I’ve haven’t built the FreeDOS kernel in a while and I have to say it’s pretty easy. I’m taking the easy way out here, so I’m using OpenWatcom v2, because I figured the tools should be both at least Win32/Win64 and halfway up to date. Don’t get me wrong, MS-DOS Player is a fantastic app but I don’t want to lean on it for 100% of the build.
I configured it for something in my mind generic with the following flags:
build fat16 wc 86 win
Naturally it had issues with 3 executables, two of which are generated as the project builds, and I just did some silliness to have MS-DOS player make ‘native’ versions:
The same went for sys\bin2c.exe but it’s not rebuilt every time so it doesn’t matter.
And with that in hand it boots. YAY
And now for some absolutely unfair testing. Before anyone complains, yes this is absolutely unfair I mean hell if you bought Windows 3.1 in 2021, I guess get OS/2 or just keep digging at the yard sale and get MS-DOS. Anyways here we go:
Turning off InDOSPolling gives this lovely crash. Naturally then it’s still required.
My go-to test, Running Infocom/FASA BattleTech Crescent Hawk’s Inception in CGA mode in a Window hard locks the VM before anything is drawn to screen. Bummer. And that is pretty much the story of FreeDOS under Windows on this build. Again it’s 2021 who even needs Microsoft VDMs?
That said there must be some weird hook in MS-DOS that Win32s relies on. Just like before Win32s fails to run.
The holy trinity of ‘bad’ Windows 3.0 games, Sim City, Sim Earth and Sim Life work just as they did in the prior version, with Sim Earth instantly quitting. Not sure what is going on there. It does launch with virtual memory enabled, but then proceeds to corrupt all the file handles and Program Manager loses it’s mind. In the productivity front Excel v3, and Microsoft Word v2 run fine. Yay!
So in conclusion doing Win16 things in Windows 3.1 is seemingly fine.
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.
People were excited, but then kind of dismayed as they couldn’t really do much with it. Oddly enough the source code release really didn’t have any notes on how to build it, although everything needed is included. I went looking for information on how to build Word to see why it keeps doing weird things on WineVDM, and I came across this thread on betaarchive:
Special props to yksoft1 for getting it to build in the first place, and Ringding for noticing that the OS/2 supplied compiler binaries can be re-bound to run under MS-DOS using a MS-DOS Extender.
So I went ahead and fired up Qemu and within an hour I had done it!
Well this is great fun, and all, but there isn’t a heck of a lof of people with Windows 2.x around anymore. And of course Word 1.1a really wanted to have 2.11 or higher. It has some hooks for what would be Windows 3.0 although I think it was much more. Although it certainly doesn’t want to run (unmodified) under debug release 1.14.
So now that the world has gone beyond Win16 OS’s what can you do?
Well the tip of WineVDM will run it!
So now there is some new life for this old word processor.
Another fun thing in Word 1.1a is that it has an early implementation of MDI letting you view and work with several documents at once. Naturally you would need a massive monitor, which we all have today. Although people tend to just launch more than one copy of Word to accomplish this.
So now on my 64bit machine I can not only play with the source to Word, but I can run it at unimaginable resolutions on my modern machine!
I picked this 20 disc set recently and ugh the cringe is just… insane. And yes, that is Bill Nye…
STUDS from Microsoft . (Video in MPEG-1/Audio MPEG-2 care of JSMpeg).
I had this ages ago, although I couldn't remember if the NT 3.5 SDK/DDK had shown up at this point, but it's only the Japanese version in this set. Since I'm having such a PITA in tracking down a 3.5 set, and I'm not sitting on this, I may as well archive it.
So you too can find the early Video for Windows, and all kinds of other things from the mid '90's on archive.org.
Or Wallpapers like this 'puppy' from the Japanese version of Windows 3.1
While messing around with Windows/386 and talking to others going through their old stuff, I’d forgotten that in the box was a working model of Excel. Since I only have the physical diskettes for 2.03, I did dump the disks for 2.11 when I had that.
At this time in history the big spreadsheet that defined the PC was 1-2-3 which took the spreadsheet mantle away from the CP/M spreadsheet who in turn took it away from the progenitor VisiCalc on the Apple II. And this was the chance to define the new spreadsheet for a whole new platform.
Excel started out on the Macintosh, but with version 2 it was time to come to the PC for the new and exciting Windows 2 platoform. And to get people to try it out the key was free working demos.
I thought it was interesting that it comes with a demo showing off the ability to take data from several spreadsheets and make a 3rd with data. Oh what an exciting world 1989 was!
Oddly enough I couldn’t directly import text (csv) data into XL, but I could use Excel 3 to create a version 2 xls with my current top blog stats and then create some graphs.
I stumbled onto these three disks, seemingly out of place in history. Windows/386 version 2.0 is a strange one in that it shipped to OEM’s in late 1987, making it & Xenix part of the initial 386 wave of Operating Systems/Environments and beating out not only the OS/2 launch in 1988, but taking advantage of the 80386’s v86 mode, something that OS/2 wouldn’t be able to do in a shipping product until 1992.
This version itself appears to be a retail version of Windows/386 lacking any clear OEM identification that was so prevalent for the era. Indeed setting it up it offers a few interesting platforms:
Getting this to run was a little bit of a challenge as much as I prefer Qemu, these older 2.0x versions of Windows/386 have a BIOS/disk incompatibility with the hypervisor resulting in errors reading the hard disk. Although PCem/86Box have no such issues. I think it’ll run off floppy/CD-ROM/Network without any issue though.
The PCjs version of 2.03 has 138 setup files (not counting the PIFs), compared to the eBay’s 141, while the PCjs 2.01 has 59 files.
That said, well it’s Windows/386 mostly from 1987 with slightly updated EGA/CGA VMM drivers from early 1988 that just didn’t quite make the cut. To me what is confusing, is that it identifies as 2.03 while it’s closer to 2.01 in file count and functionality, unlike 2.03 it really ought to have been a 2.02, if there even was such a thing.
Otherwise it’s really not all that interesting short of the timestamp. It’ll run on CGA/EGA *IF* you have the proper adapter in place, although VGA is compatible, the environment will detect that it’s not actually the proper card and refuse to run. I tried to put in the 2.01 CGA/EGA drivers, but that resulted in an OS version mismatch (I didn’t check if 2.01 was locked to the Compaq OEM of MS-DOS)
I installed the infamous pair Word & Excel. Despite Word 1.1a demanding at least Windows 2.11, it appears to run okay. Excel 2.1d loaded without complaining. There isn’t very much convential memory for either, but they both can use expanded memory, which the hypervisor can create and share out without any emm386 or any equivalent driver. I can only imagine the incompatibles of trying to balance these drivers at the time, and how much the coming DPMI specification was needed.
And as the old saying goes the three top problems in Windows version 2 is memory, memory and memory. Trying to run anything graphical will exhaust convential ram, forcing you to single task anything graphical which kind of defeats the whole point of Windows. You go from this:
Oh well it’s 1987, and users were kind of used to being disappointed as such. It’s really no wonder why Windows 3.0 became the smash it it was.
And of course you can't talk about Windows/386 without this gem. (Video in MPEG-1/Audio MPEG-2 care of JSMpeg).
It’s incredible how much it’s improved since I last touched on WineVDM, the port of Wine to run on Windows using the MS-DOS Player (and Mame 80386 emulation) at it’s heart.
The latest source build WineVDM_2018_07_30b.7z is now capable of loading and running Sim City for Windows 1.0.
I found it best to install Windows 3.0 into DOSBox, and then your application. After the install I copy the application so the physical drive of the hosts matches where it was installed, and then unpack the 7z build archive into that directory. There is a ‘WINDOWS’ directory and I xcopy the installed Windows directory into there so it has all the INI files, fonts and all that jazz. To make sure it doesn’t conflict I delete the following from Windows 3.0:
Since these files are most certainly going to be emulated by WineVDM. After that it’s time to run stuff!
I should also add that I’ve been able to use QuickC for Windows, and build a ‘non trivial’ program, the Fortran f2c compiler weighing in at 104,245 lines , and use that to compile 16,182 lines of Fortran 77 into C, and then compile the resulting C + the Fortran runtime library a staggering 130,405 lines of code, and the resulting binary works, just like it did on Windows 3.0!
I’ve also been able to print a text file using Microsoft Word 2.0 much to my amazement, although anything involving fonts just locks or crashes. I can’t say I’m all that surprised.
This is super cool, building on Takeda Toshiya’s excellent MS-DOS Player, is a fusion of the MS-DOS emulation with portions of Wine to run Win16 applications on Win32 capable OS’s.
Yes, it really can run Excel 3.0a. I don’t know how much people will want a 27 year old spreadsheet, but here we go! It’s incredibly buggy, and many Microsoft programs don’t like their accelerators, or menus, more things don’t run than do, but when they do it’s great.
The releases on the github page are quite old, and you’ll really want to bulid this from source. You will need Visual Studio 2017 to build this, and I used the Community Edition. While trying to compiling I got this error:
Really it’s no help at all
Performing Custom Build Tools
The system cannot find the path specified.
Well that doesn’t help us at all!
Setting the Tools -> Options -> Build and Run, MSBuild sections to both detailed verbosity revealed:
“C:\Users\neozeed\source\repos\winevdm-master\Release\convspec” “krnl386.exe16.spec” KERNEL > “krnl386.exe16.asm” && “C:\msys32\mingw64\bin\as” –32 -o “krnl386.exe16.obj” “krnl386.exe16.asm”
Performing Custom Build Tools
The system cannot find the path specified.
So it turns out it is using GNU GAS to assemble itself. So I just copied in an ‘as.exe’ from another MinGW install I have lying around.
GNU assembler 2.17.50 20060824
So it doesn’t even have to be a hyper modern version, as you can see with the –32 we are building 32bit based stuff anyways.
And with that all done we have a release build.
I had no luck with Sim City, but Sim Life & Sim Earth load at least, but not being able to use the menus means you can’t really use them. Microsoft Word 1.1 won’t load at all, while Word 2.0 will load but again no menus, and it’s unable to register enough OLE to open documents so it’s not very useful again. Although my ancient QuickC for Windows F2c port of Dungeon, works okay, although QuickC for Windows itself does not currently run.
Another great thing is that you can run WinHelp for all your ancient documenation fixes! Also MS Write from the ancient days of Windows 3.0/3.1 works as well
The latest version allows the menus to work properly so you can actually use Word for Windows 2.0 and SimEarth & SimLife now! Further updates let you actually select and open files in Word for Windows 2.0!