dionb wrote on 2020-05-22, 00:49:
My dislike of Win95 goes back to the 1990s. I had a P60 with DOS 6.22 and Win3.11, my mother had a P90 with Win95 (and OS/2 Warp - she worked for IBM...). In pretty much everything my system was faster with better stability, which was purely due to software.. I didn't upgrade to Win9x until I had a Celeron 366 with 64MB RAM, and then went straight for Win98SE. Fast-forward to retrocomputing, and drivers are the big thing. Win98SE certainly has its issues with bad/unstable drivers, but at least installing them is pretty painless. Win95 drivers are hell. Particularly when it comes to sound cards. Particularly regarding this card in fact - I worked at PB's helpdesk around the turn of the millennium and we occastionally got out-of-warranty calls about this card on customer-installed Windows 95. Pro forma we had drivers available, but no one could recall a single instance where a customer was actually able to get it running. No such problems in DOS, Win98SE, Linux or pretty much any other OS out there. Same with IBM mWave cards (also used by Packard Bell incidentally). I recently found one and gave it a try, installing it in an IBM PC330 system to bring it back to original spec. Win98SE: no problem, once I figured out the correct driver for the card, it just worked. Win95: not a chance. Multiple attempts with multiple drivers at best showing themselves being correctly installed, but not a beep from the card. Even though the specs of this system were rather low for Win98SE (P100 with 24MB RAM), I stuffed in some more RAM and sold it with working Win98SE.
I'm sure it's possible to get this sort of stuff working under Win95, but I'm not prepared to put the time, effort and frustration into it.
Personally I'd just run DOS (+Win3.11 if GUI needed) up to the end of the P1 era, then skip to Win98SE for P2 onwards. And Win95 on a 486... at uni someone decided that all PCs needed to be upgraded to it, even the 486DX-33 4MB RAM systems. That was torture, but not something to blame Win95 for.
That hasn't been my experience, but I also am in the future, where you can find stable chipset drivers and things that were difficult, or impossible to get ahold of back in the day. I should also note that all of the drivers I do have are from 1998 or later, up to late 1999, which eases things up to an extraordinary level. Combine that with the fact that the ESS 1869F I use has a driver installation application that is quite good, and it makes it easy for me to say that Windows 95 fares quite well on that system. It also probably helps that my primary Windows 95 system is a Gateway 2000 P5-200 system with 32MB of SDRAM on the 430TX chipset, a system worth at least US$2,500 not adjusting for inflation, a very unrealistic system for the time unless you just had money coming out of your eyeballs.
And ah, yes, Windows 95 on a 486 DX-33. Just be glad that they weren't 386DX based, like the "minimum," specifications say. I think they shot really low on that to try to maximize on how many people bought it, because I'd imagine Windows 95 on less than 8MB of RAM is the kind of thing that turns your HDD indicator into a second power light.
As for the Packard Bell card itself, I probably won't be using it. I'll likely just grab an ESS1868 or some other good SB clone for cheap off of eBay, it's not worth it to fool around with the card for what I'll be using it for, it'll be in a K6-2 266 system (overclocked to 300MHz) mainly used to play old DOS games on a LAN with the Gateway tower. I am very appreciative of this help though, as I'll definitely need this card for something later and Phil's drivers should work well for me.