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.
So as part of my fun day job stuff involves moving data around and from time to time, there is that proverbial server in the corner (in this case it’s even physical!) and in this case I needed to move stuff into an old version of SQL Server as I needed to remember how to use the older BCP syntax. Obviously I guess I could have just installed 6.5 into a VM, did the SQL transfer, then the whole upgrade to 7/2000 and up to something modern, but per requirements I needed to check data in the middle, so the quickest way is to just BCP it out into something human readable, and BCP it into something new.
So it turns out the books are easily copied off the install CD, and just run the viewer application directly. And even better the ‘massive and optional’ install of all the online documentation turns out to be absolutely trivial by modern standards.
As you can see it’s really not that much in the world of terabyte disks. Anyways just copy out all the SQLBOOKS* files and then from the binn directory grab the INFOVIEW program. To view the books just run “INFOVIEW SQLBOOKS.MVB” and you’ll be set!
Some of the other older tools like Visual C++ 4.x also use this InfoViewer format, and you can copy all the other associated files, in the off chance you want to keep this ancient stuff handy.