Running Virtual PC 2007 on VMWare Player

I’ve always liked Virtual PC, and it was a shame IMHO when Microsoft twisted this fantastic utility in some glorified IE6 box, A’la “Windows XP Mode” for Windows 7.

So I downloaded and installed VMWare Player, as I’ve heard you can use it to run ESX among other things requiring hardware acceleration, and  player fits the bill for being cheap.

Passing the hardware acceleration to a child VM is a matter of checking a single box in the settings.  Namely the ‘Virtualize Intel VT-x/EPT or AMD-V/RVI” box.  Although you don’t have to click it if you want, it just offers greater performance.

Windows XP x64 setup

VMWare Player

Now I installed my old copy of XP x64, as I felt like something different, then I went ahead and installed Microsoft Virtual PC 2007 sp1.  The installation was pretty uneventful.

Now with that out of the way, I could setup a VM,and I decided to install OS/2 1.21 for the heck of it.

OS2 1.21 on virtual pc on VMWare player

Virtual PC running OS/2 1.21 without hardware acceleration

And it booted up no problems, like it did back in the XP days.  I even ran it with and without CPU acceleration and it works on both, but is noticeably faster with acceleration.

With Intel-VT acceleration

With Intel-VT acceleration

So I thought this was interesting, although Virtual PC has been essentially dead ended, it can go on with an older OS in a VM, to let you run VMs.

I would imagine that if VMWare Player could run Virtual PC 2007, that 2004 should work as well.

SoundBlaster 16 settings for VirtualPC & Qemu

Granted for Qemu I manually add in the Adlib card (why isn’t it there??) but for MS-DOS you almost always have to set the BLASTER environment variable… And I always forget what it is…

SET BLASTER=A220 I5 D1 H5 P330 T5

Which translates to an IO base of 0x220, IRQ 5, DMA 1 and High DMA 5.  Because it has a high DMA channel, it is a Sound Blaster 16, and specified by T5.  If you want to play MS-DOS games in Qemu, be sure to compile in the adlib..

Or at least this works for running Quake & Doom … 🙂

OS/2 2.0 LA

I just read this great post on OS/2 Museum, and I was greatly intrigued.

While a kind person had sent me a copy of this rare pre-release version of OS/2, I never could install it because it crashed on my real hardware, nor would it install in any emulator I had access too.

Apparently the two problems for this version, like the 1.x series of OS/2 revolves around timing issues, and floppy drivers.  While the limited availability seems to be more laid out like a 1.21 version it still 32-bit, so attempts to replace the floppy/country.sys from 1.21 or 1.3 just result in instant crashes.

Back when I ran OS/2 the big issue with 486 computers and booting was the L2 CPU cache.  It would induce all kinds of timing problems with booting from floppy to install.  And the number ONE fix for this was to disable L2 (and even L1) cache, and the install could proceed, then once you are booting from hard disk you could re-enable them.

The funny thing is that while OS/2 2.0 & 2.1 were so temperamental on so many clones, they install just fine in emulation.  So I had an idea…

What if I used the 2.0 GA to boot up the LA install program?

So I simply copied the following files from LA’s disk1 onto 2.0 GA’s disk1 ..

  • CMD.EXE
  • HARDERR.EXE
  • SYSINST1.EXE
  • SYSINST2.EXE
  • FDISK.COM
  • SYSLEVEL.OS2
  • DISK.NUM

So then I simply booted off the GA install/disk1 then swapped in the LA disks as needed.  Surprisingly it boots from the hard disk on Virtual PC 2007 without issue.  It traps on Qemu.

So as a ‘quick’ tour, here is the LA desktop.. .It’s… almost 2.0 but not quite there.

The LA includes a tetris clone, Blox that never made it to the GA.  I wonder if it’s a SDK example or maybe IBM didn’t want to get into licenses etc etc..

Also the applications were more or less the same, although there is some icon differences and it feels kind of rough around the edges as it isn’t finished but it does work.

OS/2 2.0 LA & GA ... And the American Flag

Nubble lighthouse, edited after the fact

Another weird thing I noticed while looking to see if there was any exciting bitmaps in OS/2 2.0 LA, and finding it’s the same lighthouse.  But something looked different, I’m amazed I even caught it.  So I quickly fired up an OS/2 2.0 GA VM, and put them side by side.  Do you see it?

For some reason, IBM edited out the American flag.  I presume it was to make it more “international” but at the same point I had always assumed this lighthouse was in the USA.  It does seem like a strange thing for an American company to do, as Americans always tend to slip stuff like flags & music into their products…

I figure someone out there who wants to run OS/2 LA will want this to get this OS running. At the same time, I haven’t even thought about seeing if LA upgrades 1.3 and how 2.0 GA overlays the LA.

OS/2 4.0 the final frontier

When OS/2 4.0 came out, something was different.  First it was 1996.  The Windows 95 tidal wave had happened.  Users everywhere were moving to Windows 95.  Office 95 was also a big deal, a real 32bit version of Office that was sold on retail shelves, unlike Office for NT.

And if that onslaught wasn’t enough, a month earlier Windows NT 4.0 had hit the shelves.  And as I had mentioned it was so popular and so desired, where I worked people were going out and purchasing it themselves, and replacing their corporate sanctioned OS (Windows 3.11 or Windows 95) as the productivity of not crashing or the conflicts of old/bad drivers etc etc.

At this point to say OS/2 4.0 had significant competition is an understatement.  Not to mention how Microsoft leveraged it’s OEM channels to force bundling & instillation of Windows/Office, even on IBM hardware.

When I got OS/2 1.3 it was at a HAM Fest, as nobody sold it retail.  OS/2 2.1 for Windows, and OS/2 Warp were all sold through retail channels.  When OS/2 4.0 had finally gone retail none of the local retailers in the Ft Lauderdale, Miami area were going to even stock it.  Instead me & a friend had to drive all the way up to some small retailer out around Boynton Beach.  Needless to say this release wasn’t going to be a big one.

While the hype around Merlin, had been quite intense, when it had come time to deliver it seemed at this point IBM was only going to push this out because of all the time & effort that went into it.  But the PowerPC version was basically dead, and it seemed with them the hope of OS/2 had gone with them.

Also at this point there were no plans to build a Win32 subsystem into OS/2.  This meant that you couldn’t run Office 95.  And of course when Office 97 came out, there was no way you would be running that on OS/2 either.  Oh sure there was this half hearted framework, Open32, 800 some popular Win32 calls adapted to OS/2, but it was only source compatible, there was no way it’d run stuff on OS/2 (while others have taken up the torch via Odin).

Ok, enough with the back story!  Let’s upgrade!

Hello old friend, it’s time to go to the end….

The installer had now swelled up to 3 disks.  I’m not sure if 4.0 was even available on floppy disks.  I know the version I had was on CD.

I’ve got to admit it, this boot logo looks the best.  Although in my opinion they should have dropped the Warp thing, at this point 4.0 was it’s own thing, and even in this logo they are using warp like a deformation, not warp speed.  Could it have been that hard to slap some Star Trek people on this?

In this day in age, there would have been a ‘Jean Luc Piccard’ limited edition.  But I guess IBM wouldn’t want to offend the STAR WARS fans or something.

Well this is a change, a welcome screen touting new and exciting features!

And it pretty much looks and feels like Warp 3’s colored installer, which we all know really goes all the way back to OS/2 1.1 .  Especially when it comes to this:

Yep let’s NOT format the disk.  Although in retrospect I think I really did only half read this once, and I just saw the “convert to a different file system” part and said oh yeah let’s do this HPFS thing! … Too bad I missed the “erases all files”… Maybe a blink tag would have been appropriate there… Oh well it’s been a long long time since then.

Now with OS/2 prepped, it’s time to go into the GUI boot…!

 

Oddly enough the Sound Blaster was not preserved from Warp.  And at least in a virtual machine I do have the ability to test, and quickly go redo this, so I know the “Sound Blaster 16 PnP” works best in Virtual PC 2007.  And as you can see it picks up the S3 video, and it remembered my printer!  But it still asks me to go thru a list of printer & video drivers, I guess it’s to make sure they are correct.  I just hope this doesn’t leave me with 3 printers…

And as a sign of the times.. My 500MB disk is looking pretty small with all these features.

And look, networking!

It does support DHCP, and it found the DC21x4 network card in Virtual PC.  So far it looks pretty good!

Let’s let the installer do it’s thing!

Also you may notice that OS/2 4.0 looks nothing like the prior versions.  Gone is the old 5 color flag thing, and in with the ‘warp bounce’ thing.

I’m sure all of this is helpful to someone.  But it’s not me.  I just assumed it knows what it’s doing.

A quick reboot and um.. it’s doing something.  I guess someone had a placeholder in there…

Then another reboot and…

There is this weird animation of a computer and a LAN going down the drain or something..

Then we get this welcome screen.  Closing out of this, I get to the desktop!

Which is… different.  It sure looks like *NOTHING* desktop wise was preserved.

Although I do like the status bar up top. Right away I know I’m using more then half my disk!

And there is some OS/2 answer to the start menu..

Which in the world of Windows 95/NT 4 feels. Weird.  So quickly let’s see how we stack up in terms of legacy applications.

Excel acts weird.  I don’t know if this is to blame on the new graphics drivers, or what. Granted Excel is circa 1991 but it’s worked up to this point.

Ironically, Word 1.1 for OS/2 works great.  Although it’s far obsoleted in terms of it’s document format, left behind by Word 2 for Windows, this version just keeps on rocking.  I can’t help but wonder if I had an older version of Excel that it may have worked better.

SimCity loads up and plays fine. No weird artifacts.  Even digging through the old desktop folder I find my old stuff from OS/2 1.1 and I fire up bricks.

So far so good.  Seeing I found my old applications, let’s see about games & all the desktop accessories we’ve collected since OS/2 2.0

Talk about horrible!  They are almost all GONE!  Even poor Neko didn’t make the cut!  And yet gwbasic 3.23 from OS/2 1.0 made it.  Honestly I really feel let down by IBM at this point.

Another thing that didn’t make the cut was my Win32s install.  It was completely removed. I almost wonder what would have happened if I’d installed apps in OS/2 2.0’s Windows 3.0 .. I may have to time travel to find out.

Also any attempts at running MS-DOS in a full screen freezes OS/2.  Looking at the Excel glitch I can’t help but feel it’s a video driver thing.

I know this post is very heavy in terms of pictures, and there is a lot of ground to cover in this final release of OS/2 (I’m counting 4.0 as the last one as it’s the last one I’ve ever used, and I don’t think that 4.5 was even attempted to be marketed in a retail fashion, and I really can’t justify the $$$ for ecomstation.. but maybe I’ll see if there is a demo…)

I’ll try to cover some of the new features, in the next post.

Upgrading through OS/2; Version 3.0 aka Warp pt II

Continuing from my previous post, I scored a lot of OS/2 Warp 3.0 media on ebay, and a kind person sent me some disk images of Warp 3.0 blue spine!

Now the downside is that while Virtual PC 2007 supports XDF to some extent, it doesn’t like the XDF driver that comes with Warp 3.0… Which I guess isn’t a surprise, anyone would after all be loading the latest version, I mean who would load up and upgrade every version of OS/2 for the heck of it?

So as it is pointed out here, simply replace the ibm1flpy.add & xdfloppy.flt from OS/2 4.0 and it’ll work!

Now we get the usual, do we want to format my disk… As always the answer is NO… But it’s so delightfully colorful now!

Then it’s a simple matter of feeding it disks, and waiting for it to chew through the 6 disks…  I remember on a physical machine, these XDF’s weren’t exactly speedy.

And then with that out of the way, it’ll be time to reboot, into the GUI, and to see how much hardware (if any) has been preserved.

I had to change the Video to regular VGA, for some reason it this this is a Chips video…? And it had no idea about the CD-ROM.  It did pick up the sound blaster, and it kept my printer!

Wow fully loaded out, and 29.33MB.  I can’t remember the last time getting so much out of so little.  Anyways, time to swap more disks…

And as part of the update, it’ll let you compare your config.sys with a before and after… And honestly… WTF?  Since the lines are so long, why did someone thing this was actually legible?

I know it’s part of the legacy of config.sys, but really.. WTF!

Well we’ll just trust it’s upgrade process, and let it ride!

So we reboot, another splash logo and….

We not only get the desktop, the tutoral, Introducing OS/2.  Which is really nice looking.  It’s like they hired someone that’s not old school IBM to do this.  It’s at least a big enough of a change since the days of OS/2 1.2’s tutorial.

Closing that, I get the desktop.  I’m no fan of the launchpad, so I just shred that thing from the get go.  I know I know.. it’s like windows 95’ish but from 1994.

And how did my legacy applications hold up?

Bricks from OS/2 1.1 is still there, and still works great.  Word & Excel also working, just as they did when I installed them in OS/2 1.2.

Even SimCityLite is working, along with DOOM.  I’d have to give Warp an A+ on it’s migration from OS/2 2.1.  It did look a little scary with the config.sys thing from hell, but really you can tell a *LOT* of work went into this release of OS/2.

Speaking of games, Warp gave us.. Mahjongg Solitaire.  I don’t know why it’s not spelled Mahjong, maybe it’s some British English vs US English thing?  Anyways I’ve always associated the game with old ladies, and gambling rings.  Honestly IBM would have been better off paying out some developer for a ‘top selling game’ and doing an OS/2 version.  Even in OS/2 2.0 it is possible to write 32bit programs that’ll run in VGA 320x200x256 mode, which was still popular with plenty of the MS-DOS games of the time.  But I guess even a full screen port of DOOM wouldn’t be all that IBM GREY/PC/DULL enough.  Oh well even Tetris would have been a popular game.

One thing that bugged the hell out of me was the sounds.  It still was annoying to use OS/2 in an office with it constantly making noise… But in all fairness it was kind of the rage of the time, even Windows to this day has all the hooks in for it’s themes of custom mouse pointers, and GUI actions. Thankfully we’ve all moved beyond that.

This was going to be the the effort to really wow people before Windows 95 shipped.  In some regards it really was too little too late.  The world was shifting away from the idea of an isolate powerful ‘workstation’ to the connected computer.  As it does say on the box, this was the ‘on ramp to the information super highway.  In my opinion this is where OS/2 weakspots really started to show through.  First TCP/IP was an addon, not part of the OS.  I don’t know how they thought slapping other diskettes in the box is ‘ok’ but it’s not part of the default install, and easily missed by novice users.  The next, and forever lamented part is that it only included support for dialup.

That’s right, although dialup was pretty much the norm for 1994, the world was rapidly changing, and the first cable modems were starting to be slowly rolled out.  It also meant in the corporate world as LANS had taken over everything, and companies were just starting to think about TCP/IP and internet strategies, OS/2 was setup to be left out.  Instead, someone at IBM decided that LAN based network should be a premium and people should pay twice the price for OS/2 Warp connect.  This proved disastrous.

Right about this time, Microsoft had released Windows for Workgroups, which was all about LAN / NetBEUI access, but they even did throw out a free TCP/IP protocol upgrade.  Windows NT 3.1 had finally shipped, and it too included LAN TCP/IP support.  Then it was cemented in the more responsive Windows NT 3.5 which had a smaller memory footprint, and of course included support for PPP/SLIP along with LAN networking, and support for IP forwarding!  That’s right you could use Windows NT 3.5 as a router!.. (Yes, even the workstation version).

However IBM did at least have the foresight to include popular internet programs in their internet pack (which sadly I don’t have.  I’ll have to review it later), I recall it had a gopher client, NNTP client (Probably News/2 from the TCP/IP for OS/2 2.0 days) and a cut down version of LAMAIL…

The other massive shift online was the coming rise of the web browser.  Specifically Mosaic.  And Mosaic ran on all kinds of UNIX platforms.  It even ran on Windows NT.  They even made it ‘safe’ enough to run on Win32s.  But there was no port to OS/2.  Thankfully someone recognized the importance of Win32s, and provided a driver to interface Windows 3.1’s 386 enhanced mode, to a workalike driver for Win32s.

I chose the ‘runtime’ version of Win32s 1.1 .. I just wanted to see if it’d work.

And the good news is that not only did it work, but it runs in seamless mode, with OS/2 1.1’s color scheme.  Pretty snazzy.

There was a short windows, but it was there, while people were on dialup, and before Windows 95 had shipped and had some extended driver support under it’s belt, OS/2 was the best way to run Win32s stuff outside of Windows NT.  But even people who had devices like this thing I had at the time:

The web ramp was really cool, it had 3 serial ports, which let you connect 3 modems.  It would then round robin your outbound requests so that people could share all 3 lines (if you had them) and it did NAT in hardware.  This mean in the age of dialup this little guy would let you build a small LAN (it had a 4 port ethernet hub in the back) and suddenly all the computers at home with ethernet were online.  It’s stuff like this that really left people asking why did OS/2 warp have such a substandard networking stack.

The year was 1994, the internet was starting to gain momentum.  Windows 95 was a year and a half away.  The answer to Windows 95 would no doubt be OS/2 4.0.  Would IBM do anything about these shortcomings?

We’ll find out as we upgrade to ‘project Merlin’ AKA OS/2 4.0.

How to fix weird mouse issues with VM’s migrated from MS Virtual PC/Virtual Server/Hyper-V

I had this issue with one VM where the mouse would either play dead, or it’d just hide in a corner.  While I did have RDP access, it was.. quite annoying.

So some googling around I found this.

1. Do it all over again, but make sure to uninstall the Virtual Machine Additions before you convert the machine.
2. Install VMWare tools without the mouse driver (choose custom installation)
3. Open regedit, and use your mad keyboarding skillz to navigate to
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Contro l\Class\{4D36E96F-E325-11CE-BFC1-08002BE10318}
..then remove the value “msvmmouf” and any adjacent spaces from the Regvalue UpperFilters, leaving whatever else is there, then reboot.

And it actually worked!

Upgrading through OS/2; Version 3.0 aka Warp

Well the time has come to install OS/2 Warp.  But first a quick commercial:

It’s not secret that this is regarded as one of the worst advertising campaigns in the history of the world.  Watch it and remember this ad aired on American TV.  If you want to alienate people first speak to them in a foreign language that they have no hope of understanding.  Next get people who clearly are not users of that product to promote it.  And finally… DON’T SHOW THE PRODUCT.

Nobody wanted to get ‘warped’.  After all warped rotors cost people a LOT of money.. Bad connotations, you know.  But apparently nobody with any common sense asked what the hell was this crap.

Anyways, let’s go and do the upgrade.

Old blue, forever there…. forever… IBM.

Oh what’s this?  A new boot logo! Clearly this isn’t OS/2 2.x!

I can feel the excitement already!  So I’m going to take the easy way out, right? It should.. keep my printer, keep my applications, and get me warped right!?

The best part about Warp is that it supports IDE CDROMs out of the box! Outside of the boot disks, no more floppy shuffle!

And tragedy struck.

Well of course I have a greater then 35MB disk, Invalid Base Product Level?  What is so wrong with OS/2 2.11?  I have a bad feeling my OS/2 3.0 CD is one of the ‘red spine’ varieties that includes no Win-OS/2 support but rather relied on the user to provide a regular copy of Windows 3.1 … And for some reason it won’t upgrade a prior Win-OS/2 installation.

Oh well.  I’ll have to dig around some more for a ‘red’ spine copy of Warp 3 …

I guess for now this is a ‘work in progress’.. but I’ll get OS/2 all the way to 4!

—- Edit

Some kind person sent me some disk images, so onward to Warp 3!

Upgrading through OS/2; Version 2.1

Kicking off the install we get our old friend the IBM logo.  At least they get to re-use stuff over and over and over…

Oh look the boot logo! ..

And… the old welcome screen.  Sometimes it’s hard to know what version you are installing.  Well other then the mountain of diskettes! It’s 23 disks by now!

This sounds.. foreboding.  I guess we’ll find out as we go along.

And once more again, OS/2 can be installed in all kinds of places.. And to keep the upgrade cycle going we are going to remain on the C drive…

I guess by now I should get used to OS/2 trying to offer to format my hard disk.

Time to feed the machine a bunch of disks…

And now we are ready to boot up the GUI… Again is this OS/2 2.0 or 2.1? It’s hard to tell.

And let’s install the whole thing… wee!

Well this is new.. CD-ROMs were becoming more and more popular.  Sadly the IDE CDROM standard had not been invented yet.  So… going stock, no IDE-CDROMs yet.

And once more again I have to select the IBM Proprinter II and assign it to LPT1.  Why oh why am I constantly having to do this?  There is no real logic as to why some versions migrate this, and others do not.

Time to feed some disks to the computer, and wonder about that warning…

Didn’t we do this before?  Again I’m going to go through with it…

Worst case I’ll have two icon sets now for Word & Excel.

Now for the moment of truth!

Ok, looks good.. OS/2 2.1 … Which to be honest looks identical to OS/2 2.0.

The good news is that Word and Excel still work, and Bricks the breakout clone from OS/2 1.1 is still working.  I still have my two printers..

Games & Productivity look identical.

The ‘bigger’ deal is that Win-OS/2 was updated to Windows 3.1!

And it could now run in 386 Enhanced Mode, while OS/2 2.0’s Windows 3.0 was limited to ‘real’ and ‘standard’ (286 protected mode) modes of operation.  The only big limitation was that you could not load any VXD’s into Windows 3.1.  This made things like Win32s impossible to use.  But again with it’s ability to isolate programs it made OS/2 a far superior platform for Windows applications.

The other big use for OS/2 was BBSing.  It’s ability to run multiple DOS sessions was a big deal.  And if anything OS/2’s ability to multitask DOS so well made OS/2 versions of stuff kind of moot.  Even Synchronet didn’t sell that many OS/2 versions fo the BBS (I know it was largely because the tremendous rise of the Internet really changed that).

The other ‘big’ thing for OS/2 2.1 was the addition of the multimedia extensions.  Sadly they were a separate install from the OS (WHY?!) and it seems with the shuffle of time I’ve misplaced my disks… I remember that it included some bird video, and Intel video codec, and sounds.  There was a sound effect for everything but moving the mouse.. And it was annoying as hell.  But it’s March of 1993, Windows NT 3.1 is about to launch, and Multimedia was on everyone’s mind.

Also as OS/2 started to garner attention things like Sim City started to appear.

SimCity for OS/2 2.7

Thanks to BlueNexus

One thing was for sure, to stand out the next version of OS/2 needed to look.. different. Onward to Warp!

Upgrading through OS/2; Version 2.0

Well here we go, ‘A better dos then dos, a better windows then windows, better OS/2 than OS/2!’ … The 32bit version of OS/2 had been under development for quite some time, and now it was finally time to ship.. The year was 1992.

I’m going to switch from VirtualBOX to Virtual PC, as the screen redraws were just too slow on VirtualBOX.  Virtual PC cannot boot 1.0, 1.1 & 1.2 however it can run OS/2 1.3.  Thanks to Qemu’s qemu-img tool, I could quickly convert the VirtualBOX hard disk image into something VirtualPC can understand.

qemu-img.exe convert OS21.3.vmdk -O vpc OS2-13.vhd

And to test things, I first booted it on Virtual PC.

Ok, everything looks fine, let’s upgrade!

The OS/2 installer had grown so big, that now it required two diskettes to boot up.

Also back was a graphical splash, the colored OS/2 logo that in a way reminds me of the 4 panes of the windows logo.

And back to the blue on grey installer… Notice 15 diskettes! It’s grown massive!

Another amazing thing for OS/2 2.0 is the boot manager.  It lets OS/2 boot from extended partitions, and even secondary drives! As long as the boot manager is installed first.  I know some people that bought OS/2 only to manage multi-booting installations.  IBM could have sold this thing as a separate product.  Alas, since we are upgrading our way through OS/2 we have no need for it, so we just keep on upgrading our C drive.

If only there was a FAT to HPFS conversion utility.  But again, please don’t format my C drive!!!

Now we just feed diskettes to the installer..

And now we can reboot into the GUI!

And let the install continue.  I can’t help but think that I’ve done this before..

Unlike last time, I’ll actually have something to migrate..

Well the migration tool gives me a good feeling for finding my OS/2 programs.  Maybe they’ll even run!

Let’s trust the installer…

Now this confuses me, first it said (and quickly) that it migrated my existing printer, then it wants me to add another…?  I just know I’ll get two printers.  Now I feel like Arthur ‘Two Sheds‘ Jackson.

So a reboot at the end, and into the GUI:

Notice how OS/2 2.0 throws the tutorial in your face… All the while the desktop is building in the background so you could ‘multitask’ doing the tutorial while your hardisk is frantically building the desk.. And I see the two printers… sigh.

As you can see Word and Excel are still working.  And unlike a stock OS/2 2.0 installation it’s preserved the 1.x color scheme.

If you’ve never used OS/2 2.0 it comes with FAR more applets then the prior versions.

No doubt IBM was trying to address people like me complaining.  PM Terminal was nice in that it supported Xmodem, Ymodem & Kermit.  Not to mention you can send a ‘break’ easily over a menu.  It’s handy for things like cisco routers.  The seek & scan files is AWESOME really where was this in the world of Windows?  Why was this so … hidden.  Kind of strange that such a great tool was hiding.

Also someone got the memo about games.  You see if people can’t play in your environment they’ll go elsewhere.  After all even in the office it’s not all work.. There is a lot of people that attribute the success of Windows 3.0 to it’s Solitaire.  You see it’s shuffle algorithm is broken, cards tend to ‘clump’.  So as you play and sort, the cards start to appear in a better and more orderly manner.  And people like to win.  I know it’s a cheap thing, but heh the Chess in OS/2 is pretty good, as is the Solitaire.  I don’t know if making them ‘broken’ and letting people win more often would have sold more installs.  It reminds me of “The Story of Mel

In the same way, being ‘good’ and ‘correct’ doesn’t win you spaces in the market place.

Also this is the appearance of Neko for OS/2.  Not to mention a Jigsaw puzzle, one of those annoying number scramble things, and .. Reversi!

OS/2 2.0 finally allowed users to do wallpaper! ..

The downside is that OS/2 relied on it’s own bitmap format that of course was incompatible with the Windows bitmap format.  Nor did it support things like GIF/PCX that were common at the time.

Another thing IBM included was a copy of Windows 3.0 that could run under OS/2 2.0 in either full screen or ‘seamless’ mode.  There was no denying it, but after the launch of Windows 3.0 the avalanche of Windows programs was.. incredible.  And to not support them would mean death.

Some say that OS/2 did such a great job of support Windows that it just encouraged people to not write OS/2 software.

The ‘killer’ feature in OS/2 was this:

That little checkbox, “Separate session” became the #1 feature of OS/2.  You see Windows applications could happily overwrite each other, and memory protection became a big problem for Windows.  The easy way to crash it out was to launch a lot of any application.  Even well behaved applications would eventually bleed the system resources out, and again instabilities would strike.  In Windows 3.0 the USER, GDI & KERNEL modules all shared stack & heap, so exceeding the 64kb stack wasn’t too hard.  Even things like Program Manager and high color icons could do this quite easily.  However with OS/2’s “Win-OS/2 separate session checkbox, it meant that this application would get it’s own copy of Windows running.  Suddenly you could run Word for Windows & Excel for Windows in separate VMs, along with say some game, and the game wouldn’t crash all three out.  And if you were a programmer, it meant your compiler,editor could run outside and protected from the program you were developing.

And with seamless mode, instead of a separate screen, now your Windows applications could run on the OS/2 desktop.  This kind of partitioning wouldn’t make it’s way to Windows NT until version 3.5 in 1994.

You can only run 12 OS/2 sessions, but you can run WAY more DOS sessions.  I just got bored of clicking and rearranging.  I wouldn’t even think of running 20 MS-DOS prompts on Windows 3.0 ..

And unlike the OS/2 prompts the DOS boxes can go between full screen and windowed mode.  Another great thing is that they support DPMI & VCPI.  So you can run dos extender software.  Another great thing, is that *SOME* hardware calls could be passed down from a VM into your hardware.  It is possible for Doom 1.1 on OS/2 2.0 to work with a soundblaster.

Really.

(SET BLASTER=A220 I5 D1 P330 T3 and use the fixpack for OS/2 2.0 … but really it works!)

Sadly DOOM didn’t run in a window, and honestly a picture of doom is.. well.

 

gratuitous.

But why not.  It’s actually running under OS/2.  It’s something that a lot of computers in 1993 had issues running, even in plain MS-DOS.

At this point OS/2 1.0 feels like a tech demo, 1.1 – 1.3 are just toys.  Really you can see the frustration in the IBM/MS alliance as a 32bit OS is what people wanted to make, not the 16bit stuff.  It’s all goes down to the poor design of the 80286 CPU, and too many people selling them as ‘useful’ things.  Even as early as 1992 microkernel/personality people should have really taken notice in OS/2 2.0.  The key to the future was in virtualization, not in personalities.  Or more so, with things like Win-OS/2 paravirtualization, which is specialized kernel assists and drivers enabling the guest OS to bypass typical emulated hardware for IO and transfer raw datablocks in/out for things like video/disks & networks.

As awesome as OS/2 2.0 was, there is one thing you may notice here clearly lacking.

Networking.

OS/2 2.0 included *NO* networking support at all.  It was expected that people would use separate addons, even going as far to coax support for network cards in the DOS sessions and loading isolated Netware reqestors.  And of course adding these network requestors was widly varied, and there was simply no good universal way to do it.  Microsoft clearly learned the lesson about this with Windows for Workgroups & Windows NT.  It was a real pleasure with Windows 95 & Windows NT 4.0… But it was 1995-1996 by then.

Well, Next stop is OS/2 2.1!