Upgrading through Windows NT; Windows NT 3.51

Windows NT 3.51 was significant in adding support for the PowerPC processor from IBM.  Because this release was delayed for the PowerPC port, it was very stable when it came out as over a thousand bugs had been addressed in between 3.5 & 3.51 .

3.51 was released in May of 1995 right before the launch of Windows 95.  This made NT 3.51 feel somewhat dated as it still retained the program manager/file manager feel to them, while in August Windows 95 would feature the new explorer shell.

However after the launch of Windows 95, there was work to port the new UI to Windows NT in the form of newshell.

NT Starting to look like 95

Newshell only made it to Beta 2, and was never updated beyond that.

Excel 3.0a and 97 running on NT 3.51

One cool feature of NT 3.51 is that it was supported by Office 95 & 97.  Combined with the newshell beta it gave NT 3.51 the feeling of being more modern than the dated program manager feeling NT 3.1-3.51 …

Of my test programs, they all continue to run flawlessly.  Even SQL Server 4.21 happily runs as a service on NT 3.51.

I figured it was worth doing a quick video of what the new shell experience was like on NT.

By this time NT was starting to look and feel like a dated system because of the reliance on Program manager. Of course we all knew it would be addressed in the next version of NT, Windows NT 4.0

10 thoughts on “Upgrading through Windows NT; Windows NT 3.51

  1. You write: Windows NT 3.51 was significant in adding support for the PowerPC processor from IBM. I wonder: have you succeeded in running the PowerPC port of Windows NT 3.51 under qemu-system-ppc.exe?

    • I’ve run the PowerPC version of NT (3.51 and 4.0) on a real PowerPC, and IBM RS/6000 40p to be exact. Sadly the Qemu emulation isn’t there yet to run all the way through the BIOS let alone booting NT…

      • I saw NT (4.0) running on IBM Power Series 440/830 as well as on a RS/6000 (43p). It never got past the stage of being a curiosity, as in comparison the Alpha version of NT had a vast library of apps available.

        • I used to run IIS on mine, and hosted it on the internet… It was all the joy of IIS, but without any of the x86 exploits…

          I was trying to talk corporate into it, I think the ASP package made it to the PowerPC shortly before it was killed… Now as for the Alpha, I know people ran that for SQL for sure… I’m not sure about IIS.

      • Lately I’ve seen much work in the QEMU PReP emulation, the same one that PPC WinNT requires… Although their efforts are aimed to run unmodified old AIX versions on QEMU, the PReP emulation is targeted to an RS6000 40p class machine, to firmware level… so maybe their work can be used with little modifications to run the ARC firmware required to run Windows NT in a foreseeable future.

        • The guy doing the RS/6000 emulation, Hervé is the same that made the MIPS runnable for NT so I’m sure its on his list after AIX…

          Or one can hope.

  2. Just wondering, what architecture do you use to run NT 3.51? I’ve tried using both QEMU 0.9.1 and 1.0.1 w/ i386 and they both stuck at BSOD after I inserted the second boot floppy. I have tried changing ram from 8M to 32M and cpu from 486 to pentium but non works.

    • I mean to touch on this, I used 0.90 to do the upgrade, once its done 0.15.0 & 1.0.1 run it fine, although the networking is all screwed up in 1.xx … 🙁

      • Really? I never knew there was huge change on ethernet part (besides the default card moved from NE2000 to RTL8139). One thing I don’t understand was video became unusable for Win 3.x after QEMU 0.12, although in 0.12.3 it was listed as a fix…

  3. I should add that I’ve installed NT 3.51 on Qemu 0.15.1 .. the ‘trick’ is to hit f5/f6 at the NTDETECT portion and load the ‘normal’ PC HAL. I’ve installed all the way to 2000 this way, but once more again it crashes when upgrading to XP.

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