Blast from the Past Dept: Windows_311

As some of you may know from other threads where I’ve mentioned it, I have a rather large collection of operating systems on my laptop MacOS 8.1, 8.6, 9.0.4, 9.1, and X {10.0.3} on actual bootable partitions; in emulation, MacOS from 1.1 to 7.5; AmigaOS (3.1 ROM / Kickstart 40.63/Workbench 40.42); Linux (Red Hat); DOS 3.3; Windows95; Windows NT Server 4.0; and Darwin Unix on Intel.

Missing from the PC OS lineup was…well, lots of things, to be sure, but most poignantly I did not have the version of Windows that I first saw and grappled with in the early 1990s, Windows for Workgroups (3.11). Well, I figured, all I need are the installation diskettes, I can run it in VirtualPC. So I snagged a cheap copy from eBay and sat down to install the oldest version of Windows I’ve ever tried to install. (the PCs I used in the office back then already had it on them when the boss purchased them).

Omigod. Oh. My. God…AAAck!

Convert diskettess to diskimages. Copy a 250 MB hard-drive and format it in Windows95. Insert DOS installation disks and install DOS 6.11 and continue after reboot with WFW disks. Select “custom installation”. Hmm, I don’t need some of these games and screen savers…I’ll take this, leave that…and click Continue. Supply virtual floppies when requested and hit Enter until–

(or some such obscure filename). Excuse me, that IS Disk #6?? Eject, re-“insert”, Enter. Beep! Cancel. Mount diskimage on the Mac desktop. There’s the bloody file, right there, minus its last character which has been replaced by an underscore. Insert, Enter, Beep! Cancel. Attempt reboot. Lots of messages about a missing file, unable to initialize this or that, including “smartdrive”. Throw away virtual hard drive. Recopy, start over. This time bypass the fancy options, go for a straight install. Set up printer somewhere in the vicinity of Disk 8.

Uh, yeah. Well I didn’t need to print anyway, right?

Then came network. Select your networking card from the list. Hmm, no successful auto-detect, huh? Let’s see, my “PC” uses a DEC 21041 PCI, which…isn’t on the list. Hmm, “Other adapter”, OK…

Bloody hell. (I didn’t have to do this with Linux or Windows95!).

::off to the internet to hunt down a Windows311 driver for the DEC card::

Insert virtual diskette with DEC drivers. Hit Enter.

::three days of trying everything to no avail::

Hey, what’s this? Why do I have a Windows directory inside my Windows\System directory? Oh, look, another System directory inside it! Oh wow, and THAT one contains yet another Windows directory? Don’t tell me…yep, a System Directory in that one, too. Can you say Folder From Hell?

Run scandisk. Errors reported and fixed. I no longer have a C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM\WINDOWS\SYSTEM\WINDOW\etc etc etc recursive directory mess. I also no longer have a SYSTEM directory within Windows at all. And the DEC driver still won’t load.

Discard virtual hard drive. Copy again, start over, but this time first run scandisk from Windows95 (using the new drive as the D drive) before installing WFW on top of DOS.

This time I am able to set up networking; it accepts the DEC drivers. I land in Windows for Workgroups in glorious 640 x 480 8-bit color. Hmm, no Control Panel for switching resolution and bit depth, I see. Option to change the video parameters by choosing a different video card. What “card” does my “PC” have, anyway?

::looks up emulated PC video card parameters::

OK, I need an S3 Trio 32/64 driver, it seems. Finally find something called a Stealth-III 32 driver, that must be it. Download, place on virtual floppy, install. Installation locks up on a dialog screen stating that my System.INI file does not yet support the new video settings and will have to be edited. Reboot. Unable to boot into Windows, video cannot be initialized. Throw away virtual hard drive, start over. Try installing from DOS. After installation it attempts to boot into Windows, no joy. Rinse, lather, repeat.

I finally decide a Stealth-III 32 card may not be the same as an S3 Trio 32/64, and after significant scurrying around find the right driver. Boot into Windows. Double-click Windows Setup Control Panel to change the video driver. Lockup, eternal hourglass-land. Throw away virtual hard drive yet again, start once again from scratch. This time it accepts the DEC driver, it accepts the S3 video card driver, and I finally have a full-screen Windows 311 environment and it only took about 9 days and 27 or so hard drives. Virtual ones, to be sure, but boy I’m glad I didn’t have to do this on actual iron. How in the world did PC geeks get through this mess? (and don’t tell me I should’ve edited my autoexec and config and win.ini and protocol.ini and system.ini files in DOS to undo the changes, I left out my making of backups of those and the joys of editing in DOS, none of which saved me so much as a single start-over).

Now to install Norton Desktop… :slight_smile:

Hehe. Aren’t computers fun? :slight_smile:

If you want, I can get you a version of Windows 3.0, and DOS versions 2.0 (I think), 3.2, 4, and 5. Somewhere I have a version of Novell Netware for DOS 3.2.

Last week eBay had a shrinkwrapped Win 1.0. If they are smart (and, since the last price I saw was over $300, we can be pretty sure they aren’t) they will follow the practice of everybody who had owned it before and NOT open it and, especially, NOT TRY TO INSTALL IT!

Win 1.0 is a sorry file manager. That’s it. Don’t even try to run two programs under it.

Back when I worked on a help desk, sometime in '98, we were cleaning out the software cabinet and found a copy of Windows 3.0. For shits and giggles my friend and I installed it on the main testing PC we had, with the big 19" monitor and super-fast (at the time) PII-500mhz processor. We just installed it and left the Program Manager up for people to see as they walked by it (of course, we used a really garish colour scheme, too, to draw attention to it).

The doubletakes people made when they encountered the “old” UI for Windows was priceless. It’s amazing how quickly the Win95 Explorer interface overtook the Win3x Program Manager in the collective psyches of the users.

You paid for win 3.11?? I could have sent you the files for free. I recently gave away an old 286 laptop with that OS.

Also, do you realize you can get WIN95 to start with the file manager rather than with the desktop of win explorer? Neat trick

Sailor, you don’t understand – as a legitimate purchaser of an original shrink-wrapped OEM copy of Windows 311, I’m entitled to…Microsoft tech support! :smiley:

Regarding starting up in File Manager, you can also run the Win311-ish Program Manager, which still exists in W95 (and presumably 98, possibly ME).

I would be interested in at least SEEING Windows 1.0 and 2.0, although they aren’t part of my personal history like the others I have.

Is it possible to get old Windows 3.1 disks? I have a very old 1992 IBM, set up in the basement, that has Windows 3.1 and someone (probably me) screwed up the resolution and color and can’t get it back without the Windows 3.1 disk. Of course I have no idea where to find one. I’m not too concerned, though, because I only use the oldie for writing stories. But it’d be nice to have a decent clear desktop wallpaper.

Yup - it’s still lurking in ME. Why? Dunno.

Blast from the past indeed. Lemme tell ya - I recall quite clearly when my company switched from Windows 3.11 to Windows NT. It was all of . . . lessee . . . two years ago! Up until then, I still had a Hewlett Packard 486 POS on my desk. (And no, it’s a rather large firm, just somewhat, shall we say, backward in the IT department).

Neptune, I have a vague memory that you can download that from somewhere, maybe even Microsoft. Do a search. if you are desperate i may have it but it would take me weeks to find it… I used Dos 3.1 until about 3 years ago.

DOS 3.1??? When EVERYBODY knows that DOS 3.31 was the acme of DOS revisions? Fast, compact, and without any pussy memory management crap–if you can’t run it in 640k it’s not worth running.

My pen tablet is running Win 3.1. Brings back some memories, not all of them good.

You are right, i believe it was DOS 3.31 what I had