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I'm actually surprised at that; I know FTP was around in that era, and SMTP is a simple as throwing a simple text format over TCP.

Probably Winsock-related. Sockets required third party support in DOS and required an extension program on Win3.1x, but Win95 standardised them in the OS API. So, if you as a programmer want to do sockets programming without obscure old software that probably lacks documentation, Windows 95 is the way to go.

You can read about the history of winsock here: https://tangentsoft.net/wskfaq/articles/history.html

Definitely. Networking on DOS was an absolute nightmare for so many reasons.

I set that up recently and found it refreshingly simple. Just load a packet driver (finding the right packet driver for your card is the biggest potential hurdle IMO), set up a system wide configuration file (to be fair, one for each network stack you'll be using; in my case mTCP and WATTCP), point to it with some environment variable in AUTOEXEC and run the network software.

It brings a smile though that I occasionally have to renew my DHCP lease manually.

You can't throw a simple text format over TCP if there's no TCP or IP or Ethernet to throw it over!

It probably relies Windows because it provides a sane abstraction over a large set of network card drivers, and a system-wide TCP/IP stack.

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