VOGONS


Windows 3.11 vs. Windows 95

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First post, by viper32cm

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I'm in the beginning stages of building a close representation of the computer I had between 1995 and 1998--P100, 16MB RAM, ~1GB HDD, 1MB PCI video, etc.

When I bought the computer it had Windows 3.11 and DOS 6.22, and I played tons of primarily 1992 and newer DOS games with it (also some Sierra Win 3.x/95 titles). However, like most people back then, I eventually upgraded to Windows 95 and started playing mostly Win 95 games. Now that I've decided to start this build, I'm at a bit of crossroads as to whether to go with the "early" or "late" software configuration.

I already have a far superior system running the last release of Windows 95--P233MMX, 64MB RAM, PCI TNT, etc. So, I already have the Win 95 box thoroughly checked, which makes me lean towards going with Windows 3.11 and DOS. I know you can (and I do) play older DOS games on my P233MMX using SetMul, but there's something appealing about having a dedicated DOS computer from what was the twilight of the DOS era.

Practically speaking, however, is there any real advantage for retro gaming purposes with going with Windows 3.11?
If I wanted to split the difference and go with a dual boot configuration, I would need some sort of boot manager, correct?

Reply 1 of 40, by Joseph_Joestar

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I keep DOS 6.22 + Win3.1 on a separate hard disk from my Win98 installation purely for nostalgia reasons. Like you, I had that setup when I first got my computer.

The only technical reason to run this instead of Win9x is that a couple of programs (usually sound card drivers) can detect DOS 7.x and fail to install with a "this program cannot be used under Windows" message. I've never had that issue with games though.

Your next line is...

Reply 3 of 40, by Errius

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No, at least not with the Creative drivers. IIRC, someone here uploaded hacked drivers that work under any version of DOS.

“Your mission is to attack and destroy the Apple Computer manufacturing plant. You are allotted 35 bombs and 60 lasers."

Reply 4 of 40, by chinny22

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I had same choice with my 486. I went with Dos 6.22/Win3x and happy I did.
WFW 3.11 has no benefit for a games rig but the GUI is nice for file management and can be networked with Win9x easily
Really though its for that nostalgia hit

Practically speaking Win95 is the superior OS in every way, It's dos compatibility is fine 99% of the time you get FAT32 and the GUI is nicer, but like you I've already got a few 9x PC's so where is the fun in that?

You can install both without any 3rd party software, Install dos/Win3x then install WIn95 and it'll ask if you want to upgrade or duel boot but personally I don't see the point as 3.11 will be redundant.

Reply 5 of 40, by Jorpho

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viper32cm wrote on 2020-04-16, 03:19:

there's something appealing

If this is all about some intangible "appeal" then there is no point in arguing the technical merits one way or another.

If I wanted to split the difference and go with a dual boot configuration, I would need some sort of boot manager, correct?

If you install DOS 6.22 and then install Windows 95 or Win9x, you can press F8 during startup and select "Previous version of MS-DOS" from the menu. (You might even be able to automate this by editing MSDOS.SYS.) The autoexec.bat and config.sys files get shuffled around in the process, but it's nothing to really worry about. Older DOS disk utilities will tend to object to the presence of long filenames, but that's nothing new.

Errius wrote on 2020-04-16, 10:40:

No, at least not with the Creative drivers. IIRC, someone here uploaded hacked drivers that work under any version of DOS.

I think that was Patched CTCM/CTCU to remove Windows detection . It removes the check for the "winbootdir" environment variable. That one package of Creative drivers seems to be the only real concern.

Reply 6 of 40, by Errius

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Yes, that's it. MS-DOS 7.x won't let you get rid of that winbootdir environment variable.

“Your mission is to attack and destroy the Apple Computer manufacturing plant. You are allotted 35 bombs and 60 lasers."

Reply 7 of 40, by JazeFox

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You can also try UNISOUND to init the SB16. User feipoa mentioned the same problem with CTCM here Re: Any issue running a CH Gamecard 3 Automatic with an AWE64Gold?

Unisound works perfectly with any DOS version
Universal ISA PnP Sound Card Enabler for DOS v0.71c (UNISOUND)

Reply 8 of 40, by dr_st

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If you already have a system with Win9x, then it does make sense to have a DOS6.22/Win3.11 system, especially if it's running somewhat weaker hardware.

If one decides to dedicate a single system for retro-DOS gaming, I always suggest Win98 SE and its pure DOS mode.

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Reply 9 of 40, by keenmaster486

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Windows 95 will be suboptimal with only 16 MB of RAM. Yes it will work but you'll wish you had more; it'll basically become a single-tasking OS if you don't want to use your swapfile all the time.

I flermmed the plootash just like you asked.

Reply 10 of 40, by derSammler

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Depends on the software you want to run. I have a P75 running Win95 with 16 MB, too. It runs fine and does not swap that much. Most early Win95 software only require 8 MB, so 16 MB is sufficient. Just make sure you are not installing IE4 with Active Desktop and all that crap. Then, it gets unusable with 16 MB.

Last edited by derSammler on 2020-04-21, 18:02. Edited 1 time in total.

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Reply 11 of 40, by maxtherabbit

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hell I have a win95B install on a 386sx16 with 8MB RAM. It's slow but perfectly usable. System is on a CF card, swap is on a SCSI mechanical HDD on the busmastering 1542B

Reply 12 of 40, by viper32cm

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keenmaster486 wrote on 2020-04-21, 16:55:

Windows 95 will be suboptimal with only 16 MB of RAM. Yes it will work but you'll wish you had more; it'll basically become a single-tasking OS if you don't want to use your swapfile all the time.

I remember Win95 8MB being "crap" on my old P100, so much so that I downgraded to Windows 3.11 until mid/late-1996 when I got 16MB RAM. I remember 16MB RAM being "acceptable" for Win95 and "crap" for Win98 with that system. But 32MB seems to do the trick for Win9x with those Socket 5/early-Socket 7 systems. Too bad I didn't have the money for 32MB back then.

Because of my self imposed RAM limitation I've decided to go with DOS 6.22/Win 3.11. It'll be a fun experiment if nothing else. I might even see if I can grab a copy of Packard Bell Navigator just for the hell of it (my childhood P100 was a PB).

Reply 13 of 40, by Errius

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I tried installing W95C on a 486 with 8 MB. Not only was it very slow, but after updates, it swallowed up nearly all of the free space on the disk.

“Your mission is to attack and destroy the Apple Computer manufacturing plant. You are allotted 35 bombs and 60 lasers."

Reply 14 of 40, by Jo22

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viper32cm wrote on 2020-04-21, 22:59:

I remember Win95 8MB being "crap" on my old P100, so much so that I downgraded to Windows 3.11 until mid/late-1996 when I got 16MB RAM. I remember 16MB RAM being "acceptable" for Win95 and "crap" for Win98 with that system. But 32MB seems to do the trick for Win9x with those Socket 5/early-Socket 7 systems. Too bad I didn't have the money for 32MB back then.

Back in time, I've used to see laptops and 386 PCs struggling with Win95 on 4MiB of RAM..
So yeah, I can fully relate to this. My father had a 386DX40 PC but upgraded to 16MiB of RAM just for Win95.

He never did regret this. If memory serves, an interview with Win95 devs revealed that the minimum requirement of 4MiB was ridiculous.
According to what I remember, it was stated that the original Win95 required *at least* 32MiB of RAM to no to swap to disk.

Which makes sense to me, since OS/2 Warp was comparably "memory hungry".
Alas, when Win95 came out, almost no existing PC met the true requirements.

Memory was expensive and many Turbo XTs and 286 PCs were still out there.
Most of which were equipped with a lousy 1MiB of RAM only and no EMS, even!

The whole thing remembers me of the Win Vista desaster. Vista was a powerful OS, requiring a powerful computer.
Thanks to false marketing (sys requirements etc) it had no chance but to fail.

Edit: Win98SE, while more complex, did run "okay" on 24MiB of RAM on a Pentium 75 already.
Perhaps thanks to its more advanced memory managment and ability to run many programs directly from VCACHE.

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In what to one race is no time at all, another race can rise and fall..." - The Minstrel

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Reply 15 of 40, by Caluser2000

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I have more nostalgia for Win3.x because I used it for a hell of a long time until I got a second hand win98 system for a good price. In it's final incarnation on my win3.x box it was running the Calmira II shell. Yeah used Win95 at work but that was about it.

There's a glitch in the matrix.

Reply 16 of 40, by chinny22

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The Windows Desktop Update that came with later versions or IE4 bumped up the ram requirements.
Not going to say 95 was fast on a dx2/66 but it was usable. Same can't be said if you installed the update

Reply 17 of 40, by Jo22

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By the way, there's nothing wrong with running Windows 3.1 from Windows 95.
That way, you've got the best of two worlds. 😀

More information here:
Re: Is Windows 3.1 or Older Necessary?

"Time, it seems, doesn't flow. For some it's fast, for some it's slow.
In what to one race is no time at all, another race can rise and fall..." - The Minstrel

//My video channel//

Reply 18 of 40, by PC-Engineer

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With Win95 i had too many inconsistencies, esp. with drivers and the resulting BlueScreens and error messages, especially with nonPnP ISA Cards like the GUS.With PnP cards Win95 often shuffled the ressources, so that the fixed DOS config failed. I remember the official Release and the presentation by Bill Gates with a nice BlueScreen. On the other Hand the UI was in my opinion much better than Win3.x. Win98 was a huge step and overrules Win95 in every sense, except memory usage (nearly double requrement) - 32MB and more needed for fluent work, no problem for most 486er with 256kB cache.
With DOS 7.x i observed zero! disadvantages vs. DOS 6.2x

My choice would be DOS 6.2x + Win3.1x for 486 class DOS PCs (8-32MB RAM) and Win98SE for Pentium. 100 and faster (32MB + RAM)

1994/1995 - Socket3 - ASUS SV2GX4 / POD 100MHz / 64MB / SCSI - Windows 95

Reply 19 of 40, by viper32cm

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DOS6.22 and Win3.11 are installed now. This system (P100, 16Mb, 2MB S3 Trio64V+, 256KB asynch cash) must be considerably faster than my old Packard Bell, as the Win 3.11 splash screen barely shows up before you're in the desktop environment. Performance is quite good, and I'm actually thinking about disabling the cache to slow it down.

It's been approximately 25 years since I've used Win3.11. It's funny how primitive it is, even compared to the Win95C. It almost makes me want to get my hands on a copy of the RTM version of Win95 for comparison because I know I hated that version in comparison to 3.11, at least early on.