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Advantages of Windows NT

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Reply 20 of 29, by dionb

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Around 2001 I worked at a student union where all the systems ran NT4. Despite its reputation of being useless for gaming and the crappy Compaq i810-based systems we had, Half Life LAN parties were a regular event 😉

No idea how they got it working, I didn't have admin rights...

Reply 21 of 29, by DosFreak

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IIRC, The DX files for NT4 were from a beta of Windows 2000. I really don't remember it being that useful it was mainly used to bypass DX version checks for a few games so you could still play them using GDI,DDraw, Glide,OpenGL but obviously no D3D (unless you used a wrapper and none really existed during that time).

This basically does the same thing:
SETDX6 - Patch NT4 DX3/5 .Dll version # to v6.1 for games that require DX6.1

You can run D3D games in software using a wrapper in NT4 but it's so slow there isn't much point.

There are tons of games out there that run fine on NT4 so when people state that NT4 can't play games they usually mean the latest and greatest.

It's possible the NT4 API wrapper currently being worked on may make some more games work on NT4 but we'll have to wait and see.

DOSBox Compilation Guides
DosBox Feature Request Thread
PC Game Compatibility List
How To Ask Questions The Smart Way
Running DRM games offline

Reply 22 of 29, by tayyare

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Errius wrote:

That sounds interesting. Do you remember the video card and the amount of memory? What size monitors were used for CAD back then?

The monitor was a giant Sony Trinitron, probably 21". I had a two diplay setup though, with a more normal probably NEC, 17" CRT (connected to a common S3 PCI card acted as a secondary display adapter).

I don't remember much about the display card except it was PCI, branded as ELSA Gloria something, designed especially OpenGL in mind, and way too expensive than something I might be interested in. What I can additionally say is, it was consderably bigger than what passes as a regular PCI display adapter then (more like a VL card or SB32 size) and it has a very unusually high amount of RAM chips on it.

I'm not sure but this one looks like what I still can rememebr about it:

http://www.vgamuseum.info/index.php/component … elsa-gloria-xxl

It was so rediculously out of my budget that I probably just decided to forget about it 🤣

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Reply 23 of 29, by Errius

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I had an ELSA Gladiac way back when and remember wondering why the equivalent Gloria cards were so expensive.

Building a mid-late 90s NT CAD workstation would be an interesting retro project.

“I like to dissect PCs. Don't you know I'm utterly insane?"

Reply 24 of 29, by shamino

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If I had known better in the 90s, and could afford it, then I probably would have dual booted NT4 and Win95 on my home PC, using the latter only for games. Only Win2k would make that obsolete.

NT4 was commonly used for most computers I saw in college. I didn't see much WIn2k.
We also used NT4 at work in the early 2000s. They had a few people on XP but most of us continued running NT4 (desktops) or Win98 (laptops). Upgrading to XP would have required a lot of hardware upgrades, plus the licenses.
They were using Win98 on laptops because they thought the power management features were more important than stability. I did not agree, but I had a desktop (NT4) so I didn't have to suffer.

For practical usage I greatly prefer NT4 to Win9x. It's stable, about as fast as Win95, and has better features than 95 (maybe not 98), but it does need more memory. The only good use case for Win9x is games (and that's obviously our priority here most of the time). I'm still scarred by memories of WIn9x making me want to gouge my eyes out. NT4 is reliable.

The major (non-gaming) feature lacking from NT4 is USB support, which is a bigger deal now than it was back then. I don't remember if there's a fix for that, I never tried myself.
NT4 can be patched to use the Win98 style GUI, but that GUI is slower, just like in Win98. After that slowdown you might as well run Win2k IMO.
My basic way of seeing it is that if a system is suitable for Win95 then it should run NT4, and if it's suitable for Win98 then it should run Win2k. Just add RAM.

Building non-gaming systems with WIn95 hardware doesn't come up much anymore, but I've done this with a couple Pentium laptops that are used for niche purposes.

Reply 25 of 29, by KCompRoom2000

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shamino wrote:

The major (non-gaming) feature lacking from NT4 is USB support, which is a bigger deal now than it was back then. I don't remember if there's a fix for that, I never tried myself.

Nathan Lineback has discovered a way to make USB flash drives work with Windows NT 4.0 (this is the page in question - scroll all the way down to see what I'm talking about), I can confirm that this trick works with my 1GB (FAT16 formatted) USB flash drive plugged into my HP e-PC C10.

shamino wrote:

NT4 can be patched to use the Win98 style GUI, but that GUI is slower, just like in Win98. After that slowdown you might as well run Win2k IMO.

Oh yeah, I remember doing that trick in virtual machines during my childhood. It certainly had a bit of a charm to it because I didn't know that Microsoft had ported the Windows 98 Active Desktop GUI to Windows 95 and NT 4.0 until I installed Internet Explorer 4 in one of my Windows NT 4.0 VMs.

shamino wrote:

My basic way of seeing it is that if a system is suitable for Win95 then it should run NT4, and if it's suitable for Win98 then it should run Win2k. Just add RAM.

Building non-gaming systems with WIn95 hardware doesn't come up much anymore, but I've done this with a couple Pentium laptops that are used for niche purposes.

I actually still have Windows NT Workstation 4.0 installed on a couple of my spare machines - the previously mentioned HP e-PC C10 and an NEC Versa FX laptop. Both machines clearly weren't meant for gaming as their GPUs (Intel i810 Extreme Graphics and Silicon Motion LynxEM respectively) have little to no 3D capabilities so there's not much of a point in using Windows 9x as the only programs we can think of that work better on 9x as opposed to NT are games (and possibly some multimedia programs). I leave my 9x games to more advanced systems with much more powerful graphics capabilities (the two machines in the middle of my signature) so it's not like I'm missing out on that era of gaming.

Admittedly both of my NT4 machines were early Windows 2000 computers, but as both computers have drivers for Windows NT 4.0 and even I already have a few Windows 2000 PCs in my collection (including a Dell Inspiron 8100 laptop and a Dell Optiplex GX150 (in a dual-boot configuration with Windows 98SE, as the 1998-01 system in my sig)). I figured why not set up a couple NT4 machines for playing around with that era?

Reply 26 of 29, by shamino

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KCompRoom2000 wrote:

Nathan Lineback has discovered a way to make USB flash drives work with Windows NT 4.0 (this is the page in question - scroll all the way down to see what I'm talking about), I can confirm that this trick works with my 1GB (FAT16 formatted) USB flash drive plugged into my HP e-PC C10.

Interesting. And I see there was a trick for adding FAT32 support as well.

I actually still have Windows NT Workstation 4.0 installed on a couple of my spare machines - the previously mentioned HP e-PC C10 and an NEC Versa FX laptop. Both machines clearly weren't meant for gaming as their GPUs (Intel i810 Extreme Graphics and Silicon Motion LynxEM respectively) have little to no 3D capabilities so there's not much of a point in using Windows 9x as the only programs we can think of that work better on 9x as opposed to NT are games (and possibly some multimedia programs). I leave my 9x games to more advanced systems with much more powerful graphics capabilities (the two machines in the middle of my signature) so it's not like I'm missing out on that era of gaming.

Admittedly both of my NT4 machines were early Windows 2000 computers, but as both computers have drivers for Windows NT 4.0 and even I already have a few Windows 2000 PCs in my collection (including a Dell Inspiron 8100 laptop and a Dell Optiplex GX150 (in a dual-boot configuration with Windows 98SE, as the 1998-01 system in my sig)). I figured why not set up a couple NT4 machines for playing around with that era?

Yeah, I've sometimes wanted to build an NT4 desktop.
My experience with gaming on NT4 is limited, but it actually seems that NT4 is supported by the Windows based 2D games I'm familiar with. The major breakage is with DOS based and Direct3D games (not sure about OpenGL).
I guess the 2D games of that period have an alternate mode for using DirectDraw 3, even if they call for a later version of DirectX on the box.
I suppose that Direct3D was changing too quickly so it was a lot harder to support NT4 when 3D was involved, but not such a big deal if the game only used DirectDraw.

If I build an NT4 desktop it will probably be a Pentium Pro. And if I build a Pentium Pro, it probably won't have much 3D capability anyway since I have hardly any PCI 3D cards. But maybe I'd get a Voodoo and dual boot it.

Reply 27 of 29, by Jo22

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shamino wrote:

My experience with gaming on NT4 is limited, but it actually seems that NT4 is supported by the Windows based 2D games I'm familiar with. The major breakage is with DOS based and Direct3D games (not sure about OpenGL).

My experience was similar. I figure out that, for example, quite a few japanese games mentioned NT 3.51/NT4 in their minimum requirements.
See Re: Is Win NT 3.51 any good for gaming?

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Reply 28 of 29, by gex85

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tayyare wrote:
I don't remember much about the display card except it was PCI, branded as ELSA Gloria something, designed especially OpenGL in […]
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Errius wrote:

That sounds interesting. Do you remember the video card and the amount of memory? What size monitors were used for CAD back then?

I don't remember much about the display card except it was PCI, branded as ELSA Gloria something, designed especially OpenGL in mind, and way too expensive than something I might be interested in. What I can additionally say is, it was consderably bigger than what passes as a regular PCI display adapter then (more like a VL card or SB32 size) and it has a very unusually high amount of RAM chips on it.

I'm not sure but this one looks like what I still can rememebr about it:

http://www.vgamuseum.info/index.php/component … elsa-gloria-xxl

It was so rediculously out of my budget that I probably just decided to forget about it 🤣

I happen to own one of these cards. Bought a couple of machines ranging from 486 to P3 from an eBay classifieds listing the other day and the seller gave me a big box with AGP and PCI cards basically for free. It contained a few ELSA cards as well, and the Gloria-XXL was one of them. I tested it today and it seems to work, maybe I'll throw together a "late 90s CAD workstation build" one day. However I am not sure how useful such a build would really be since I suppose you need software that is written specifically for cards like this to unleash their potential.

Back on topic: The company I started working for in 2011 (!) still had a NT 4.0 server in production. They had already migrated most of their domain to a Win2k3 active directory but there were some use cases left that still relied on the old NT 4.0 machine. However, I managed to finally shut that thing down a few months later.

My retro computers

Reply 29 of 29, by XtoF

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fsmith2003 wrote:

Since it is not based off of DOS then are there some notable programs or games that did use this technology prior to the release of Windows 2000?

3DS Max was a program written from scratch for Windows NT4. It could also (somewhat) run on Win95 but was not very stable. Under NT it was rock solid and made use of OpenGL. It also supported real multi-threading on SMP machines.
I think it was the first serious 3D Editor/Renderer ported to windows and thus enjoyed a tremendous success The combination Pentium Pro / NT4 was affordable and very competitive against Risc / Unix workstations of the time.

I did use 3DS for DOS before that, and it was night and day.

My use of 3DSMax/NT4 was not professional and you can watch a short animation I produced here: https://youtu.be/aVVsiyYsN60
(Please don't mind the accents, we where young 😅)
Most of the work was done on a p166mmx with 64mb of ram. Those were the days! 😎