Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×
Windows Emulation (Games) Microsoft Operating Systems Software Games

Internet Archive Brings Classic Windows 3.1 Apps To Your Browser (google.com) 109

The Internet Archive has made it possible for you to make a virtual visit to the wide, wide world of Windows 3.1 games (and other apps, too), via a collection of virtualized images. Jason Scott is the game collector and digital archivist behind the online museum of malware mentioned here a few days ago. "Now," Ars Technica reports, "Scott and his crew have done it again with the Windows 3.X Showcase, made up of a whopping 1,523 downloads (and counting), all running in a surprisingly robust, browser-based JavaScript emulation of Windows 3.1. You'll recognize offerings like WinRisk and SkiFree, but the vast majority of the collection sticks to a particularly wild world of Windows shareware history, one in which burgeoning developers seemed to throw everything imaginable against 3.1's GUI wall to see what stuck." Says the article: A volunteer "really did the hard work" of getting the Windows files required for each DOSBOX instance down to 1.8 MB, and in the process came up with a more centralized version of those files on his server's side, as opposed to kinds that would require optimizations for every single emulated app.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Internet Archive Brings Classic Windows 3.1 Apps To Your Browser

Comments Filter:
  • Apps (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Calydor ( 739835 ) on Friday February 12, 2016 @07:02AM (#51493287)

    Strange.

    I don't recall those programs being called apps. Applications maybe, more commonly programs ... but not apps.

    • by Anonymous Coward
    • Remember though, this was in the wild west days of PCs where there didn't seem to be a standard for anything. Sometime I miss those days, then I remember the "fun" of dial-up and move on.

    • Re:Apps (Score:5, Informative)

      by nine-times ( 778537 ) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Friday February 12, 2016 @08:27AM (#51493461) Homepage

      Maybe you have a bad memory...?

      I've been working in the IT industry since the early 90s, and the term "app" has been used as a shorthand for "application" since then at least. It has fairly recently taken the connotation of a mobile app, or some other kind of mini-application (web apps?), but that's actually something from the last 10 years. I forget exactly when that started because I have a bad memory too.

      • Didn't we call them "programs"?
        • Re:Apps (Score:5, Funny)

          by gtall ( 79522 ) on Friday February 12, 2016 @09:32AM (#51493679)

          The technical term was "proggie".

        • Yes, that too. My understanding (though this was before my time) was that "application" used to refer to the use, whereas "program" was the thing you ran. So "word processing" is an application of your computer, while "Microsoft Word" is the program you use to do that. That was according to my dad, who worked for IBM back in the days of punch cards, but it's possible that was just his own distinction.

          But by the 90s, you could describe Microsoft Word as either an "application" or "program" (or "app"). T

          • by Scoth ( 879800 )

            As a kid in the 80s and 90s, "Applications" were the things Dad used to get work done, "Utilities" were boring things that you weren't supposed to touch because you could break the computer, and "Games" were the only fun things. They were all programs, though you sounded like an egghead calling them that.

      • by rgbscan ( 321794 )

        Back in the 90's, I always though of 'apps' as 'applets' - little utilities that lived in my Apple Menu. Calculator and AfterDark and whatnot...

        • Yeah, that was how I understood it as well. Apps would be things that came pre-installed WITH Windows, like Calculator or Paint(brush?) or Notepad. Things like Microsoft Office or Lotus Notes or Autocad were full blown applications or programs, but certainly not called apps.

          Besides, w/ Windows 8 and the store, app has come to mean anything you download from the store. But if you have your old CD of Civilization III and install it using the same technique that's been used since Windows 95, that is very

    • I don't recall those programs being called apps. Applications maybe, more commonly programs ... but not apps.

      "Apps" is shorthand for "applications". Has always been.

      • I don't recall those programs being called apps. Applications maybe, more commonly programs ... but not apps.

        "Apps" is shorthand for "applications". Has always been.

        I used WIn 3.1 when it was first released. We never called them "apps" then.

        • It doesn't matter. We can call them "apps" now. It's just a shorthand.
          • But they have very different implications. Today, an 'app' is something I download from the Windows store. Whereas if I either get a DVD or an USB drive, or download something from its website and then install it, it's something very different in terms of the setting.
    • Both terms were used. Application referred more to something which was polished and sellable to the end user (c.f. 'appliance'). Those could be called programs as well. But lines of code which you hacked together for your high school intro to computers course were always called a program, never an application. App was the shortened version (prog sounded like something you'd do in bed to your SO).

      The parlance may have started with the Apple III and Macintosh. I think Apple referred to its GUI apps on
  • by Viol8 ( 599362 ) on Friday February 12, 2016 @07:37AM (#51493361) Homepage

    Is the javascript emulating the OS and all applications itself or is the javascript emulating an old PC and then the windows binaries are running on that? I'm guessing the latter since doing the former would be a boatload of work. Impressive whichever way they did it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Javascript run version of dosbox emulating computer to run windows/apps.

    • by eXoScoriae ( 4457831 ) on Friday February 12, 2016 @11:58AM (#51494559)
      If you google Win3xO, you'll find the collection he took and based this on. I know because I created the collection. I suppose I'm the "volunteer" he mentioned. I built Win3xO by taking individual Windows 3.x installs (running in Dosbox), gutting them of extra crap, and that gets them down to about 25mb, compressed.Then I had to launch into windows and install any versions of Win32, WinG, Quicktime, etc that the game required. I created a handful of "templates" that had the most common configurations to save time. Each game has the original media (cd image, floppy image, or file dump if it was shareware), mounts it, and then launches Win3x. I used a few tricks to automate the launching of the game once Win3x started. Sometimes this was as basic as just putting a shortcut in the startup folder, but that was a final solution when nothing else worked. In general, I wanted win3x to exit when the game/app closed. If you download my version it is about 350gb, but it is all local. It also includes a front end with box scans, screen shots, game descriptions, manuals, etc.... Its compatible with my previous release eXoDOS, which is the same project, but for DOS games. Interestingly, Jason took that one and put it online last year. But because of the method Jason uses, he breaks a majority of the games when he attempts to make them sompatible with his java script dosbox. This is because he didn't take time to actually talk to me first, and he didn't understand how my conf files worked. So he attempted to automate the conf files. The causes speed issues in some cases, and in other cases it simply doesn't call the right executable. Which is my my DOS collection has 5,500 games, but once it got online, it was down to 2,000. I appreciate Jason's work adapting my collections and getting them to more people... but I wish he wasn't such a clown about giving credit to people who actually did the bulk of the work. Not only would it be nice, but it would lead to a better quality output. Something where more than 40% of the games actually worked.
      • I used a few tricks to automate the launching of the game once Win3x started. Sometimes this was as basic as just putting a shortcut in the startup folder, but that was a final solution when nothing else worked. In general, I wanted win3x to exit when the game/app closed.

        I have a great way of doing this. I have several games on my MythTV HTPC that I want to open/close by remote control. And I had to find a way to automate startup of the game and exit of Windows.

        You can add an exe as an argument to win in autoexec.bat and it will run that on startup. I used a recently-created free program called runexit.exe [shdon.com] to launch the game. When the game is exited, runexit.exe shuts down Windows.

        So for a game called game.exe, it was:
        win C:\runexit.exe C:\gamepath\game.exe

        This worked

        • I guess that's your method, too - it's one of the files in the vanilla 3.1 demo.

        • I also seem to recall that in win.ini, there was a variable called shell. Normally it pointed to progman.exe, or a third-party shell if you had one. Maybe you could put the name of the application in there to start it, then exit Windows when it quits.
      • by Toshito ( 452851 )

        Good god you have a lot of spare time! It must have taken years to assemble this collection.

        I'm happy that someone worked to preserve these works of art.

        Is your collection available online?

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Shell=game.exe

      • by Reziac ( 43301 ) *

        Thank you for doing this. Maybe they aren't so useful today but I would really hate for this material to be lost.

        And there are a few old DOS and Win3.x programs that still don't seem to have good replacements.

  • by Ivan Stepaniuk ( 1569563 ) on Friday February 12, 2016 @07:49AM (#51493389)

    Just pick your application to run here:

    https://archive.org/details/so... [archive.org]

  • WTF is a "showcaseâ"? Is it Norwegian or something?

    • It's Scandawegian for "Website that doesn't support Unicode and incorrectly validates forms containing unicode", I believe.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I had that Wheel of Fortune!

    But everybody knows that the best Win 3.1 shareware games were:

    Operation Inner Space, a top down spaceship arcade shooter where you went inside the filesystem of your PC and collected the icons before they could be destroyed by viruses. Complete with a super secret ending! Inexplicably, it's still being sold TO THIS DAY by SDI software.

    World Empire IV. A simplified Risk-like boardgame where you can attack neighboring countries, and the results are decided by a coin-flip fifty fif

    • by Higaran ( 835598 )
      Skifree, that's all you need, I spent many hours on that game eaten by the snowman a million times.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    In those days the best games were DOS games. Windows simply used up too much memory, and you still had to faff with your config.sys and autoexec.bat to make those even start in some cases, until that thing in DOS 6 appeared that tried to do it for you and failed in some cases, was still better to do it by hand.

    • Ah yes, the days of himem.sys and emm386... Most of the time it wasn't so bad but, every now and then you'd have two applications that required mutually exclusive settings. Now that was a pain. DOS was not exactly set up for multi-boot configurations.

      • by DarkOx ( 621550 )

        Actually it was, at least for DOS 6.0 on you could easily have multiple configurations specified in config.sys and autoexec, which could be setup to provide a menu based selection of which configuration you wanted to boot on start up.

        • Yea, they finally implemented multiple profiles by then because it had been such an issue. DOS 3.x and 4.x, forget it. I can't remember if profile support came in DOS 5.x or 6.x.

      • Yeah and ISA Plug-n-Pray cards from competing vendors that *would not* work together in the same system... jumper pins, dip switches and manual IRQ settings... oh those were the days...

        • Yea, I remember having to hunt down 3Com modems that had hardware ISA jumpers because of Plug-n-pray issues. I had enough problems that I finally just started buying those cards full time. They had a plug-n-play option but, you could set the IRQ via hardware. Best of both worlds of the era.

  • by mark_reh ( 2015546 ) on Friday February 12, 2016 @08:11AM (#51493435) Journal

    in the online museum of malware.

    • Was there very much malware directed at Win 3.1, or was most of it just working on the underlying DOS system?

      • by Mryll ( 48745 )

        There was plenty. People in HR always seemed to pick things up from bad resumes. I remember chasing KAK virus through a ton of startup options manually as an exercise and gave up on it for lack of time. A lot of the malware was more benign or experimental in those days, things like displaying a message rather than wrecking things or trying to steal information. There was more of a distinction between viruses and invited software that did things you didn't like, gator etc.

      • I was referring specifically to windows 3.1, not malware directed at it.

  • Recognize what now? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by sjbe ( 173966 )

    You'll recognize offerings like WinRisk and SkiFree,

    Umm, we will? I substantially predate Windows 3.1 and I never heard of those applications. Maybe they were a big thing in some circles but certainly nothing most of us would recognize.

    • Yea, I can't say I have a lot of Windows 3.x experience either. I preferred working with DOS and only used Windows when I had to until Windows 95 rolled around and it started to resemble something useable.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      SkiFree was a bona fide classic. It even has an XKCD comic!

      https://www.google.co.uk/#q=skifree&es_sm=93

      • by OzPeter ( 195038 )

        SkiFree was a bona fide classic. It even has an XKCD comic!

        https://www.google.co.uk/#q=skifree&es_sm=93

        FFS .. what is /. coming to? Mentioning that a topic has an XKCD related cartoon yet not even linking to the original source [xkcd.com]

        Even the ACs here are getting lamer.

        But yeah, I'm with the OP on this one. I predate Windows in total for working with computers and I have no idea about skiFree. Maybe its a split between those of use who see computers as a tool for work vs those that see them as entertainment.

        • by Dr. Evil ( 3501 )

          " Maybe its a split between those of use who see computers as a tool for work vs those that see them as entertainment."

          I was 16 in 1992. If you were under 8 or over 18, or didn't have brothers or sisters that age at this time, you probably missed this stuff.

          Now you want scary... Skifree came out only 5 years before the debut of Slashdot.... And Slashdot is getting close to 20 years old.

          https://xkcd.com/1393/ [xkcd.com]

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You all should thank Exo for making this happen. He spent the past 3 years and a good sum of his own money buying every crappy win3.1 game/application he could get his hands on. He is the same one that made that MSDOS collection happen as well on archive. He is working with the archive guys to make it work in the browser so everyone can see.

      Make no mistakes here. Some of this stuff is truly terrible. He and I disagree on that point though. I do concede that there probably is some OK stuff in there. B

      • Myst and YDKJ both work on 3.1

        Though Windows 95 was already out when You Don't Know Jack was released.

  • Actual Link (Score:5, Informative)

    by 110010001000 ( 697113 ) on Friday February 12, 2016 @08:40AM (#51493511) Homepage Journal
    The actual link to the archive is: https://archive.org/details/so... [archive.org]
  • Win3.x Win8.x (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 12, 2016 @08:49AM (#51493535)

    Those were the days, when Windows did not spy its users and it used navigation components which had some visual clue for their usage. Nowadays the programs must be flat fullscreen bi-color planes which have only huge text and user is left randomly clicking every word to find out which are actually buttons. Current Windows actually emulates the early point-and-click games, where user needed to discover functionality by brute force trial and error.

    • I'm finding it fairly amusing that Windows 3.x actually looks quite fresh and, ugly pre-anti-aliasing font aside, fairly modern. Which is odd because at the time, as a user of AmigaOS 2.04 at home, I thought it looked clumsy and ugly (and everyone else started to agree about the look of Windows 3.x when Windows 95 came out.)

      There's a lot of flatness to the Windows 3.x UI, which is something that's in vogue again.

  • by Chris Mattern ( 191822 ) on Friday February 12, 2016 @11:29AM (#51494309)

    http://windowsreallygoodeditio... [windowsrea...dition.com]

  • by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Friday February 12, 2016 @11:44AM (#51494435)
    This site [1980-games.com] has a bunch of arcade and video games from the 1980s emulated in flash. Those of you who grew up with a NES may be interested in their NES games library [1980-games.com].

    The site is a good argument for why (1) copyright on software should be for a shorter duration than for other media, or (2) copyright on software should expire if it hasn't been republished for a decade or two. Unlike an old book which you can pick off the shelf in a library and read, software is pretty useless unless you can actually run it. Unless the copyright owner is actively porting the old software to run on new hardware, it's essentially become abandonware. And only through the work of sites like this (technically illegal under copyright law) can people experience what the software was originally like.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by omnichad ( 1198475 )

      Copyright doesn't have to expire for this to be possible. Companies can choose to officially offer free licenses to abandonware, while still selling emulated/ported versions commercially - and preventing other companies from profiting commercially on their IP. But instead, they want to re-monetize for every generation. Just look at Virtual Console on Wii and Wii U. Re-buy if you want it on 3DS too.

      I just wish I could buy a used legal copy of The Neverhood for less than $30. I never played it when it wa

  • It might be a more stable platform than the current web stack where different browser brands under different OS settings render things in different places and different ways. Back in the day they were positioned mostly by absolute coordinates, reducing positioning surprises. Auto-flow has mostly failed.

    • Auto-flow has mostly failed.

      ??? I think you're behind the times.

      The problem is people were using a WYSIWYG mindset to try to design them. The responsive layout paradigm actually does fairly well. For an overly commercial example, just look at starbucks.com on a desktop browser and resize the window.

      The world can't move on with everyone on the same screen size. Phones are here to stay as are tablets. Even Microsoft tried to advocate for resolution independence and using "Twips" as the primary unit for their VB GUI design tools. An

      • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

        For every one that works well, there's probably 10 that are screwy.

        The world can't move on with everyone on the same screen size.

        A fixed size is not what I asked for. I said, let the server compute the resizing, NOT the client. Big difference.

        • For every one that works well, there's probably 10 that are screwy.

          This is teh world as normal.

          let the server compute the resizing, NOT the client.

          What? Explain. So every time I want to change my browser window size, the server is going to send me a new page? Or do you mean separate mobile vs desktop sites, which breaks permalinks and search results?

          • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

            How often do you resize your window?

            Further, I'm thinking of a standard for production/work applications, not eye-candy brochures and read-only sites.

            • On a phone, a lot - I'll turn my phone to the best orientation for a specific page.

              It's not as easy to come up with production/work applications off the top of my head, because I don't generally do those in the browser. The first that comes to mind is my own grocery list and meal schedule site, which I wrote myself and is not public.

              But you didn't explain why the server side is better capable of handling varied screen sizes from small phone to large phone to tablet to desktop site. If the content is diffe

              • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

                The server could pre-calculate both horizontal and vertical phone orientations so each is ready when you flip it.

                It's not as easy to come up with production/work applications off the top of my head, because I don't generally do those in the browser.

                They are gradually moving to browser, but it's difficult because browser GUI's are a PITA.

                But you didn't explain why the server side is better capable of handling varied screen sizes from small phone to large phone to tablet to desktop site.

                I thought I did. The

                • And my desktop browser windows is set at 1263x941. So you're saying the designer is going to create a static composition for every permutation?

                  As a web programmer myself, I understand the challenges and still think that the server would essentially have to be essentially doing the auto-flow from its end to be practical, and then you're just introducing latency for no reason and increasing load page size (because of sending the mobile browser two versions). There are more possible screen sizes than you can

                  • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

                    So you're saying the designer is going to create a static composition for every permutation?

                    I didn't say that. I don't know where you got that. Let me try again: The resizing is computed ON THE SERVER, NOT THE CLIENT. But, it still happens.

                    The phone example was just an optimization suggestion. And again, I'm mostly thinking about work-oriented applications for desktops. Users don't normally resize their screen very often.

                    Note you could also have a zoom-mode in your browser that could scale up and down linea

                    • When it does it on the server, it's still auto-adapting and it's still not WYSIWYG. I don't see any practical difference between work done on the client and work done on the server. It's not resource-intensive, by any means.

                    • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

                      For one, you don't get different clients doing auto-flow different ways. The server would do it ONE WAY for all client brands and versions (unless explicitly coded for differences).

                      Clients doing auto-flow different has been a huge practical problem in my experience. Sure, with enough experience and practice one might finally over-come that, but why make it Rocket Science when it could be dirt simple: move it to where you want? I'm a multi-hatter in my position, I don't have the time to master auto-flow nua

                    • The server would do it ONE WAY for all client brands and versions (unless explicitly coded for differences).

                      Let me re-state this to make sure I'm clear. By "one way" I don't mean the same layout for all client devices, but rather that the layout would be consistent across all client devices for a given target size.

                      For example, if we use centimeters as our standard (as an example only), then if an Apple client had a 8cm by 20cm screen and if an Android client had an 8cm by 20cm screen, then the positions an

  • by DeBaas ( 470886 )

    Good news for the people at Orly airport [slashdot.org] .

  • It seems like emulated old versions of Windows end up with cyan where they're supposed to be white, and it's been this way for ages. I used to run Win 3.1 under PC-Task on my Amiga to handle one specific business app, and the splash screens even back then were cyan instead of white. That's still true in my browser just now when I launched a couple of the article's emulators. Why would that be? Is there some bug in ancient VGA hardware that Windows exploited to render white instead of greenish-blue?

What sin has not been committed in the name of efficiency?

Working...