koko: Windows 3.0 to “10.0” and back

“Genghis Khan and his brother Don
Could not keep on keepin’ on”
(1971) “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere” – Bob Dylan

Windows 3

I wrote before: “I remember thinking in 1989 that X-Windows was going to be the dominant windowing environment on PCs. I said about as much in “Unix – The Force Behind Personal Computing?Unix Technology Advisor 2, 2 (February 1990). When Michael Dell read what I had written, he gently suggested I take a closer look at Windows 3.0. History shows Michael was right and I was wrong.”

Windows 95

For sure the most fun I had with Windows was from ’93 to ’95, working with Chicago has it progressed toward launch. Back then, Windows 95 felt graceful and easy to use, comparable to Mac OS, even incorporating some of the flexibility of X-Windows with TweakUI. I used the test builds on my primary computers and promoted Windows 95 to developers and customers. Though not part of Microsoft, I felt included, even by Brad Silverberg, leader of the project.

Windows 10

Through spending lots of times with most of the Windows releases since then, none felt particularly fresh and fun. Until now. July 2015 I just barely signed up for Insider before the initial release, but did have a little early access experience. In spite of the privacy allegations and real problems, Windows 10 has been fun again for me. I have 10 or 10 with the Anniversary Update (Version 1607, still self-reporting as “10.0.14393” as of Build 14393.222) on almost all of my Windows machines, including some originally shipped with Vista. Overall, I’ve probably worked with a couple dozen Windows 10 machines.


  • The privacy allegations don’t intimidate me. I don’t think of anything on a computer as private unless it is encrypted. Every day there’s a new reason to be cautioned.
  • The coerced updates, from Windows 7 to Win 10 and to the Anniversary Update are more than annoying. I’ve had to deal with numerous driver, network, application reinstall, etc. issues. Most of these have been relatively painless, but the Winsock registry problem seems to reoccur on machines where it had been resolved, Wake on LAN was mysteriously broken on one machine, and a PowerPoint issue is still unsolved on another.
  • The hardware requirements have been baffling — I’ve learned to accept that I probably won’t put in enough effort to understand them:
    • The three Windows machines I use most are Dell Optiplex & Vostro desktops that originally came with Vista. All three work well enough that I don’t think about replacing them (though I have replaced a couple of power supplies and added Ethernet and sound cards to replace lightning damaged integrated interfaces). That Windows 10 works as well as it does on those 7 and 8 year old machines is a credit to Microsoft (and Dell).
    • My primary laptop had been a Dell Vostro 3400 that came with Windows 7 in 2010. I had assumed I would upgrade it to 10, but when the time came, in spite of all of the screens suggesting I upgrade, when I would try, I’d be told the processor didn’t meet requirements.The real problem wasn’t the Core i5-460M but the graphics circuitry — apparently Dell/Intel/Microsoft didn’t want to update the device driver(s) for that circuitry.
    • My predecessor laptop was/is a Dell Latitude D510 that came with XP in 2005. It now has 2GB of RAM and nominally meets the Windows 10 requirements. Except that I haven’t found a driver for the integrated audio, the D510 runs Windows 7 just fine. But attempts to upgrade to Windows 10 seem to proceed just fine until they abruptly end with inscrutable error codes that seem to indicate incompatible hardware.
    • A woefully underpowered Acer Aspire One 521 had been serving as a spare, so I put it on Insider and then fast ring status to give “bash” (Canonical subsystem) a try. Overall, I was impressed with how well that worked out. I didn’t exercise that machine as I did all my machines running Chicago or even Windows 98, but it was fun to watch the builds progress, with new features and interface changes. About a month ago (after 1607 was released) that machine failed to boot. My initial reaction was that it had succumbed to a bad build. Going back to a prior build also failed. I eventually figured out that the hardware had serious problems and decided it was ready for recycling.
    • I assume Windows 10 would run fine on my MacBook Pro 2015 Retina. In any case, it runs fine in a VirtualBox VM on macOS Sierra (and El Capitan).

and back — WFW 3.11/NT 3.51/Windows 95 (4.00.950)/NT 4 revisited

windows-95-100609567-largeStarting in 2012 I’ve acquired and worked on six ca. 1995 NCR machines on behalf of a client. The machines have 75 or 100MHz Pentium (original) processors and 16MB of RAM.  I configured them to multi-boot DOS 6.2 (and then Windows for Workgroups 3.11) or Windows 95 or NT 3.51 Workstation (without “NewShell”) or NT 4.0 Server. Obviously these machines would not be safe on the modern Internet. Otherwise, Windows 95 & NT 4.0 machines were sort of fun to work with again. Once I set Explorer to the preferences I was used to using years ago, e.g., “explore” vs. “open” navigation as, I think, Brad first advocated to me, it was refreshing to use that version for file system navigation again. Microsoft has tried to improve on navigation, especially starting with Vista, but for my tastes the changes have been detrimental, not improvements for the most part.

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