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Windows98 Running in the Browser (copy.sh)
421 points by tectonic 11 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 266 comments

Back when the system settings could be reached with less clicks, were organised in a logical way and didn't use most of the screen as white-space.

You mean before windows tried to be designed as a a tablet OS while being on desktop for 8.0, failed on both as easily predicted, and then refused to admit the mistake ever since beside the one mandatory change of adding a normal start button / menu back?

That full screen start view was one hell of an abomination....

To be honest, I think it was not that bad from a usability point-of-view, agnostic of history. People were just not used to a full-screen, search-focused start menu. A similar thing happened with Vista, people were overwhelmed with the wildly different UI. The next version was then a slightly milder version of it, and at the same time people had gotten used to it a bit, so most were happy with Windows 7 and are now happy with Windows 10.

It's interesting to see how strongly change-averse most people are when it comes to those things.

> People were just not used to a full-screen, search-focused start menu

Ok, a search-focused menu is fine, but what I can't understand is how is it possible that the in 2020, on a new computer the search in the start menu can still lag??? What is this? There are menus in some linux desktop managers that haven't been lagging for decades, and the newest windows reliably takes 0.5s-3s for showing any results, upwards of 5-10 seconds to showing every result... What are people paying for? Apparently it must also be that it doesn't even properly separate the drawing code from the search/IO/sync code because while it lags away I can clearly feel the lag even in how the text cursor moves and responds... Reliably! Wtf this is the world's most used OS? (Sorry, rant over.)

There are definitely major problems in Windows, be it incentive structure, or some wrong people at key positions in the UX department, or legacy, or whatever it is, but after experiencing a good desktop manager it is obvious that Windows is not getting better in this regard... It's not about tablet or no tablet, it is just worse, in many ways.

How is it possible in 2020 a basic search of the start menu doesn't work? For example, I have Spotify installed, it appears in my start menu, but if I search for "Spotify" it's nowhere to be found.


KDE Plasma happily copied windows in this way. I have often had the wrong thing launch on KDE because the search updated between when I decided to hit "enter" and when the key press was registered.

> To be honest, I think it was not that bad from a usability point-of-view, agnostic of history.

Perhaps in a vacuum it might work. But this is the real world were hypothesis are just that.

> A similar thing happened with Vista, people were overwhelmed with the wildly different UI

No. People were apparently overwhelmed by system instability and resource hogging (mainly hard drive grinding). I don't remember people complaining about the UI's usability. Though there were UI complaints which were mostly echos of the same complaints leveled at the glossy "Teletubby" XP theme.

> It's interesting to see how strongly change-averse most people are when it comes to those things.

Interesting? It's human nature. We develop habits and routines which take time to memorize and get right. It's work which we personally invested. I'm sure you have routines that if changed by an external force without choice would be upsetting to you.

> and resource hogging

Memory usage used to be a major complaint (possibly the biggest) even if it was made clear repeatedly that the OS was simply keeping more stuff in RAM instead of dumping it to disk specifically to improve performance. A mechanism that stuck to these days. That memory isn't marked that obviously in the Task Manager now, and memory is is no longer such a luxury so people don't complain anymore. But on my 16GB machine I have 4.1GB in use clearly marked on the graph, and another 7.5GB cached that is not at all made to jump at people. People want the added goodies and expect absolutely no impact on anything else.

When XP was launched we heard the same grumbles. XP was bloated, had higher resource usage than 98/2000, less stable than 2000, not compatible with a lot of hardware, weird GUI. By SP3 people were loving it and by the time Win 7 arrived nobody wanted to let go of XP. Win 7 was bloated, had higher resource usage than XP, less stable than XP, not compatible with a lot of hardware, weird GUI. By SP2 people were loving it and by the time Win 10 came along nobody wanted to let go of Win 7. And no, it's not an issue of OS quality going down. Like you said, people just get used to stuff and can't take change and when you combine it with the lack of understanding you get all kinds complaints.

Reminds me of an anecdote about a certain car made for the low end market, targeting a segment of owners of 20+ year old clunkers. Everyone would buy it and complain that the fuel consumption was huge. Strangely enough this was a modern engine, certainly more efficient than the old ones it was replacing. The problem? The fancy computer was showing instantaneous fuel consumption. When accelerating? 25 liters/100Km. Outrageous! The company just hid the instantaneous counter and left only the very reasonable average. Problem solved. Then there were the "I can't feel the road with this power steering" complaints which worked themselves out, although to this day there are people who swear the old cars were better (they were most definitely not).

Between lack of knowledge, nostalgia goggles, unreasonable expectations ("all of it, for free"), and a few more things these popular opinions of tech of the past aren't all that useful. It says a lot about the commercial success of a product, not its actual qualities.

I am pretty sure Windows 7 was pretty highly praised upon its release and considered vastly superior to Vista, and at least on par with XP as far as usability.

Vista was a blip on the radar and nobody ever really used it as a reference point for anything other than ridicule. XP was running strong even in 2014 when it went out of support so it makes sense this was the bar to pass for Win 7. And the vast majority of users jumped from XP to 7 as the numbers confirm.

In 2009 when Windows 7 was launched, Vista's market share (all desktop OSes) reached the all time peak of 18%. At the same time the (then) 8 year old Windows XP had 72%.

I agree with the general sentiment, but don't agree with the specifics.

The NT series has always distinguished between cached/locked memory, so I don't see that as an explanation.

Also, consider than, on equivalent hardware, XP actually booted _faster_ than 2k, which led many people (incl those who hated the interface) to actually use it.

So this is not simply explainable by the "people just can't take change" argument.

What I meant by "isn't marked that obviously" is that the labels didn't help. XP (and 2000 before it) had Total, Available, System Cache in K. Vista used Total, Cached, Free in M. Vista cached (rule of thumb applicable then) double the memory compared to XP so the "Free" was usually well under 10% of the memory, even single digit MB. XP rarely had less than 20% available. Forums were flooded by complaints that Vista uses up all the memory, they either saw too much cache, or too little free. It's probably not immediately apparent now but seeing a label "Free 8" leaves a far bigger impression than "Available 89615".

As for XP most people upgraded from 98. The resource usage difference was undeniable and so was the driver incompatibility which made most devices not work properly or at all initially. I did not have the experience of XP booting faster than 2000 even on the same hardware but SP1 fixed a lot of issues, maybe also this. For the first couple of years every forum, IRC channel, BBS, or DC hub I read was full of complaints about either performance and compatibility, or stability depending on what people were upgrading from.

> So this is not simply explainable by the "people just can't take change" argument.

Not only. But it's one big part of the explanation. People are usually skeptical about change and compare around transition time so are inherently biased. They're comparing a stable, fine tuned product with the fresh, rough edged one. The Vista name was dropped because it was already toxic. But Windows 7 is more or less Vista SP3. If Vista didn't flop so hard from the start it would have had the same evolution as XP: launch grumbles grumbles grumbles > SP1 grumbles grumbles > SP2 gru... hey, this is pretty ok > SP3 noice!.

Even Win 10, with all its issues, is a far better product today than it was 5 years ago.

> "When XP was launched we heard the same grumbles [...] By SP3 people were loving it"

Well, that's because they fixed most of the issues in SP1 and SP2.

Also is there a specific reason you skipped certain versions such as Windows ME, Windows Vista etc? Maybe it's not only "people just can't take change" and some products are legitimately bad?

> No. People were apparently overwhelmed by system instability and resource hogging (mainly hard drive grinding). I don't remember people complaining about the UI's usability. Though there were UI complaints which were mostly echos of the same complaints leveled at the glossy "Teletubby" XP theme.

The biggest fault of Windows Vista in my opinion was Microsoft made one too many compromise. There were machines that came with Windows Vista pre-installed that should have never gotten Windows Vista. My roommate in college had a Compaq machine on which the screen completely blanked for over three minutes at a time as it tried to display the user access control overlay. Of course, over three minutes later the screen would turn on as if nothing had gone wrong at all. iirc it was something about the processor/integrated graphics being too weak for Windows Display Driver Model. [1]

I think Microsoft is making a similar mistake today by allowing OEMs to ship Windows 10 on new machines with anything less than a SATA SSD (mechanical hard disks or eMMC).

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_Display_Driver_Model#:.... Off-topic but if the url looks weird it is because it is a Chrome only thing: more at https://wicg.github.io/scroll-to-text-fragment/

> No. People were apparently overwhelmed by system instability and resource hogging (mainly hard drive grinding). I don't remember people complaining about the UI's usability. Though there were UI complaints which were mostly echos of the same complaints leveled at the glossy "Teletubby" XP theme.

People complained about memory usage even tho it was just windows precaching. Something they don’t complain about now.

The issue with vista was drivers. And then when 7 came out everyone is like oh yay everything works. Even tho it was using the Drivers from vista.

Majority of the vista complaints are silly. It was never as bad as everyone made out to be. Just the same old cool fad to hate on MS.

> It's interesting to see how strongly change-averse most people are when it comes to those things.

Change is only good if it improves things. Win8 and later were a massive usability regression for keyboard+mouse/trackpad users. Windows 10 rolled some changes back, but those that weren't rolled back are still an inconsistent mess (and with no signs of improvement, that's the actually worrying part). There's no rational way to call the Windows 10 start menu or system settings an improvement over Windows7 all the way back to Windows95. And both the start menu and the control panel area weren't all that great to begin with in Win95+, but somehow Windows 8 and 10 still managed to make it worse.

PS: The main reason why the Win8 start screen and Win10 start menu are bad seems to be that they assume that a Windows application is just the executable, like on macOS. But Windows applications usually have more files associated with them, mostly other tools, readme files, uninstallers. Visual Studio is the best example, it's nearly impossible to find the tools associated with Visual Studio in Windows 10 without installing a proper start menu replacement. And Visual Studio is a Microsoft product. Go figure.

No, the Windows 8 Metro/Win32 split was simply an extremely bad design. I’ve been dealing with a few 8 machines recently, and it’s really, really bad. You want to get between the two worlds? Hope you know about Alt+Tab, because otherwise you’re probably not going to find out how to get there. Seriously. It’s that bad.

Windows 8.1 made some improvements, so that users will probably be able to find their way from Win32 to Metro. Getting back is still a pain. It retained the fundamentally bad paradigm.

Windows 10 was the proper fix: abolish the ecosystem split, as a disastrously failed experiment, and return to a unified experience. You still have the UWP apps (though their design is finally somewhat more in line with the rest of the OS), but they are properly windowed like everything else now.

The split made a lot of sense to tiling window manager fans. Admittedly a small niche to accidentally target a mainstream operating system to, so unsurprising it got so much bad press.

In 8 the tiling window manager and non-tiling window manager were separate worlds you switched between virtual desktop style. In 8.1 they made the entire non-tiling window manager desktop a "proper" tile. (In 10 they killed the tiling window manager.)

As a tiling window manager fan, it's easy to sometimes wish they'd gone down the other path in some AU 10 and "promoted" more Win32 applications to proper tiles in the tiling window manager, rather than "demote" all the tile capable apps to the chaos of traditional non-tiling window manager.

Your comment baffles me. The Metro experience did not behave like a tiling window manager in literally any way I can think of.

I switched to Windows 10 purely for the Surface Book hardware a few years ago. Before that, I was a contented Arch Linux + i3 user. (And my next laptop will probably be back to Arch Linux, with Sway instead of i3 because Wayland > X.)

The split made, and still makes, no sense at all to me as a tiling window manager fan. It maintained two separate worlds that you could not easily switch between, which is fairly antithetical to a tiling window manager. And functionality like, y’know, tiling, was non-existent. (And tiling does exist just a little bit on the other side, with window snapping.)

It was a window-management disaster, wholly unmitigated.

The "modern apps" experience on Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 was built on a horizontally tiling window manager. For the most part that tiling window manager is disabled/crippled on Windows 10. (It's ghost kind of exists in Tablet Mode only.) It was heavily gesture based, so few people pushed it beyond the single split it would sometimes do if you opened a new app from a current app, and few people learned its gestures or keyboard shortcuts. But it did go far beyond a single split if you had the monitor space and the apps for it.

Early on most apps, because of Windows 8's attempted focus on Tablets/Phones typically only supported full screen, half screen, and phone widths. Windows 8.1 added a lot more responsive screen sizes to more of the apps, adding a lot more variety/capability to the ways you could tile apps. The classic Win32 desktop even lived "inside" one of these tiles in Windows 8.1, so you could tile apps on both sides around it.

At various points in Windows 8.1 I'd have a half dozen apps (including the Win32 desktop as a single "app") tiled across two 16:9 monitors. It was actually a very nice dual monitor desktop experience and a good use of all that horizontal space, which I will continue to point out to people that didn't believe the tiling window manager made as much sense for desktop users as it did for tablet users. (I joke that I wish I could turn on Windows 10's Tablet Mode on dual monitor systems still, even as anemic and nearly dead as the surviving tile manager is.)

It also had the side effect that Windows 10 is very nasty to use on a tablet, compared with 8.1 .

Indeed. It should not be a surprise that tiling window managers are probably preferable to every method of input other than mouse. That AU probably would be a good one.

(Keyboard included and especially. Do you know the keyboard shortcuts to move/resize/arrange windows and when was the last time you tried to use them? Part of my love for tiling window managers came from daily use of a laptop with a bad trackpad and wanting to automate more things with the keyboard.)

Hmm? I’ve used my Surface Book in tablet mode from time to time and see no particular problems with it. Every window becomes full-screen, swipes from the screen edges do meaningful things that are similar in effect to what Windows 8/8.1 had. I wouldn’t describe it as in any way nasty by comparison. Do you have something particular in mind? (Or were you perhaps unaware of tablet mode?)

Up until this year, for example, the keyboard used to _overlap_ the main tile -- but only if you have one tile only, hiding whatever textbox you actually wanted to write in if it was in the bottom half. If you had two, then the keyboard worked correctly as in windows8.

This was broken for 5 frigging years. The general consensus was that tablet mode was more problems than it was worth. They fixed in some recent release but is still buggy as hell (windows will not return to full height and instead be partially moved off screen for some reason).

It didn't help that the initial versions had no button at all and expected the user to know to click in the corner of the screen.

Another example was GNOME 2.32 to GNOME Shell, which Microsoft later attempted to emulate in 8.x, though with the major conveniences removed - namely, a "classic" fallback mode.

Today, GNOME Shell is a default DE for major distributions, and while people have their preferences, it's more popular than the 2.32 fork, Cinnamon, which I think is good evidence of change-averseness.

I had my differences with the GNOME Foundation's handling of things, but I have few complaints about the convenience of their DE today.

Well I for one do have multiple complains, but I'm impartial now to it's success having switched to KDE years ago. If something happened to KDE I'd switch to Cinnamon. If something happened yet again, I'd continue my search for a desktop-focused DE, but gnome would be the last resort (I do say that as someone who's otherwise quite committed to redhat)

But people don’t use software agnostic of history so the net of it was still a huge UX design mistake.

Lots of people internally knew it was a mistake in real time before realease but it was strongly backed by exec Steven Sinofsky, iirc.

That tablet interface also made it to the server version - which probably had the worst windows interface ever.

Personally I've always been slightly amazed that at no point in time did anyone at Microsoft think that making msn.com the default homepage for servers was a bad idea.

Hilariously, Microsoft production servers are also set to the MSN default homepage, even though most forests are firewalled off from the entire internet.

So the homepage doesn't even load.

Not loading is surely preferable.

Didn't some ad server serving msn homepage managed to be exploited to serve malware to old IE versions.

So the hapless admin who needs to download a file off the web (with no other browsers installed, and no firewall) would open IE and boom, exploit!

Personally I feel it's completely understandable. Microsoft has huge market power. It's hard to abandon software you are locked in.

More importantly people who suffer from to those interfaces are not in position of power to make switch operating systems. Forcing them to eat what MS feeds them seems like good way to experiment. If experiment fails, you don't have to hurry and repair it.

I agree with you for desktop, but I think you missed the part where he said "for servers", as-in when you install windows server.

The default homepage for it should be msdn or bing or whatever, but msn makes zero sense.

How many people actually care about a default homepage in IE in Windows Server? And is it worth the time and effort to make that setting dependent on the SKU?

You can bet your pants there were legions hair-triggered to resign over this.


Sadly the current start menu is far from normal. Normal would a simple menuized view of a folder hierarchy, what we have is some abomination tied into the Windows Store in mysterious ways that cause it to break under a wide variety of circumstances in such a way that an in-place reinstall is the only sure-fire fix.

I have never been convinced with the folder hierarchy in start menus. Programs get installed in lot of places, what's the mapping between the menu items and the "real" location then ?

Linux got this standard arbitrary menu categories thing but in the end people use menus to launch a program so I believe a simple A-Z list with a search box should be enough.

Throwing app store stuff in there is not okay though (as in the current windows situation and the previous ubuntu affiliate links in the dash bar).

It isn't the relationship between the folder structure presented in the start menu and any actual physical location that's the most valuable part (though with portable applications they can be one and the same!), what's important is the simplicity of it and that the user can easily manipulate it with nothing but a file browser.

Huh? The start menu folder hierarchy was always its own thing. The start menu folders didn't have any relationship to where anything is installed.

When I first saw win10's start menu, I promptly removed the tiles (ads, really) as useless fluff then promptly vowed to do everything I can to never use it. My desktop is a mess now, but one of my own doing.

(You can imagine what my reaction was when edgy auto-started after an update to tell me the over-engineered Firefox downloader was now "better" than ever. I had to kill the process in order to not see the mandatory new features tour. It did it again after the recent update to make sure I hate it as much as possible.)

My taskbar is full of pinned icons, and I have set the start menu to only show my apps (deleted all tiles), and made it full-height. The end result is a simple minimal menu for when I need to scroll through the list, although I launch most things from the pinned taskbar icons anyway. That’s a pretty usable setup and no advertising.

The frustrating part is that when you actually try to use windows 10 on a tablet in tablet mode you find out very quickly how bad it is as a tablet os because of a lot of paper cuts. That is microsoft in a nut shell: lack of following through.

Take for example the fluent design, which by itself is a good design, but after three years is still not consistently applied in windows, let alone microsoft’s first party apps. Meanwhile apple has redesigned all of the ui of the os and all first party apps, in one year. That is what following through looks like. It is embarrassing for microsoft how much better apple is at rolling out design changes.

Yup, but GNOME3 is really the best tablet experience around (unless you really need proprietary on-device "apps", as with Android/iPadOS). The Activities overview screen is extremely intuituve and way better than whatever the Windows 8 folks came up with, and the GUI widgets are touch-ready in every GNOME-native app.

Arguably Microsoft would have had more time/energy to devote to bringing first party apps/components to Fluent Design if it didn't keep doing 270 degree turns in Windows 8. It's hard to follow through when customers keep backseat driving and yelling at you to swerve. (Whether or not those were the right decisions, and I'm not implying that listening to customers is necessarily a bad thing, just that you can't have your cake and eat it too: you can't complain that Microsoft didn't follow through on the straight path when you complain that they needed to swerve in the first place.)

stupidest move ever. for a while linux was more familiar to windows users than windows. ballmer got fired for that.

Reactos mantains that look&feel, but it's not stable yet and wonder if will ever be.

What's worse is that MacOS already started down that path. Just look at Big Sur with all of the bullshit widgets and crap now. How I loathe widgets.

There’s always that one %#{£ who says something like:

I actually really liked that.

Edit: took me way too many brain-cycles to work out the emphasis in this comment.

System settings were easiest in the Vista/7 era. Window Key+"sound" brought up sound settings, so you didn't need to know where they were placed in control panel. Now in Windows 10, doing the same brings up "Sound settings" which is a stripped-down settings bar barely more than a master volume setting. The actual sound settings are hidden in control panel, which doesn't come up when searching for 'sound'.

This (broken search) is the single biggest complaint I have with Windows 10. Everything else I can overlook.

In Windows 10 if I search for "sound" I see "Sound Control Panel" as the second or third option depending on which machine I tried. Accounts on both machines are opt-in "Dev Mode" so that may influence things, I believe "Dev Mode" turns on more old Control Panel items in search, as that is Microsoft's "Power User" opt-in.

Inside the Sound Settings I see almost all of the controls I expect to see from the Sound Control Panel, though they are broken into multiple pages in the way that the old Control Panel was broken into tabs. A lot of the Sound Control Panel is the Devices list, and there are multiple links to the "Manage Sound Devices" page that I see in Sound Settings. The link to the app-specific volume mixer is under Advanced Settings and labeled about you would expect "App volume and device preferences".

If that weren't enough I also see on Sound Settings as the second item down under "Related Settings" is "Sound Control Panel" to get back to the one you hoped for if you wind up searching and pulled up the wrong one from the one you preferred. (I don't think that is a Dev Mode thing and always is there.)

(Bonus: the best app-specific volume mixer in Windows 10 is the Audio widget in the modern multi-widget Xbox Game Bar which you pull up with Win+G or the Xbox "Home" button on Xbox controllers. If you've never used the Xbox Game Bar or remember only a flat single bar without a variety of widget windows, trying the new Xbox Game Bar is a good idea, even for people that don't necessarily use Windows for gaming some of the Widgets like Audio and Performance are generally useful and faster or as fast to access than their Task Manager or Settings equivalents. Of course, likely to be disabled by group policy on Enterprise systems; it's unfortunate when Power User tools are Gaming focused/branded.)

>This (broken search) is the single biggest complaint I have with Windows 10. Everything else I can overlook.

Search in Windows 10 is garbage. I install Everything on ever y PC I use for home or work and it does wonders: https://www.voidtools.com/

I feel like search is fixed in the newer versions of windows 10. At least if you do a fresh install. I haven't had much issue in the last year or more.

To me the omnibox is the only way I know how access certain settings. I have no idea where they are located in this maze of categories and subcategories.

Yeah. Before recently switching to windows I’d been on Mac for 10+ years. The latter ~5 of which I’d basically forgotten the dock existed and just used Alfred / command space to type an applications name and launch it. Now on Windows I just use Windows Q and type. I honestly don’t know the last time I used a folder hierarchy.

Amen! The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away.

For me, without the OmniBox Windows would be unusable by now. I consider Windows 2000 to be peak Windows UX. It was all downhill from there.

Omnibox? What is this (other than the chrome address bar)?

Apple's system settings layout remains largely unchanged and is a case study on usable design and function over form. It's a joy to use after experiencing Windows control panel hell and now metro/fabric UI with everything looking like a large rectangular solid color filled button.

Only if you use just a mouse. Usually I'll just hit a windows key, type a keyword related to whatever I'm looking for and it's there.

Sometimes... if you put in just the right number of characters so it doesn't search the web instead... but then, it is often the first result even! No, wait, it moved just before I clicked it, fuck.

And they keep screwing with the right registry incantation to turn off the web search crap.

If you're on 2004, it's HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows, DisableSearchBoxSuggestions = DWORD(1)

If you're on 1909, it's HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Search CortanaConsent = DWORD(0), and BingSearchEnabled = DWORD(0)

This webapp trapped my mouse inside the VM. How is that possible? I didn't realize you could trap the user's mouse with (HTML+JS)5.

I can't wait for the end of this era of whitespace obsession. I'm convinced it was never about design aesthetic, but just a ploy to expand the scrolling distance for legitimate page content within which one can place more advertising.

Plugging Fabrice Bellard's https://bellard.org/jslinux/ where you can run linux and windows on a hand crafted js x86 emulator.

Of course it was Bellard. Of course.

The challenge is to find something he made that isn't in some way impressive.

The graphical design of his website?

Yeah, too bad it is clear and straight down to business, readable by any version of every browser and since the text color is black instead of light grey one can actually read it.

The guy of Bellard's caliber does not need flying unicorns on a screen to attract people.

There is no design so there is nothing to judge about.

We can judge him for his design, which is to consciously choose to not focus on design :)

that's the design - it looks nice and clean, and no extraneous bullshit.

I'd just like to remark that every comment on this thread came from a different person. I love HN.

Exactly. He could as well have created this jewel: https://motherfuckingwebsite.com/

Here is something that I stumbled upon that I think was a big loss: HTML Help [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_Compiled_HTML_Help]

It's unfortunate that Microsoft didn't work toward making it an open source standard for documentation. We'd have avoided every other documentation having it's own format, style, etc... Plus you get the whole documentation in a single file, not worrying about broken stuff, missing images, broken links, etc...

I remember when you could bypass the login prompt and open a web browsing session by going to HTML Help. If I recall correctly you could run executables from the resulting browser's address bar too.

Windows 98 was single-user, the login prompt was used only for network connections if I remember ?

hah yes, and because the help viewer is a process that inherited the permission of the parent, if you ran the help viewer from an admin app (like novel netware!), you get full admin privileges to execute anything!

I think that was still a bug in Windows XP.

With Windows 10 you can boot from a DVD/USB and replace system files in the Windows directory related to the accessibility options. The accessibility options are available at the login screen and are ran with admin privileges. Then you simply click the button to start the accessibility options and bam you've changed the administrator password.

Are you kidding me? It was not unfortunate. Microsoft was the biggest opponent of open formats.

MS tried completely shut down and end open internet based on open standards. Their Blackbird project attempted to make create completely closed alternative MSN (The Microsoft Network) with closed publishing, search and software. Instead of Wikipedia, we would check out things from Microsoft Encarta.

Instead of Wikipedia, we would check out things from Microsoft Encarta.

It's funny you bring that up. I just noticed yesterday that MS Word now has a Wikipedia button: https://imgur.com/a/zbcLZGj Things change!

Think about how screwed up the modern web is (both security wise and complexity / bloat wise), and then realize if the format hadn't evolved to include all of that then help designer would still go with their own thing.

I'm a huge chm fan but I for one don't want out of update electron apps to open everytime I look up something. And then they would still go online to find up to date stuff anyway.

Yeah, we had an intenal kind of wiki with a .chm document, long before wiki was a thing. So easy, a single file, simple.

It's funny how I find Win98 more user friendly and logical than Win10. Just look at the start menu where thing are sorted in folders. No ads optimizations anywhere. Just an annoying shortcut on the desktop for MS Internet.

Is it possible to make a program like the sheep.exe nowadays? It is awesome.

I think the biggest culprit here is the economy. Shareholders and investors don't like it when things just keep working like a well-oiled machine. It means their share price stays stagnant. They always want "more more more" and earnings, not stability and usability. So that pressures management to keep on finding ways of changing stuff for no real good reason even when they have already invented and reached the optimal UI. Search bars embedded in the window titlebar, start menus that change the order of things every time you click them, these all scream "we can't think of anything else, let's just change some stuff around".

A similar effect seems to happen even with e.g. Canonical and Ubuntu. Gnome2 had an awesome optimal UI and 90% of Linux users I know prefer that kind of no-BS UI but "management" wanted that Unity and Gnome3 nonsense just to make it look like they were making progress when they were really going leaps and bounds backwards in usability.

More likely than not, sheep.exe still works perfectly on a Windows 10 box (at least if it happens to be 32-bit).

Microsoft's backward compatibility is still pretty impressive.

I just searched, apparently you can get the "updated" version from the MS Store: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/p/esheep-64bit/9mx2v0tqt6rm?...

Gnome 2 was Windows 95 UI, refined, cleaned of all bloat and with a modern look (for his time). All installed apps were automatically stored is the right sub-menu in the Application button. It was really neat to use.

XFCE basically still is that. No "reinventing the desktop experience" junk, just a rock-solid desktop with all the features you expect.

All features except running on Wayland.

MATE (https://mate-desktop.org/) is the modern, supported, version of Gnome2. It's a great desktop environment and all your old nautilus scripts will work with just a s/nautilus/caja/ regex replacement.

This is why I always install Classic Shell when I boot up a Win10 machine: http://classicshell.net/

FYI, Classic Shell is no longer under development: http://www.classicshell.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=8147

However, there is now Open Shell Menu which was created to replace it: https://open-shell.github.io/Open-Shell-Menu/

Thanks beuty and love is restored!

Nice I will give it a try.

What is the point of start menu folders? How often do you browse through your programs?

When I want to do something, I hit the launcher key-combination of whatever OS I'm in (the Win/Super key in Win8/10 or GNOME; ⌘Space in macOS) and then type the first few characters of the name of what I want. If I know the search database is up-to-date (i.e. I haven't just installed the program, I then just immediately hit Enter before the dialog even shows results.) The program opens.

I feel like a Start Menu makes a lot of sense... for people for whom using a mouse is somehow a lot easier than using a keyboard. People who can move their fingers easily but whose wrists+forearms are immobile, for example. Or people operating the GUI through a thin-client app on a candybar-style cellphone. Or people using Windows on their TV with one of those Wiimote-like "air mouse" pointing devices, where switching to the keyboard has the friction of flipping the thing over, taking away your ability to move the mouse while you type. Or, for that matter, people using a game controller, ala Steam's Big Picture mode.

But in the regular case, where you have a keyboard and mouse in front of you, and are in a relaxed default position with one hand on one and one on the other? I can't see the benefit—for just launching programs.


Now, for discovering programs... I'd never know about the "accessory" programs that came with an installation if I couldn't browse. I still recall the first time I installed Sim City 2000 and realized it came with a separate program called SCURK (a level+resource editor for the game.)

But it's been a long time since I've installed a program that came with accessory programs that way. These days—probably because of the influence of app-stores—every feature you get from an installation of "an app" is always accessed through the main binary of the app. And if it can't be, then they just don't bother to distribute it. (See also: macOS and the paucity of uninstallers for programs that install LaunchDaemons. You usually have to google for a script!)

When the start menu gets long and even more when it overflows it is nice to have folders for eg. games, office apps, image apps etc.

The main reason I like the start menu is that I sometimes forget the name of applications I use seldomly and I forget what apps I have installed.

Edit: One thing I forgot to whine about is the configuration panel. In the old one you had everything in front of you instanly. The new one is a joke and I never seem to remember which feutures you need can change in the "mobile friendly" blue one, or the kinda a folder one.

I used folders all the time and knew that I could type Windows, P, A, N Enter and Notepad would open. It took milliseconds.

Honestly how often does anyone use the start menu these days?

I am on windows all day long for analysis/development, anything I actually use is just pinned to the taskbar (like osx).

And when I do have to use the start menu to find something like newly installed.. not sure how you really think it's that different than win98? The left part is the same thing, it's just sorted alphabetically by program names etc.. and in theory now instead you just start typing for search instead of looking.

Overall calling win98 more user friendly than win10 sounds ludicrous, unless you are someone who never actually uses windows..

That is because “these days” the start menu is a dumpster fire.

The fact you don't have a resolution of 640x480 and you can lay down big high resolution icons in the taskbar help a lot in not needing to open the start menu

To me, still the best UI/UX OS experience. That menu organization is just perfect. Everything is crystal clear about what is selected or not. No idea why the OS moved from this layout.

A lot was got right back them. I use the MATE desktop, which is a very similar paradigm. When I saw this posted, I posted my attempt at running as many version of MS Word. It was fun playing with all the versions of word and seeing their progression. But Word 2000 was probably the pinnacle of UI as well.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=23676040

yes. in my opinion though, windows 2000 was the pinnacle.

it had the user experience of windows 98 but was also a lot more stable.

I used a stripped down version of windows 2000, the installer was 50M and extracted on disk it used 200M. It was just perfect, I loved everything about it. When Ms abandoned support for windows 2000 is exactly when I went to use Linux full time.

If Windows 2000 had the ClearType fonts and technology, there would have been no reason to ever move on :-)

>it had the user experience of windows 98 but was also a lot more stable.

I tried Windows 2000 and really wanted to make it my daily driver but I kept getting blue screens when I played games. I spent hours looking for a solution never figured it out. Went back to 98se up till Windows XP release.

Non-NT Windows didn't support memory protection. That's the main reason why it was much more stable. Programming on Windows 98 was a nightmare. If you, for example, went too far with your `i++` you could've crashed the system.

That's not actually true. It was far more nuanced than this.

I think I remember there was a brief period when it was fashionable to hate on XP, which came on most new computers, but you could get Windows 2000 by special request on a ThinkPad.

Actually I've never used Windows 2000, I went straight to Windows XP, whose UI was already too bloated (many colors, gradient buttons, ...)

But at least XP would let you switch back to Windows 2000 look and feel. The eye candy was just that, and easily removed. When Windows 7 rolled around I spent years being mad that it was no longer possible to have a Windows 2000 style UI in unmodified Windows.

I recently set my desktop to the Windows 2000 default blue background color just for a bit of nostalgia. As far as I can tell, it's the only bit of Win 2000 UI that it's still possible to achieve.

To the day I remember the color (all my desktops are that color) rgb 45,110,145

There still was a "classic" theme.

Ah, I guess my memory is faulty. It looks like Windows 8 was actually the first version to do away with the classic theme entirely.

I have a Windows 98 machine I use almost daily, for games and as a "bridge" PC. The UI is just better than what we have now in modern Windows.

Now you have a VM in a browser on a cellphone. And my cellphone still have sometimes problems on so many pages because they are so bloated. A full OS does load faster then so many website ..

Awww, "My Briefcase"! I had totally forgotten that was a thing :) What a nice little nostalgia trip.

As an 8 year old child, I never understood what briefcases were but that didn't prevent me from having tons of them.

Briefcases were supposed to be a tool to easily sync a directory structure with removable storage or a spotty network connection. Say you've got a computer at home and a computer at the office. You do a bit of work on some files over the weekend with your files in your briefcase. When it is time to head to the office on Monday you pop in a floppy disk (or PDA, or some other removable storage) and sync your briefcase to it. Get into the office, pop your floppy into your work machine and re-sync your copy of the briefcase there. You don't have to remember which files potentially updated and you don't have to work off your removable media the entire time.

It was a neat concept. I used to use that to sync stuff stored on my school's student network drive with a floppy (and later flash drive) with my home PC. They definitely didn't describe it well unless you went digging for why it exists.


a floppy-based Dropbox.

Exactly, right? Can't believe people fell for Dropbox when you could build such a system yourself quite trivially by getting an FTP account, mounting it locally with curlftpfs, and then using SVN or CVS on the mounted filesystem


Please don't bring up this ancient comment any time file synchronising or Dropbox is mentioned. Doing so was not funny the first time and it's still not.

Oops, that's what I meant. Thanks!

I used win98 regularly back then. Never touched briefcases. I’m not sure it was too popular.

Omigosh, I really miss the heck out of when Windows had charm, and personality like this.

Stuff like Hover! - getting that Weezer music video with the Happy Days set on the Win 95 media edition or whatever...such cool little things that displayed a sense of ‘fun’ about very business-centric software.

My Pentium 100 could play this 320x240 video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iqL1BLzn3qc fullscreen with no choppiness. I had forgotten about this video until I saw it last year...

But Windows had skeumorphisms, even nowadays the screen with everything minimised is called "the desk[ ]top".

But I guess briefcases and recycle bins made things relatable...

Nvm, apparently they shutdown the web version... :(



The Briefcase feature was used to keep folders up-to-date across multiple machines, via removable media (as opposed to a network connection). You can still do this today using rsync.

Dropbox for sneakernet

Wait... Briefcases are analogous to rsync?! Wow.

Yes, and they were really handy too. As others mentioned, they were also buggy and never really caught on.

I still have a bunch of floppy disks with briefcases in them. Alas, the feature has been removed from recent versions of Windows.

It was buggy, mostly about detecting and overriding changes, but also some versions had problems with 0x00 and 0x1A bytes in files ... after losing a few files to briefcase, the only nostalgia I have is for eradicating it from any machine i used.

I always thought the briefcase came in with Windows Me. As others have mentioned, it was buggy and I lost files on it, so while I liked the idea, I had to stop using them.

To this day I use an USB drive with some rclone batch script to emulate this feature.

Wow, what a flashback! This was the OS I actually grew up with. I remember being 3 or 4 years old and playing Carnivores 2 on my Dad's Windows 98 PC. Even the slowness and unresponsiveness is there, just like I remember! Yeah...this was the golden age. So much hope and so much optimism for what could be in regards to technology and what it would allow for the general population. I still think we're not there, but we can get there still, perhaps.

> this was the golden age. So much hope and so much optimism for what could be

Funny that because I grew up in the 80s and for me the golden age was 10 to 15 years earlier and I saw Windows 98 as the decline.

There was so much variety and experimentation in the 80s, and so much excitement too when GUIs first started appearing on home computers. There was also much more diversity in the computing landscape with different hardware architectures and operating systems. In fact back then DOS machines were some of the least interesting hardware and early Windows (pre 3.x) was just terrible compared to what Acorn, Atari, Amiga and Apple were doing. Then came the mid-90s and everything had converged into x86 running Windows. I remember at the time feeling rather let down by just how boring and crummy desktop computing had become considering all the interesting things that preceded it. Things picked up again once I discovered BeOS and Linux -- I guess even in the 90s I didn't like Microsoft Windows and to be honest little has changed over the years.

That's just my opinion though. The "golden age" is a very subjective thing that I suspect is largely driven by the age of the observer.

I grew up using Windows XP/Vista and browsing the early days of the interactive web, mostly based on Flash. For me of course that was the golden age, and now we’re stuck with huge walled gardens and invasive adtech…iPhone had come out and it was amazing watching the mobile market rapidly advance. I remember seriously suggesting Windows Phone to my parents…Google Docs totally upended how we did assignments in late elementary school.

I don't think Google Docs was a thing until I was in high school. Still, don't think my schools adopted it quickly. I do have many fond memories of flash games too (and of course, viruses I inadvertently introduced to my parents' computers).

Back when I was learning computers in elementary school, we were taugh to use Yahoo! as our search engine and most of our 'computer' assignments for the day involved drawing butterflies in Microsoft Paint or seeing how many words we could type per minute.

You're definitely right, what each of us individually perceive as "the golden age" is probably driven largely by age and nostalgia.

I think I phrased my initial comment incorrectly - I definitely didn't mean it was the golden age of personal computing, but rather the golden age of the internet.

Certainly, some things have improved. There's been more standardization and a proliferation of knowledge about the 'right' way to design a website (from both a tech and marketing perspective). Back then, there was an excitement and a feeling of freedom I got when browsing the web. Part of it I suppose could just be that I was young and not yet so cynical, but it felt like the wild west to me back then.

Every site looked different, many were ugly and gaudy as hell with bright colors, flashing animations like the Vegas strip, and regularly broken links, but despite this, there was something charming and endearing about it that just isn't present today.

Browsing the internet today is a very contained and sanitized experience. Everything is wrapped in plastic and padded with nerf, and though you may go to different sites, there's a feeling of sameness to it all. Every time I click on something, I'm making someone money. The data I generate while browsing is sold off to the higest bidder. You can assume, like a digital panopticon, the man in the watchtower (NSA, other government alphabet agencies) could be watching you at any given time.

Maybe not all of this is true or framed accurately - browsing the web has definitely become easier and more streamlined and for the average user, that's a good thing. But something's been lost for me - the wild west of the internet has become a guided tour.

I agree. Honestly, I'd take the gaudy animated GIFs and marquee tags back if it meant there was less reliance on Medium / Facebook / etc.

For me the biggest change is the shift from content to consumption. 90s web was generally content first. Today's web is all about lower quality content and force-feeding consumers until they're addicted to it like crack (some massive generalisations there)

It's a well-known fact that the best era of anything was whatever was happening when you were 13 years old, and it's all downhill from there.

I belong to a similar generation and for me actually only Windows and macOS map to the feelings that I enjoyed while using those 16 bit machines and small flirt with BeOS and QNX demo floppies.

For many years I looked forward to GNU/Linux settling into one stack and offering a multimedia experience like the Amiga, Atari and Acorn, but that was in vain in the kingdom of CLI and forking projects.

I'm like you - that the Windows era was a low point in computing for me. I used Workbench 3.1 before, and Linux afterwards, and both of those kindled my interest in computers far more than Win 3.1 - XP ever could. On the otherhand I do have some nostalgia for those Windows days - it wasn't all bad, just a little on the boring side. I remember those themes from Win98 with the associated screensavers fondly. I also posted here about running old versions of microsoft office, and I enjoyed playing around with them and had forgotten that they were actually pretty decent pieces of software.

I still prefer the pre-ribbon bar era of MS Office :)

Funny you should comment about screensavers, the first thing I did when I loaded the Win98 emulation these comments refer to was the display settings then clicked 'Preview' on the pipes screensaver. I believe there was also one that looked a little like Wolf32?

Yep, it makes me so nostalgic. If you like this, there's a channel on twitch streaming old episodes of Computer Chronicles [1] and the optimism and excitement in it is something I just don't feel anymore nowadays.

[1] https://www.twitch.tv/computerchronicles

This was really interesting to read. Thanks for sharing your memory. There was a big difference between win98 and win98 “second edition”. Do you know which you used?

Unfortunately I don't remember. :(

Back then, I wasn't so much interested in the computer itself as I was in what I could do with it - as a four year old, that meant hunting and killing pixelated T-Rexes.

was Roller Coaster Tycoon 1 & later 2 for me

First think I had to do was see if Active Desktop worked... And yes it does. "View My Active Desktop as a web page", I guess Windows 98 was just ahead of its time.

Set the desktop background as this site for some winception!

That's really more of an Internet Explorer 4 thing. I personally skipped 98 and jumped straight from 95 + IE4 to 2000.

Does anybody have a reasonable explanation why windows 10 requires a SSD and so much ram?

I wish a kernel engineer could give a good answer to that question.

One side of the answer could be that the software that is bigger, but honestly that doesn't explain everything.

I wish somebody could confirm Wirth's law is real and that there are valid example of it.

The same reason Facebook loads multiple MBs of JavaScript code for something that could have been not more than 1 MB. One can't help but wonder about nefarious purposes: either collecting user data or abusing the computing resources. For companies that tend to hire the best and the brightest, the 'software bloat' theory is not compelling.

Curiously, major Linux distributions have also gotten significantly slower compared to early 2000s versions.

I wonder, for a thought experiment, what if companies stopped development on software when it reaches certain stage of maturity, say Windows 2000, providing only necessary security updates or optional visual changes?

I was very reluctant switching from win xp to win 7. Unless the 64bit era would have forced me I rather would have stayed put.

New software is really not adding much to the table after some point of completion since the software companies seems to mostly add pet feutures and user hostile fads be it star menu, complete gui changes, 'enterprise' admin lookout or ads and tracking.

E.g. Facebooks 1000s of developers seem to add a net of antifeutures to their site. On Netflix you can't even disable autoplay.

It is the same really for software moving to remote mainframes. The companies rather hide and burry the old desktop versions deep.

The same trend can be seen with linux distributions. A lot is surely down to composited window management. There's also things that we didn't run as services back in Windows 98 days - network capabilities, bluetooth, low power states, file hashing for quick search, assistants and other ways of rapidly finding and launching programs, auto updates, telemetry, automatic mounting of connected devices.

EDIT: and in the case of Windows 10, adverts/trialware and their associated animations.

> A lot is surely down to composited window management

....how? That's handled on the GPU, and by GPU standards it's a nothing task.

That's an interesting point, but there was certainly an increase in CPU usage with the switch from gnome 2 to unity and gnome 3, even though they were GPU accelerated. I guess CPU is still needed.

Probably it is being developed on really fast computers and not being optimized or tested on not that fast computers or laptops.

Does it require an SSD? I'm pretty sure my desktop pc doesn't have one and its running win 10?

It doesn't require an SSD in the strictest sense of the word, but it is developed with the strong assumption that you have at least something as fast as an SSD, so the experience of running it on a spinning rust disk is an exercise in patience.

The anti-malware measures in modern Windows are at least part of the issue.

There was an interesting conference video exploring this, about eighteen months ago. It was part of a project to make git faster on windows. I can't find it, maybe someone else will remember.

Does it require an SSD?

I've seen it working on a couple of older, non-SSD machines. But "working" is perhaps a strong term.

Most likely explanation: Bad engineers getting into high positions via connections, elbows or peter principle.

Is it bad that it requires much ram? I mean, as long as it's utilized well I don't really mind?

The question is, what is it actually doing that requires that much RAM? Is it being utilized well?

The experience of using the actual operating system isn't that far away from Windows 98, which ran on a few megabytes of RAM.

Impressive! But loading Google for kicks, in IE, sort of killed it.

Definitely can feel the nostalgia.

I remember the first time I decided to leave Windows 95 run overnight, the next morning, moving the mouse would send the harddrive playhead flying like crazy... You know the old "SHRrrrrt Shrrrt..."

It had such a memory leak overnight that moving the mouse was causing the swap to kick in non-stop!

Interesting. In 1997 I had a thinkpad running Windows 95 and I went weeks between reboots. It was rock solid.

Windows 95/98 stability really depended on the quality of your hardware, drivers, and software. If things intracted poorly, it was easy to get a system that needed a reboot every few hours to stay responsive.

Agreed. Drivers were a big one. As I remember, they had unfettered access to everything... so they could consume all ram or cpu or read any part of memory. Powerful and scary.

In win95, everything had access to everything if it wanted. E.g. DLLs were mapped in a shared memory segment that was shared between all applications. Lots of 16 bit code was still running, and this did IPC basically by messing in some other program's memory. Backward compatibilitty required very thin walls between processes.

DOS TSR programs started before windows were still running. I had one that popped up a calculator in dos text mode, and if you pushed its hotkey in win95, it switched win95 back to text mode, paused win95, did its thing, then popped back in win95.

Only the very basics of protected mode and virtual memory where there, and a well-behaving program had a reasonable chance of staying in its own sandbox. But only because it wanted to. Seen from the CPU, you could argue EMM386 was more the actual OS than win95/win98.

None of this is meant to be negative. It was a solid step up from windows 3.x, and yet quite usable with 4MB RAM of which the first 1MB wanted a very different treatment.

In pretty much all systems today drivers can do the same...

I used to joke that Windows 95 hated me more than I hated it, since it managed to "uninstall itself" within a couple of weeks. (For some reason, there was massive data corruption.) The odd part is that the computer was perfectly reliable under DOS/Windows 3.1, Linux, and OS/2.

The quality of drivers could be a serious problem in the Windows 95 era. If it was a driver shipped with Windows, everything seemed to work fine. If the driver was provided by the vendor, the reliability was so inconsistent that I would try to find a compatible driver that shipped with Windows even if it meant missing out on some features.

There was a hard cap of around a month and a half:


That's interesting! I wonder if that was indeed what I was running into.

Ha the beauty of calling defrag.exe and hoping your pc would run faster after it. So relaxing to see blue block move around (with the occasional horror of a red block indicating an error)

Shame we're limited to 16 colors...miss those title bar gradients :D

Was this the pinnacle of UI design, or is nostalgia clouding our judgment?

I think the pinnacle must have been before the title bar gradients were added. They always annoyed me: is the title bar any less of a title bar towards the right? No? Then why does it fade out?

The color is a background for the text. It fades out because the bar stops being about showing the title text, and starts being about showing window controls, that exist as buttons with their own backgrounds and borders.

Sort of like how desktop icons have text with a blur-extruded drop-shadow. It fades out at the point where text is no longer shown.

The title is shown in the entire title bar (e.g. long titles for web pages) all the way until it reaches the buttons, which as you say have their own border, so there is no gradual change in its character. It's 100% draggable and 100% showing text all the way, so the form (showing gradual change) is at odds with the function (sharp distinction between title and buttons).

To be fair the colors were configurable and you could easily get rid of the gradient. Remember doing that, but I'm not sure if it was win98.

Yup. Windows 95 had a solid color and Windows 98 added the gradient. You could set both colors to the same one to make it solid again.

It was very usable. Performed incredibly well. And was boring as hell.

I think it's the latter issue that drove it to it's doom.

Management says: Easily usable interface with almost no confusion: bad, looks ugly. Barely usable interface with barely discernible elements: good, looks modern.

I wish it were only management that thought that way, but it seems like a lot of developers genuinely believe it too.

What interests me is the core interactions with Windows systems remain mostly the same, unchanged, in the span of last 20 years!

Isn't the same true for osx and linux?

I'll propose a test for whether it's true. We'll try writing instructions to a non-technical user how to perform some tasks. Then, we shouldn't know exactly which version they're using, only "I'm using OS X" or "I'm using Ubuntu." If they can reasonably muddle their way through the tasks without knowing the OS version, the OS's have remained consistent.

Example tasks would be, "run a program," "find a file on disk," "save your work," "copy and paste between applications," "close a window."

Examples that would often fail include updating configuration settings or manipulating disks. These are important tasks, but not core tasks.

Restricting Linux to the mass market distros, my limited experience is they've been reasonably consistent. They can probably use Win-R to run a program. These distros mostly use the ZXCV clipboard keys, and adopt other Windows-like conventions like Ctrl-S to save and clicking an X to close a window.

Some Linux distros could fail some reasonable tasks because of poor design; e.g. I recall Ubuntu's tiny hitbox for resizing windows being very annoying.

On OS X / macOS, Apple has chaned things up with features like autosave, which fundamentally changed how some applications behave. But according to my test, I'd just tell the person, "hit command S" and while it will create a new revision instead of saving the file, this doesn't do a thing we don't want.

I think the biggest lack of core consistency is in Electron apps and other non-native UI creeping in. I don't think I'd pin that on OS designers, though.

> osx

Between architecture changes (PowerPC to x86 to x86-64 and next up ARM), and compiler changes (I doubt Objective-C code written for OS X 1.0 will compile on the latest XCode), breaking API changes, security changes, and even deprecating standards (can't use latest OpenGL, you gotta use Metal)... not really.

Depends on how complicated it was. I can assure you that your simple GUI still mostly works as those classes came from NeXT and aren’t going anywhere soon.

if you forget Windows 8 :)

Windows 8? After Windows XP, I Microsoft released only Windows 7 and Windows 10.

Also, Matrix never had a sequel.

And there are only two Star Wars films (trust me)

The Empire Strikes back and?

That and Star Wars (doesn't need a subtitle)

Yes! Star Wars was a SINGLE movie. No subtitle. And originally no "Episode IV", which, when it appeared, was VERY confusing...

You can't have Empire without Return of the Jedi.

I immediately played Freecell, which I spent way too many hours playing as a kid.

Ping localhost works as well. Now to see if you can kill the machine by causing a ICMP packet buffer overflow.

Has it crashed for anyone yet? I tried using Windows Update and it hung, it’s Windows 98 alright.

you can crash it with the /con/con commad too

edit: for the ones who haven't lived the windows 95-98 era: https://coderanch.com/t/131585/engineering/Folder-con-Window...

This is brilliant. Even the goold old Windows --> Run ... -> CON/CON bug seems to work.

For even more fractal nostalgia, please be aware that in those days you could still run 'progman.exe' if you so desired.

Sadly this install doesn't include QBasic which was also still available on these DOS based Windows versions.

I won winmine on win98 in a browser.

My 14 years old me would have never believed me.

That's why I made a screenshot.

Hell yeah! Now I can play jazz jackrabbit in firefox!

I wanted to play Chip's Challenge, but it's too slow on my Chromebook

Wait, where do you find that?

omg finally a reasonable minesweeper emulator

But doubleclicking a number to remove knowns doesn't work? Or didn't it work in the 95 version?

Off-topic tangent, but if you like Minesweeper you would really like the games Hexcells and Tametsi, each available for less than $1 on Steam. They're both like Minesweeper but have the improvement that every move can be logically deduced so you never have to guess.

:) Check the javascript replica


Bad imitation. Doesn't support the all-important right-mouse+left-mouse click combination.

Check out minesweeper X, it was (is?) used by the competitive minesweeper scene (yes, it was a thing).


I can hear the sound when the hourglass appears. You know the one I mean (if you're old enough).

Hypothetical question: If you where a program running in the VM how would you know if you are in one?

There's ways. Detecting whether tools like VMWare/Virtualbox are installed, whether certain drivers are installed, checking the hardware listings etc. etc.

Malware is quite a good study subject about this question. There's a lot of malware that won't run if it's in a virtual machine to avoid researchers from testing it inside one.

And is there VM software used for malware research, that employs counter-countermeasures, e.g. generating drivers with randomized names/IDs; randomizing the hypercall op for the VM and then rewriting the deployed drivers to use that op; etc?

Or, are there modes for emulators like qemu/bochs, where they'll run entirely with "real" (LLE-emulated) hardware?

So, running a Windows VM inside a Windows VM is the safest option?

And games, which these days employ tactics similar to malware.

Do you have a reference that is runnable in this emulator? (Genuinely curious.)

Is that you Elon? ;-)

you take the red pill

Firefox/Linux: the cursor constantly tracks to the left. You have to push the mouse to the right to keep it still.

Works in Chromium though.

Firefox 77.0.1/Ubuntu 18.04: No mouse drift for me.

Wow, I can't believe how smooth that is.

I've got to say, the icon for .txt files brought on some very specific hit of nostalgia.

Nice. Even the old /con/con bug still works :) -edit- sorry about that, was already mentioned previously :)

Tried to visit yahoo.com and IE crashed.

I think because this is a stock install and needs a network connection setup first. Mine "crashes" too but then another window loads to setup MSN

Good times!

Yep! I did too. I thought this may be a good cross-browser test tool

Would myself in 2000 believe that I would be running Windows 98 in a mobile phone, emulated in a browser?

Given that 2000 was the time of Windows CE on the Compaq iPAQ H3100 [1] ... no, probably not :)

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IPAQ

I tried unsuccessfully to load Windows98 (via same link) in the Internet Explorer. Inception!

Won't that provoke a DMCA takedown request and a subsequent lawsuit from Microsoft?

Maybe a DMCA takedown notice...

But a lawsuit? Why would Microsoft care enough to launch a lawsuit?

Kind of miss how... unified the design language was back then. I've resorted to making custom icons for my taskbar because ever app suit has their own clashing identity. That's after inconsistencies in Win10 intself.

Boots the QNX demo disk[1]. Pretty cool! Sadly, it does not detect the emulated PCI NE2000 NIC.

[1] http://toastytech.com/guis/qnxdemo.html

The Hindu’s got it wrong...

It’s JavaScript libraries all the way down.


Windows98 with the best version of Solitaire. Those were the days.

This is beautiful and pure nostalgia fever.

How to get a BSOD:

1. Open Start Menu

2. Click "Run"

3. Type: con\con and press enter

Start -> Run -> aux/aux

i am still unable to understand it, do you mean you are mounting the system in browser? how do you make sense of the bin and iso file in node and how exactly an os can run using V8 engine?

For the love of God, please fix the title already! (Missing a space.)

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