By | Thursday 01.01.2015
The Resistance

The image is called “The Resistance” and it’s copyrighted to Andrew Turnbull and his website. Click on it to visit the original post.

It is the page that now replaces an article he wrote about his experience with Windows 95, article which I had found on one of Ubuntu’s forums. Being a collector of old hardware and software, I really appreciated his views on using old technology on a daily basis, so I’ve copied the text as a quote to my own blog, not knowing that one day it would be of use for a bit of history.

Here’s what he wrote back then:

Why I Still Use Windows 95

The operating system I currently use on my primary computer is Windows 95 OSR2. Furthermore, not only do I use Windows 95 extensively, but I prefer it to Windows 98, ME, 2000, XP, and Vista.

Yes, I am aware that this puts me in a position not shared by many other people today. I wouldn’t be surprised if the proportion of people still using Windows 95 on a regular basis is ½% or less. And, I am accustomed to getting strange or uncomplementary reactions from other people when they find out that I still do: “Are you insane?” or “Why the hell are you using Windows 95?!” are only typical. I can no longer count on most of the latest software being capable of running on this configuration. So, why do I still endorse a computer operating system more than ten years old?

First of all, a computer is a tool. It is a principal of mine that if a tool works well and satisfies my wants and needs, there is no reason to replace it; regardless of mere age. On that note, I have traditionally been the last using any given piece of computer software on occasions before: I used Windows 3.1x semi-regularly on my Gateway 2000 486 as late as mid-2003, when I had a practical need to turn to a newer computer for regular tasks and be capable of running 32-bit programs. Windows 95 is far more technologically sophisticated and viable than Windows 3.1x.

Second of all, for a variety of reasons I have a major aversion to Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0 and higher: I do not want to use it and I do not want it present in any form on any computer I own. With Windows 98, Microsoft needlessly integrated Internet Explorer 4.01 (or later 5.0) into features that were ostensibly parts of the operating system itself: The Explorer shell interface and Windows Help both display their contents in Internet Explorer windows complete with a browser-like throbber in the corner, with the browser difficult if not impossible to completely remove. This dubious practice has continued into all subsequent versions of Windows to date. By contrast, it is not difficult to completely remove or circumvent the preinstallation of Internet Explorer from Windows 95 OSR2, and the earliest versions (though less stable and less capable than OSR2) didn’t include IE at all.

Windows 95 is reasonably fast in performance, and is not compromised by the arguably frivolous animation and eye candy features in Windows 98 and newer versions: Sliding or fading menus, gradient title bars, “flat” toolbars, and menus that annoyingly take on the 3D appearance of command buttons when moving the mouse over or selecting them but to name a few examples. There are no “activation” schemes, and the OS installed takes up well under 500MB.

Currently there is no hardware or software I need or desire to use that is not capable of running on Windows 95. I can run even Mozilla Firefox and Mozilla Thunderbird in a pinch. Most of the applications I have found that do require Windows 98 or higher, meanwhile, tend to be incidentally plagued by having slow performance, a poor interface design (such as with the newest versions of Windows Media Player and RealPlayer), and/or no compelling functionality not present in an earlier version. In any case, the APIs of Windows 95 OSR2 and Windows 98 are virtually identical, and there is no good reason for any software capable of running on one not to work on the other as well. With my browser and e-mail client, Office 97, WordPerfect 7, and a few graphic tools I can be as productive as I like with Windows 95.

While I freely concede that Windows NT 4.0, 2000, and XP are much more stable than Windows 95, I also maintain that Windows 95 OSR2 is the most stable DOS-based version of Windows to be released, moreso than Windows 98 and especially the buggy mess that was Windows ME. It is substantially more stable and handles system resources more efficiently than Windows 3.1x as well.

I prefer to have as much native compatibility as possible with DOS applications such as older games I own. While it is possible to run these from Windows 2000 or XP either natively or (as circumstances may very well require) through an emulator, I prefer to have the real thing.

Finally, Windows 95 has an intuitive user interface I prefer to the IE-integrated monstrosities of Windows 98 and subsequent versions. Windows 95’s Explorer uses OS-native controls and menus, has all the most essential tools—such as file-delete and individual icon-view controls—on the toolbar, does not waste space with oversized toolbar controls or needless left-hand icon-and-caption panels, and doesn’t contain unnecessary Internet Explorer tie-ins such as awkward “back” and “forward” file navigation or a “Favorites” menu. The Start menu automatically sorts folders and files alphabetically automatically, and defaults to a multi-column view instead of Windows 98’s slow and inconvenient scroll arrows.

I don’t expect my reasoning to be representative for everyone, of course, and I have sometimes been tempted to switch to a different version of Windows myself (specifically NT 4.0 or 2000) or even abandon Windows entirely a number of times. However, I have justifiable reasons for my decisions, and will continue using Windows 95 OSR2 as my primary OS for the forseeable future until I can no longer run a relatively up-to-date web browser or absolutely must use a piece of hardware or software not compatible with Windows 95.

I got reminded of this while browsing some of my old e-mails and articles on my old blogs. I found an old e-mail I’ve sent to him in 2009, and his reply. As I recall, I’ve once sent another, asking about why he removed the article from his website, and his reply was that his points of view on technology were a bit different at the time.

This is what I wrote in my first e-mail:

from: Dumitru-Mihail Ionica
date: Tue, Nov 24, 2009 at 6:48 AM
subject: About your “Why I Still Use Windows 95″ tech post. Nothing negative, don’t worry.

Well uhm, first of all, hi. My name is Dumitru Ionica (Romanian for something like “Dimitri Johnatan”) and I’m 22 years old. I’ve stumbled across your journal a while ago but I didn’t get the chance to write you a reply to that post.

This may seem a little awkward but I wanted to say that I understand how you feel about the operating systems, if you really do use Windows 95 extensively. When I read that post I was searching Google for articles kind of anti-Windows Vista because I hated it so much that no matter how many times I’ve installed it, I’ve uninstalled it later on. Well now I have 7 which is more reliable than that atrocity called Vista… but I am running the current software just because I have a monster of a customised computer – I like to play video games.

What I wanted to say about the article is that actually Windows NT 4 was not as stable as you might think. I tried installing it several times on an older PC of mine and it just doesn’t want to work. My favorite two operating systems of all time have to be Windows 95 and Windows 2000. They’ve never dissapointed me, especially 2000 but sadly I had to upgrade to XP about 5 years ago because I was in need of running special software.

I must say that Windows 95 ran kind of flawlessly on my first personal computer despite how malfunctionning it was – hardware conflicts between the floppy drive and the sound card (I think it was an IRQ conflict but at the time I didn’t know much about that), it only detected a maximum amount of 16 MB or RAM out of 24 – which I found out I had later on because of some blue screens related to memory errors and many other things which I got over, though. I really enjoyed using it at the time, for about 4 to 5 years. Now I am collecting old PCs and from what I can gather I hope I will make a fully functional Windows 95 system soon… just for the fun of it, I am nostalgic about that OS. By the way I have it on a Pentium 1 laptop which a colleague of mine gave to me as a present. Working with computer hardware – especially older hardware is my hobby. I really enjoy doing stuff like this and it relaxes me… along with things like configuring CISCO routers or machines like them, all done in the terminal, I hope you don’t think I’m crazy for liking text-mode. 🙂

Oh, just for you to know, you’re not the only one who still uses it extensively for daily tasks. I have a neighbour who is in charge of calculating the water and natural gas consumption of the building and he does it all… on Windows 95. Which by the way, reminds me I’ve promissed him that I would download an older version of WinRAR and give it to him.

Well that is all I wanted to say. Hope I haven’t been trouble and thanks for your time.

I was surprized when I got a reply. I wasn’t expecting that, as my way of expressing myself is pretty awkward.

from: Andrew Turnbull
to: Dumitru-Mihail Ionica
date: Sat, Nov 28, 2009 at 8:50 AM
subject: Re: About your “Why I Still Use Windows 95″ tech post. Nothing negative, don’t worry.

Hi Dumitru,

I’m finally catching up with my last week of e-mail… Thanks for writing.

In regard to the various versions, it’s actually been a long time since I last had the chance to use Windows NT4. I remember it as being a stable OS; though it wasn’t without its frustrations…particularly in regard to configuration issues.

Although I’ve never been fond of its interface, I have a kind of begrudging respect for Windows 2000: It was reliable, and functionality arguably plateaued with that release. Even today, I wouldn’t doubt that most current software titles would be capable of working with Windows 2000 if their makers gave them a chance.

Good luck with your laptop. I used to work quite a bit with older computer hardware myself; scrounging up various pieces of equipment on the cheap, observing how they worked, and continually pooling parts together and upgrading systems. Unfortunately, my interest in the topic began to wane six or seven years ago after various frustrations and unrelated distractions began to get in the way. Since then, most of the work I’ve done with computers has been limited to using them productively!

Take care,

Andrew Turnbull

Last, but not least, I’ve sent an e-mail asking if I could quote his old article on my blog, since it wasn’t posted on his website anymore, and he created the easter egg page instead. I don’t have the original e-mail I’ve sent to him anymore, however I have kept the reply:

subject: Re: Easteregg
date: Sunday, July 31, 2011 8:37 PM
From: “Andrew Turnbull”
To: “Dumitru-Mihail Ionica”

Dear Dumitru,

Thanks for sharing. I don’t mind you quoting my old piece, although I’d probably decide to emphasize slightly different points if I wrote a similar piece today.

Andrew Turnbull

I was tempted to use a spell checker on this post, but I’ve changed my mind, because I want to preserve everything exactly as it was. His little page about Netscape’s browser history had me a little intrigued. Because I like collecting and using old pieces of technology myself, I felt like I had to mention that here. He seems to be into weird nonesense, just like myself. I’d say he deserves a visit to his website every now and then, even if only just for killing boredom.

Update from 24.11.2018:
Sometime around July the 2nd, he said he still hates Windows 98. Heh. Go to the end of the page to read the article.