Upgrading through Windows NT; Windows NT 3.5

NT 3.5

With Windows NT 3.1 out the door there was a LOT of work to be done behind the scenes to bring Windows NT up to a more polished level, and this was most certainly achieved with Windows NT 3.5 . This version did something pretty much unheard of, which is that it dropped the hardware requirements from Windows NT 3.1 . It is almost all too easy to get lost in all the new features but I’ll try to keep a list.

  • OpenGL (software only)
  • New TCP/IP Stack
  • More complete Win32 support
  • Ability to run Win16 apps in separate WOW instances.
  • Added complete support for the Dec Alpha
  • IDE CD-ROM support
  • AppleTalk
  • Netware Requester
  • PPP/Slip
For me this was a major release, in that now Windows NT was actually usable, esp with the memory requirement dropped, and the overall speed increased NT 3.5 could actually be used.  The dialup PPP support that was a SNAP to configure was the thing that won me over, I never could get the dialup scripts for CHAP/PAP/PPP on Linux to work right, but within a few minutes of installing NT 3.5, I was on the internet.
One of the cools things that came out of the Microsoft SGi collaborative was OpenGL on Windows NT.  This was no doubt to bring NT into the real ‘workstation’ level of OS, and to give us great real-time 3d graphics.  This was also the source of a lot of ‘server issues’ because people *LOVED* the OpenGL screen savers so much they enabled them everywhere, not realizing that they would easily take 100% of the CPU.  The OpenGL was so good, that it even scaled on SMP systems, again killing them for 100% of the CPU across all CPUs.  You wouldn’t be very popular loading them on the departmental SQL server.

Outside of internet applications all I pretty much ran at the time was old Win16 stuff like Turbo C++ for Windows, Watcom C++ and I’d try to run windows games, but NT just needed too much memory compared to MS-DOS/Windows 3.1 … it was a while before memory got cheap enough to tip the balance, but I did only have 8MB back then.
As for the applications I installed on NT 3.1, they all worked fine, MS-Word for DOS & OS/2, Excel 3, and Doom 1.1 ran great.
I should also mention that there was a 32bit version of Office for NT 3.5, Office 4.2 for NT. This added 32bit versions of Word & Excel for NT Alpha/i386.  I don’t think there was ever native versions for the MIPS.
Windows NT 3.5 received three service packs before it was ultimately superceeded by Windows NT 3.51

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