Windows Dev VM

(This is a guest post from Antoni Sawicki aka Tenox)

I have been living under a rock for several years now when it comes to Windows development. Recently wanting to do some maintenance on couple of my projects I needed to download Visual Studio and Windows SDK. Poking around the download page I have discovered that Microsoft now provides a fully pre-installed VMs with Visual Studio, SDK etc. for VMware, Hyper-V, VirtualBox and Parallels. That’s actually super cool and handy. Thank you Microsoft!

Looks like this has been available for 3 or 4 years now. Oh well.

Christmas came early!

Iv’e been in Japan the last 10 days, but upon my return to Hong Kong this little 9kg box was eagerly awaiting me!

I know that ‘unboxing’ donation videos are quite popular, but I thought I’d do the blog equivalent. I don’t want to ‘out’ the sender, although I did email them back a big THANKS, although I didn’t get a reply. Maybe it’s an email thing but I wanted to tell them THANKS again!

To start is a bunch of loose CD’s including old SDK’s, and the infamous Windows 2000 RC1 set including Dec Alpha builds of workstation & server. Also in there is Beta 3 of Windows 98! Cool!

In the box was also Back Office 45, Visual C++ 6.0, a sealed copy of Windows 2000 Server, Visual Studio 2005 Standard and Expression Studio 2.

I’ve always loved this, it’s NT 4.0 and all the good bits of 1997, like Exchange 5.5 & IIS 4.0! Also in there is a copy of Outlook 2000, so this is a much later build/packaging of Back Office 4.5 . I’ve always wondered how many if any Back Office purchasers ever used SNA Server. I’ve seen it something exclusively used in real enterprises that have site licenses anyways.

Visual C 6.0 is the last x86 compiler that was ‘pure’ before the .NET invasion. Although you can with a bit of work get 2003 and onward to build for strict Win32, but who wants to work? This is getting increasingly hard to find, and getting far more expensive. But it’s great to have this in retail in the box again! (I used to have this and Visual Studio 97/6.0).

It almost feels wrong to break the seal on this, although I’ll probably do an active directory deployment eventually now that I have machines running in the USA, Hong Kong, and Japan.

I’m super thankful for all of this, and if anyone else wants to send me their ‘old / obsolete junk’ drop me a line!

VC6 Ultimate updates

I’ve been trading emails with various people from the project after I had made my post, and helping them integrate more of Visual Studio 2003 into the project and working through a few issues to bring far better compatibility to VS 2003.

And the best part is being able to build projects in parallel!

10.2 seconds in parallel!

I haven’t ordered new processors, so the 2.1Ghz parts are… lacking. However being able to use all available cores makes building DOSBox pretty fast.

Restricting the build to a single process takes 1:13 while the full parallel build on this machine takes a mere 10 seconds!

So absolutely check out VC6Ultimate!

Visual Studio .net Enterprise Architect

I uh, also saw this on, which may help people looking for this stuff from the future as old tools get harder and harder to find. Especially bigger editions like the Enterprise Architect version.

VC6 Ultimate

I saw this the other day, VC6 Ultimate. It’s an interesting ‘update’ on the old Visual C++ 6.0 product with an improved UI, along with updated compiler toolchain taken from later versions of Visual C++. Naturally something like this is 1000000% unofficial.

Features include:

  • Portable and compatible with Win7 / Win10
    bye bye regedit, hello .hjson setting file !
    also meaning it should not mess with your current install
  • More compatible compiler
    multicore version of VC7.1 compiler (It’s fast)
    you can compile with other compilers (64bit), but not debug yet
  • Real-time highlighting and diagnostics
    based on libclang 6.0 and compatible with VisualAssistX
  • Real multicursor editing
    search, sort, number, evaluate, etc. while in multicursor mode
  • Improved UX and UI
    32bit icons, dark skin, lot of visual hints
    multi-monitor friendly
    revamped dialogs (project settings, threads, breakpoints, …)
    searchable command palette
  • It’s free (as in free beer)
    ever had to pay for a birthday present ? 😉
  • Every change has a toggle
    only take what you like, but we can not check each combination
  • It’s an internal spare time project
    don’t expect everything to work in every setup, but feel free to reach out

Included in the bundle is the following compilers:

  • clang version 3.8.0 (branches/release_38)
    Target: i686-pc-windows-msvc
  • Microsoft (R) 32-bit C/C++ Optimizing Compiler Version 13.10.6030 for 80×86
    Copyright (C) Microsoft Corporation 1984-2002. All rights reserved.
  • Microsoft (R) C/C++ Optimizing Compiler Version 14.00.40310.41 for AMD64
    Copyright (C) Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

It’s an interesting project, although I tried to re-build some Visual C++ 2003 projects and it bombed out. Maybe it’s just more geared towards VC 6 as indicated.

You can download it here

Platform SDK & DirectX for Visual C++ Express Edition 2005

Visual C++ 2005 Express Edition

So I’m back out, and on my limited machine (I did order something new, but on a group buying thing so it won’t be here for another SIX weeks… but then I’ll be on the road again so if I’m lucky 11 weeks……..) I’m using Visual C++ 2005 Express Edition, which by default includes just enough to compile simple stdio CLI based stuff.  To do anything more complicated you need what is known as the ‘Platform SDK’.  And to match up for the time period I’m using the Windows® Server 2003 SP1 Platform SDK Full Download. And of course various Direct X SDK’s too.

For my benefit (maybe yours too), here is

Instructions to integrate the Platform SDK are here, although I did set this to match the expected paths that were in my setup after installing service pack 1.  However I still had to manually do step 4:

Update the default.js file (found in %VSINSTALLDIR%\VC\VCWizards\AppWiz\Generic\Application\scripts\1033) and change the two lines that read:

LinkTool.AdditionalDependencies = “kernel32.lib $(NoInherit)”;


// LinkTool.AdditionalDependencies = “kernel32.lib $(NoInherit)”;

And I was all set to go.

To make life easier (for me) this is headers & libs for the platform SDK + Direct X 6 & 7, and only 18 megabytes, instead of hundreds to download platform_directx6_7.7z  This has the directories and whatnot where they were expected, although you’ll have to manually add in the Direct X include & library directories, if you want to do anything with Direct X.

From the Tools menu in Visual Studio, select Options. The Options dialog box appears.

From the Options dialog box, expand the Projects and Solutions node and select VC++ Directories. In that section, add the following paths to the appropriate subsection:

unresolved symbol __imp____iob_func aka SDL 1.25 & Visual Studio 2015

While trying to build something with Visual C++ 2015 Community edition I got this fun error while trying to link:

LNK2019 unresolved external symbol __imp____iob_func referenced in function _ShowError
LNK2019 unresolved external symbol __imp__fprintf referenced in function _ShowError

So it turns out that some of the fundamental streams have changed, and when the SDL library is compiled it attaches LIBC into it, which then creates this fun mis-match.  The fix is easy, of course, just download the source to SDL 1.25, and re-build it with Visual Studio 2015.  But then you’ll get another error that /ZI and /Gy- are incompatible with eachother.  I just changed /ZI to the older /Z7 setting, and I could quickly compile SDL, copy the libs to my project and happily link & run.

Visual C++ Toolkit 2003

For those 2-3 people still searching for this thing, it’s the old ‘free’ CLI C++ compiler from Visual Studio .NET 2003.

Microsoft (R) 32-bit C/C++ Optimizing Compiler Version 13.10.3052 for 80×86
Copyright (C) Microsoft Corporation 1984-2002. All rights reserved.

Although Visual C++ .NET 2003 SP1 gives you a later version of the compiler…

Microsoft (R) 32-bit C/C++ Optimizing Compiler Version 13.10.6030 for 80×86
Copyright (C) Microsoft Corporation 1984-2002. All rights reserved.

I’m not sure if you can service pack this toolkit.

You can download it from my site as VCToolkitSetup.exe

For anyone who wants to run this under newer versions of Windows as I know I can’t install it on Windows 8 or 10, I installed it on my Windows XP x64 machine, and uploaded it here as vc2003toolkit.7z

By the time this came out, Microsoft had started to admit that they had lost serious ground to GCC, as for years they had neglected the low end $99 market that they had dominated during their fights with Borland in the QuickC vs TurboC days.  Once Borland had withdrawn from the market, Microsoft felt no need to compete and this left plenty of time for GNU tools to take hold in the marketplace.  This was a stopgap reaction as a prelude to the Visual Studio Express that would happen in 2005 onward.

Elsewhere I’ve been able to find an old Windows 2003 SP1 Platform SDK image, it should certainly let this compiler build far more interesting things.  Although unless you really need 2003, you really ought to look at newer stuff.  Unless you like really old stuff, then as a reminder the Win32s 1.1 SDK includes the version 8.00 compiler from 1993 as well.  You can download it from here: win32s-1.1-build-88-msvc32sdev.7z 

Ssystem 1.6

ssystem logo

With all the talk of a possible ‘rocky’ earth like planet making the news, I thought it would be fun to seek out a really ancient (ha!) OpenGL program that did a basic simulation of our solar system.  I am of course talking about ssytem.

Back in the late 90’s I have to admit that this was pretty incredible to look at!  Although it was using OpenGL in software only, and to be honest the best and more stable way to use ssystem was on Windows of all things.

Microsoft had a deal with SGI around the 1993 timeline, and after the release of Windows NT 3.1 they were able to work out a deal to bring Windows NT to the SGI MIPS computers platform in exchange from OpenGL being made available on Windows NT.  SGI couldn’t see a way to monetize NT on their hardware and the port never actually shipped, evidence of it however is present in the leaked Windows NT 4.0 source code.  However OpenGL would prove very import for Microsoft as workstation style graphics could now run on ‘prosumer’ grade OS Windows NT 3.5, and eventually there was even a runtime for Windows 95!

All the old websites, and archives of ssystem have been wiped out, however I did find a copy of the source code for version 1.6 on a HPUX site of all places.


With a filename tracked down, I was able to locate in a partial backup of the main site here:

So I thought I could start there.  Ssystem needs the GLUT toolkit and I found a ‘pre-configured’ version 3.7 that Microsoft Visual C++ 6.0 can build on the command line here. Naturally with all the textures, it does rely on the IJG JPEG library (libjpeg) and I used version 6b as ssystem itself dates from 1999.

There was a bit of work to be done with the source code, as I had to massage it to compile with Visual C++, lots of missing headers, and there were some collisions in the lex for parsing the config file, but they were trivial to clean up.  After a bit of going back and forth with a seemingly defective pre-built version of GLUT, re-building it myself got it to link a working executable:

ssystem in orbit around Europa.

ssystem in orbit around Europa.

Of course in this day & age, any machine these days has hardware OpenGL acceleration so it is pretty trivial to run this program.

The artifacts in the picture were common at the time, and it’s how I remember it all those years ago so I’m not to worried about it.

I tried to compile with Visual C++ 4.0 however when trying to link I got this error:

Microsoft (R) 32-Bit Incremental Linker Version 3.00.5270
Copyright (C) Microsoft Corp 1992-1995. All rights reserved.

init.obj : error LNK2001: unresolved external symbol _glBindTexture
ssystem.obj : error LNK2001: unresolved external symbol _glBindTexture
stars.obj : error LNK2001: unresolved external symbol _glBindTexture
init.obj : error LNK2001: unresolved external symbol _glGenTextures
astrolib.exe : fatal error LNK1120: 2 unresolved externals
NMAKE : fatal error U1077: ‘link’ : return code ‘0x19’

I’m not sure why, as I re-compiled with Visual C++ 6.0 and I get a working executable.  More bizarre if I try to link the objects that were compiled with Visual C++ 4.0 with Visual C++ 6.0 it also fails in the same way.

I’ve placed in everything I could find into this archive: ssystem-1.6.7z including a pre-compiled version, and the high resolution images.  Along the way I also did find a backup of the site which actually has a much smaller download of ssystem 1.6 as  You may need to play with ssystem.conf to get a more respectable display.  I have also tweeked it to work find on my machine, using the highest values I could get away with, without running over the 2GB per process limit on 32bit processes.


Let’s also not forget the SETI crazy of the 1990’s.

Did you know that GCC used to support Windows NT ?

I’m not talking about MingGW, Cygwin or anything else like that, but rather when support for Windows NT first appeared, it had to be compiled with Microsoft Visual C++ 1.0 of all things.

It was back in the 2.6 days of GCC, right before the stagnation that led to EGCS.

     This version requires a GAS that has not yet been released.  Until
     it is, you can get a prebuilt binary version via anonymous ftp from
     `' or `'. You must
     also use the Microsoft header files from the Windows NT 3.5 SDK.
     Find these on the CDROM in the `/mstools/h' directory dated
     9/4/94.  You must use a fixed version of Microsoft linker made
     especially for NT 3.5, which is also is available on the NT 3.5
     SDK CDROM.  If you do not have this linker, can you also use the
     linker from Visual C/C++ 1.0 or 2.0.

     Installing GNU CC for NT builds a wrapper linker, called `ld.exe',
     which mimics the behaviour of Unix `ld' in the specification of
     libraries (`-L' and `-l').  `ld.exe' looks for both Unix and
     Microsoft named libraries.  For example, if you specify `-lfoo',
     `ld.exe' will look first for `libfoo.a' and then for `foo.lib'.

     You may install GNU CC for Windows NT in one of two ways,
     depending on whether or not you have a Unix-like shell and various
     Unix-like utilities.

       1. If you do not have a Unix-like shell and few Unix-like
          utilities, you will use a DOS style batch script called
          `configure.bat'.  Invoke it as `configure winnt' from an
          MSDOS console window or from the program manager dialog box.
          `configure.bat' assumes you have already installed and have
          in your path a Unix-like `sed' program which is used to
          create a working `Makefile' from `'.

          `Makefile' uses the Microsoft Nmake program maintenance
          utility and the Visual C/C++ V8.00 compiler to build GNU CC.
          You need only have the utilities `sed' and `touch' to use
          this installation method, which only automatically builds the
          compiler itself.  You must then examine what `fixinc.winnt'
          does, edit the header files by hand and build `libgcc.a'

       2. The second type of installation assumes you are running a
          Unix-like shell, have a complete suite of Unix-like utilities
          in your path, and have a previous version of GNU CC already
          installed, either through building it via the above
          installation method or acquiring a pre-built binary.  In this
          case, use the `configure' script in the normal fashion.

Well that is quite the tall order!  I can’t believe I somehow managed to build it back then, and out of curiosity I managed to build it again.  And as you can see you need a ‘beta’ release of the GAS assembler, which is kind of impossible to find now, but it was part of the GNAT project, which used to distribute binary builds of the GCC core back in the day.  Luckily I have a version stuffed away, although it’s from GCC 2.8.1, not as ancient as it would have when GCC 2.6 was a new thing.   But it at lest assembles enough for my simple Hello World experiment.

To build GCC you need a working SED, which surprisingly CL 8.0 from the Win32s SDK, and it runs fine on Windows 7 x64 of all things.  I had to mess with some of the files, and substitute the linker & headder files from Visual C++ 2.0 but much to my amazement not only can I build GCC along with libgcc.a, it also builds incredibly fast.  On my machine I can compile GCC in about 5 seconds.  I remember in 1995 building this on Windows 95 (I was crazy) and it taking HOURS and HOURS.

So one nice thing about these binaries is that you don’t need any external DLL’s  Even the import section of a simple hello world exe is tiny:

GetVersion GetEnvironmentStrings GetCommandLineA ExitProcess RtlUnwind UnhandledExceptionFilter GetModuleFileNameA GetFileType GetStdHandle GetStartupInfoA VirtualFree VirtualAlloc WriteFile WideCharToMultiByte GetLastError FlushFileBuffers SetFilePointer SetStdHandle CloseHandle KERNEL32.dll

Which implies that it only needs KERNEL32 to function.

I don’t know if it’s of any use to anyone else, but HERE is my dump of all the source and tools I used to build GCC.

SDL 1.2.15 not working with Visual Studio 2003 (2002, 6, 97..)

Well yeah fun errors like this:

SDL “error LNK2001: unresolved external symbol __alloca_probe_16”

What gives? well the binary kit was built using 2005 (I guess) something higher.

Download and link against and all will be happy.  I suppose you could build the source yourself, but who’s got time for that?

And remember to set your project to use the Multi Threaded DLL libc, otherwise you’ll get errors like this:

LNK2005: __isctype already defined in LIBCMT.lib(isctype.obj)
LNK2005: _exit already defined in LIBCMT.lib(crt0dat.obj)