Windows

A Windows 95 Retrospective

In early 1995, the Windows 95 Product Team released Introducing Microsoft Windows 95 to describe in detail the features and benefits of the operating system.

About

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.

54 comments
Greg Mix
Greg Mix

Win 95 sucked until Win 98, just like Vista sucked until Win 7. In both cases, the latter is basically the stable version.

nwallette
nwallette

And Terminal Velocity. Pretty much the same game, but for DOS.

RetiredGeek
RetiredGeek

Speaking of collectibles, I have shrink-wrapped boxes of Windows 3.0 (5.25" floppies) and Windows for Workgroups 3.11 (3.5" diskettes). The Workgroups version is "not for resale," but I'd be willing to part with either for a reasonable amount. ;-)

gardnerh
gardnerh

Believe it or not I still have 2 older ThinkPads running Win95B which are used for a particular purpose only. They run fine and do exactly what is expected anytime they are needed.

wmoses
wmoses

Wow, I still have a Sidewinder Precision Pro with Force Feedback. Anyone know how to get it to work with my PS3? Just Kidding.

coolmark82
coolmark82

remember those days when if you were bored with Windows 95, all you can do is play minesweeper XD

sunnetmedia
sunnetmedia

This "Hover" Game is one of my favorite game ..1999

dcall
dcall

On my desk are operating systems 3.1. 95, 98 and XP -- all working fine ! dcall@ieee.org Retired ! Used TI 2502.Redcor 70. and TI Prof. PC, IBM 7040 and 7044 and 360 and 370 main frames.

anas
anas

I have windows 2.0 disks

john3347
john3347

The most outstanding memories that I have of Windows 95 is the frequent (many, many times a day)"Illegal Operations" that windows reported me performing. In fact, it was Windows 95 that was performing the "Illegal Operations" and not the user. If memory serves me correct, these continued through First Edition Windows 98 and seem to have gotten corrected with either 98 SE or Me. Beyond the constant nagging about these "Illegal Operations", Windows was a poor excuse for an operating system that gradually got improved on until Windows 2000, then has gone downhill with every new system since.

garibaldi69@
garibaldi69@

Wow! Now i feel old. My first comp was a Commodore 64 wait I digree, My first real comp was a 386DX25. Yes I know the diff. My second was a 486DX50 (A real Screamer) and yes it was a true 50mhz not a DX2/25 or DX2/66. I actually had MB that I could double the 50mhz and it ran at a true 100mhz! It was faster than a Pentium 90. Till it overheated and shut down. I was selling computers by then. I remember IRQs, DMAs, jumpers etc. I still have win95 on Floppy. I also have Office95 on floppy. I was lucky enough though the store I was working at got a promo from MS and I signed up, Boss wasn't interested so I got Win95, Office 95 for free! Legally. later on I also got Warp v3 for free as well. My first laptop had Dos 4.01 on it. No Dosshell even! I quickly upgraded to Dos 5 and then Win3.1 came out, wow thats cool. I still have Win 3.11 WFW on a CD to install. I still have Dos 6.22 on floppy and Win 3.11 WFW on floppy. Remeber QAplus and checkit? Gottem. Hey anybody remember those really big 5 1\4 floppies? I still have a few of those. I even have a Combo drive. Hover was cool if i wasn't fragging on Doom! And I still use My Sidewinder 3D Pro, MechWarrior Still Rules! Oh and My first Win95 Comp was my 486DX50. P60s never really caught on and the P90 came out so soon after and was priced barely more than a P60. Patches! We didn't need any stinking patches! And I was already running...wait for it....Stacker! And yes I have a notebook (The kind with paper) that a slew of Intel Stickers on it because of customers who didn't like that on their computer.

karena
karena

I believe Raythion is still using 95.

shaihulud
shaihulud

I came to computing as an end user about the time Windows 95 was released. Our copy was released on a large bundle of 3" floppy discs. We also have a whole stack of Windows 95 compatible games which are great games and won't run now - the technology is too fast! But I loved my first 486 with Windows!

opyner
opyner

Hover! I totally forgot!

seanferd
seanferd

Help compiler and help Authoring Guide? Documentation was barely adequate. Resource Kit? I had it free on several Win 95 CDs, although it made up a fair chunk of some MS Official Curriculum binders for server 2000 that weren't cheap.

alohatim
alohatim

Notice the system requirements to play the How & Why cd?

Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

Anybody else out there have any Windows 95 memorabilia or stories from the beta thru launch period to share?

babznme
babznme

I have a lot of elderly and differently abled clients with older machines. I don't think any of them have 95 anymore, but a few have 98. I still have my 95 upgrade 3.5 disks and full set of 3.5. I also came across the win95C cd that came out almost the same time win98 first appeared. version C was so stable I kept one of those in my pile for tinkering. My first machine I want to say was a 286. Does that sound right? It had Win3.0 I thought it was great! In fact we didn't change to 95 until the internet wouldn't let us 'see' anything. I did keep a lot of my old favorite 95 games and utilities. You never know when you might need them. Now as to using older 95 'only' software. I have used a lot of it on my XP machine AND on my Vista. In fact my most favorite 95 only wallpaper/screensaver program of Lake Tahoe is what I run on my Vista. There are ways. I remember 95 fondly. Win98SE was great too. Xp once you got used to it. Same with Vista. My laptop is 2 years old and runs very well. It's the users that bog down their machines thinking they need every registry fixer that pops up. (most of which now are trojans or scareware) All the games and background crap running. They always ask why I get rid of so many of their icons when I have to clean their machine. Then I start to show them how many ways they can open their stuff and they almost fall over. Simple is good! 95 was simple, good, fun, easy, advanced, stable, I'll say it again, easy...no matter what have fun! Peace!

S.Saalfrank.Jr
S.Saalfrank.Jr

i remember pipe dream, and chip's challenge. GOD how i miss them games. Makes me feel older then i really am.

damian205
damian205

I have just installed and sold a machine with Windows 95b (with USB support) to a local paint firm who still use it as the POS systems base. They bought it as insurance against the day that the hardware they currently use will fail. Ran a treat on a P133 with 32mb of ram and found and installed all drivers on the board.

opyner
opyner

I think even by 95 people were running at least a Pentium, which was at least a 60 MHz unit.

coolmark82
coolmark82

I actuallt do have some stuff from those days, but back then I wasn't all into windows 95, as I was then still using Windows 3.11 for Workgroups for my business. Windows NT4 Server was basically the same thing as Windows 95, only with the NTFS file system. When Microsoft introduced sound effects for Windows, I have got to admit, when I first heard the Windows 95 login sound, it made me burst out laughing. I really thought it was amateurish and very hilarious the way it sounded. It sounds like a bunch of pianos crashing and then just a single piano note playing over again. In my opinion, one of the WORST sounds I have ever heard in my life, next to the exploding noise the Beige power macintosh G3 makes when it doesn't pass it's startup test. The Windows NT4 Server sound effect was also horrible, but not as bad. At the time I first heard of that Windows NT4 sound effect, the way it sounded reminded me of that movie where giant aliens take over the city and eat the skyscrapers. Anyways, I do have a Windows 95 install disk with a valid product key (not a burned copy) but the original disk In mint condition, and I also have a really old Gateway 2000 tower downstairs. I remember those days when you could choose your processor's clock speed, Low or Turbo XD. It has an intel pentium 1 Pro running at 66Mhz at turbo, but 50Mhz at regular. I also have another working Pentium 1 board with a 233Mhz processor. If only it was 67Mhz faster, I would see how XP runs on a Pentium 1. I will post pics of this stuff a little later.

husserl
husserl

...I remember using a component of Xtree pro for DOS and a null modem cable to transfer my files to the new Windows 95 machine. Predictably it took forever, since parallel connections aren't that swift. I had to go out for a pint in the pub, leaving the thing to chunter on for a few hours. Nowadays my drives are absolutely bloody massive. I'd hate to use that form of data transfer again, though I still have the software and the batch files I wrote somewhere. Later I learned to make even Win ME boot into and shut down to DOS. What a pile of crud that was! Thanks for the nostalgic moment.

RknRlKid
RknRlKid

This is very interesting. I own many of these items (disks, books, etc) still. I used to make it a hobby of collecting the different versions (as well as the others, such as 98 and ME). I have two copies of the retail version of Plus! for Windows 95. I'm going to have to do some digging, but I seem to recall that the disk art was different than yours. Of course, memory isn't always perfect! For all its problems, Windows 95 turned out to be pretty decent, I think. I was repelled by it when I first saw it, because I was a pretty hardcore 3.1 user. But once I was forced to have to use it on a consistent basis, and learned how to manipulate it, I ended up liking it. What a great walk through memory lane!

ReflowJo
ReflowJo

Haha, from a support perspective i will always remember the god awful cursors and themes/sounds that would usually grind the computer down to an almighty BSOD. Internet explorer 1 in the Plus! pack also brings back memories.

rickearley
rickearley

Why scrap 95/98 machines when they're perfectly good network storage, print and scan servers for perfectly serviceable older equipment you might not have enough ports for on a new Vista box or laptop? Only problem I've had is that some deluded, propeller-capped geek at Microsoft thought it would be cool to not let 95/98 users compose email messages on the "new and improved" (read debilitated) version of Hotmail when they might happen to be checking email at a 95/98 printer or scanner work-station. What presumptuousness!

Computer_User_1024
Computer_User_1024

I was in my mid to upper 20's when Windows 95 came out. I was working doing word processing at the time when Windows 95 was launched. The company I was working at was using Windows 3.1 or 3.11 when the company decided to upgrade to Windows 95, it was new and interesting to me at the time. It worked so much different than 3.x and had so many new features that I enjoyed discovering them. I also remember the videos that were included on the CD-ROM, one was an advertisement for the movie Rob Roy, and the other was a music video by the Wheezers or something like that that took place in a Happy Days environment. It seems to me that Windows 95 finally included elements that at the time I had thought should have been in 3.x such as being able to put a window within a Window on the desktop. I was younger than and anything computers and IT was so much more exciting for me to discover. I am now playing with Windows 7 Beta.

gcdimarketing
gcdimarketing

October of '95 was when I got my first very own computer. Got tired of waiting for a good one to be for sale cheap and bit the bullet. I also own a Sidewinder 3D Pro. Win95 version of Flight on floppies. I've been having fun ever since.

chris_atb
chris_atb

whoops! wrong thread! but i do have an original copy of the final release of windows 95, and the windows 3.1 diskette's we had used prior on our older machine :) never know when they'll be useful again, but they were the first OS's i ever got my hands on back when i was 5! who knows, maybe someone will come into my work with an ancient machine who need's a fix, everyone whom i've showed them to rather stares with awe or just laugh's at them! most people i support have never even used 95 nevermind 3.1! sorry if i make anyone feel old :)

Slayer_
Slayer_

I currently have a 95 system running on a 133 mhz CPU. and my old... now dead PSU'd system, was a 200mhz with 256mb of RAM running win95. Bootup time was less then 10 seconds, shutdown was instant. That thing was very stable, I frequently hit the 3 month overflow limit on that machine.

RknRlKid
RknRlKid

The slowest computer I have run Windows 95 on was a 386 at 16mhz. I put that computer together for one of my kids. I don't remember if it was an SX or DX. Knowing the technology at the time, it was probably an SX. Pentiums were a luxury. I used a 486-66 until 1999, I think. (Still with Windows 95 too!)

1ronman
1ronman

I had 300 486's running Windows 95. The really fast ones were 486DX 66MHz?s. The rest were 466 sx33mhz's (How many of you remember the difference between a DX and an SX?). Surprisingly they worked very well and we ran a very large business on them. When Microsoft started releasing security patches...damn...I was there when they started that!.....anyway, The 66mhz machines had these huge 170mb hard drives. They were ok, but the 33mhz ones had...seems like it was 120 mb drives and they started running out of space due to the patches. Microsoft released SR2 (*Computer Trivia Alert* no one had even heard of a service pack (aka service release) prior to 95). Anyway SR2 let you update your OS to 16 bit . Once you had done that you could use this new utility called DriveSpace... or Disk Crusher or something like that. Anyway, you could compress your entire drive. No one thought it would work, but when it was done, we had tons of free space (10's of megs!), plus the machines ran faster because the files loaded faster! For those who came into IT after Windows 95, you never had the pleasure of adding hardware to a Win3.x machine. God Bless Microsoft for making Plug And Play!!! Adding hw to win3.x was usually a frustrating experience of trying to find the right combination of IO address' and IRQ's...see....most of you don?t even know what those are. And it wasn?t like you could just look it up on the web and see what all those little jumpers did, or get the drivers. There was no web and usually no documentation. God Bless Microsoft for making plug and play! Say what you want about Microsoft, but they made an OS that you could plug almost any piece of hardware or software into and it would work. I've done this long enough to remember "those other Operating Systems" and that was not the case. By the way, I have quite a collection of Intel CPU stickers (remember when ?Intel Inside? was novel?) also Windows 95, 2000, XP and Vista stickers. Anyone know if there is any market for nerd trinkets like this (umm, I mean memorabilia)?

Uman606
Uman606

Seeing those dual 8" floppy drives, I remembered I still have D-base II install disks on 8". Why? Damned if I know...but they give me great memories when I handle them...reason they were first called "floppies". God I'm old!

john3347
john3347

Funny that you mention this. I have been (actually had been) using an old Winbook XL laptop running Windows 98 as a network print server until Vista came along on a new computer I placed on the home network. Vista refused to play with the system that had been working fine for a couple of years or so and I replaced the external server/printer combination with a more modern wireless network printer. I could not have seen Windows 95 serving in this capacity, tho.

joseph.r.piazza
joseph.r.piazza

Chris , who do you support, if they never used W95. My guest is your are young and work at a University....all college aged kids who grewed up with XP. I loved W95 as a user but I also missed Wind 3.1 back them. I also missed DOS because when you could not get Wind 3.1 to work for find the correct menu, I just go back to DOS-For Dummies and found the DOS commands.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

Damn you for reminding the rest of us how old we are. Most people you support never used w95? I've never worked anywhere like that. I have a few users that pre-date windows, lol. But most here used 95 at least because they/mom and pop were too cheap to upgrade to w2k or couldn't figure out how to steal it.

seanferd
seanferd

runs 98 for the DOS. The parts database(s) and other apps the use all run on DOS. A couple years back I did a complete reinstall of a Win 95 box. PITA because the fellow had no driver disks or anything, so I had to leave and go download a bunch of stuff. The Device Manager was all red and yellow. Makes me want to find replacement HDDs for all my old machines, just for a lark.

jfuller05
jfuller05

Win98 connected to a dot matrix printer for his business. I hear dot matrix printers never die.

SObaldrick
SObaldrick

My first home computer was a 386, don't remember the speed. If I remember correctly, did the original 386s only come in the SX version, and you had to purchase the maths-coprocessor separately? It had 750k (or thereabouts) of RAM (who is ever going to need more than that?), 40meg harddrive and I installed a 600(?) baud modem and upgraded the RAM to 1meg. It originally cost just over $2000, in 1990. In fact I still have it .. I'm using it to type this reply. Difference is that I've replaced the processor, harddrives, memory, modem, case and several other parts over the years, but to me it's still the same computer. Les.

saberrattler
saberrattler

The other difference, if this old brain is remembering correctly, was the way each addressed memory. The SX would only address memory 2 bits at time, while the DX would do 4 bits. Users would constantly ask me what were the differences between the two ("Why do I have a 386/25 SX and his is a 386/25 DX?") and I would get to watch their eyes glaze over as I tried to explain to them about memory addressing, math co-processors, etc. Incidentally, back then Windows wasn't "Plug & Play". It was "Plug & Pray"!

cliff
cliff

The DX used a full 32-bit data and addressing bus, and had a math co-processor. The SX, the value point processor, had a narrower external data and addressing bus, and no math co-processor. Man, tripping down memory lane now.

markp24
markp24

hi, i remember using autocad in 1990 and having to install a "match co processor in the 286 and 386 systems. (we used to say the 386sx stood for 386x s_cks, you only want the DX) wow that was a long time ago but i somtimes liked those days better when computer shopper magizine was 2" think, not the little panmphlet it is today.

SObaldrick
SObaldrick

I remember that the 486DX was the default. The 486 combined the CPU and Maths coprocessor, I think. The 386 did not. The 486SX was a DX with the coprocessor disabled. The difference between a 386SX and DX ... thinking ... ok, I had to look it up .. the SX had 16 bit databus as opposed to the DX 32 bit. Long time ago. Les.

seanferd
seanferd

The SX was for 16 bit boards, I think. The SX based systems were cheaper, anyway.

TroyW
TroyW

Who here remembers what the difference was between a 386SX and a 386DX - hint, it's NOT the same as the difference between a 486SX and 486DX :)

john3347
john3347

GB4, I remember the labels, but I have forgotten what each designated. DX had a math co-processor and SX did not if my memory is still working. You raised the question, but failed to answer it. Did I pass this exam?

TroyW
TroyW

If by "those other Operating Systems" you mean other x86 operating systems, then I would agree. However, the x86 platform was the only one really where this was a problem - both Apple and Commodore (RIP) had "plug and play" type systems for a long time well before W95 came along. In many ways W95 was Microsoft playing catch up with other members of the computing industry, although some history revisionists would like us to think that W95 was the first consumer OS with multi-tasking, it wasn't - Commodores Amiga had full pre-emptive multi-tasking upon it's release in 1985, ten years earlier. It also had auto-config as part of the Zorro bus expansion slot, which was in some ways superior to plug and play, which was for a long time referred to as "plug and pray" lol. It's such a shame that Commodore went bust when they did, the Amiga hardware and software showed so much potential... :(

markp24
markp24

its amazing but i have a original copy with manualsof Windows 1.x on 5.25" floppys, and manuallys, unfortulitly the box is a bit ripped, but its the original. I kept all my software from Dos 5.0 (when i started to fix computer in college) and dos 6.0, 6.22, windows 3.0, 3.1, 311 s (remeber the compeditor "geoworks"), NT 3.50, 3.1 4 all the way up to Windows 7. i always kept them incase someone i knew needed to be reloaded. LOL

SObaldrick
SObaldrick

That was the OS on my first home PC. First windows computer was Windows 2.0 .. the first version of Windows was worse than DOS. IMO, Les.

mcadwell
mcadwell

My first Windows computer was 3.1. I remember that machine quite well...and all the floppies...and 2400 baud was considered fast...