Wednesday, 24 April, 2002

Problems Installing Windows 95

Today I had to install Windows 95 at the office in order to test our product.  We don't "officially" support Windows 95 anymore (heck, even Microsoft doesn't really support it), but you'd be amazed at how many companies still have thousands of machines running Windows 95.  So we make at least a token attempt to assure that our product runs on that platform.

As it turns out, installing Windows 95 is not trivial, especially on a computer that has recently had Windows 98 or Windows 2000 installed on it.  95 will notice the newer version of Windows and refuse to install over it.  What you need is a Windows 95 boot disk, with CD-ROM driver.  Try finding one of those laying around the office.  Do you remember how to configure MSCDEX.EXE?  I thought not.

But let's say, for argument's sake, that you were able to get Windows 95 installed and now you want to hook your computer up to the network.  But the network card you installed in the computer was built in 1999 and Windows 95 doesn't recognize it.  Where to find a driver?  The Web, of course.  Just find the manufacturer and model number on the network card, find the manufacturer's web site, and download the driver.  Simple.  Clean.  Neat.  Except the @#$% manufacturer decided not to print any useful information on the card!  Now there's a good idea!  What idiot thought that up?  Fortunately I found an old 3Com card that had the model number on it and I was able to download the driver to a diskette and install it on the machine.  I still don't know who made the other card.  I guess I could drop it into a Windows 2000 machine and let the New Hardware Wizard tell me.  But I figure if the manufacturer is too ashamed of the card to print their name on it, I probably don't want it in my computer.

I've run into this problem with all types of cards over the years.  Is it really that expensive to print a few more characters on the board?  The lack of identifying characteristics on these boards makes it impossible to use them in many cases.  Perhaps it's the manufacturers' way of getting us to buy new hardware.  

Sometimes I just shake my head in wonder.