Early MSDN CD’s on archive.org

I ran across this, and thought it was cool. These CD’s are getting harder and harder to find, and unless you want the old physical disks, getting ISO images is, of course the next best thing.

Granted these disks replaced the much older Microsoft Programmer’s Library. The new CD’s use a Windows based search & interface program removing the clunky old MS-DOS program that made it feel like trying to view the world through a straw. (Although the up side of the MS-DOS version is that you could easily dump the video RAM and save the contents to plain text).

And in this brave new post Windows 3.0 centric world of Microsoft just about everything regarding OS/2 was dumped, and the seeding of Win32 via Windows NT had started.

Naturally after winning this war, Microsoft withdrew many low end products and just couldn’t compete with the tidalwave that was GNU/Linux.

At any rate for the curious kids down the road that want to see what all the fuss was with Win16, and how Windows 3.0 had changed the landscape removing the force of IBM it’s worth a look.

6 thoughts on “Early MSDN CD’s on archive.org

  1. The advantages of living in Silicon Valley: in the later-90’s, I found several of these in a Redwood City thrift store for just a few dollars! At first the original 4-CD case, then at another time the later disks started showing up. Some company or programmer must have been dumping them after they would get updated disks.

    The store and customers may not have recognized their value, but I certainly did! Man, I grabbed whatever I could fast. The DOS/Windows 3.1 disks of the 4-CD pack were missing, but the last 2 were Windows NT 3.1 and Video for Windows! I was jumping around thinking “I got Windows NT for [single-digit] $X!” (Took a while to get a machine to safely install NT on. Then I discovered that dual-booting Windows NT 3.1 and Windows 95, NT 3.1 would destroy 95’s Long File Names.) Later disks had esoteric things like individual foreign-language versions of NT 3.5.

    The Video for Windows disk has tones of cheesy goodies in VfWSAMPLES. I wonder if Microsoft can now reveal which employee played the “Hey, look buddy” guy on the Cinepak demo folder. Oh, and how could I forget “Studs from Microsoft!” in MISC.

    • Sadly I’m just not valley material, apparently I’m so unfit I didn’t even warrant a phone call rejection. Oh well.

      I have the ‘studs’ it’s in a MSDN set I’d ordered on Ebay for a few dollars, as again for the same reason it was old and obsolete, and the seller thought it was junk.

      I posted it back here in August, and even uploaded the entire set to archive.org.

      I used to have a sizable collection of old crap but lost it all in a bad relationship. So now if I see anything I’ll get it, scan it and upload it.

      I’d encourage anyone/everyone that can upload stuff they have like this, as it is all too easily lost.

    • I bought a Windows NT 3.1 SDK in a flea market in the mid 90s. Similar story; I don’t think people knew what it could do.

      Re Win95/NT 3.1 interop, I personally haven’t had any problems. Normally NT won’t kill file metadata for no reason – perhaps this was chkdsk? Later versions supported Windows 95’s file names; I haven’t checked if the update for NT 3.1 on the 3.51 CD added that support. When all else fails, you can always use OSR2 with FAT32 and NT 3.1 with NTFS and they won’t talk to each other at all.

      I also remember getting a boxed copy of Visual C++ 2 for $12 in a Mountain View bookstore. That was a little later admittedly, but it’s amazing what floats around after people have moved on to newer versions.

    • Whoa! This would be super cool!

      I think some of the MS-DOS tech stuff made it over to the pre-1994 Cd’s. Although I’m pretty sure no windows 2.x or 3.0

      MSDN seemed to exist to purely push away from compatibility with OS/2 and part of pretending that it never happened.

      I’ll have to see if it can teach apart the Sql, Fortran and C++ books.

      • I think I’ve got a list somewhere I made (manually) of deltas between some of the early releases, e.g. I think the C/C++ 7 documentation disappeared pretty quickly. I managed at one point to make a .chm of that (with full tree outline) with some caveats I’m sure I didn’t fully record.

        I’ve been meaning to contact you about this stuff (I didn’t already do it and forget, right?) since you posted about SQL Server documentation some time ago – I image that is in the same formats so could probably be converted too.

        I forgot to mention helpdeco chokes on some files, and there’s at least one patch online for this, and I was trying to fix some other issues but got distracted by other things.

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