back to article The web was done right the first time. An ancient 3D banana shows Microsoft does a lot right, too

In preparation for a big SIGGRAPH talk about all of the ways augmented reality will convert us into data-gathering drones for Mark Zuckerberg – if we're not careful – I scoured through some old archives. I was looking for any memorabilia from my first trip to SIGGRAPH, that well-established conference on computer graphics, in …

  1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

    Maybe Windows 3.1 was a sweet spot?

    I'm of the opinion that there is a much better chance that a Windows 3.1 binary will run than a huge number of applications written for versions of Windows since then.

    When writing for Win. 3.1, everything would have been simple and pretty basic, and would often have included all of the library functions that they require statically linked in and included with the package source. The rest of the OS interfaces generally do not change.

    Anything written using one of the run-times or tool kits that have been introduced and subsequently withdrawn are much less likely to work.

    Hey. First post! That hasn't happened to me for a long time.

    1. Def Silver badge

      Re: Maybe Windows 3.1 was a sweet spot?

      I still use Jasc's Paint Shop Pro v7.04 from the Windows 2000 era. Windows 10 actually runs it better than Windows 7 which had a tendency to crash it after a while - especially while doing certain operations.

      1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

        Re: Maybe Windows 3.1 was a sweet spot?

        I still use Jasc's Paint Shop Pro v7.04

        Yay! Me too! I bought a copy for my first Win95 PC, and it's been moved to every PC I've had since then. I set up my latest Win10 machine a couple of weekends ago, and PSP is up and running fine. Good to know I'm not the only one to be wringing maximum value out of a 25-year old purchase :-)

        1. Def Silver badge

          Re: Maybe Windows 3.1 was a sweet spot?

          I see the help menu link to the original website still works, with the slogan "Buy it once, it’s yours forever." at the bottom.

          How true those words are. :)

          (Although I am tempted to look at the latest version. I mean, it can't be that much worse, can it? And at €69 it's not exactly expensive. I wonder if they'll honour the upgrade price for v7?) :)

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Maybe Windows 3.1 was a sweet spot?

            "I mean, it can't be that much worse, can it?"

            IIRC PSP 7 was the last one before the brand was taken over by another company who rebadged their equivalent product. I found that new version of no use - so PSP 7 is still my application of choice.

        2. Peter2 Silver badge

          Re: Maybe Windows 3.1 was a sweet spot?

          I'm still getting value out of X Tree gold, PSP8, Winamp and a few other bits of ancient software.

          if old versions of software I own can still [can be made to] work then I see no reason to buy another bit of software to do the job. This sort of thing is of course on the way out; because there is little to no point upgrading software on the basis of required functionality companies have gone with forcing people into buying subscriptions so you perpetually hire software and never own it.

        3. bazza Silver badge

          Re: Maybe Windows 3.1 was a sweet spot?

          Larousse did an excellent French, French / English dictionary application for Windows 3.1, the excellence being the thoroughly comprehensive content. Later, they went full web, and there was no price point at which you could get the same content; it simply stopped being available.

          So, that Windows 3.1 application represents the peak. And it can still be run.

          1. captain veg Silver badge

            Re: Maybe Windows 3.1 was a sweet spot?

            Bob, yes. That dictionary was brilliant. Unfortunately I have no idea what I did with the installer.

            I replaced it, initially, with Larousse/Collins. It worked, but not nearly so well.

            And now? My French has come along a fair bit, and for technical stuff I rely quite a lot on the languages sidebar in Wikipedia.. Google translate? No. It's still shit. Which does not mean "C'est encore de la merde."

            Thanks Bazza for the memory.

            -A.

            1. bazza Silver badge

              Re: Maybe Windows 3.1 was a sweet spot?

              My father is still using the dictionary to this day. I reckon I can keep it running indefinitely for him!

        4. LybsterRoy Silver badge

          Re: Maybe Windows 3.1 was a sweet spot?

          With me its Corel Photo-Paint 4.467 It can bundled with a PC (must have been after 1998 because Copyright 1988 - 1998. STill being used in preference to much more "fully featured" ones, mainly because I understand it and it does what I want.

      2. Simon Harris

        Re: PSP

        I remember the days using that from Windows 3.1 through ‘98 and XP, and then it not working on Windows 7.

        I suppose I could have upgraded to a Windows 7 friendly version, but learned to use GIMP instead.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: PSP

          I run PSP 7 on W7 every day without any problems. It was installed from the original CD - probably bought about the start of this century as my final upgrade before the Corel abomination. Don't remember if I had to invoke any W7 compatibility setting though.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: PSP

            Just checked the PSP 7 launch icon on W7. No compatibility boxes are ticked.

            The only behaviour change I have found is in opening picture files in Explorer. It tends to open each one in their own new PSP instance - even if PSP is already running. Possibly I need to explore the compatibility settings after all.

      3. Mage
        Pint

        Re: Jasc's Paint Shop Pro v7.x

        Last decent version. Corel bought it?

        Daughter moved to The GIMP on Win7 as PSP7 wouldn't go.

        I moved from XP -> Linux and then The Gimp. I have the old laptop & PSP7 on a VM for the odd native layered image I didn't Save As in Photoshop format for The GIMP, There is a PSP plug-in for the GIMP, but doesn't work for my PSP files.

      4. drgeoff

        Re: Maybe Windows 3.1 was a sweet spot?

        I'm still using Paint Shop Pro 5.03 on Windows 10.

        1. Wanting more

          Re: Maybe Windows 3.1 was a sweet spot?

          I'm running 5.0.1 I seem to remember it came free on a cover disk.

          For a quick image crop, or resize or downscale colours (how long since I had to do that!) it works quickly without fuss.

      5. DBH

        Re: Maybe Windows 3.1 was a sweet spot?

        Wow I haven't used PSP for a long time, I used to be a big fan but haven't had any need for it in recent years. Might have to go digging just for the sake of nostalgia...

      6. Sloth77

        Re: Maybe Windows 3.1 was a sweet spot?

        Just checked and I'm still (as of 5 mins ago) running v6, on Win 10 21H1

      7. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Maybe Windows 3.1 was a sweet spot?

        I'm still using Paint Shop Pro v4.00. The build date for the executable says July 3, 1996.

      8. yoganmahew

        Re: Maybe Windows 3.1 was a sweet spot?

        Quicken 98 for me, still doing my home accounts after 23 years and three replatforms. Peak Quicken!

      9. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Maybe Windows 3.1 was a sweet spot?

        "I still use Jasc's Paint Shop Pro"

        Yay also, Version 5 here. It's so quick and easy to do the simple things.

    2. dajames Silver badge

      Re: Maybe Windows 3.1 was a sweet spot?

      I'm of the opinion that there is a much better chance that a Windows 3.1 binary will run than a huge number of applications written for versions of Windows since then.

      Were it not for the fact that Windows 3.1 binaries had to be written to run on Intel's 16-bit segmented architecture you might be right.

      Methinks the opportunities for creating bugs that were presented by that architecture were so numerous that anything written for any 32-bit version of Windows has a much better chance of working.

      ... or were you talking about NT 3.1? If you were you have a point.

    3. Blackjack Silver badge

      Re: Maybe Windows 3.1 was a sweet spot?

      I have over a dozen Windows 3 1 programs abd games that will only run on a VM but don't on Wine or Windows 7.

      1. Mage
        Coat

        Re: Maybe Windows 3.1 was a sweet spot?

        Daggerfall only needs DOSbox (nearly every OS) and the maker offers it as free download with DOSbox instructions. Needs rather less CPU etc than Oblivion or Morrowind.

    4. LDS Silver badge

      "would often have included all of the library"

      No, they didn't. The "DLL Hell" was caused exactly by application trying to install their DLLs into the system directory and often overwriting each other. Actually, on that versions of Windows was more important to have code that could be removed from memory and reloaded as needed because of the little memory available.

      "The rest of the OS interfaces generally do not change."

      Yes, they do, and Linux is a good example of that - when binary compatibility is not often ensured and you may need to recompile for each distro and release.

      Windows did change a lot too to support new features, and running that 16bit code on a 32 bit machine does require a lot of support under the hood.

      1. J. Cook Silver badge
        Alert

        Re: "would often have included all of the library"

        I'd like to point out that it's still there in windows 10: try the following on a scratch machine, if you dare:

        Start with Office 2016 Pro installed.

        Uninstall it, reboot and install the office 365 client, rebooting afterwards.

        Uninstall that, reboot, and install the office 2019 client, rebooting Yet Again.

        Open Outlook (or try to) and behold the "I can't find the correct iteration of the dlls/libraries I need" error message.

        Install the "universal" runtime that it's complaining about from MS's web site. Reboot.

        Outlook will run. but search folders and navigating nested folders may bring about a "I'm out of memory" message.

        How did I come across this? trying to install Visio 2019 on top of the O365 client.

        I was able to figure it out (which meant "remove everything related to office: Teams, Skype, Visio, any add-ins that are listed in the add/remove programs, etc." rebooting, then installing visio 2019, then office 365. What a mess.

        All because MS has the O365 iteration of Visio as a separate line item that's not included with the E3 or E5 license.

        1. cdegroot

          Re: "would often have included all of the library"

          The solution isn't really gorgeous either, although it works very well. I'm talking about Nix/Guix, which can run multiple versions of the same dll together so that you can recreate the exact binary copy of what was used to compile/test your app.

          It's not gorgeous because now you have to run garbage collection on old versions of dlls, and your root filesystems suddenly becomes a lot more space hungry.

          But, as far as I know, the only thorough solution against DLL hell. Everything else I know still suffers from it.

      2. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

        Re: "would often have included all of the library" @LDS

        I did mention statically linked didn't I?

        And I seem to remember (not that I was working on Windows) that the location of DLLs in early versions of Windows did not have a single location that they were stored in, which probably allowed multiple versions of DLLs to be on a single system without stamping on each other's toes.

        1. LDS Silver badge

          Re: "would often have included all of the library" @LDS

          If you linked everything statically you would have got a large executable that could not be swapped in and out from memory easily. 16 bit mode didn't have the pagination mechanism 32 bit later had.

          Not everything could be deployed linked statically (remember the Borland Database Engine, for example?), and some DLLs needed to be shared across applications, and in times when updates had often to be shipped on floppy disks large executables could become an issue.

          "not that I was working on Windows"

          Yes, it's clear :-) Windows never had a single location for DLLs and today still have not. But in 3.1 times there were no registry to be queried for locations, and no "common folders", and the OS could not even be on "C:" - thereby applications usually used two choices: install DLLs in the application folder, which required more space and made harder to share them, or install them into the system folder which directly led to the "DLLs Hell", especially applications that tried to deploy MS libraries that came with Visual Studio.

          1. Retron

            Re: "would often have included all of the library" @LDS

            Hmm - Windows 3.1 had a registry (not as fully-fledged as 95, but it was there) and DOS lived on the C drive, along with Windows.

        2. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: "would often have included all of the library" @LDS

          "I did mention statically linked didn't I?"

          You did. They said you were wrong, pointed out that it was mostly dynamic, and explained why dynamic was a problem. To be fair, the same dynamic library problem could easily happen elsewhere (Linux without package managers could be really annoying if someone was trying to deploy binaries, because sometimes the binaries would have hardcoded locations for libraries which weren't convenient; building from source or using a package manager was good about fixing this).

    5. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Maybe Windows 3.1 was a sweet spot?

      windows 3.1 had a lot of good going for it

      * same UI as its predecessor (which sold zillions of copies)

      * fixed the big bugs and included things like 'toolhelp' and common dialogs to help development do better

      * a general focus on benefits to customers and developers (still trying to sell it)

      * lean and mean where it made sense (it had to run on 16Mhz 386SX with 4Mb of RAM)

      Too bad Micros~1 has seemed to forget lessons well learned back then. I was at the PDC where the 3.1 beta was announced, too (in Seattle as I recall). The '95 beta (Chicago) conference was in Anaheim (Gates actually rented DIsneyland for a night and Penn & Teller did a magic show on another night).

      Yeah, those WERE the days... "Developers Developers Developers Developers"

      1. captain veg Silver badge

        Re: Maybe Windows 3.1 was a sweet spot?

        3.1 would run reasonably well in 2MB. Windows 95 had a required minimum of 4MB. Within which it was supposed to "run great" but didn't.

        -A.

        1. Missing Semicolon Silver badge

          Re: Maybe Windows 3.1 was a sweet spot?

          3.1 would run in *1Mb*. On a 286. You had to fool about with HIMEM.SYS but it worked. I ran Word on it, and the HDD LED blinked as the cursor flashed on and off. Bit short of RAM.

          1. TheThiefMaster

            Re: Maybe Windows 3.1 was a sweet spot?

            I even have 3.0 running in 640kB on an 8086. You can't run much in that though

    6. John Sager

      Re: Maybe Windows 3.1 was a sweet spot?

      I bought an obsolete HP instrument, and there was some Win3.1 s/w available to drive it. However it talked to a long obsolete ISA HPIB card. I eventually made it work with a modern USB GPIB adaptor but it took 2 DLLS in tandem - a 16-bit one to emulate the 3.1 driver and then a 32-bit one to drive the GPIB adaptor. It worked, but the facility turned out to be not very useful. However it was an interesting & frustrating excursion into the vagaries of Windows drivers for a committed Linux programmer.

    7. jake Silver badge

      Re: Maybe Windows 3.1 was a sweet spot?

      Did anyone ever make better Windows software than David Harris's "Pegasus"?

      Perhaps Forté's (free)Agent ...

      I have clients happily running very old versions of both on modern Windows ...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Maybe Windows 3.1 was a sweet spot?

        My local ISP-in-a-garage vendor actually came to my house to set me up on the internet in 1997. He installed Pegasus mail and Forté's (free)Agent.

        Several ISPs and Windows versions later - Pegasus has now reached version 4.73 with some emails accessible from that original day. Agent stayed in use until my ISPs' support for usenet groups stopped.

        That reminds me it must be time to send David Harris another donation in appreciation.

    8. Auntie Dix Bronze badge

      Re: Maybe Windows 3.1 was a sweet spot?

      Do you mean 3.11? IIRC, Windows wasn't really useful until 3.11 came out. (it's been a while since I used it)

      That was the era when DesqView was still a viable multi-tasking alternative to Windows (I remember being amused by having an FTP server in one window and an FTP client in the other and successfully transferring files back and forth).

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Maybe Windows 3.1 was a sweet spot?

        The retronym is TUI, or Textual User Interface.

        IBM's TopView and Quarterdeck's DesqView both worked fairly well (1985). I had Win3.0 (and later 3.1 & 3.11) running in a window under DesqView/386. It worked, and was fairly stable, but I didn't really see the point.

        DESQview/X was a rather good option for remote GUI support of Windows boxen using *nix as the admin box. Spendy, though.

        Question: what can I do productively with Windows 11 that I couldn't do with DOS 5.0 and DesqView ... Keyword "productively".

  2. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

    That's the exception rather than the rule in terms of old software. Everything else seems to be so ephemeral, and if it does run, it's too insecure.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Devil

      maybe that old sottware was just written PROPERLY. My guess, they statically linked things like C runtime. heh.

    2. teknopaul Silver badge

      too insecure?

      It's a 3D banana renderer.

      Where's the attack vector?

      1. FIA Silver badge

        Re: too insecure?

        Panama?

      2. ectel

        re: Atack vector?

        How about a gorilla throwing a banana? (not a 3D one)

        https://archive.org/details/GorillasQbasic

  3. nematoad Silver badge

    Maybe not.

    "...precisely so that an application that was obsolete a quarter of a century ago can still run."

    Well, if it does the job it was meant to do and will run on the platform you have, is it obsolete?

    Or just a well debugged, reliable tool to do the job that you originally bought it for?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Maybe not.

      Indeed. A tool can be superseded and still remain valid. Or to put it another way, "if a tree falls down in the forest because it was felled with an axe rather than a chainsaw, is the axe obsolete?"

      1. lglethal Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: Maybe not.

        "if a tree falls down in the forest because it was felled with an axe rather than a chainsaw, is the axe obsolete?"

        Depends if you're being paid by the number of trees you cut down per day, or have to meet a specific quota? if you need to cut down 5 trees in a day, an axe would probably suffice (and so it is not obsolete), if you need to remove 100 trees in that day, an axe is obsolete because it cannot meet the requirements of the job in hand.

        Something does not need to be broken to be obsolete, it just needs to not be able to meet the requirements for the job.

        There are a lot of software programs out there that still run fine, but because they are so old, they are no longer secure. And since we now have requirements about running secure programs, that makes them obsolete. They can still work, but when they dont meet the requirements anymore, that is the definition of obsolesence.

        1. Dr. Ellen
          Pint

          Re: Maybe not.

          Conditions vary. If you don't have any fuel, the axe wins. They're so simple even a caveman can use them. In fact, a caveman invented them.

          The ancient days and ways live on. Stone age? Rock is great for prestigious buildings. Bronze age? Look at all those statues! And it doesn't rust. Iron age, industrial age, information age -- they all stand on the shoulders of earlier ages.

          (As a side note: I tried to use windows 1. 3.1 was much better.)

        2. teknopaul Silver badge

          Re: Maybe not.

          "And since we now have requirements about running secure programs, that makes them obsolete."

          Naturally nobody should be using an axe without the standardised oil check report, yearly service report, and four yearly upgrade to a "supported" model compatible with the latest automated reporting system.

        3. jake Silver badge

          Re: Maybe not.

          "They can still work, but when they dont meet the requirements anymore, that is the definition of obsolesence."

          it's not obsolete until someone invents a better tool that always works better than the original. IMO, if even one person still finds the original more useful, for any reason, than the new tool, the old tool is not obsolete.

          I have a stone axe that I use to split kindling. It has been working for me for over forty years, since I made it. My Betamax machine still gets used occasionally to recover old videos. I still use Hollerith cards and punched tape (Mylar mostly, but occasionally I'll be asked to recover data off paper). My Buggywhips were lovingly hand-crafted by an Amish bloke. I have clients who still use MFM and RLL drives (machine control equipment, mostly).

          So are they obsolete? Or are they still useful tools?

        4. jake Silver badge

          Re: Maybe not.

          "but because they are so old, they are no longer secure"

          What about the ones that are still secure? (It's not hard to write small programs that are secure.) What about the ones run on an airgapped network that will never be connected to TehIntraWebTubes at large?

          1. lglethal Silver badge

            Re: Maybe not.

            You all seem to have missed the point I made about requirements. If you need to chop down 100 trees in a day, then your axe will never be sufficient. It is obsolete. If you only need to chop down 5, then your Axe is perfectly fine and it is not obsolete.

            As with Software, if you have an air gapped system, and you dont need to be connected to the internet, then the old software is fine and NOT obsolete. However, if you need an internet facing portal, you need security, and if you're old program has an attack surface, then sorry it is unlikely to be secure, and if your requirement demands security, then assuming there is a newer program that is more secure, then the old is obsolete.

            Obsolescence is determined by requirements. If all you want to do is potter around town then a Model T Ford works fine and is clearly not obsolete. However, if you need to travel 500km on a single tank of petrol, with Air-Conditioning and space for 4 people and their luggage. Then a Model T is obsolete for your purpose. (Although I was suprised to read that a Model T could do about 200km on a single tank of petrol, which I think was pretty impressive!).

            Things can still work and be obsolete, and what one person considers obsolete, the next might not because it still meets their requirements.

            1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

              Re: Maybe not.

              > You all seem to have missed the point I made about requirements. If you need to chop down 100 trees in a day, then your axe will never be sufficient. It is obsolete. If you only need to chop down 5, then your Axe is perfectly fine and it is not obsolete.

              That's not obsolete. It's just underrated.

            2. Dagg

              Re: Maybe not.

              The actual concept is

              "Fit for purpose"

              It is nothing to do with being obsolete or succeeded or what ever...

        5. Adelio

          Re: Maybe not.

          But because of the age of most of these programs they did not know about the web, just the local machine

  4. Valeyard

    old sites

    Look for any information on ham radio and chances are you're gonna to find a site from 1997 in plain old HTML that was made once and deemed working and therefore no need to change

    they look basic and like a museum piece but they load in 2 seconds without 200 javascript libraries coming down the pipe and an additional 500mb RAM footprint on top of chrome's usual hoard

    My own blog is security-focused, so it's just static content as well as that's less of an attack surface area

    My own first site was made in 1998 and the web had that promise which promised one thing in particular: "thousands of people per day want to see your scifi fan page"!!!

    1. steelpillow Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: old sites

      "My own blog is security-focused, so it's just static content"

      Mine too, though more focused on visitor privacy, ease of maintenance in a text editor and avoidance of display issues with a thousand screen shapes, sizes and buggy browsers.

    2. SammyB

      Re: old sites

      Two thumbs up.

    3. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Re: old sites

      Remember when everything was named "[Whatever] Planet" for about a year? I still browse superbikeplanet.com about once a week.

      1. teknopaul Silver badge

        Re: old sites

        Memories. I used to work at the iPlanet center off the M3, at a company called Vybe (sic).

        It had an Internet fridge. l believe Oracle have the IP now, probably still own the iPlanet tm: which perhaps explains why the big players are afraid to make serious moves into the Internet fridge market.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: old sites

          iPlanet was the trademark that Sun / AOL used for the products from the "Netscape Alliance".

          Basically a joint-venture of Sun/Netscape folks until AOL didn't know what they were doing (AOL that is, not the employees) and they got subsumed into Sun.

          Those were they days - ropey web servers and J2EE servers lol.

          All good fun - at least you didn't need 40,000 lines of JavaScript coming from who knows where just to get a form up on the screen ...

    4. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: old sites

      they load in 2 seconds without 200 javascript libraries

      I try to do this with my own stuff

      * use <style> section and embedded 'style=' rather than gargantuan style sheets

      * minimal script (if any at all) and always SELF CONTAINED

      * tables for overall formatting.

      it's simple, easily maintained, and self-contained. It loads fast, displays consistently, and doesn't break when some idiot decides to "withdraw" his contributions.

      Yeah but when things make too much sense, they get overwhelming disapproval... I wonder why that is? Maybe the same reasons why some contractors seem to ensure job security through obfuscation, or lock their clients into solutions only THEY can maintain, etc. etc.

      1. marcellothearcane

        <style>

        Linked stylesheets are better in some ways - they allow caching so you're not downloading the same styles for every page (assuming a consistent style set across your site), and ease of maintenance because you only have to change it once.

      2. steelpillow Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: old sites

        * use <style> section and embedded 'style=' rather than gargantuan style sheets

        Well, any half-sane browser will only load a stylesheet once; saves repetitive coding and hence also bandwidth and sanity for a multi-page site. But yeah, "gargantuan" = "guaranteed to fsck up as much as it pretties up" - browser defaults are as they are for a reason.

        * minimal script (if any at all) and always SELF CONTAINED

        No. None. Never. If CSS won't do it, don't do it.

        * tables for overall formatting.

        Yay! UPVOTE!!. Contrary to w3c dogma, assistive readers never have problems with tables, that have a great many with all that farty-fancy "gargantuan" CSS that breaks normal flow.

      3. Dal90

        Re: old sites

        "Hey, our Sorry Page when a site is down is pretty long in the tooth (like copyright date at the bottom is 2005)...could our Web Developers make us a new static page to serve up using our current corporate branding?"

        "No problem."

        They give me back a static page that replaces the previous self-contained page (we hosted all its fonts/images/dependencies/etc) with one that has external dependencies to a dozen different providers.

        *sigh in enterprise bureaucracy*

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: old sites

          You wouldn't expect them to host the blinking "underconstruction" sign locally, would you?

    5. jake Silver badge

      Re: old sites

      See slackware.com ...

  5. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Would need a 32-bit Windows?

    And Microsoft has knocked that on the head in the latest versions of W10.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Would need a 32-bit Windows?

      I'm not as up-to-date on Linuxes as I should be, but haven't some distros announced that they're abandoning 32-bit?

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Would need a 32-bit Windows?

        And there has been discussion about dropping support for x86 in the Linux kernel as well. Fortunately, most of the discussion is ranging this as at least a medium-term thing (several years or so down the road), especially with modern hardware bring robust enough to emulate early-90's x86 hardware comfortably. Let's say the spray paint cans are getting primed at this point.

      2. Adrian 4 Silver badge

        Re: Would need a 32-bit Windows?

        > I'm not as up-to-date on Linuxes as I should be, but haven't some distros announced that they're abandoning 32-bit?

        Much easier in Linux as there are very few legacy 32-bit binaries to cope with. Even those apps that still think an integer is 16 or 32 bits can be fixed, because source.

    2. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells Silver badge

      Re: Would need a 32-bit Windows?

      Windows 3.1 was 16 bit, wasn't it?

      1. John Miles

        Re: Would need a 32-bit Windows?

        Yes - but it could do some 32 bit stuff with Win32s and thunking

        1. J. Cook Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: Would need a 32-bit Windows?

          To wit:

          "It's a set of 32 bit extensions for a 16 bit shell running on top of an 8 bit OS made by a company that doesn't care 1 bit about it's customers."

          Mines the one with the bootable DOS 3.3 disk in the pocket.

        2. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: Would need a 32-bit Windows?

          I leveraged Win32s for single-threaded 32-bit executables, and wrote hybrid 32-bit/16-bit code that accessed flat memory (Global memory handles pointed to contiguous memory blocks making this possible). Some of my 16-bit hybrid code FLEW by writing sorts and memcpy utilities that used the 32-bit code for some things. You did not need to use Win32s for USE32 ASM code though, as it was still 16-bit with USE32 prefixes.

          but people forget the performance problem that segments had under protected mode - 16 cycles to load a new selector. Ew.

        3. Sudosu

          Re: Would need a 32-bit Windows?

          The word thunking always gave me a visual mental picture of bopping an underling on the head with a big mallet to make them do a task.

          Video of thunking in action (well at least my take)

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5rCoseZkII0

    3. nintendoeats Silver badge

      Re: Would need a 32-bit Windows?

      64-bit windows will still run 32-bit programs...what's the problem?

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: Would need a 32-bit Windows?

        The problem is Windows 3.1 was (mostly) 16-bit and only 32-bit versions of Windows have the Windows-on-Windows layer to run 16-bit software. 64-bit Windows only has a WoW layer for 32-bit software and Windows 10 is now only sold/supplied/whatever it is as 64-bit only.

        1. LDS Silver badge

          Re: Would need a 32-bit Windows?

          Only because the CPU once in 64 bit mode no longer supports the Virtual86 mode needed to run the 16 bit segmented mode code. Without that mode it would need full software emulation.

          1. bombastic bob Silver badge
            Meh

            Re: Would need a 32-bit Windows?

            to some extent this is true. On FreeBSD and Linux I have no trouble running DOSBox, or virtualbox with 16-bit, 32-bit, or 64-bit versions of windows, using the kvm. The thing is, it's apparently possible (with amd64 architecture) to run in a 32-bit context alongside of 64-bit context. Windows apparently does NOT even attempt this. But I think virtualbox's kernel drivers DO manage to make this work. Also Micros~1 "Virtual PC" seems to do it ok. Not sure if you can still get that, though...

            1. LDS Silver badge

              Re: Would need a 32-bit Windows?

              You can run Windows 3.1 under Hyper-V, if you like, it does work. But the whole Windows 16bit support was built around the Virtual86 mode to have it working fully merged into the "normal" environment without needed a separate virtual machine. Now that virtualization does exist and supporting 16 bit application is less and less relevant probably there's little need to invest in a different direction, and even MS can't keep alive old technologies forever.

        2. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: Would need a 32-bit Windows?

          on the 64-bit systems you can use an emulator that boots a 32-bit version of windows, THEN run the 16-bit code. That's pretty much the only option for 16-bit binaries though.

      2. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Would need a 32-bit Windows?

        Windows 3.x is 16-bit, and support for it was dropped long ago. You have to virtualize or emulate it these days.

  6. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

    Web is already 30

    I believe it was two days ago - the August 9th that the first page went up. And it's still online today.

    1. Def Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Web is already 30

      Their "Things to be done" page is so quaint.

      1. teknopaul Silver badge

        Re: Web is already 30

        "Everything there is online about W3 is linked directly or indirectly to this document"

        is a bold statement! Probably verified at the time by a single human.

    2. alain williams Silver badge

      Re: Web is already 30

      The nice thing about that page is that it provides the information that you want and is not burdened by a morass of javascript that is generating popups and trying to track you as you move around.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Web is already 30

        DoubleClick was launched in 1995 and it all went downhill from there.

        1. RM Myers
          Pint

          Re: Web is already 30

          That was the best combination of accuracy, succinctness , and incitefulness I have seen in many a moon. Have one on me ===>

          1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

            Re: Web is already 30

            Upvoted for your spelling of insightfulness.

            1. RM Myers
              Facepalm

              Re: Web is already 30

              And that is why I majored in math, not English.

      2. vtcodger Silver badge

        Re: Web is already 30

        "... a morass of javascript that is generating popups ..."

        But, but,but ... How can it function without unending pointless, slow rendering, text boxes in garish colors overlaying what folks are trying to read? That's what modern users demand, right?

        1. nematoad Silver badge
          FAIL

          Re: Web is already 30

          It's this bit:

          ...aiming to give universal access to a large universe of documents.

          The original web was envisioned as a too for granting access to information. Then the suits saw an opportunity to make money and things went downhill from there. Now it's turned into a marketing machine trying to part you from your money as quickly as possible.

          The CEOs of a lot of big corporations regard their customers as children with the attention span of a goldfish and all the aesthetic sense of a magpie.

          Forget "Faster, higher, stronger" all these people have in mind is "Shinier, glitzier, slower".

          1. Tom 7 Silver badge

            Re: Web is already 30

            I dont think they realised that some arseholes would use it to basically demand lots of money for other peoples documents that really should be free.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Web is already 30

      While it's nice to reminisce about the handful of things that were better about the early web experience, let's not fool ourselves. The old web sucked. The fact that new web also sucks should come as no surprise. They suck is different ways, but the old days weren't sunshine and roses.

      The old web connected public severs on plaintext connections to the world at large. In many cases in the early days, those servers used CGI to connect the moderately insecure webservers to massively insecure shell or native code, running on pre-ASLR server hardware, with only primitive firewall and IDS protections.

      The standards were almost immediately turned into a battlefield of corporate self-interest, monopolistic ambitions, and ego driven flame wars. The things that advanced quickly tended to be horrors like flash, Advertising Cookies, and proprietary extensions. Oh and Blink text.

      The new web is worse for different reasons, but mostly because of an "only look at the bright side" mentality that favored chasing the new and shiny over building solid foundations, that has been there since the earliest days.

      Wax poetic about "Ye Olde days" if you like, but you are better of being nostalgic about the content of the early web then the technology.

  7. Rich Harding

    Other Functional 90s Software

    Count me as another who still occasionally uses a an actually paid for version of PSP 7.

    The other utility still in (far more) regular use is LeechFTP. You have to be a bit careful with this one - you can't just tell people to go and grab it from the web, because most of the versions I've seen out there are bundled with stuff you, er, don't want. However I still carry around a ZIP of 1998 vintage that is happily installed on various Windows boxen, including this Win10 one, and working entirely as designed - including its occasional dialogs in German :)

  8. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "Surely such an ancient piece of code [..] wouldn't launch?"

    I had that kind of surprise with Chuck Yeager's Air Combat.

    It's an old DOS game from, IIRC, a bit before Microsoft Flight Simulator, and it was a lot of fun to play because you could configure what you going up against to a rather impressive degree (for the time, especially).

    I first played it on my trusty 8086, and it ran fine.

    Years later, I was fiddling around on my brand-new 486DX66 and suddenly, I wondered how CYAC would react. Now, I have tried quite a few DOS games since the 286 was done and buried, and most of them end practically as soon as you start the game because they are generally tied to the CPU frequency.

    Not CYAC. I don't know how they programmed that thing, but it ran just fine on my 486. I'm sure it would also run fine on a Pentium. Don't know about today's multi-core CPUs though.

    Maybe I'll have to try that . . .

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: "Surely such an ancient piece of code [..] wouldn't launch?"

      It took me a moment to distinguish between this and Chuck Yeager's Advanced Flight Trainer, an older game that wasn't so well behaved.

    2. ChrisC Silver badge

      Re: "Surely such an ancient piece of code [..] wouldn't launch?"

      "I'm sure it would also run fine on a Pentium."

      It did... My first PC was a P60 system, and it came with a compilation CD of older games. Can't recall what any of the others were, but CYAC was on there, and it ran like a dream. Fairly sure it also ran just fine on the PII system I built a couple of years later.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tell me again, Sir Lancelot

    Tell me again, Sir Lancelot, how the modern world wide web was shaped by a banana...

  10. james 68

    Eh?

    Windows and stability in the same sentence....have the trumpets sounded? The end of the world is nigh and all that.

    1. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
      Windows

      Re: Eh?

      Stable as in it doesn't change much.

      Its inability to continue running is indeed stable.

    2. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
      WTF?

      Re: Eh?

      Trumpets...

      One thing NOT available in Win3.1, and very definitely needed to browse the Web, was a TCP/IP stack. I do recall Trumpet Winsock and the rest of them stepping up to fill the gap.

      Yes, Win3.1 was a huge step, but the rest of the world (including Linux) was already there.

      1. Dave559 Silver badge

        Re: Eh?

        I'm not so sure that the whole rest of the world was already there at that time; unix-type systems, yes, but probably not the rest: I'm pretty sure I had to sneakernet AmiTCP or MIAMI onto my Amiga before I could get my first SLIP/PPP internet connection up and running. I think additional software was also needed for Macs, too (was it MacTCP?). I'm sure the Archimedes and BeOS fans will be along in a minute to fill in the information gaps there…

        In the early-mid-90s, getting on the internet did sort of feel like you were embarking on a journey along a long bridge, like the Storebælt bridge, while the construction workers were still adding new innovative bits to it while you went along…

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: Eh?

          You could always get your first version of AmiTCP, MIAMI, or KA9Q by dialling up to a BBS.

        2. cookieMonster

          Re: Eh?

          Re BeOS: I had one of the first revs of the machine and don’t remember having any issues with connecting it, apart from some muppet in the telco telling me “the internet needs windows to run” when trying to figure out ip addresses etc etc

          1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

            Re: Eh?

            I've just found a copy of BeOS while tidying up. I wonder if I have any machine which can run it. I don't own a floppy disk drive any more, which may be an issue.

        3. Boothy Silver badge

          Re: Eh?

          Ah AmiTCP and Miami! That brings back memories.

          I remember back in around 1994 I think, writing various guides for getting an Amiga onto the Internet after finding it to be a bit of a challenge myself. With lots of extra details for Demon Internet (UK ISP), which I was using at the time.

          I also wrote a simple, lightweight GUI utility to start Miami, plus control a few functions via its REXX port (link up/down etc). Imaginatively titled 'Miami Start'!

          1. Tom 7 Silver badge

            Re: Eh?

            ISTR back then getting on the internet was difficult due to the internet providers!

            1. Boothy Silver badge

              Re: Eh?

              One of the reasons I went with Demon Internet back in the day, was they did actually try to support Amiga users. Also their technical support actually seemed to be competent, i.e. actual support people who weren't just following a script, but who were actually fairly technical, and allowed to use their brains to work through issues!

              There was also a whole set of self help and support groups as well, such as on Usenet and via IRC.

              Main news group was demon.ip.support.amiga and on IRC we hung around on #disa

              Even managed to organise a few IRL meet ups, typically involving beer, pizza or a curry, depending on location :-)

              Simpler days!

        4. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: Eh?

          I may have blocked the whole PPP experience out :-)

          Cleaning house, I just discovered my US Robotics 56k modem...the last of a line that started with an Omnitec 701B (300 baud, $350 new) acoustic coupler, and progressed through a GDC 1200 baud, a Hayes Smartmodem and some other less-remembered modems.

          Now, it's fiber to the home, 300/300megabit/s, a router to keep the baddies at bay (remember when?), an HP 48 port gigabit switch (a castoff from the IT bods at work), and computers everywhere you look.

          What a world we live in... we even have Dick Tracy's "two way wrist radio"

  11. Plest Silver badge

    30 years ago....

    Just finished a stint as a mainframe tape-monkey, got a job working on ICL System 25s for a UK government dept. My first taste of real system admin work. Still using BBS's to find software and patches for drivers. Then the UK gov mandated that IBM and AIX on RS6000 boxes was the future, attented sources and did some proper Unix admin.

    Then around 1992 someone told me install this thing called a "browser", a dial-up service would then link you to a series of linked text based pages on various educational sites with a little Star Wars/Star Trek humour here and there. IT WAS SO BORING!!!

    Anyone remember GEOCITIES? Made my first website around 1995 and uploaded the static pages to a free GEOCITIES account! Dancing Jesus and flashing red light GIFs!

    All downhill from there.....

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: 30 years ago....

      30 years!

      The business I worked for was moving - mostly had moved - from London to Leeds. I hung on until the summer because of my daughter's GCSEs. The move involved taking an HP-UX system up the road. I'd always assumed the physically huge, even for the time, drives were more or less bomb-proof. In fact the engineers heaved a sigh of relief when they were slotted back in the rack, powered up and fscked successfully.

      Because of the circumstances my daughter started 6th form college that September. This September her daughter starts in the same college.

      30 years!

    2. yoganmahew

      Re: 30 years ago....

      So boring? A.B.P.E...

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: 30 years ago....

        That is Usenet, which is over 40 years old, and has nothing to do with the Web. Or even TCP/IP, for that matter. If you want to get technical, it's not even part of The Internet (whatever that is).

  12. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

    I was in academia at the time so was on the web almost as soon as it started. Only 1 website :)

    I still have a copy of Mosaic 0.8 somewhere.

    Alas, the Cambridge Coffee Pot is no more.

    1. Charlie van Becelaere

      Web Slowing

      "Alas, the Cambridge Coffee Pot is no more."

      One can but surmise this is the reason for the web's deteriorating performance. I know I'm not nearly as efficient (nor as fast) without some coffee in me. In my experience, my computers have always performed better when there was a cup of hot coffee nearby.

      btw, why no coffee or tea icons?

      1. Tim99 Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Web Slowing

        An old truth: A programmer turns caffeine into code (For the older/more technical):-

        Turns 1,3,7-Trimethyl-3,7-dihydro-1H-purine-2,6-dione into FORTRAN/BASIC/LISP...

  13. thrillster

    There is an issue in Software that really needs addressing. How tranistory that software can be and how much is lost when we go around the wheel again....

    1. cookieMonster

      I think the hipsters call that “Monthly Recuring Revenue”, only way to become a eunuch corn

      1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

        Eunuch horn

        As in, "To be as rare as"

  14. Howard Sway Silver badge

    Windows has never been either free or open – but it offers a laudable stability

    Several million borked Windows Update users would probably disagree.

    My last Windows installation (W7 on a laptop) crappified itself last year to the extent it couldn't run the recovery stuff, so I waved goodbye to it forever. I'm never going to get nostalgic for ancient Windows : 3.1 was horribly unreliable, to the point of having to restart it several times a day, as well as often spontaneously deciding to reboot itself when you did dangerously taxing stuff like saving a Word document. NT 3.51 was about as good as it got in terms of reliability and responsiveness. And then the bloat just got worse and worse......

  15. Mage

    It was done right from the start

    Rubbish.

    No consideration at all for security.

    No consideration for privacy. Either Website operator or infrastructure.

    Stupidly scroll based instead of page based with scroll view as an option, see mobi, kf8, kfx, epub2 and epub3, all of which are HTML based.

    Needed cookies because stateless.

    Similarly, email was wrong from the start. Worse than telegrams and telex for knowing who a message was really from. In the old days you were supposed to provide proof of ID at the P.O. when sending.

    1. LDS Silver badge

      Re: It was done right from the start

      For what HTML was originally designed for, the design was correct enough. Hypertext documents to share knowledge.

      The real problem lies in all those who tried to develop applications using it.

  16. Version 1.0 Silver badge
    Windows

    Windows problems were Windows Features!

    When we were writing code for the early versions of Windows we would see lots of problems as Microsoft upgraded and changed the DLL's that everything relied upon ... so to fix that we needed to stop relying on the assumption that the DLL's we needed existed and worked the way we planned.

    So I required that all DLL code was complied into the applications and now they still run fin on Windows 10 because the apps don't expect that a DLL will exist unchanged.

  17. trevorde Silver badge

    Windows legendary backwards compatibility

    Take that, Apple!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Windows legendary backwards compatibility

      Apple???

      Take that, Linux (binary compatiblity be damned)

      (and yes, I"m a MS detractor, but also a realist, there's enough pain caused by both OS's)

  18. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

    3D Banana!

    This one's older...

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PoPUFHoC2vM

    At 1'40'' - Metal Mickey

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Here's a link to the file without the Google tracker: https://markpescecodex.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/labrl1.zip

  20. Kev99 Silver badge

    We had two pieces of software - Fitbit and HP printer drivers - that absolutely would not run under win10. There a couple others I'd been running since win95 with no problems. Personally, I don't see why microsoft doesn't keep the basic guts that works untouched. In my opinion most of the forced upgrades only benefit the hardware companies because microsoft makes sure its latest and greatest needs doohickey ver. 666 to run and doohickey is hardwired into the bios.

    1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Don't blame MS for HP printer drivers. HP managed (intentionally, I suspect) to bork their PCL5 driver so it won't support the old Laserjets (3, 4, 5). There's an earlier version of their PCL5 generic driver that works fine, but for some reason, it's not available on the HP website (and it runs fine on Win10)

      I know this, because my old LJ5, which works fine, suddenly stopped working with my Win10 laptop after an update. Turned out, they updated the printer driver (so, at one point, Win10 used the "good" PCL5 driver). I did a bit of web searching, installed the earlier version of the driver and the LJ5 is working again.

  21. fireflies

    Backward compatibility - a time to let go

    Backward compatibility is certainly beneficial to many - many people don't want to be forced to buy something they already bought and works for them. Why re-learn a program if the one you already have does everything you need?

    But why for the love of all things sane, does Microsoft still insist that when looking for drivers, it has to start with the a: drive?

    Surely that is something that needs to be rendered obsolete in the Windows 10 (and possibly Windows 11) era? For those who still happen to have a working floppy drive, how many components these days still include a floppy disk with drivers? How many come with any sort of disk for drivers? Even CD and DVD drives have become obsolete and less frequently feature in pre-build computers.

    Yet removing this relic of the past from windows would not have any meaningful impact surely? If you still need to access a floppy drive, you just select it from the list of drives - it doesn't need to be selected as default.

    1. Dave Null

      Re: Backward compatibility - a time to let go

      I think we're gonna need a screenshot for this. I don't recall seeing an A: prompt in a decade or so in Windows

    2. Boothy Silver badge

      Re: Backward compatibility - a time to let go

      The only place I can think of that still defaults to A: (even without an A: drive being present) is if trying to manually update a driver and selecting 'Have Disk', which still defaults to A: (I double checked in Win 10 Ent).

      i.e. Device Manager > open a device > Driver tab > click Update driver

      Then: 'Browse my computer for drivers' > then 'Let me pick....'

      Then finally 'Have Disk'

      This still tries to open A: but as far as I know, that's what 'Have Disk' is for, i.e. I have a floppy disk with the driver on it.

      If you want to browse other drives, like C: or a USB etc. then just hit the 'Browse' button after the 'Browse my computer for drivers' step, i.e. earlier in the process.

  22. MarkET

    Windows

    I'm amazed how many people claim knowledge.

    I wrote device drivers for Win 286 onwards. It was and still is a pile of $%$%.

    The better option was OS/2.

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