The other reason why I love Virtual PC

The other reason why I love Virtual PC

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Would have to be because I love nothing more than to just tinker with old and esoteric operating systems - and find out what makes them tick.  On the virtual machine team I am known as the person who is most likely to know why obscure operating system XYZ has some oddity in it.

Needless to say I am addicted to Jonathan Maltz's page on 'What works on Virtual PC 2004' (Update 8/5/2011: Unfortunately this site is no longer functional) and am constantly checking his RSS feed to see what the latest submission is.

So from time to time I will post some shots of old / odd operating systems I have setup in VM's along with a commentary of what it took to get them up and running / any odd facts I know about them.

For my first installment - I shall give you:

cpm

CPM/86 v1.0 - the father of DOS. The only trick to getting this guy running under Virtual PC is finding a bootable copy still in existence :-)

And:

win101

Windows 1.01 - few people know that Windows 1.0 was actually never released.  Windows 1.0 was the version of Windows that was demonstrated at the '83 Comdex.  It would be 14 months until Microsoft eventually released Windows 1.01 - which included some minor bug fixes - to the general public.  Tips for running Windows 1.01 under Virtual PC 2004 include:

  • Windows 1.01 only supported the proprietary 'Microsoft Bus Mouse' - which funnily enough - we do not emulate.  So there is no mouse support under Windows 1.01 in Virtual PC.
  • Windows 1.01 only knew about 84 key keyboards.  So you can't use the d-pad arrow keys or the enter on the number pad for navigation.  This makes Windows 1.01 impossible to use on a modern laptop when combined with the mouse issue.
  • There is actually a long standing bug against Windows 1.01 under Virtual PC.  Namely that Windows 1.01 crashes when you try to exit it.  Unsurprisingly I have yet to be able to get anyone to take this bug seriously - but a couple of people have suggested that now that I am at Microsoft - I should send Bill an email and see if he has any ideas about what is happening :-)

Cheers,
Ben

Version Note 8/5/2011: This post was originally written for Virtual PC 2004.  However both of these operating systems work just as well under Virtual PC 2007 and Windows Virtual PC.

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  • Ben,

    well, its not even running windows xp (german) for me. (keyboard dies after pressing the backslash character).

    WM_FYI
    thomas woelfer
  • Lol, I was just happy that I was able to get MSDOSS 6.22 installed and then Windows 3.11. :) Now if only I could find my mechwarrior 2 cd ... :)
  • How good does windows embedded work on vpc?
  • Thomas -

    You will probably find that the problem is that your AltGr key is configured to be the 'host-key'. If you go into your options and change this to right-ctrl or right-shift instead you should be fine.

    Cheers,
    Ben
  • Henry:

    Windows Embedded works fine under VPC - it's just not officially supported.

    I wonder if Additions would work on it though.. Hm....

    Here's an MSDN article on the topic. Funny how it includes a picture of Windows 2.03 running and this post is about old OSes running:
    http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/en-us/dnembedded/html/embedded04232004.asp?frame=true

    Jonathan
  • So that's what "Title" meant. Whoops :) Too many different blog platforms are available these days.

    Ben:
    Would the AltGr key cause the keyboard to stop working that session? I thought it only meant that the host key interfered with everyday use of the guest.

    Jonathan
  • Jonathan:

    This is just my starting guess. ;-)

    Cheers,
    Ben
  • The default of right-Alt as host key causes the guest OS to think Ctrl is stuck down if you press AltGr. AltGr replaces right-Alt on almost all non-US keyboards (my UK keyboard has AltGr, although only two letters using it are marked on the keycaps: ¦ and €).

    You can fix it by pressing and releasing the right Ctrl key, but expect a lot of weird behaviour until you work this out. I always use right-Win as the host key.
  • Does the source code of Windows 1.01 still exist and could you get access to it to try and track down the crash - or would you have to disassemble the binary?

    Then, of course, there's the question of finding a Windows 1.0 DDK to write updated keyboard/screen/mouse drivers. Windows 1.0 in 1280x1024 truecolour would be a sight worth seeing.
  • Hi Mike,

    Interesting - I never knew that (probably because I've never experienced a non-US keyboard. Probably would be neat though :)

    Jonathan
  • Hi Mike,

    The problem with using the AltGR key on UK keyboards a the host key should be fixed in Virtual PC SP1.

    Cheers,
    Ben
  • Hi John,

    I have not tried to track this down - but given the amount of effort it took to track down the Windows 95 source code - I should imagine this would be very hard (Microsoft is quite a big place).

    Cheers,
    Ben
  • I've been trying to get Windows 1.01 working for a few days now, and I seem to be missing something. Whenever I start it, all I get are garbled characters and a lot of beeping. I've tried all of the video cards listed, they all do the same thing... Do you have any more tips for getting this going?
  • Hi John,

    I am just using the stock EGA driver.

    Cheers,
    Ben
  • John: Windows 1.0x is picky about what version of DOS it runs on. I suspect you need MS-DOS 3.3 or earlier (or DRDOS 6, which pretends to be Compaq DOS 3.31).

    My copy of Virtual PC has Windows 1.04 running atop DRDOS 6. The crash on exit (which I presume is the same one mentioned in the parent article) seems to be when either button in the MessageBox() is highlighted, and before it gets to ExitWindows(). I can also get similar crashes in other MessageBox()es - for example: File, Run, type FOO, press RETURN. The "Please insert FOO.EXE disk in drive A:" screen crashes in just the same way as the "Exit Windows" screen.
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