ver. 20170111

What is Windows?

During the first decade of Microsoft Windows (versions 1.01 to Windows 4.00.950A), 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 Windows as a stand-alone OS.

With the release of Windows 95B (Windows 4.x running on MS-DOS 7.x) on 1996, Microsoft marketed Windows as 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 4.x kernel. 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 2009).

Installing Windows 3.1x:

For Windows 3.1x and 4.00.950A (Windows 95A, 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 FORMAT using a boot disk (FAT 32-bit). Windows 4.xx (95, 98, & ME) includes MS-DOS 7 and does not have low-level memory utility. 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.

Windows 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 3.1x.

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 floppies.

Installing Windows 95B or Later:

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 memory blocks.

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 Policy.

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:

Calmira was originally developed by Li-Hsin Huang under the name of Calypso. Nowadays Erwin Dokter, Brian Johnson and other developers work on this "shell for Windows 3.1x that adds Windows 95 look and functionality" written (coded) in Delphi.

Windows 3.11
                workspace (Used with permission from Microsoft.)

Windows 95
                Desktop screenshot (Used with permission from

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 Desktop ({{Information
                |Description=Screenshot of Calmira Desktop |Source=Own 
                |work ||Date= Author=Edokter |Permission={{pd-self}}
                |||other_versions= |}})

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 course.

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 original SYSTEM.INI first.

                    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].

  1. Packard Bell Navigator (c. 1994) by Packard Bell
  2. TabWorks (1994-1997) by Xerox

Read about OpenGEM as a full Windows 3.1x replacement on old i386 and i486 PCs.

Memory Management:

Probably from all the operating systems I have used, Microsoft 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 machine.

There are also third-party utilities that handle memory management, but most of these are not loaded on boot. Windows Registry hacking can also be used to clean the PAGEFILE.SYS file.

Newer Versions:

When I first started working on this page, not to mention VintageOS, Windows NT 4.0, Windows 2000, XP and 7 were the newer Microsoft 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 Android.

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 cable.

Microsoft's 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 camera.

MS-DOS Mobile, DIR C:\>

MS-DOS Mobile, DIR C:\DOS>



MS-DOS Mobile, access to C:\SYSTEM> denied




MS-DOS Mobile with Windows 3.1 (splash screen)

MS-DOS Mobile with Windows 3.1 (shell)

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 (\Documents, \Downloads, \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 place.

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.

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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 interest) Nietzsche, 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.

Under the Thelian Sky, ISBN
             9781494232283, ASIN B00GTQBY04

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.


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page updated on 2017/01/11 19:05:54.