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Windows 3.0 Real Mode Software

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First post, by vkcpolice

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Hi all im stuffing around with win 3.0 on my old 286 and wondering if anyone knows any fun software that will run in real mode as i cant run windows in standard due to lack of ram.
after anything like utility's games ect.
anyone got any ideas drop a line thanks 😀

Reply 1 of 24, by Jo22

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Hi, there are several programs from 1992 and before that will run in Real-Mode on Windows 3!
You can find them at archive.org, if you browse old Shareware CD-ROMs. 😀

However, they also need a bit of RAM. So that alone doesn't fix your problem, I'm afraid. 🙁

Windows 3.0, in Real-Mode, supports EMS way better than Windows 1+2, because 640KB just don't cut it.
Windows 3.0 can use both a traditional 64KB EMS window and the bigger 256KB EMS window and make that EMS memory available to Windows programs.

Even in 80s, Windows programs were always running out of memory, because 640KB was barely enough for both Windows itself and Windows applications.
- At the time, also, Windows 1+2 were providing EMS merely to DOS applications. Unlike Windows 3.0.

What Windows really needs is contiguous memory; memory that's not put into pieces.

Anyway, good luck! 😀
Maybe you find some small programs that will run on that memory configuration, you never know.

"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 2 of 24, by rmay635703

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Many of the Windows entertainment packs will run in real mode (a couple later programs want a 386 oddly but the rest are good)

As does Word for Windows 1.0

Software designed natively for Windows 2.x will run in real mode as well

Reply 3 of 24, by Jo22

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I second that. 😀

Programs that use Borland tools often support the creation of NE programs that are real-mode compatible, too.
Like Borland Turbo Pascal for Windows 1.0/1.5 or the later Windows version of Borland Pascal 7.
So it might be worth checking if the the Windows application comes with a BWCC.DLL file.

The popular Visual Basic 1.0 and later does create Windows 3.0 compatible binaries, too,
but not for Real-Mode. It supports Standard-/Enhanced Mode of Windows 3.0, however.

Some Windows 2.x programs may also run in Standard-/Enhanced mode, by the way.
It depends on whether or not they manipulate real-mode addresses.
There's even a spot in the NE header that can store related information ("win3 aware", compatibility with proportional fonts etc).

Windows 2.x (or 1.x) programs that are especially marked "clean" (mark30 can help) may run on Windows 9x, even, which is an uncommon scenario.
Normally, Windows 9x refuses to run pre-Win30 apps, because they usually tridder that dialog with the compatibility warning.
I wrote about this year ago Re: Sites where we can find software for win3x, win2x, win1x

That being said, Windows needs a fair amount of memory.
Being stingy when it comes to memory causes someone to miss out on a lot of applications. 😉
Here's a thread that shows how much/less memory is absolutely required for Windows 3.1:
Windows 3.1 on a 386 with 640K RAM - Possible?

PS: Alternatively, there's also PC/GEOS..
GeoWorks 1.0 will also run on very low-end PCs, like PC/XTs and PC/ATs without EMS/XMS.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GEOS_(16- ... ng_system)

"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 4 of 24, by BitWrangler

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Personally, I wouldn't find it worth the bother to put windows on anything with less than 2MB. If I had only 640KB and got bored of staring at the DOS prompt and wanted to give the mouse some exercise, I'd install GEM.

edit: Second thoughts I'd revise that downward a smidge, it was not too terrible on a 640KB machine with a 1MB EMS board.

2017: Basement full of ancient PC stuff, starting to go through it. 2021: Still starting, heh, many setbacks. So what's this BitWrangler guy's deal ??? >>> Taming the pile, specs to target?

Reply 6 of 24, by Jo22

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Good luck! ^^

A 286 absolutely flies with 4MB of RAM.

That was what I had in the 90s, also, because of my dad.
He was working in the computing business and installed four 1MB SIMMs in my 286.

Windows 3.10 absolutely flew with it.
I had a Mustek handy scanner, CD-ROM/PAS16 and a HP Laserjet Plus.
And a radio-controlled clock (dcf77 receiver), connected to a serial port.

It was a nice little multimedia PC that was complying to the original MPC-Level 1 specifications (they got revised; 386SX minimum).

Windows 3.x will also try to use memory that's directly below 1MB.
So if you've got an UMB card, you can leverage the available RAM.

It's just that 640KB itself is very little RAM.
Any bit if extra RAM is welcome when it comes to PC/GEOS, GEM or Windows.

So if you can get your hands on a EMS board, it would be great.
While it still wouldn't make Windows 3.x run Standard-Mode, you could atleast run larger programs and bigger data.

Like wallpapers in Win 3.0 or big drawings in AutoSketch/AutoCAD.

Sometimes, ISA RAM boards do pop up on eBay.
Like that BoccaRAM board, AST Ramepage, Intel Aboveboard etc.

However, they may be a bit costly.

If performance isn't on your priority, you can consider getting the 1MB RAM card / 2MB EMS card from Lo-Tech.

They aren't dirt cheap, but not expensive either. Afaik, they are less costly than the classic RAM boards from back then.

These two boards are also being made by other companies by now.

These work just fine in ATs, but are perhaps slowing down the system a bit due to the use of an 8-Bit bus.

That being said, many "real" EMS cards did use 8-Bit transfers, too.
And EMS itself is decoupled from the main memory of a PC, anyway.

The EMS board is accessed only if needed by an EMS-aware application, so the card is only being used if such an application is running.
Otherwise, the EMS board is inactive/standby.

PS: Gnuchess and Lander 3 do run in Win3 RM.
I remember, because they were shown in old videos of mine:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HRPCGWGSqD4

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G-gXfHpedtY

Here's also a bit of Windows 2.x gaming:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x-ZGO7xLqMo

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nicc1HXgyQQ

You find most of these programs at Toasty Tech site.
Simply check his Graphical User Interface Gallery.

"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 7 of 24, by Caluser2000

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Personally I woulnd't bother with any version of MS Windows on a system like the OPs. For gui GEM or GeoWorks 1.x and pure Dos would be far better IMHO.

There's a glitch in the matrix.
A founding member of the 286 appreciation society.
Apparently 32-bit is dead and nobody likes P4s.
Of course, as always, I'm open to correction...😉

Reply 8 of 24, by BitWrangler

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I was under the impression, that in an AT which usually have 1MB minimum therefore UMB, that because the LIM/EMS looks at the RAM through a 64KB window in the UMB, that you got a caching effect in the 16bit memory, so as long as you were working in that page frame it was not too slow on the 8 Bit RAM and just slow to load a new page frame.

However, it's been a long time since I played with the real stuff. Last adventure was with a 2MB Everex LIM card in a 386 that had 2MB, and man was that a pain in the ass, some programs would be like "Oh, you have EMM, and a 386, you must be using EMM386.. *CRASH* " you had to try forcing them to 286 mode. Some stuff just wouldn't do it, and ended up running a paltry 512KB in EMM386 EMS just to get them to run.

2017: Basement full of ancient PC stuff, starting to go through it. 2021: Still starting, heh, many setbacks. So what's this BitWrangler guy's deal ??? >>> Taming the pile, specs to target?

Reply 9 of 24, by Jo22

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Caluser2000 wrote on 2021-07-20, 07:45:

Personally I woulnd't bother with any version of MS Windows on a system like the OPs. For gui GEM or GeoWorks 1.x and pure Dos would be far better IMHO.

Caluser2000, I think you're right, but the OP is looking for applications and games.
And for Windows 3.x, there are/were tens of thousands.. That's hard to beat, unfortunately. 🙁

BitWrangler wrote on 2021-07-20, 12:48:

I was under the impression, that in an AT which usually have 1MB minimum therefore UMB, that because the LIM/EMS looks at the RAM through a 64KB window in the UMB, that you got a caching effect in the 16bit memory, so as long as you were working in that page frame it was not too slow on the 8 Bit RAM and just slow to load a new page frame.

Good point, I don't know the answer, though. 🙁 Some VGA BIOSes and other option-ROMs were sometimes also attached directly to the ISA bus.
Since these were 27xxx EPROMs, they had merely an 8-Bit interface. So their code was accessed through an 8-Bit wide connection, too.
Unless these were interleaved; two EPROMs, called ODD and EVEN (or high/low) then held a common binary data.

What I'm not exactly know, however, is, whether or not 8-Bit ISA cards are generally forced to run at 4,77MHz.
I mean, if an ISA card is having both edge connects (16-Bit ISA card), but only uses the 8-Bit connector part.
A real* PC bus or PC/XT bus card is running at 4,77MHz, of course, because they were designed for that and may use that oscillator pin.

(*ISA was the standardized form of the 16-Bit PC/AT bus and formally ran at 8,33MHz.
Before this, there were PC bus of the IBM PC Model 5150, the XT bus (aka PC/XT bus) of the IBM XT Model 5160
and the AT bus (PC/AT bus) of the IBM AT Model 5170. The AT bus was running at 6MHz first, but speed wasn't set in stone yet. Clones ran at 12MHz and more.)

BitWrangler wrote on 2021-07-20, 12:48:

However, it's been a long time since I played with the real stuff. Last adventure was with a 2MB Everex LIM card in a 386 that had 2MB, and man was that a pain in the ass, some programs would be like "Oh, you have EMM, and a 386, you must be using EMM386.. *CRASH* " you had to try forcing them to 286 mode. Some stuff just wouldn't do it, and ended up running a paltry 512KB in EMM386 EMS just to get them to run.

I know what you mean. I have an AST Rampage 286 that I used in a 486DLC-40 PC and a Pentium 133.
It worked very well on these systems, except for a few programs that thought a 386 memory manager was running.
Which of course, wasn't the case. My DOS 6.22 installation was purely Real-Mode based. Otherwise, using an EMS would haven't made any sense, after all.
From what I remember, all my programs ran very well with the Rampage 286. including the CAD stuff, Win 3.0 RM and Commander Keen IV.
I even played Lollypop, a Protected-Mode game with the Rampage. It was smooth as silk, even though the Rampage used an 8-Bit i/o, too.
Again, smooth as silk. I'm a bit sad that I've got no recording of it. This was before I started my YT hobby, I believe.

"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 10 of 24, by Caluser2000

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Jo22 wrote on 2021-07-20, 14:15:
Caluser2000, I think you're right, but the OP is looking for applications and games. And for Windows 3.x, there are/were tens of […]
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Caluser2000 wrote on 2021-07-20, 07:45:

Personally I woulnd't bother with any version of MS Windows on a system like the OPs. For gui GEM or GeoWorks 1.x and pure Dos would be far better IMHO.

Caluser2000, I think you're right, but the OP is looking for applications and games.
And for Windows 3.x, there are/were tens of thousands.. That's hard to beat, unfortunately. 🙁

BitWrangler wrote on 2021-07-20, 12:48:

I was under the impression, that in an AT which usually have 1MB minimum therefore UMB, that because the LIM/EMS looks at the RAM through a 64KB window in the UMB, that you got a caching effect in the 16bit memory, so as long as you were working in that page frame it was not too slow on the 8 Bit RAM and just slow to load a new page frame.

We are talking real mode here I beleive
Good point, I don't know the answer, though. 🙁 Some VGA BIOSes and other option-ROMs were sometimes also attached directly to the ISA bus.
Since these were 27xxx EPROMs, they had merely an 8-Bit interface. So their code was accessed through an 8-Bit wide connection, too.
Unless these were interleaved; two EPROMs, called ODD and EVEN (or high/low) then held a common binary data.

What I'm not exactly know, however, is, whether or not 8-Bit ISA cards are generally forced to run at 4,77MHz.
I mean, if an ISA card is having both edge connects (16-Bit ISA card), but only uses the 8-Bit connector part.
A real* PC bus or PC/XT bus card is running at 4,77MHz, of course, because they were designed for that and may use that oscillator pin.

(*ISA was the standardized form of the 16-Bit PC/AT bus and formally ran at 8,33MHz.
Before this, there were PC bus of the IBM PC Model 5150, the XT bus (aka PC/XT bus) of the IBM XT Model 5160
and the AT bus (PC/AT bus) of the IBM AT Model 5170. The AT bus was running at 6MHz first, but speed wasn't set in stone yet. Clones ran at 12MHz and more.)

BitWrangler wrote on 2021-07-20, 12:48:

However, it's been a long time since I played with the real stuff. Last adventure was with a 2MB Everex LIM card in a 386 that had 2MB, and man was that a pain in the ass, some programs would be like "Oh, you have EMM, and a 386, you must be using EMM386.. *CRASH* " you had to try forcing them to 286 mode. Some stuff just wouldn't do it, and ended up running a paltry 512KB in EMM386 EMS just to get them to run.

I know what you mean. I have an AST Rampage 286 that I used in a 486DLC-40 PC and a Pentium 133.
It worked very well on these systems, except for a few programs that thought a 386 memory manager was running.
Which of course, wasn't the case. My DOS 6.22 installation was purely Real-Mode based. Otherwise, using an EMS would haven't made any sense, after all.
From what I remember, all my programs ran very well with the Rampage 286. including the CAD stuff, Win 3.0 RM and Commander Keen IV.
I even played Lollypop, a Protected-Mode game with the Rampage. It was smooth as silk, even though the Rampage used an 8-Bit i/o, too.
Again, smooth as silk. I'm a bit sad that I've got no recording of it. This was before I started my YT hobby, I believe.

We are talking about real mode here so why the novel, Ther aint many real mode Win3,x prograns/games at all.

There's a glitch in the matrix.
A founding member of the 286 appreciation society.
Apparently 32-bit is dead and nobody likes P4s.
Of course, as always, I'm open to correction...😉

Reply 12 of 24, by jakethompson1

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vkcpolice wrote on 2021-07-21, 03:11:

yes i need real mode as i only have 640k ram
i will get a 2mb ram board soon but apparently that still wont be enough to run in standard mode?

640K conventional+384K extended is enough for standard mode, e.g. on a PS/2 30-286.
So the RAM board will need to give extended (not expanded) memory. Might be configurable with jumpers.

Reply 13 of 24, by BitWrangler

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Back when most ppl had 640K and Windows was just edging into people's consciousness, it was kinda regarded as a klunky DOS task switcher, and a desirable feature of DOS apps those days was to be "windows aware" not sure if that defines much really, I guess that it was well behaved, maybe could use the copy-paste buffer, didn't mind it's window being resized... anyway, those really would have what most people back then used on real mode windows.

2017: Basement full of ancient PC stuff, starting to go through it. 2021: Still starting, heh, many setbacks. So what's this BitWrangler guy's deal ??? >>> Taming the pile, specs to target?

Reply 14 of 24, by jakethompson1

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BitWrangler wrote on 2021-07-21, 03:55:

Back when most ppl had 640K and Windows was just edging into people's consciousness, it was kinda regarded as a klunky DOS task switcher, and a desirable feature of DOS apps those days was to be "windows aware" not sure if that defines much really, I guess that it was well behaved, maybe could use the copy-paste buffer, didn't mind it's window being resized... anyway, those really would have what most people back then used on real mode windows.

Yeah. Always been my understanding that Windows 3.0 succeeded beyond all expectation changing the future course of MS away from any more collaboration on OS/2. I guess by 1990 the baseline machine became a 386SX w/2MB or so finally making Windows useful.

Reply 15 of 24, by Caluser2000

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jakethompson1 wrote on 2021-07-21, 04:02:
BitWrangler wrote on 2021-07-21, 03:55:

Back when most ppl had 640K and Windows was just edging into people's consciousness, it was kinda regarded as a klunky DOS task switcher, and a desirable feature of DOS apps those days was to be "windows aware" not sure if that defines much really, I guess that it was well behaved, maybe could use the copy-paste buffer, didn't mind it's window being resized... anyway, those really would have what most people back then used on real mode windows.

Yeah. Always been my understanding that Windows 3.0 succeeded beyond all expectation changing the future course of MS away from any more collaboration on OS/2. I guess by 1990 the baseline machine became a 386SX w/2MB or so finally making Windows useful.

Yeah and it was primarily used as a Dos task switcher initially .Having all those dos applications side by side in a window in program manager was great

Of course the hard core geeks were using OS/2 or some sort of *nix....😀

There's a glitch in the matrix.
A founding member of the 286 appreciation society.
Apparently 32-bit is dead and nobody likes P4s.
Of course, as always, I'm open to correction...😉

Reply 16 of 24, by Jo22

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Windows/386 Rap
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=noEHHB6rnMI

Windows 3 "the Wheel"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MOmdc6wIb4I

Get yourselves some popcorn and have fun! 😉

"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 17 of 24, by Jo22

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BitWrangler wrote on 2021-07-21, 03:55:

Back when most ppl had 640K and Windows was just edging into people's consciousness, it was kinda regarded as a klunky DOS task switcher, and a desirable feature of DOS apps those days was to be "windows aware" not sure if that defines much really, I guess that it was well behaved, maybe could use the copy-paste buffer, didn't mind it's window being resized... anyway, those really would have what most people back then used on real mode windows.

I could be wrong , but I think that Windows supported a portion of the DesqView API.
Which means, that DesqView-friendly DOS applications ran a bit better on Windows, too.

"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 24, by Caluser2000

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Jo22 wrote on 2021-07-21, 11:49:
BitWrangler wrote on 2021-07-21, 03:55:

Back when most ppl had 640K and Windows was just edging into people's consciousness, it was kinda regarded as a klunky DOS task switcher, and a desirable feature of DOS apps those days was to be "windows aware" not sure if that defines much really, I guess that it was well behaved, maybe could use the copy-paste buffer, didn't mind it's window being resized... anyway, those really would have what most people back then used on real mode windows.

I could be wrong , but I think that Windows supported a portion of the DesqView API.
Which means, that DesqView-friendly DOS applications ran a bit better on Windows, too.

I don't think so. got any links to documentation back your assertion up at all?

There's a glitch in the matrix.
A founding member of the 286 appreciation society.
Apparently 32-bit is dead and nobody likes P4s.
Of course, as always, I'm open to correction...😉

Reply 19 of 24, by rmay635703

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Caluser2000 wrote on 2021-07-22, 02:23:
Jo22 wrote on 2021-07-21, 11:49:
BitWrangler wrote on 2021-07-21, 03:55:

Back when most ppl had 640K and Windows was just edging into people's consciousness, it was kinda regarded as a klunky DOS task switcher, and a desirable feature of DOS apps those days was to be "windows aware" not sure if that defines much really, I guess that it was well behaved, maybe could use the copy-paste buffer, didn't mind it's window being resized... anyway, those really would have what most people back then used on real mode windows.

I could be wrong , but I think that Windows supported a portion of the DesqView API.
Which means, that DesqView-friendly DOS applications ran a bit better on Windows, too.

I don't think so. got any links to documentation back your assertion up at all?

He has it backwards

If you already had Windows Desqview could assist with mixing and matching those programs as well

In so far as deskview aware apps running better under Windows that wasn’t the case unless you already had Desqview