back to article Wing Commander III changed how the copy hotkey works in Windows 95

It is almost 30 years since Wing Commander III: Heart of the Tiger was released. In addition to allowing users to kick some Kilrathi ass, the game also played an important role in testing Windows 95. Microsoft veteran Raymond Chen told a story on his New Old Thing blog this week about how a bit of "testing" using Wing …

  1. The Dogs Meevonks Silver badge

    Was that the one with Mark Hamill? I remember playing a couple of them in my teens on my first computer around 97... Was either 3 or 4.

    But they couldn't hold a candle to the X-Wing series of games that I'd been playing since about 93 when me and a friend bought a copy on disc to use on the computer at the youth club we helped volunteer at... The computer had been purchased for a youth magazine project we were running... but was mostly used for games. :)

    X-Wing, Tie Fighter... and then when I got my own PC at home... bought them on CD, added X-Wing Vs Tie Fighter and X-Wing Alliance... the latter of which I still play thanks to the work at who have been working on and updating the game for over 20yrs now. It's a stunning looking game still.

    1. WonkoTheSane

      WCIII was Mark Hamill, yes.

      1. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

        So was Wing Commander IV, similar to III but even more cinematic, obviously.

        1. Not Yb Bronze badge

          WC IV was so cinematic, they sold a version that came in a film can.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            It was III. I still got the can, and the VHS making of in it

    2. Pascal Monett Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Agreed. I remember playing WCIII, it was fun.

      But X-Wing was the game that finally decided me to buy a joystick. And Alliance was just everything a Star Wars fan could want at the time.

      Awesome games, awesome gameplay, fun and engaging. Terms that more than few modern so-called blockbusters have utterly forgotten.

    3. bobdehn

      An interesting cast - along with Hamill were Malcolm McDowell, John Rhys-Davies, Tom Wilson, Tim Curry, John Schuck and Ginger Lynn. That was one hell of a casting director....

      1. GraXXoR

        Same director Chris Roberts has apparently got Hamill and Rhys-Davies together again, this time with Gillian Anderson and Gary Oldman for Squadron 42, a sort of spiritual successor to Wing Commander but without the Killrathi. This one is also making all but the toughest PC hardware bend a knee.

        Development Hell means the game has been delayed A LOT but there are finally signs of life. But he sure does know how to bring in the big names.

        Chris Roberts has a loyal fan base and was always famous for promising the moon and stars but never managing to hit a single deadline in his life. lol.

        Fingers crossed this comes out before my current and likely last PC is obsolete.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          I genuinely thought that John Rhys-Davies was dead until I read this post. I just checked Wikipedia and he isn't. I wonder why I thought that?

          1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

            You may have reached an age such that most people are dead? Famous people, anyway. I'm surprised now when anyone older than me is still alive.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Possibly because he wasn't in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull?

  2. Tubz Silver badge

    Ah the days Microsoft actually tested their software internally like a professional software developer and not by users in "release rings" as unpaid guinea pigs, who probably only look at the features and capabilities that they care about, so far too many bugs get through to release.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      I don't know... First why was Ctrl-C chosen to abort an active paste session in MS-DOS if it's the copy hotkey?

      And secondly shouldn't full-screen software be able have a way of saying to the OS that it's not interested in hotkeys being messed about with in the first place?

      You can see the cruft piling up in Windows in the mid-90s...

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        To an extent, yes. The use of CTRL-C for Copy seems like a logical thing to do. But CTRL-X for cut and CTRL-V for paste, not so much. So if cut and paste being "non-intuituve" letters were ok, why did they use CTRL-C for copy when CTRL-C had been the break command from before even MS-DOS existed, let alone Win95. It might have made a little more sense if they'd used CTRL-P for paste instead of print since by then there was a PrtSc key that could have been re-purposed as the print shortcut.

        (A quick Google tells me Xerox Parc defined CTRL-C as copy, despite it already being the "standard" for kill or end a process/program since at least the 1960s, so maybe we can't actually blame MS this time :-))

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          I've no problem with those keys, after all they were they same keys on other computers. But pressing what is usually the copy hotkey to stop it pasting into an MS-DOS window (which IIRC was done by injecting each keypress) is not an obvious choice. Or I never found it. It might have even exited your program if you accidently did it twice (once to stop pasting, another time to exit). Esc would have been better.

        2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          CTRL-C for copy was a disaster. Keybindings for DOS already existed but Microsoft wanted to do its own thing, again. And did it badly, again.

        3. Graham 32

          I thought X for cut was because X is the shape of some open scissors. It's been so long now I can't remember if I was told that, assumed it, or just told it as a way to remember it.

          1. Snapper

            Nah, it was because, as usual, Apple got there first in 1984 with Command + C (cut), Command + x (cut) and Command + V (paste).

            Eleven years late with Win 95!

            1. Not Yb Bronze badge

              Xerox Parc beat them both.

        4. W.S.Gosset Silver badge


          The reason is they just copied the Mac OS interface holus bolus. Released ~1991/92. Initially only worked in the new MS Office, which let them smash Mac out of the corporate market (for everything you needed to do at work (& had IT-permissions for), there was now ~no difference b/w Mac & Win). Win95 brought it out to the whole OS.

          On Mac, it was Command-C..X..V. C for Copy, & the other 2 for easy finger twitching. Plus X looks a bit like scissors. Settled on after lots of user testing of different approaches. Mac still had & could use the Control key for other shortcuts.

          Windows only had the Control key, so just mapped everything over. And hence the conflicts.

          1. Diogenes

            C,X,V Predates computing

            I still rember editing hand typewriter produced documents with my mum, an EA, bracket around text put a C or X then an arrow to a v where you want that text to go instead. She was taught this in 1948 when she went to school.

            1. Spineapple

              Re: C,X,V Predates computing

              Which is the point everyone is missing; the commands are this way because that's what's ergonomically sensible on a QWERTY keyboard with a control/command button in the bottom left corner.

              Look at C, X and V on such a keyboard. Notice anything? They're all in the same quadrant and easily accessible with one hand and one finger on the ctrl/cmd.

              Funny that the most frequently used text manipulation shortcuts should be accessible in this way. Ergonomics baby!

              The fact that Cut happens to be Ctrl+C is, I feel, a happy coincidence - interference with break commanding aside, and agree that the overlap with break commanding is unfortunate - but apparently surmountable, so here we are!

            2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

              Re: C,X,V Predates computing

              bracket around text put a C or X then an arrow to a v where you want that text to go instead

              Right. This was a handwritten notation (sometimes a carat rather than a v for the insertion point) that was common in the US, at least, long before Apple was a glint in Steve Jobs' eye.

              While the adjacency of X/C/V on a QWERTY keyboard may have helped reinforce the usage for Apple, the handwritten notation existed before typewritten symbols were commonly used for this purpose.

              In the handwritten notation, "C" was indeed an abbreviation for "copy", but the "X" was likely simply crossing out and not meant to be the letter, and the "v" or carat simply an insertion-point marker. Sometimes other conventions were used, such as an ellipse with a loop on top for delete.

          2. david 12 Silver badge

            Windows only had the Control key, so just mapped everything over. And hence the conflicts.

            All the easy DOS hot keys like [CNTRL][F1] were lost when IBM re-arranged the keyboard.

            The new keyboard layout matched green-screen data entry better, but at the cost of making other stuff more difficult.

          3. Adrian Harvey

            > Mac still had & could use the Control key for other shortcuts.

            Sorry, but not at the time they defined those keystrokes, it didn't. The first Mac keyboards only had option and command keys. Terminal emulators on the Mac had to take over one or other to be control. Later Mac keyboards did add back a control key, which made connecting from them to the Unix boxes at Uni much nicer.

            original Mac keyboard for reference So you can all see for yourselves.

        5. Martin-73 Silver badge

          I am guessing that X looks kinda like scissors, and V looks like an arrow to put it back down again?

      2. Jon 37

        > shouldn't full-screen software be able have a way of saying to the OS that it's not interested in hotkeys being messed about with in the first place?

        Your suggestion requires a time machine. The timeline is:

        1) DOS is written. All apps are "full screen". There are no hot keys.

        2) Wing Commander is written.

        3) Windows is written, which includes DOS boxes. However, they're not very good and no-one would run games in them.

        4) Windows 95 is written. Now Windows is running all the time. DOS apps can only be run via an improved DOS box.

        5) Someone from Microsoft gets into their time machine and goes back to the time of step 1.

        1A) The time traveller adds a new call to DOS that says "don't mess with hot keys", which does nothing, including full documentation of how Windows 95 will handle hot keys. Note that DOS is limited by memory, so this makes DOS a bit worse by using more memory

        2A) The time traveller persuades all game developers to use that call, despite the fact that it does nothing so calling it is a complete waste of time with no value to the game developers. It is also impossible to test, since it does nothing.

        4A) Windows 95 can now use that call to change the hotkey behaviour. For the few apps that bothered to implement it correctly, and lucked into a non-buggy implementation. This change also completely breaks some apps that were using the call incorrectly.

        5A) Windows 95 now needs the same compatibility fix for the apps that skipped the call. And a different set of fixes for apps that used the call incorrectly. And an exclusion list for the apps that disabled hotkeys but actually work better with hotkeys enabled.

        So the time traveller actually makes the situation much worse.

        (Assuming you meant DOS full screen apps. Windows full screen apps can of course control almost all hot keys. I say almost, because in Windows NT Ctrl-Alt-Del cannot be disabled for security reasons - a "secure attention key" is required by the government security standard that NT was designed to meet).

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          1A) The time traveller adds a new call to DOS that says "don't mess with hot keys", which does nothing, including full documentation of how Windows 95 will handle hot keys. Note that DOS is limited by memory, so this makes DOS a bit worse by using more memory

          It could have been a flag in a PIF file. It could have been the default for full-screen software. There's more than one way to skin a cat.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            PIF files weren't originally part of DOS, and were barely used in gaming when they became meaningful, but do keep digging.

        2. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

          To nitpick, between your steps 1 and 2 there were "TSR" utility programs for DOS - Terminate and Stay Resident. A program that exits after setting conditions for it to be re-activated, including by I'll say hijacking the keyboard handler. So then you could have, for instance, a pop-up text file editor to use in the middle of a session in another program. I think that some game cheating software also used the method.

      3. spuck

        <quote>And secondly shouldn't full-screen software be able have a way of saying to the OS that it's not interested in hotkeys being messed about with in the first place?</quote>

        How would you propose the game give that message to the OS that hadn't been written yet?

        I still marvel at some of the extra lengths that Microsoft went through over the years to maintain backwards compatibility and handle corner cases like this as they shifted from DOS to Windows. It's amazing, especially in contrast to how poorly they seem to do that same job these days. What happened, Microsoft?

        1. ldo

          Re: What happened, Microsoft?

          Windows got too complex and too expensive to continue developing any more. And nobody wants to pay good money for an OS any more.

      4. Dave_A

        DOS didn't have standard hotkeys

        Other than ctrl-alt-del anyway ...

        So any application could use any keys any way it wanted....

        In Windows, Ctrl C is copy.

        At the command line, it's break.

        And in Wing Commander it was apparently cloak

        1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: DOS didn't have standard hotkeys

          This is wrong.

          MS-DOS implemented a Control-C handler that intercepted that character when input was done via DOS (as opposed to using BIOS for input, or working with the hardware directly). An MS-DOS application could enable or disable Ctrl-C interception with int 21h function 33h. DOS would invoke int 23h for a Ctrl-C when the handler was enabled, so an application could also override the default handler by replacing that interrupt.

          In "cooked" mode (a term adopted from UNIX tty handling), MS-DOS would also check for and handle Ctrl-P, Ctrl-S, and Ctrl-Z.

          See e.g.

          And Ctrl-Alt-Del was not handled by DOS; it was handled directly by BIOS.

      5. Not Yb Bronze badge

        Years ago, Ctrl-C was originally "Stop the running program", adding "Copy" to it happened quite a bit later.

  3. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

    Decent game

    Played it again recently, it's incredible how much things changed between Wing Commander II and III

    Flying is still fun, but it's definitely the age of 'we've found FMV' and *boy* do they want to use it at every opportunity. Conversations, walking between areas, etc etc

    Still for all the faults of Chris Roberts' games, at least he's trying to tell a story and improve the technology.

    1. the spectacularly refined chap

      Re: Decent game

      Played it again recently, it's incredible how much things changed between Wing Commander II and III

      What came in between was Strike Commander, which broke new ground (gouraud shading, texture mapping) but had a very protracted development. That accounts for the delay between WCII and III, and once complete many of the techniques were in turn used on the new WC.

      1. Dave_A

        Re: Decent game

        Strike Commander. Privateer (using the same characters but IN SPACE), and WC Armada

    2. Alien Doctor 1.1

      Re: Decent game

      After you, or someone above, mentioned FMV and Chris Roberts I was reminded of my favourite game series from rather too many years ago than I like to think: this was the Tex Murphy series by Chris Jones. It didn't have (m)any stars, if any, but I loved it. I now have all the games again courtesy of gog so no disc swapping.

      Edit: I think Margot Kidder (I used to have a poster of her on my bedroom wall when in my teens) was in Under a Killing Moon

      1. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

        Re: Decent game

        I remember quite enjoying Under A Killing Moon. I'm sort of hoping it still holds up now.

        1. Mike VandeVelde

          Re: Decent game

          Decent game. When Windows 95 came out I was playing Descent. The original. At BCIT a friend of mine had found a place a place on the LAN to store the install files. So we could walk into any computer lab and be up and running in a matter of minutes, since everything would be wiped out over night. He almost got kicked out for similar shenanigans, but ended up quite successful, deservedly so. Anyway.

          I had my keyboard set up with my right hand on the number pad, 2,4,6,8 to turn, 0,1,5,3 for up/down left/right thrust. This was one of the first truly 3D games and oh man I could do tricks. Anyway.

          Left hand - Q for forward thrust. A for reverse thrust. I could do reticulating spline barrel rolls around anyone. Spiralling geostationary orbits over any target. I dominated. Ctrl for lasers, and cheese and tap dancing rice Alt for missiles. Never could find any other keyboard combination that worked so well. Life has been downhill since then ;)

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Decent game

      I remember Wing Commander 3 coming with a system benchmarking utility. At the time it came out, I ran it, and it came back with "your CD-ROM drive is faster than is possible".

  4. Tubz Silver badge

    One of the streaming services should buy the rights to create a TV series or maybe even a series of movies but make them serious, like Halo and not like the existing corny WC movie.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      You're an optimistic soul!

      Futuristic sci fi TV costs a lot to make, and even shows that were critically acclaimed over their first few sessions can struggle to to get renewed - such as The Expanse.

      Video game to TV adaptions have a record that makes studios execs wary, too. The recent Fallout TV series being an exception, though post-apocolyptic settings have been shown to commercially successful on TV.

      For spaceship battles IN SPAACE! we at least have Battle Star Galactica, and a few good things like Andor, and The Mandalorian from Disney.

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        Ah, The Expanse.

        I was so enamoured by the TV series that I bought the books - and read all of them.

        I understand now why the TV series stopped when it did. It still gave a positive message, but eschewed the following 50-year plotline that the rest of the books described.

        The book series is awesome, to be sure, but trying to get everything after the Slow Zone was colonized would be a mind-breaker for production and for most viewers.

        Some things are best left in print.

        1. phuzz Silver badge

          IIRC the TV series covered the first six books, and the final three books took place ~20 years later, so it made a good place to stop.

          Plus, the door is still open for them to do the last three books at some point in the future, and they can keep the same cast looking naturally older.

        2. Dave 126 Silver badge


          I agree that it was appropriate that the series ended where it did, at a natural break in the narrative. The cancelling I was referring to was after its original three seasons on SyFy. Fans campaigned, and then Amazon Prime Video produced the final three seasons.

          It had a rocky path to production despite being received well by critics and fans.

          I haven't read the books yet, but I've heard good things.

          1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

            I can only encourage you to read them. You will learn that the authors thought things through way more than could be shown on TV.

            Simple example : in the books, you learn that, when fighting on spaceships, the guns use bullets made of plastic so as to not punch holes through the ship hulls.

            They thought of that, and of many other things besides.

            It really is an awesome story.

            1. Dave 126 Silver badge

              > I can only encourage you to read them.

              Thank you, I'm glad to have that recommendation from someone who, like me. watched the TV series first. I was worried that the books might lose some impact on me since I've already seen the show, but you've reassured me.

          2. Not Yb Bronze badge

            Secretary-General Avasarala rocks. I've always thought that was an amazing bit of casting.

        3. Snapper

          50-year plus plot lines can be done if the writer is good enough.

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        "The recent Fallout TV series being an exception, though post-apocolyptic settings have been shown to commercially successful on TV."

        Who'da thought the prepper (and wannabe prepper) audience was so large and interested in TV shows down in their bunkers :-)

      3. Dave 126 Silver badge

        I've just remembered that The Last of Us was another video game to TV adaptation that was well received. So maybe the historic trend is being bucked.

        However, it didn't require expensive futuristic sets, and it had a bit of overlap with the Walking Dead which was a known commercial success.

    2. WonkoTheSane

      The game's creator, Chris Roberts (who made that "corny" movie) recently got the movie rights back.

      He's currently busy with the spiritual successor to WC - Star Citizen

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        I think we'll see Half Life 3 finished before Star Citizen is finished.

        1. spacecadet66 Bronze badge

          Star Citizen may have been a work in progress for a very long time, but let's not forget that protracted development was key to such classics as Daikatana and Duke Nukem Forever.

      2. Management Order

        Oh, yea, how's SC going? Still in alpha?

    3. Binraider Silver badge

      The animated series is genuinely very good. Worth looking up!

  5. ludicrous_buffoon

    > The deal was that in return for taking responsibility for making sure that Windows 95 was compatible, you got to keep the software. Do a good job, and you could come back for more.

    Do companies still offer fun incentives like this? I've only ever been in shops where it's just in exchange for straight pay. I've also never experienced this thing called a 'Christmas bonus'. It's a shame all these things appear to be relics of the 90s, along with Britpop and affordable housing.

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      Not employers, but I'm part of Amazon Vine.

      I get to select a bunch of stuff from a huge list of Amazon items (new incoming items, etc.), they send them to my house the next day (even though I'm not Prime), and I get to keep the items so long as I write a short honest review of them (and it can absolutely pan the product and they don't care).

      I currently have 400+ items in my house from such a venture, including everything from tools, network SFP+ fibre modules, plates, kitchen appliances, clothing, all sorts - basically anything that Amazon sellers think they need a review of to boost their sales for a new product.

      Last week I reviewed a £120 conference webcam, £200 of DisplayPort KVM switch, light fittings, several nice summer shirts, a wok, multiple USB-C devices (docking stations and the like), lightbulbs, a £200 pop-up desk socket with USB-C and wireless charging, an OBD scanner, LOADS of silicone sealant, etc.

      If they don't ask for them back in 90 days, they're yours to keep. I've been doing it far longer than that and so far.... zero items needed to be returned.

      1. CountCadaver Silver badge

        Can never quite get how certain folks get into the "special circle" of vine, given that its apparently invite only but some only have reviews for stuff they have gotten free from vine

        (tbh I don't trust vine - free stuff = positive reviews from most folk, due to "well its free so i cant expect much from it and if i say anything too horrid they will cut off my freebies")

        1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

          I asked a question from one seller for the same Android head (Different branding) unit regarding its spec's (Slightly slower processor speed as it happened ) & received a offer of a refund if I reviewed it (Which I didn't expect him to fulfill).

          Unit arrived & I gave it a very full & honest review with install pictures & did indeed receive the refund.

          I keep reviewing in the same vein with as much detail as the product deserves & hoping I get invited, compared to other "Vine Reviewers" simple offerings of "Works Good" who I think abuse the status they have somehow got.

        2. PRR Silver badge

          > I don't trust vine - free stuff = positive reviews from most folk, due to "well its free so i cant expect much

          I too struggled with that. "Free" does not mean I gave it a easy-pass. I depend on Reviews for my own buying and know that an honest critique can help many people. Also H-D (Amazon, Walmart..) have TOO MANY products, let's get the crap out. Getting to a point that I had more Helpfulness Votes than Reviews (most reviews go un-voted, so this is better than it looks) gave me the courage to clearly note ALL unfavorable impressions, from reckless wiring to soft paint.

          Hat-light: "Charging cord is quite short. The instruction sheet in the retail pack is folded-up and crumpled. ...They say the clip will grip your cap; yes, but also pull the cap off your head. ..."

          Snowpusher: "One grump: the shaft and blade must be assembled. Simple, except the holes did not line up." (I gave a hack to make it fit.)

          Come-a-long: "I have struggled for two days trying to get the line un-spooled. ...I have had several similar pullers and none have been so stubborn, or fought me so hard." (Others had similar remarks; this was a good company out of its depth.)

          Window Box Planter: "Wow, this is big and sturdy! You could wash a Corgi in it!" (OK, sometimes I got goofy. That dog also posed with throw-rugs and heat-guns.)

      2. PRR Silver badge

        > Amazon Vine

        Home Depot's SEEDS program is similar. A decade ago I "reviewed" an electrical box by correcting the wrongly-listed dimensions, and got a Seeds invitation. Eventually everything from $4 glue to a $999 air pump.

        My first reviews were tentative, but I got bold and called-out H-D and suppliers for shoddy or dangerous products. They refused to post how the sharp edges made me bleed all over the deck, and a long private debate about crappy welds on a ladder bracket. A gasoline-leaky snowblower. I noticed that some of these products quietly went out of stock soon after.

        I worked my way to 381 Reviews, 687 Helpfulness Votes; but the Seeds program IT resources were badly managed and one summer it accepted my reviews but did not credit my account. I got that mostly fixed, then this year those products de-linked again. (I laboriously found each review online and reported to the moderator, who fixed half of them for a month, and then they un-linked). Now they don't send campaign emails, I assume because I have "too many" missed products.

        Yes, they literally use eXceL as a scratch database. Tracking numbers converted to scientific notation, ferchrissakes. I'm back in the woods so tracking was sometimes critical. I've gone out to blow just before the UPS truck came with a snowpusher to review.

        Perhaps Amazon is better. (Not betting on it.)

        My housemate does a similar thing on Walmart dot com. Reviews the product pages for clarity, correctness, and impact. Do enough and get a $5 voucher.

  6. Lee D Silver badge

    "Eat your own dogfood".

    Shame that ever since, I find it absolutely unbelievable that there are Windows admins working at Microsoft who AREN'T tearing their hair out at ridiculous changes, stupid legacies, and dumb and undocumented procedures and fixes EVERY SINGLE DAY. Server and client. New and old OS.

    I don't understand how it could be possible to work on the Microsoft AD team, for example, and still not have fixed that "search" dialog in AD where the dialog always includes User but never Computer and you have to manually select it each time. And, please, you are NOT telling me that all of Microsoft only tests on Azure and never touches their own AD management tools any more.

    I've said before... give me an hour in a room with all the developers, free reign to have my changes implemented, and a month to get them all into the OS and distributed. Windows would be a far better - and yet almost identical functionally - beast in a very short space of time.

    1. ldo

      Re: could be possible to work on the Microsoft AD team

      The reality is, on-prem Windows Server is no longer where the big bucks are for Microsoft. Yup, their emphasis is very much on the cloud.

      Want Windows-Server-type functionality under your own control? Use the same open-source pieces Microsoft itself copied, namely Kerberos and LDAP, combined with Samba, running on a Linux box. And there you have something that no Microsoft or any other BigCorp™ can ever take away from you.

  7. Plest Silver badge

    Multi-CD hell

    I seem to recall buying a few games around that time and multi-CDs were the norm for big titles, from memory WC-III was on 4 or 5 CDs, and I think WC-IV was ridiculous as it was 7 or 8 CDs! Riven ( follow up to Myst ) was 5 ot 6 CDs too.

    1. Noram

      Re: Multi-CD hell

      I remember those, I seem to remember that WC3 wasn't too bad in terms of swapping between discs unnecessarily, but I remember FF7 (which from memory was basically a single game emulator of the PS game) seemed to need to have the disc swapped practically every time you changed location.

      I remember getting a second copy of Baldurs Gate when I bought a DVD drive, purely because I could get the DVD version cheap and it meant I didn't have to do the disc shuffle.

      It was an odd time, there were games that you basically just used the disc to install and do the initial game start up from, then could pop in a music disc and use the games CD player, and at the other extreme games where you due to fmv etc you had to constantly swap them (and even the likes of Warcraft 3 where you used one disc to "spawn" 2 disc free clients for network play).

      1. Sandtitz Silver badge

        Re: Multi-CD hell

        "I remember FF7 (which from memory was basically a single game emulator of the PS game) seemed to need to have the disc swapped practically every time you changed location."

        Let me introduce you to the slowest floppy disk drive in the world, Commodore 1541, with its 300 bps transfer rate. (remember v.21 modems?)

        Combine that with Ultima V and the FOUR (4) double sided disks and a disk change EVERY time you changed location. The game was awesome - still is - but Origin included C1541 fast loader logic that didn't work with non-NTSC machines - I could have finished the game at least a year earlier...

  8. Fading

    IIRC I could never get Wing Commander III to work under win95....

    Needed more free low level RAM (within the first 640 KB) than was available to the machine when win 95 was loaded. Needed to drop into DOS 7 and run from the command line. They might have released a win95 compatible version but the 4 CD-ROM version I had wasn't it.

  9. WonkoTheSane

    The article misses an important point

    That point being that the CTRL-C combo is only used ONCE, at around 15 hours into the game.

  10. gecho


    The Win95 testing story came up in an interview with Dave Plummer, along with the USB cart of death.

    He also told a story about how Pinball had no frame limiter so it would internally redraw as fast as it could, pinning a core on any CPU not matter how powerful. He also mentioned that he likes to keep 6 months of blog posts queued.

  11. Binraider Silver badge

    Compatible, maybe, but performance without rebooting into native DOS was often unusable.

    At the time I had a dreadful Cyrix 6x86 which probably compounded matters. I'm sure I wasn't the only one to keep a the hard drive on FAT16 so I could use a boot disk to 6.22, and address the inevitable Config.sys & autoexec.bat shenanigans.

    1. Mac Logo

      The Cyrix 6x86 line was an awful series of bad design decisions.

      On a "Genuine Intel", Windows 95 *was* a much better way of playing DOS games. It didn't need crap like MSCDEX, Graphics, soundcard or mouse drivers hogging the lower 640k. For the original DOS version of Quake, iD recommended using Win95 for networking, otherwise you had to use proprietary TCP/IP drivers. It even played nice with the DOS/4GW dos extender. Was it perfect? Heck no! It was less crap than multiboot configs for different games though.

  12. Kev99 Silver badge

    Too bad mictosoft doesn't bother with such in depth testing anymore.

  13. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

    Lost in translation

    I can't wrap my head around this:

    `A tweak was made so that the Ctrl-C hotkey handler was only installed by the operating system when a clipboard paste operation was active, and removed when the operation completed. "That way," said Chen, "when you hit it outside of a paste operation, the keys were visible to the game at human speeds, and this allowed it to engage the cloaking device."`

    I've been using Microsoft stuff since DOS 3 days. Even today I use interrupts and function keys in the Windows Console all the time. I know the difference between Ctrl+C as cancel and Ctrl+C as copy, and when to use Ctrl+Insert instead. That's not my issue.

    What I don't understand is "outside of an active paste operation". Ctrl+P is paste, that's an active paste operation, and it works when "something" of appropriate data type is already on the system clipboard. To my mind, Ctrl+C as copy is *always* outside of an active paste operation. In the default state when the system clipboard is empty (i.e. before any Ctrl+C is pressed), how does the OS choose whether or not to install the Ctrl+C hotkey handler? Is it never?

    1. ldo

      Re: Lost in translation

      I don’t understand that bit either. All I can conclude is, none of these old Microsoft Windows war stories really make any sense. Trying work around that 640K limit addled their brains, or something. Or maybe it’s the 26 drive letters.

    2. 93s

      Re: Lost in translation

      The best rationalization I could come up with is that the Ctrl-C handler is only installed if paste _handler_ is active. But that wouldn't make sense, because then you couldn't copy from read-only text fields. So I have no idea what the article is trying to say.

    3. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Lost in translation

      Remember that the article is talking about the use of Ctrl-C when the focus is a DOS box. IIRC, in Win95, the DOS box didn't have any equivalent to the "Quick Edit Mode" of modern Windows' Command Prompt windows; you had to tell it with the menu that you were going to start selecting text. And until text was selected, there was nothing to copy. So they could avoid installing the Ctrl-C handler in a DOS box until text was marked, at which point copying was a possibility.

      Actually, it's possible that in Win95 even Windows text-input controls didn't let you copy until text was selected — there was no default selection. I don't remember whether that was the case.

  14. Mostly Irrelevant

    This is a neat story, but anyone who really cared about playing Wing Commander 3 would have booted into DOS mode because it ran a lot better that way.

  15. Duffaboy

    What a brilliant game that was

    Very imersive and fun to play espicaally the FMV, am i right in thinking there was an end credit gag regarding star wars ?

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    “ Back then, there was no army of helpful Windows Insiders”

    No, but there were a large number of external beta testers around the world who tested what would become Windows 95, in my case for almost 2 years. We regularly downloaded and installed test builds and filed bug reports and discussed them on a private forum. Some of us got invited to the Windows 95 launch party in Redmond.

  17. Luiz Abdala


    Very few games wrap around Alt-F4, being that an important observation.

    To this day, I think only GTA Five and Starcraft 2 have an "ARE YOU SURE YOU WANNA CLOSE" capture for Alt-F4.

    Some other games had QUIT on the chat screen that doubled as a console command key, so anybody chatting away typing QUIT would close the game.

    And people in those games got royally trolled for decades.

    For the Alt-F4 wrapping, people still do.

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