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How to install Win95B

technofile  by al fasoldt

Columns and commentaries in a life-long dance with technology
 

Simple gray rule


How to install Win95B
 

Technofile for June 29, 1997

By Al Fasoldt

Copyright © 1997, The Syracuse Newspapers

Microsoft made itself very clear when it introduced Win95B, the improved version of Windows: The company said the new version, also called OSR2, was not for sale as an upgrade for current Windows 95 users. It would only be available on new PCs.

As if to emphasize the point, Microsoft made sure that all Win95B CD-ROMs would contain code that blocked anyone from installing Win95B as an upgrade over the older version of Windows 95. If you tried to upgrade your original Win95, the setup program on the CD-ROM would issue a warning and refuse to proceed.

This is, indeed, what every Win95B CD-ROM does. The only way to change from the standard Windows 95 to Win95B, according to Microsoft and most other sources, is by stripping your hard drive of all its data by reformatting it and then installing Windows 95B from scratch.

But Microsoft is wrong. Upgrading to Win95B is actually very easy, and it can be done just by starting your current version of Windows, inserting a Win95B CD-ROM into the PC and clicking an icon. You have to take one unusual step in the procedure, but the upgrade is otherwise uneventful. I'll tell you how to do it.

First, however, we need to clear the table and talk about one of the biggest little secrets in all of computing. Microsoft says the main way to get Win95B is to buy a new PC on which it's already installed. Paying $2,000 to $3,000 just to upgrade your operating system makes no sense, of course. The only other legal way, according to Microsoft, is to buy new PC hardware such as a motherboard or large hard drive from a company that is authorized to sell a Win95B CD-ROM along with the hardware. (Few buyers take advantage of this, however.)

That's the legal stuff. The reality is that Windows 95B CD-ROMs are everywhere. They come with new PCs. Friends lend them to each other, coworkers share them and some storeowners even pass them out for weekend customer upgrades. This is not proper and it is not right, but it happens. I'd be a fool to pretend that it doesn't, and you'd be, too. (Don't write to me and pretend to be shocked at my moral turpitude. There are much bigger problems.)

I'm not going to prejudge anyone who reads this. I'm going to assume that got your copy of Win95B in an approved manner.

Next, let's take a quick detour and look at the two big improvements in Windows 95B.

One you probably already know about is FAT-32. It allows Windows to work with much larger hard drives as a single unit, or partition, as long as the PC's BIOS is fairly new. (The BIOS, or basic input-output system, controls the basic functions of PC hardware.) FAT-32 also reduces wasted space on big drives.

An improvement you probably don't know about is support for DMA bus mastering of your hard drives. Your PC's hard-drive controller and motherboard have to support this or it will not be available. If they do, you can turn on DMA bus mastering and free the computer's CPU from its usual task of handling the hard drive. The DMA feature provides smoother multitasking and speeds up all operations in Windows.

(Win95B usually installs itself with FAT-32 and DMA bus mastering turned off. I'll explain how to turn those two features on in the second part of this article next week.)

Ready to do the upgrade? Make sure you need to upgrade first. Right click on My Computer and choose Properties, then look for the version number of Windows. If you do not see "950 B" listed, you can continue with the upgrade.

Put in the Win95B CD-ROM. On some systems, the setup program will automatically run. If it does not do that, run it manually. When you see the License Agreement box, leave the box aloneódo not click anything in the box. Press Ctrl-Esc to open the Start Menu, then click the Run icon. Type "Notepad" and click "OK."

In Notepad, open a file called "setuppp.inf" (yes, it has three "P"s) in a folder called WININST0.400 on your hard drive. Find a line in the file that looks like this: [data] and add a line below it that says "OEMUP=1." The two lines should look like this:


[data]
OEMUP=1

Save the file and click back on the Win95B setup window, then continue the installation by responding to the License Agreement box. Windows 95B will then install itself over your current version of Windows.


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