by limited user space. The
model that I am using
has only 4 GB, which is used
by apps (all files
unaccessible and hidden even when mounted) and user files
\Music, \Ringtones and
\Videos). To make matters more annoying,
although the unit has a slot for a microSD, the
card is not seen by Windows Phone
unless reseting it clearing all user configuration with the card in
Needless to say, Windows Phone
is much more difficult to use and deal with than Android, iOS and even the now
defunct Palm. It actually made me really miss my beat up Android mobile phone
even if it was broken and literally falling apart.
On a side note, I never stop thinking and
processing information all
around me. As such, one of the
subjects that attracts me most (aside from technology and music) is human behavior,
not limited to psychology and ethos of the individual and masses. Hence
I usually read, study and
write essays of my own. From
all possible authors in this field, some of my favorites are (in order of
Levinas and Kant. As such, I have published two science fiction
books, in which I include my opinion on religion, sociology, psychology, politics, manipulation of
the masses, media, science and various technologies.
In Under the Thelian Sky, mankind did not
originate on Earth, but rather on Mars. When Mars could no longer sustain life, mankind
had to escape and colonized Earth. Many years later, a study was
written about the survival of mankind in Mars and its struggle in Earth led by Doctor Ajidan
Edejem. We proved to be a species that has survived
wars, slavery and other forms of abuse. All the while, the
government controlled by "them" wants to keep
everything quiet and even kill him for telling others about
the unavoidable doom. Years before the extinction of life
in Mars, the Thelian
society was perfect, yet corrupted. Life was easy, yet
difficult if you were different. For every good person,
like Ahila Keinj who found peace in The
Faith, there were many willing to destroy it all for
gain while "they" controlled the fate of many. At
the end, an outsider simply known as Operative Logger
9C56 tries to fight "them" and stop
"their" manipulation of history and mankind.
You can get Under the Thelian Sky
exclusively at Amazon available on print (ISBN
9781494232283) and e-book (ASIN B00GTQBY04).
In The Daydreamer, Robert James is a normal New
Yorker who wakes up one morning unsure what had happened in
his life. He is accused of killing the woman he has always
loved, but he remembers three possible realities. Which
reality could be true? Has he dreamed these realities, seen
this events or taken part of these strange acts? Is he a
killer or is he being framed? Perhaps he knows the killer
better than anyone else without realizing it.