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ScoutPilot
November 28th, 2015, 04:31 AM
Greeetings, all ! What useful and interesting soft can be used on a fast 286 on Win 3.1? I found, that Word 6.0 runs fine with a 286/20mhz/4mbsRAM... But what also I can use and show to modern people on that configuration ? )

SomeGuy
November 28th, 2015, 05:35 AM
On a 286 your truly useful software will be mostly DOS based.

Although as far as programs to show off on a 286 I've always like Trakblaster, an Amiga MOD player with live VGA O-scopes. Also, although VGA can't do CGA color artifacts, Trixters XDC player from 8088 DOM should be able to play back the monochrome "Bad Apple" video nicely. Both require a sound blaster or compatible sound card of course.

It is surprising though that Microsoft kept most of their Windows 3.1 software compatible with 286 Standard Mode. It can be a little hard just at a glance to tell if a Windows 3.1 program is compatible with a 286. It is completely possible for a "Standard Mode" executable to throw in some 386 machine instructions or be dependent on a .386 VXD driver. Many later 16-bit Windows executables simply require 386 Enhanced Mode. Anything that requires Win32s will usually say so in their instructions.

The funny thing is that most people these days literally don't think of productivity applications as "useful". If you can set up a DOS based web browser to retrieve pictures of cats and clips from Family Guy, then you might impress them.

anormal
December 8th, 2015, 11:41 AM
If you are curious about software for this machine, you could read old PC magazines, there are many of them in archive.org, and other sites... easily found in google.

The problem with a 286 is only 16bits stuff, so, many software is out...

You'll find great old (and usually very funny) magazine adds, old software reviews and comparisons... etc... Good old times!

Btw, i can't remember right now, maybe other guys here could say, the best years for 16bits/286 stuff??

nc_mike
December 8th, 2015, 11:58 AM
Btw, i can't remember right now, maybe other guys here could say, the best years for 16bits/286 stuff??

I'm guessing around late 1986/early 1987 is when the 296 was in its heyday. Google has digitized many PCMag issues like this one: https://books.google.com/books?id=gX-RGEWcpv8C&pg=PA140&dq=PC+Magazine+1986&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjegP_tks3JAhVDFT4KHbqpBRAQ6AEILjAC#v=on epage&q=PC%20Magazine%201986&f=false

Regards,
Mike

Regards,
Mike

Chuck(G)
December 8th, 2015, 01:18 PM
Btw, i can't remember right now, maybe other guys here could say, the best years for 16bits/286 stuff??

I'd vote for "nobody". Really, PM software didn't come into its own until the 386. Coding for 286 PM was cumbersome at best and software of that period represents a dark period in PC software. Mostly, people bought PC AT for the speed.

krebizfan
December 8th, 2015, 01:42 PM
The most 286 specific software was for Windows 3.x from about 1991 to 1993. Before that, the bulk of Windows software had been written for Windows 2 so it was 808x code adjusted to run in protected mode on Win 3. After that, 32-bit extensions and VXDs appealed to the major software vendors but some was still either designed for Win16 or could turn off the 32-bit portions and limp on a 286.

Note that on NT 3.x, Win16 programs generally ran faster than the same programs recompiled for 32-bit.

Other software compiled for the 286 includes OS/2 1.x and applications written to run on same and a bunch of Unix and networking operating systems. The major DOS 286 extender program was Lotus 1-2-3 R3 but a small number of other programs (CAD and the like) also used a 286 extender. I can't think of a game that used 286 instructions; it was either 808x for market share or 386 for peak performance.

Describe, the lesser known word processor, shipped with Win16, Win32, and OS/2 32-bit versions. Great for comparing different OSes preferred API and their support for older 16-bit applications.

Stone
December 8th, 2015, 02:17 PM
One of my all time favorite 286 programs is PC-MIX. It's a task switcher (multitasker) that works really well with three or so programs. I always ran my terminal program from it so I could be doing something else when I was downloading at 2400 -- remember 2400? :-)

Chuck(G)
December 8th, 2015, 04:27 PM
If you wanted multitasking, OS/2 did a pretty good job without any add-ons.

Stone
December 8th, 2015, 04:45 PM
But not with DOS programs.

Chuck(G)
December 8th, 2015, 05:49 PM
Mostly, I'm talking about the driver structure. Most DOS drivers can't be preemptively threaded--the architecture doesn't work that way. Originally, DOS (2+) was supposed to employ the scheme (call strategy, then interrupt when done), but it didn't turn out that way. However, OS/2 is built that way--and *much* better documented than Windows ever was.

Stone
December 8th, 2015, 05:57 PM
We are talking 286 here, aren't we? :-)

Chuck(G)
December 8th, 2015, 09:31 PM
We are--OS/2 1.x--the OS/2 EE version was lightyears ahead of MS-DOS.

If you don't like OS/2, how about TopView?

dr.zeissler
December 9th, 2015, 02:56 AM
I think you should stick to Win30 because it's much faster on a 286.
I run them all, but Win3x is not my favorite.

Geos 1.x -> native Geos Apps (only a view)
Win 1.x -> As far as I remember: Inavision, Paint, Pagemaker, Winmine
Win 2.x -> As far as I remember: Inavision, Paint, Pagemaker, Winmine, Coreldraw
Win 3.x -> As far as I remember: Inavision, Paint, Coreldraw, Lotus-Smartsuite (there was a version that runs on 286, others require 386), Word. Excel, Painshop, Fractint (depending on your Main Memory)
Gem 1.x -> native Gem-Apps (Paint, Draw, etc.) I like the Atari-Style 1.x, the newer 2.x do not look so good.

Superbe Dos-Apps:
- GLX (galaxy music player)
- Quickview 1.03 (if the isa-gfx card has vesa 1.2 support and 1MB with truecolor DAC, you can display a 16Mio-Color Hires TGA 640x480 in only 1-2 Seconds, that fantastic on a 286/10Mhz!)
- Fractint for Dos.

etc.

Doc

nc_mike
December 9th, 2015, 10:54 AM
But not with DOS programs.

I guess that depends. I ran an entire Novell Netware network consisting of an admin session in one Win/OS2 (win3.x) window and 5 independent NetWare clients, each running in their own Win/OS2 windows - all at the same time. I did it when my Netware instructor challenged me that it wasn't possible to run both an admin client and a regular client on the same machine. I don't think any other OS could do that.

OS2 1.x could run only one DOS program at a time, which was due to the limitations of the 80286 processor, a a crash could take down the entire system. OS/2 2.0 fixed that being able to use the virtual 8086 mode of a 386 CPU and could run a whole bunch of virtual DOS and Windows sessions, with one not easily able to bring down the machine (usually, just the one virtual session).

I ran OS/2 for years; it really was a "Better DOS than DOS and a better Windows than Windows" OS.

Regards,
Mike

Stone
December 9th, 2015, 11:07 AM
Since we're talking about a 286 here whatever a 386 can do is not applicable in this situation. :-)

Chuck(G)
December 9th, 2015, 12:02 PM
The difference is that a 80286 has no virtualization built in to the CPU. So multitasking well-behaved DOS programs would have been no problem on OS/2 1.x. The problem is that there are very few non-trivial well-behaved DOS programs.

It isn't that Microsoft didn't try to do it without a 386--it just wasn't very successful (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MS-DOS_4.0_%28multitasking%29) and required changes to existing MS-DOS programs.

krebizfan
December 9th, 2015, 01:44 PM
In theory, OS/2 1.x could have handled multiple DOS boxes. Windows 3.x in standard mode does after all and some other DOS task switchers did the same. OS/2 1.x can store the DOS box on disk freeing up memory for OS/2 processes and then reload the DOS box from disk. Seems relatively simple to instead swap to a different DOS box. If one had sufficient memory, each DOS box could instead be copied into extended memory and swapped seamslessly in the background. Basically, doing what DesqView does with EEMS and large page frames. It would have provided 90% of the advantages of a 386 on a 286 though considerably slower.

Just having two DOS boxes and slow disk switching would have solved many of the problems with early adopting OS/2 1.x. The compatibility box had less memory available making it very difficult to run DOS TSR popup programs and a large DOS application. Putting the TSRs in a different box would allow both to run and make OS/2 worth buying before the OS/2 specific applications were available to fill most requirements.

Stone
December 9th, 2015, 02:03 PM
...and some other DOS task switchers did the same.I use PC-MIX for that. Runs multiple DOS programs on a 286 or even a PC or an XT! And it's under 35k zipped! :-)

Chuck(G)
December 9th, 2015, 04:03 PM
...or your could boot one of DRI's "Concurrent" products. When I first saw "Concurrent DOS", I was impressed--and this was on a 5160.

There's also PC-MOS and a host of other designed-for-multitasking OS.

krebizfan
December 9th, 2015, 05:44 PM
The problem with some of the DOS multi-taskers was the way they fought over the same interrupts, sometimes with accidentally hilarious results. VMix would go into protected mode if a TopView friendly program tried to give up the CPU. VMix also disabled by reuse of entry points to PS/2 ABIOS functions and IBM PC cassette tape functions plus some actually useful functions on the Amstrad.

T-R-A
December 9th, 2015, 05:59 PM
FWIW-Geos (2.x) had some limited degree of task-switching and ran quite well on a 286.

Trixter
December 9th, 2015, 06:20 PM
The only "safe" way to multitask on 808x or 286 is with DesqView. It does a truly phenomenal job in my experience.

cr1901
December 9th, 2015, 07:48 PM
The problem with some of the DOS multi-taskers was the way they fought over the same interrupts, sometimes with accidentally hilarious results. VMix would go into protected mode if a TopView friendly program tried to give up the CPU. VMix also disabled by reuse of entry points to PS/2 ABIOS functions and IBM PC cassette tape functions plus some actually useful functions on the Amstrad.
Erm, what XD? What could possibly caused a program to be so poorly behaved :D?

yuhong
December 25th, 2015, 05:13 PM
The difference is that a 80286 has no virtualization built in to the CPU. So multitasking well-behaved DOS programs would have been no problem on OS/2 1.x. The problem is that there are very few non-trivial well-behaved DOS programs.

It isn't that Microsoft didn't try to do it without a 386--it just wasn't very successful (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MS-DOS_4.0_%28multitasking%29) and required changes to existing MS-DOS programs.

It was designed not to require changes to existing DOS programs to multitask. Of course, it only worked well with 1985-era DOS programs.

yuhong
December 25th, 2015, 05:40 PM
In theory, OS/2 1.x could have handled multiple DOS boxes. Windows 3.x in standard mode does after all and some other DOS task switchers did the same. OS/2 1.x can store the DOS box on disk freeing up memory for OS/2 processes and then reload the DOS box from disk. Seems relatively simple to instead swap to a different DOS box. If one had sufficient memory, each DOS box could instead be copied into extended memory and swapped seamslessly in the background. Basically, doing what DesqView does with EEMS and large page frames. It would have provided 90% of the advantages of a 386 on a 286 though considerably slower.

Just having two DOS boxes and slow disk switching would have solved many of the problems with early adopting OS/2 1.x. The compatibility box had less memory available making it very difficult to run DOS TSR popup programs and a large DOS application. Putting the TSRs in a different box would allow both to run and make OS/2 worth buying before the OS/2 specific applications were available to fill most requirements.
One of the interesting things OS/2 1.x did was to continue to run protected mode programs in the background I think!

krebizfan
December 25th, 2015, 10:47 PM
One of the interesting things OS/2 1.x did was to continue to run protected mode programs in the background I think!

But since the DOS window would not run in the background, one of the major benefits of having a multitasking system was lost. Start a print job in any DOS program and stay in DOS until it finishes. No jumping to an OS/2 program while waiting. That probably slowed OS/2 1.x's adoption considerably. I think IBM learned some incorrect lessons from the problems of running DOS applications in the background of Topview.