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maximum computer parameters to install Windows 95 and DOS

Posted on 2014-10-11
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Last Modified: 2014-10-29
Dear Experts,

I would like to buy an obsolete laptop to install Windows 95 and DOS.
What are the maximum parameters for such laptop?
eg. processor maximum ..., RAM maximum ..., HD maximum ...
I suppose Windows 95 and DOS have some limitations which make it impossible to install them on better machines
(maybe there are also no drivers in Windows 95 to operate new video cards etc.)

So, once again:
what are the maximum parameters for a computer to use it with Windows 95 and DOS.

many thanks for help!
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Question by:ja-rek
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Rizzle earned 144 total points
ID: 40374892
Hi,

Why don't you run Windows 95 in a lab/virtual environment?

http://partnerweb.vmware.com/GOSIG/Windows_95.html
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by:ja-rek
ID: 40374899
Yes, I have been running Windows 95 on a Virtual PC.
However, I have some problems with it.
I suppose I can buy a proper laptop for less than 50 USD so why not try and have a standalone machine just for my "oldies".
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by:Rizzle
Rizzle earned 144 total points
ID: 40374901
The mimimum requirements for Windows 95 are below:

System requirements for installing Windows 95: •Personal computer with a 386DX or higher processor (486 recommended)
•4 megabytes (MB) of memory (8 MB recommended)
•Typical hard disk space required to upgrade to Windows 95: 35-40 MB The actual requirement varies depending on the features you choose to install.
•Typical hard disk space required to install Windows 95 on a clean system: 50-55 MB The actual requirement varies depending on the features you choose to install.
•One 3.5-inch high-density floppy disk drive
•VGA or higher resolution (256-color SVGA recommended)


I would just get a laptop with a Small HDD and 512MB RAM and that should do you.
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by:☠ MASQ ☠
☠ MASQ ☠ earned 143 total points
ID: 40374904
There are some hardware limitations but on the whole these can be overcome, you just need to think logically about the kind of hardware that would have been available while Win95 was in general use.  Fortunately there are a whole bunch of enthusiasts who like fixing OS's so they can be played with (and on)  much more current machines :)

The classic error with Win95 on newer hardware is out of the box it can't cope with a (single core) CPU speed greater than 350MHz initially (this was later patched by Microsoft while Win98 was out - look for AMDK6UPD.EXE) and then even patched by Microsoft there was another CPU threshold limitation at 2.1GHz - this and excess RAM will result in a  "While initializing device IOS: Windows protection error" once installed.

You'll also need to update the VMM2XUPD.EXE files in OSR2 or better & there's also a dial-up networking file

There are patches available to fix this, look for Conner McCoy's patch FIX95CPU.ZIP which you'll need to create a bootable disk from and then run this after installing Win95 but before launching it for the first time.

Have fun with your project!  Don't connect it to the outside world - your options for malware protection are pretty slim!

EDIT:

Just seen you've been running a Win95 VM - you'll have probably already come across the patches you need then :)
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by:ja-rek
ID: 40374908
512 MB RAM seems to be max from what I have quickly found on the web.
What about HD? what is the max number and max size of FAT16 partitions?
is there any other type of hardware to consider before buying a laptop for my purposes?
I would like to buy the best Windows 95 compatible laptop.
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by:Rizzle
ID: 40374909
8GB HDD would suffice but it would need to be partitioned due to the maximum drive size on FAT16.
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by:rindi
rindi earned 142 total points
ID: 40374912
Don't get a 64 bit PC. Usually a Pentium will do fine The highest would be a Pentium III, but lower is probably better.

DOS can only use up to 1 MB (1024 KB) of RAM, although there used to be some memory management tools available that were also able to make more usable to some software. A disk's partition was limited to 2GB, if I remember correctly.

Windows 95 really has similar limits, as it runs off DOS, but it's Himem manager is such a tool that allows it to address RAM above 1024 KB. It'll probably run fine at 32 MB, more isn't normally needed. It has the same limits as DOS has on partition sizes of disks, although I believe if you install a "newer" version of Windows 95 (I think there were versions A, B and C, and C may support FAT32), so with the version that supports FAT32 you can also use larger partitions.

Basically you'd be best off to look for a laptop that is over 10 years old, and you'll be fine. That will probably also not cost much (I wouldn't be willing to pay more than a "Symbolic" 1.-- $ for that).

Come to think of it, I still have some such museum pieces around....
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by:John Hurst
ID: 40374976
I think any PC able to run Windows 95 would be too old to still be alive.

I have Windows 95 and DOS running happily on my Windows 8.1 Pro 64-bit machine. Works fine.

Windows 95 has a 2Gb hard drive and 256 Mb of memory. It does not need more than that.
DOS has a 1/2Gb hard drive and 16 Mb of memory. It does not need more that that.

The maximum browser in Windows 95 is so old as not to be useful.

I use VMware Workstation V10 to do this.

I never use Windows 95 any more as it cannot do any useful work (compared to modern requirements). I can and do use Windows 98 but it suffers with the same browser limitation as Windows 95.
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by:Rizzle
ID: 40374980
I think this fits the bill..

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Dell-Latitude-D505-15-Pentium-M-1-50GHZ-512MB-RAM-30GB-HDD-DVD-Free-P-P-/291170500137?pt=UK_Computing_Laptops_EH&hash=item43cb1d3e29

HDD is a little big but its the cheapest and lowest spec I can find! Maybe a friend might have one laying around! We had some very similar spec at work heck if we kept them I would have sent you one happily!
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by:Rizzle
ID: 40374982
As per my first comment a non stressful and easy way to run Windows 95 would be within a VMWare Workstation environment, out of interest how are you currently running it? What issue do you currently have?
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by:Dave Baldwin
ID: 40375028
I decided to get out my Win95 system to see what was in it.  It's an old NEC box with a Pentium 150 and 128MB of ram.  MSINFO says it's only a 486 though.  It's got Netscape 4.8 and IE5 for browsers.
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by:ja-rek
ID: 40375154
Thanks for the answers so far!
However, I am waiting for more (complete/specific) answers, as you have not answered fully yet.

Another question relating to main problem:
I need sound under DOS. How can I know that the sound card in a laptop is Sound Blaster compatible?
Is it safe to assume so if - say - the manufacture year of the laptop is <= 2002?
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by:John Hurst
ID: 40375162
You are not likely to find a working machine to run DOS with a specific sound card. Those machines are 2 or 3 decades old now.

A DOS virtual machine will run (a) the Host sound card (not likely to work in DOS) or (b) a sound card you specify. In the latter case, you would need the proper DOS drivers and the entries for Config.sys and Autoexec.bat to start and run the card in VMware in the virtual machine.

I think sound in DOS is probably a tall order. Remember, this stuff died decades ago.
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by:☠ MASQ ☠
☠ MASQ ☠ earned 143 total points
ID: 40375177
I am waiting for more (complete/specific) answers, as you have not answered fully yet.

What are you missing?

As far as sound goes, you won't know if your hardware is SB AWE compatible until it doesn't respond to the AWE64 drivers(!) SB wasn't a standard  - although lots of manufacturers saw the advantage in having a compatible chipset so that software written for SB would work on their machines.  You may have to end up looking up the specs of whatever you've bought or the chipset/card you've installed.

I think John's assertion that the hardware died long ago is an exaggeration, it's more that it is now being cared for in a home for aged hardware - some still works perfectly others can become confused :)
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by:Dave Baldwin
ID: 40375184
I would look for a machine built between 1995 and 2000.  There were a lot of hardware changes starting 1997 with the 'new' Microsoft standards for audio and video.  Windows 98SE was I believe the first version to support USB.  This page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Microsoft_Windows_versions shows 7 versions of Windows 95.  Hardware support improved with each release.
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by:☠ MASQ ☠
ID: 40375190
^^ USB  1.0 support started in Windows with Win95 OSR 2

It begins here!
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by:Dave Baldwin
ID: 40375195
It seems I have Windows 95 version 4.01.0.971B aka Windows 95B which is apparently newer than anything on that page.  I'm having a problem with the "PCI Universal Serial Bus" driver for some reason.  And I do have two USB ports that I had never noticed on the back panel.
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by:John Hurst
ID: 40375286
I never saw a PCI USB interface in Windows 95 (Desktop or Laptop). Same for DOS.

@ja-rek  - What are you trying to accomplish?  All my clients who (a decade ago when I started business consulting) have all dumped these systems. With Window 7 at end of life (zero enhancements starting now) and Windows 10 on the horizon, what do you think you might accomplish?
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by:nobus
nobus earned 71 total points
ID: 40375381
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by:rindi
rindi earned 142 total points
ID: 40375408
As mentioned already, get something older than 2002. PC's built from about 2000 onwards were built with at least Windows 2000, if not XP in my mind, and are highly unlikely to run with all drivers for DOS. I'd recommend something like the Thinkpad 380 series of around 1997, which uses a Pentium II and a cirrus CS4237B sound card for which there are drivers for DOS and Windows 3.xx available:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IBM_ThinkPad_380
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by:nobus
ID: 40375548
>>  I never saw a PCI USB interface in Windows 95 (Desktop or Laptop). Same for DOS  <<  usb devices were not yet popular i believe
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by:Dave Baldwin
ID: 40375889
After I said something about USB in Windows 95, I found that I have 3 Windows 95 with USB support install CDs.
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by:rindi
ID: 40375959
There were 3 different editions of '95 (A, B, C, as I mentioned before). Features like USB support got added with the later ones (USB hadn't been introduced yet when Windows 95 first was sold). Besides that, there are also patches available that add support for USB to the older versions.
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Author Closing Comment

by:ja-rek
ID: 40410176
Dear Expers, thanks a lot for the answers! I didn't grant points for the virtualization-related answers here, but I will post a separate question about it.
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