Microsoft Configuration Specialist 2.1

configspec-1These days you may have used a program named Speccy for checking the configuration of your computer. In the early 1990s, one could possibly run Microsoft Diagnostics (the MSD command) included with MS-DOS and checked configuration files for the same purpose.

A much lesser known utility known as Microsoft Configuration Specialist was available via online distribution.

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Setting Up Microsoft BackOffice 2.0 (Part 1)

boffice2setup-1As shown in an earlier post, eBay Purchase #9 – Microsoft BackOffice Server 2.0, is a suite of server based products to run with Windows NT. This is a rather high-level overview of setting it up, with installing Windows NT 3.51 Server and using Exchange Server 4.0 to be looked at first.

Here I’m using Oracle VirtualBox 5.1.26 on Windows 10. Initially the process is rather straight forward with installing Windows NT, though the BackOffice applications need more tinkering.

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eBay Purchase #9 – Microsoft BackOffice Server 2.0

msboffice2-1eBay Purchase Price: $60 AUD

Country of Origin: United States

Condition: Very Good

Long since discontinued, BackOffice was a suite of server orientated products in combination with Windows NT aimed at business. Originally released with Windows NT 3.5 Server included, the final version had Windows 2000 Server.

This particular version is 2.0 released in April 1996, and was the last to include Windows NT 3.51, just four months prior to NT 4.0. I grabbed this copy among some other newer versions of BackOffice from the same seller. The postage was pricey given their size and weight, though finding complete copies of these isn’t that easy.

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Developing the Web Dial-Up Style

webeditMy first experience of the internet arose from a newly formed internet cafe, down in the beach-side suburb of Glenelg in Adelaide. It was 1994 and I recall attempting to view as many web pages as possible given it was charged by the hour for the privilege. The cafe was using 486 PCs running Windows for Workgroups, with Netscape Navigator 2.0 as the web browser of choice. Although a number of people had connected to BBS since the 1980s, the internet in the form of the World Wide Web was still rather primitive at the time and largely mysterious.

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Windows 3.x with VMWare Workstation Player

An earlier post, Install & Configure MS-DOS 6.22 & Windows 3.1 using Oracle VirtualBox has proven to be relatively popular since it was published. The intention was to create a similar guide using VMWare’s free Workstation Player 12.5.6 but alas usability wasn’t satisfactory enough that I felt creating one was warranted. Nevertheless here’s how the installation experience went. Cue the 1978 Split Enz song ‘I See Red’.

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eBay Purchase #7 – Microsoft Publisher 2.0

mspub2-1.pngeBay Purchase Price: $1 AUD

Country of Origin: Australia

Condition: Very Good

Sometimes every now and then a bargain is picked up, and in this case it was a new shrink wrapped copy of Microsoft Publisher 2.0 for only $1 AUD. Other copies found tend to be priced between $50 to $100.

This version of Publisher from 1993 had a few minor variations to the retail box particularly with the large fonts on the front, and the coloured diamond that would either say just “Version 2.0” or mention some sort of special offer.

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eBay Purchase #6 – Microsoft Windows/386 2.11

windows_logo_and_wordmark_-_1985-svg

 

 

eBay Purchase Price: $100+ AUD

Country of Origin: United States

Condition: Very Good

Witnessing the very few copies of Windows 1.0 on eBay usually for sale overseas and in excess of $1,000 US at the end of auction, I never had success obtaining a copy. Due to that, Windows 2.11 marketed as Windows/286 and Windows/386 are the earliest copies I have in a box.

win386-1

“New” copies of Windows/286 and Windows/386 side by side.

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Windows Vision

I came across an image of a CD from the internet recently titled Microsoft Windows: A Vision for the Future that dates back to 1997. Unsure who this would have been distributed to, though I suspect it was circulated around with IT professionals, partnered vendors, and so forth for the UK market. The purpose was to show Microsoft’s strategy with their Windows product line over the coming years in a nutshell.

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Being at Home with Microsoft Home

mshome-1.pngIt’s the year 1993. You have a 386 PC (or were fortunate enough to have a 486 DX), and you just spent several hundred on a multimedia kit. To make it worthwhile, you craved finding stuff that would take advantage of those new bits inside your PC even if it was just your favourite rock album to play for the novelty.

What was a multimedia kit? Back in the early 1990s, a multimedia kit consisted of an internal CD-ROM drive, a sound card, speakers, a few CD-ROM titles, and possibly other stuff like a microphone. Kits from Creative Labs were probably the most popular. These transformed your PC from only emitting “beeps” and using floppy disks, to a world of CD-ROMs, motion picture, and quality audio. Multimedia was certainly the buzzword at the time, very much like how cloud computing is today.

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AUTOEXEC.BAT & CONFIG.SYS Reference Guide

auto-cnfg-refguide-1Many of those that used MS-DOS in its heyday, would remember spending time on these two files – AUTOEXEC.BAT and CONFIG.SYS to optimise and configure their PC as needed. Sometimes careful placement of commands were needed to maximise the 640 KB of conventional memory to avoid “out of memory” errors for Windows applications and games. When you knew you had overall 8 or 16 of MB RAM in those days thinking you had plenty, let’s just say it had its moments of frustration due to TSR (Terminate and Stay Resident) programs and so forth.

Fortunately we don’t need to worry about now, but I think the flip side to that was that it felt like an accomplishment when you had your PC well configured at a time when using a computer wasn’t common knowledge like it is today and with ever increasing automation.

For those running MS-DOS in some form, this is a quick reference guide to both of these files, and what many of the more common commands meant. Usually on Drive C or boot floppy disks, both of these files are located on your start up disk at the root directory (i.e. at A:\> or C:\>).

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