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Encyclopedia > Windows 9x
Windows "9x"

Screenshot of Windows 95, the first version of Windows in the 9x series
Company/
developer:
Microsoft
Source model: Closed source
Kernel type: Monolithic kernel
Default user interface: Graphical User Interface
License: MS-EULA
Working state: Unsupported

Windows 9x is the family of Microsoft Windows operating systems that comprises the 32-bit, DOS-based Windows versions: Windows 95, Windows 98, and often also Windows Me.[1] which were produced in the 1990s and 2000. All these Windows releases have internal version numbers in the 4.x series. Image File history File links Mergefrom. ... Windows 98 (codenamed Memphis) is a graphical operating system released on June 25, 1998 by Microsoft and the successor to Windows 95. ... Windows 98 (codenamed Memphis) is a graphical operating system released on June 25, 1998 by Microsoft and the successor to Windows 95. ... Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... The term software company could be applied to: a) a company that produces software, distributes software from a third party, or provides services such as custom software development. ... For other uses, see Software developer (disambiguation). ... Microsoft Corporation, (NASDAQ: MSFT, HKSE: 4338) is a multinational computer technology corporation with global annual revenue of US$44. ... The text below is generated by a template, which has been proposed for deletion. ... A kernel connects the application software to the hardware of a computer. ... It has been suggested that Monolithic system be merged into this article or section. ... The user interface is the part of a system exposed to users. ... “GUI” redirects here. ... A software license is a legal agreement which may take the form of a proprietary or gratuitous license as well as a memorandum of contract between a producer and a user of computer software. ... A software license is a type of proprietary or gratiuitious license as well as a memorandum of contract between a producer and a user of computer software — sometimes called an End User License Agreement (EULA) — that specifies the perimeters of the permission granted by the owner to the... “Windows” redirects here. ... An operating system (OS) is the software that manages the sharing of the resources of a computer and provides programmers with an interface used to access those resources. ... 32-bit is a term applied to processors, and computer architectures which manipulate the address and data in 32-bit chunks. ... Microsofts disk operating system, MS-DOS, was Microsofts implementation of DOS, which was the first popular operating system for the IBM PC, and until recently, was widely used on the PC compatible platform. ... Windows 95 is a consumer-oriented graphical user interface-based operating system. ... Windows 98 (codenamed Memphis) is a graphical operating system released on June 25, 1998 by Microsoft and the successor to Windows 95. ... Windows Millennium Edition, or Windows Me (IPA pronunciation: [miː], [É›m iː]), is a hybrid 16-bit/32-bit graphical operating system released on September 14, 2000 by Microsoft. ...

Contents

Overview

Similar to Windows 3.x, the Windows 9x operating systems require the MS-DOS kernel (IO.SYS) to boot. In addition, the MS-DOS memory manager (HIMEM.SYS) is required when running in real-mode (MS-DOS mode, without the Windows GUI). WIN.COM is executed to launch the graphical user interface. Unlike Windows 3.x, Windows 9x's WIN.COM is loaded automatically by the system, if "BootGUI" is set to 1 in MSDOS.SYS. During this process, the CPU is switched from real mode to protected mode, and several virtual device drivers (VxDs) are loaded. These VxDs allow Windows 9x to interact with hardware resources directly as well as providing several low-level functionalities such as enhanced disk access and memory management. The Windows 3. ... IO.SYS is an essential part of DOS and Windows 9x. ... HIMEM.SYS is a DOS device driver which allows DOS programs to store data in extended memory via the Extended Memory Specification (XMS). ... MSDOS.SYS is an important system file on MS-DOS and Windows 9x systems. ...


Windows 9x consists of both 32-bit and 16-bit code. The Win32 API is entirely 32-bit, but DOS-based components, such as the MS-DOS kernel and many of its device drivers and external commands are 16-bit. Additionally, some of the programs that ship with the operating system, such as ScanDisk and Disk Defragmenter, come in two versions: 16-bit (e.g. scandisk.exe) and 32-bit (e.g. scandskw.exe). 32-bit is a term applied to processors, and computer architectures which manipulate the address and data in 32-bit chunks. ... In computer science, 16-bit is an adjective used to describe integers that are at most two bytes wide, or to describe CPU architectures based on registers, address buses, or data buses of that size. ... Windows API is a set of APIs, (application programming interfaces) available in the Microsoft Windows operating systems. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ...


Microsoft explains the following:

 ---- "Some functions, however, are handled by MS-DOS code, although the code itself is running in virtual 8086 mode, not real mode. Functions implemented in this manner ensure backward compatibility with existing real-mode software, such as the Novell NetWare client." ---- 

It is incorrect to think that the MS-DOS shell (command.com) is actually running as a layer under (or controlling) the Win32 API or the virtual machine manager (vmm32.vxd). The DOS functions mentioned above are handled by the files DOSMGR.VXD and V86MMGR.VXD, which technically are not "DOS" files at all.


Windows 9x is designed as a single-user system. Thus, the security model is less effective than the one in Windows NT. One reason for this is the FAT file systems (including FAT12/16/32), which are the only ones that Windows 9x supports officially, although Windows NT also supports FAT. FAT systems have very limited security; every user that has access to a FAT drive also has access to all files on that drive. The file systems provide no access control lists like NTFS.[2] File Allocation Table (FAT) is a partially patented file system developed by Microsoft for MS-DOS and was the primary file system for consumer versions of Microsoft Windows up to and including Windows Me. ... For library and office filing systems, see Library classification. ... In computer security, an access control list (ACL) is a list of permissions attached to an object. ... NTFS is the standard file system of Windows NT, including its later versions Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2008, and Windows Vista. ...


Most of the feature set of the Windows 9x line of operating systems was merged with Windows NT with the release of Windows XP, which was the successor to both Windows 2000 and Windows Me. Windows NT (New Technology) is a family of operating systems produced by Microsoft, the first version of which was released in July 1993. ... Windows XP is a line of operating systems developed by Microsoft for use on general-purpose computer systems, including home and business desktops, notebook computers, and media centers. ... Windows 2000 (also referred to as Win2K) is a preemptive, interruptible, graphical and business-oriented operating system that was designed to work with either uniprocessor or symmetric multi-processor 32-bit Intel x86 computers. ... Windows Millennium Edition, or Windows Me (IPA pronunciation: [miː], [ɛm iː]), is a hybrid 16-bit/32-bit graphical operating system released on September 14, 2000 by Microsoft. ...


Architecture

The user-mode parts of Windows 9x consists of three subsystems: the Win16 subsystem, the Win32 subsystem and MS-DOS. The GDI, which is a part of the Win32 and Win16 subsystems, is also a module that is loaded in user mode, unlike Windows NT where the GDI is loaded in kernel mode. The kernel-mode parts consists of the Virtual Machine Manager (VMM), the Installable File System Manager (IFSHLP), the Configuration Manager, and in newer releases also the WDM Driver Manager (NTKERN). As 32-bit OS Virtual Memory Space is 4 GiB, divided fixed, lower 2 GiB for application and upper 2 GiB for kernel per process. The term gib may refer to: a castrated male cat or ferret an abbreviation for gibibyte (GiB) or gibibit (Gib) an abbreviation for Gibraltar an abbreviation for Gib Board, itself an abbreviation of Gibraltar Board, all Winston Wallboards[1] tradenames for drywall (plasterboard). ...


Registry

Like Windows NT, Windows 9x stores user-specific and configuration-specific settings in a large information database called the Windows registry. Hardware-specific settings are also stored in the registry, and many device drivers use the registry to load configuration data. Previous versions of Windows used files such as Autoexec.bat, Config.sys, Win.ini, System.ini and other files with an .INI extension to maintain configuration settings. As Windows became more complex and incorporated more features, .INI files became too unwieldy for the limitations of the then-current FAT filesystem. Backwards-compatibility with .INI files was maintained until Windows XP succeeded the 9x and NT lines. The Windows registry is a directory which stores settings and options for the operating system for Microsoft Windows 32-bit versions, 64-bit versions and Windows Mobile. ...


The registry consists of two files, User.dat and System.dat.


Virtual Machine Manager

The Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) is one of the core components of Windows 9x. The VMM creates virtual MS-DOS environments for system processes and Windows applications that still need to run in MS-DOS mode. The VMM is the replacement for Win386 in Windows 3.x, and the file vmm32.vxd is a monolithic file which contains many basic VxDs that are needed for booting Windows.


Device drivers

Device drivers in Windows 9x can be virtual device drivers or (starting with Windows 98) WDM drivers. VxDs usually have the filename extensions .vxd or .386 and WDM compatible drivers usually use the extension .sys. The 32-bit VxD message server (msgsrv32) is a program that is able to load virtual device drivers (VxDs) at startup and then handle communication with the drivers. Additionally, the message server performs several background functions, including loading the Windows shell (such as Explorer.exe or Progman.exe).[3] Windows 98 (codenamed Memphis) is a graphical operating system released on June 25, 1998 by Microsoft and the successor to Windows 95. ... In computing, the Windows Driver Model (WDM) — also known (somewhat misleadingly) at one point as the Win32 Driver Model — is a framework for device drivers that was introduced with Windows 98 and Windows 2000 to replace VxD, which was used on older versions of Windows such as Windows 95 and... A filename extension is a suffix to the name of a computer file applied to show its format. ... . ... In Microsoft computing, a VxD is a virtual device driver. ...


Another type of device drivers are .DRV drivers. These drivers are loaded in user-mode, and are commonly used to control devices such as multimedia devices. To provide access to these devices, a dynamic link library is required (such as MMSYSTEM.DLL). In computer science, a library is a collection of subprograms used to develop software. ...


File management

Like Windows for Workgroups 3.11, Windows 9x provides support for 32-bit file access, and unlike Windows 3.x, Windows 9x has support for the VFAT file system, allowing file names with a maximum of 255 character instead of having 8.3 filenames. The Windows 3. ... File Allocation Table (FAT) is a partially patented file system developed by Microsoft for MS-DOS and was the primary file system for consumer versions of Microsoft Windows up to and including Windows Me. ... Long filename is the name given to the longer and therefore more descriptive titles on the FAT filesystem, which was previously restricted to eight characters and a three-character extension (referred to as 8. ... A 8. ...


Limitations

Windows 9x has some limitations, compared to Windows NT: Windows NT (New Technology) is a family of operating systems produced by Microsoft, the first version of which was released in July 1993. ...

  • Windows 9x cannot take advantage of dual-core CPUs or symmetric multiprocessing.
  • System resources, which refer to two blocks of conventional (within the first 1MB [640kB for practical purposes] of RAM, also known as real-mode) memory (the user heap and the GDI heap), are each limited to 64 KB.
    • A third-party memory manager, Helix Software’s Hurricane, provided an elegant solution to this limitation (each running application was given its own heaps, which, for inactive [e.g. minimized] programs, were swappable into XMS [above the 1MB mark] memory), but Helix was bought out and the program was discontinued.
  • Alpha compositing and therefore transparency effects, such as fade effects in menus, are not supported.
  • Windows 9x does not natively support NTFS, and cannot work with files on FAT file systems larger than 2 GB.
  • Some Windows software only runs on Windows NT.
    • Conversely, some software or features of software, notably those depending on .VxD drivers, or which otherwise needs direct access to hardware (mostly utilities), won’t work under Windows NT and up.
  • Perhaps the most serious limitation regarding security is that Windows 9x treats all users as equal, and has no Administrator vs. regular User distinction, nor levels of privileges. Any user can write to any file or Windows Registry key. Software (including certain major business applications) developed for Windows 9x for this reason often required Administrator privileges to run (not just install) under Windows NT (so that they could continue to modify files and Registry keys that would normally be protected), thus forcing the users to be logged in as Administrator at all times, vastly increasing their vulnerability to malware attacks (the malware would inherit the full administrative privileges, enormously increasing the damage they could do).
    • Windows Vista finally addressed this problem by effectively tricking such legacy programs that they were running as Administrator even when they weren't. Each such legacy program has its own fake copy of the Registry and system files that it can modify as it sees fit when running under Vista, without affecting the real Registry and system files. As far as the application is concerned, the fake ones are the real ones.

Diagram of an Intel Core 2 dual core processor, with CPU-local Level 1 caches, and a shared, on-die Level 2 cache. ... CPU can stand for: in computing: Central processing unit in journalism: Commonwealth Press Union in law enforcement: Crime prevention unit in software: Critical patch update, a type of software patch distributed by Oracle Corporation in Macleans College is often known as Ash Lim. ... Symmetric multiprocessing, or SMP, is a multiprocessor computer architecture where two or more identical processors are connected to a single shared main memory. ... A resource, also referred to as system resource, is any physical or virtual system component of a computer system with limited availability. ... A memory manager is a part of a computer program which accepts requests from the program to allocate and deallocate chunks of memory. ... In computer graphics, alpha compositing is often useful to render image elements in separate passes, and then combine the resulting multiple 2D images into a single, final image in a process called compositing. ... Transparency is possible in a number of graphics file formats. ... NTFS is the standard file system of Windows NT, including its later versions Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2008, and Windows Vista. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with Computer program. ... Windows NT (New Technology) is a family of operating systems produced by Microsoft, the first version of which was released in July 1993. ... Windows NT (New Technology) is a family of operating systems produced by Microsoft, the first version of which was released in July 1993. ... The Windows registry is a directory which stores settings and options for the operating system for Microsoft Windows 32-bit versions, 64-bit versions and Windows Mobile. ... Windows NT (New Technology) is a family of operating systems produced by Microsoft, the first version of which was released in July 1993. ... Malware is software designed to infiltrate or damage a computer system without the owners informed consent. ... Windows Vista is a line of graphical operating systems used on personal computers, including home and business desktops, notebook computers, Tablet PCs, and media centers. ...

Bugs

Windows 9x has several bugs.


c:concon

One of the most popular and most circulated bugs in Windows 95 and Windows 98 is the c:concon bug, which can only be achieved by using one of the File Allocation Table file systems. By entering "c:concon" (without the quotes) into the address bar of Windows Explorer, there is a conflict between Windows and the file system, causing the computer to crash. This can also be achieved by entering "c:nulnul" (without quotes) into the address bar.[4] Concon is a computer bug that appeared in the Windows 95 and Windows 98 operating systems. ... File Allocation Table (FAT) is a partially patented file system developed by Microsoft for MS-DOS and was the primary file system for consumer versions of Microsoft Windows up to and including Windows Me. ... BSoD is the abbreviation for Black screen of death — a failure mode of Windows 3. ...


Microsoft released a patch to remove the bug in 1999. Windows Me does not have this bug.


Zero-page overwrite

This bug is achieved in a console window (an MS-DOS window) at the prompt of the "debug" program (can be accessed by typing "debug" without quotes at the MS-DOS prompt). This bug overwrites the "zero-page," which contains the interrupt table (including IRQ vectors). If anything overwrites it, the processor will jump to the memory location ffff:ffff, which does not contain any sensible code, rendering Windows 9x unrecoverable.[5] Microsofts disk operating system, MS-DOS, was Microsofts implementation of DOS, which was the first popular operating system for the IBM PC, and until recently, was widely used on the PC compatible platform. ... DEBUG is a DOS / MS-DOS / WINDOWS command. ... Microsofts disk operating system, MS-DOS, was Microsofts implementation of DOS, which was the first popular operating system for the IBM PC, and until recently, was widely used on the PC compatible platform. ...


Accidental Boot

This bug causes Windows 9x to attempt to boot while the operating system is still running. By opening the "debug" (once again, without the quotes) in an MS-DOS window, and telling it to jump to address F000:FFF0. This memory point contains the boot call, which produces the result of Windows attempting to boot while already running, sometimes crashing Windows. An operating system (OS) is the software that manages the sharing of the resources of a computer and provides programmers with an interface used to access those resources. ... Microsofts disk operating system, MS-DOS, was Microsofts implementation of DOS, which was the first popular operating system for the IBM PC, and until recently, was widely used on the PC compatible platform. ...


Releases

The following Windows 9x/Me versions were released:[6]

  • Windows 95 original release (version 4.00.950)
  • Windows 95 OEM Service Release 1 (OSR1) (version 4.00.950A)
  • Windows 95 OEM Service Release 2 (OSR2) (version 4.00.950B)
  • Windows 95 OEM Service Release 2.1 (OSR 2.1) (version 4.00.950B)
  • Windows 95 OEM Service Release 2.5 (OSR 2.5) (version 4.00.950C)
  • Windows 98 Standard Edition (version 4.10.1998)
  • Windows 98 Second Edition (version 4.10.2222)
  • Windows Millennium Edition (Me) (version 4.90.3000)

Plus! packs

  • Microsoft Plus! for Windows 95
  • Microsoft Plus! for Windows 98
  • Microsoft Plus! Game Pack: Cards and Puzzles (released alongside Windows Me)

Microsoft Plus! was an operating system enhancement package provided by Microsoft. ...

Criticism

Windows 9x is often characterized as being unstable—it is widely panned for its instability, displaying the "Blue Screen of Death", when abruptly terminating an application—usually due to malfunctioning drivers or hardware.


References

  1. ^ In common usage, the term "Windows 9x" itself may or may not include Windows Me. Another term "Windows 9x/Me" is often used to explicitly include Windows Me. In the main part of this article they will be treated as synonyms.
  2. ^ FAT32 or NTFS: Making the Choice - Theeldergeek.com
  3. ^ Function of the Windows 32-Bit Message Server - Microsoft Help and Support
  4. ^ http://seclists.org/bugtraq/2000/Mar/0086.html
  5. ^ Everything2.com. The quickest way to crash Windows 9x. Retrieved on 2007-07-08.
  6. ^ How to Determine the Version of Windows 95/98/Me in Use

  Results from FactBites:
 
Windows 9.x System Resources - HelpWithWindows.com (1087 words)
These problems are somewhat less severe than they used to be because Windows 9.x manages system resources more intelligently than 3.x But it is still a very common cause of memory error messages and program crashes.
Windows 98 uses an asynchronous input model for all input to the system and applications.
Windows 9.x incorporates the Windows 64KB system-resource limit for better performance when it is providing backward compatibility.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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