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What retro computer activity did you get up to today?

Discussion in 'Retro & Arcade' started by adz, Jan 28, 2014.

  1. CRTified

    CRTified Member

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    I've done a lot of thinking trying to come up with input worth posting, and after mentally travelling through various regions in depth, I've ended up at the trite and nonsensical platitude that you can have new stuff, you can have old stuff, but you can't have all of both; refer Laws of Thermodynamics. :lol:

    But none of that takes away from the specific reality that much more and better can be done regarding access to legacy content. And surely is/will be.
     
  2. Grant

    Grant Member

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    I haven't looked into it too closely, but I know there's third-party translation layers between different DirectX versions for Windows, and there's implementations of OpenGL and various Direct3D versions on Vulkan. Point being, that's enough complexity to make it nontrivial for Microsoft to provide hardware accelerated VMs of old Windows versions without a motivating reason.

    I think GPU virtualisation is coming along for cloud GPU compute use cases, it would be nice to to be able to take a modern GPU with Vulkan support, and virtualise that into something that can accelerate DirectX 3-8 in a VM.
     
  3. CRTified

    CRTified Member

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    The back catalogue of Windows applications can be annoying enough to tune even on period hardware and OS.

    It's a rattly machine, as the developer (in)competence Cog grinds away in grudging agreement with the febrile environmental variables Cog (which version of which updates and extensions are ideal for a given application at a given version?).
     
  4. rugger

    rugger Member

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    Thank you for this post, everything I want to say but more succinctly then I can ever put it.

    We go around in circles with respects to software and it's quality.

    It is all pretty bad quality in general, because frankly that is all we are prepared to pay for and we begrudgingly accept it.

    At least Windows 10 finally can run for months at a time without chewing itself up and breaking on a wide range of configurations and uses. This was never possible before proper driver isolation for all drivers (including GPUs) became an integral part of windows.

    Perhaps the worst "crime" of Windows 10 was their attempt to replace the control panel, but only do a half assed job of it. Then spend the next 5 years not actually finishing the move.
     
  5. elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    Counter point: WINE on Linux does an AMAZING job of supporting everything from Windows 3.X to Windows 10 all in one set of libraries. I would argue that in some instances, better than anything Microsoft currently have on offer for the same time frame. (See my final point in this post).

    Seamless VM and VDI stuff exists, and I think for the performance requirement could work well in Windows. I'd like to see Microsoft offer that first party.

    And you're right - a lot of this comes down to proper vGPU support. VirtualBox is a classic example where they just don't bother supporting older OSes via "guest additions" any more, and that's terribly frustrating. Hyper-V doesn't either. I was hoping open source (QEMU et al) would, but they've done a bit of a piss poor job too. Their best effort is "Virgil":
    https://virgil3d.github.io/

    However outside of Linux-on-Linux, there's almost zero support for other OSes, and certainly near-zero support for anything "retro".

    There's one exception to all this, which is this person:

    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCl8InhZs1ixZBcLrMDSWd0A/videos

    https://github.com/kjliew/qemu-3dfx

    They've made a custom build of QEMU (which annoyingly you have to pay for binaries) that does 3DFX and D3D passthrough. With nothing but a simple emulated Cirrus 2D card (where ample open source and proprietary drivers exist), all 3dfx/glide/d3d (up to d3d9) instructions are hijacked and sent back to the host OS. This gives blisteringly fast 3D acceleration for Win95-WinXP era titles under at least two different APIs, and with far better compatibility than Windows 10 in many cases.

    Here's where it all falls down:

    * You need to compile it yourself, or pay them for binaries
    * You need to go through the pain of a "pirate" Windows 9X/2K/XP install
    * Setup is non-trivial (the author claims it is trivial, but there are a number of steps and finding libraries can be a bit of a pain if you're not familiar with the tools)
    * It's a separate virtual desktop, which is nice sometimes, but sometimes you also want seamless and easier access to fullscreen.

    Right now, that's the best performance you can get. PCem/86box is an option, but the overhead is enormous and you need a blistering fast machine to run anything in the PII-300 era of games, versus this solution which runs with very minimal overhead by comparison. And of course, I'm intentionally ignoring the "just build a genuine retro box" talk because my goal remains filling in that blank option of giving people the option of being able to run old things on a new machine with minimal effort.

    So, one person was able to hack up QEMU to bring it to the sorts of feature set that I'm putting on my wishlist here. One single person. Annoyingly, they've obfuscated the whole ordeal by asking for money for binaries (which is their right, of course, but speaking as someone who gives away a lot of stuff as open source, I can't agree with the ethos). I'm almost tempted to compile the damned thing and host it on my own site, like I do for MAME RPi binaries for free. But then there's the next step of complex configuration to get from "here's a working qemu.exe" to "here's a working environment to go play your old games".

    I would very much love for someone like GOG, Valve or Microsoft to step in here. However there really seems to be zero (commercial) interest. Such a shame.

    Who knows, maybe Steam+Proton+Linux (itself a fork of WINE) will be our retro Windows gaming saviour? Wouldn't that be ironic. Here's me looking forward to Steam Deck I guess.
     
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  6. rugger

    rugger Member

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    I thought dosbox-x was where it was for 3dfx emulation and windows 9x support?

    https://dosbox-x.com/

    I haven't tried it myself though? Maybe it sucks!
     
  7. elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    It's far less accurate than PCem/86box/real-hardware, slower than VMWare/Virtualbox/QEMU, and just as difficult to set up as any of the above.

    It's not a terrible solution, but it's pretty much status quo for the problem I'm describing - better solutions are possible with minimal effort, yet arguably crap solutions are the best we have right now for no good reason.

    I repeat - Linux GUIs with hardware acceleration are a one-click install from the Microsoft store in Windows 11. Other versions of Windows are an exponentially worse experience, and all but out of reach for most users. That's kinda weird.
     
  8. Grant

    Grant Member

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    Hmm, if I had infinite time I'd be interested in seeing how ReactOS goes with that...

    Interesting - I thought it was just software emulation, but they also have a passthrough mode that works with dynamically linked executables. The hypervisor-level support in qemu-3dfx gives more coverage, but I think practically anything that was statically linked is likely old enough that software emulation is fine.

    I think Microsoft is still scared that even acknowledging old versions of Windows will weaken the pressure to upgrade, they had to make two major releases to get people off XP, and will IMO need to do the same to get people off 10. There's also genuinie security concerns if people expose the VMs to the network - not unsolveable, but too scary for a corporation to deal with.
     
  9. CRTified

    CRTified Member

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    Small/one-man developers certainly aren't immune from being difficult, hard to work with, sometimes hard-to-like personalities. One reason why we often have cool edge-case stuff tucked away behind (what they think of as) 'trivial' technical barriers. There's often a gap between the uber-technicians and the common users, it takes skill and work to bridge that gap. I'm not even particularly high level like some here are, but god knows even I've written a million words over the years and decades in that pursuit.
    I've been thinking about those commercial elements too, there are several, and while all can be worked around or rationalised otherwise, it's easy to see the uncaring paw of ceaseless corporate growth ushering resources ever towards new product and shareholder satisfaction. Standard groan of capitalism dissatisfaction while I drink my Coke and play my Nintendo. :p
     
  10. CRTified

    CRTified Member

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    Oh!, sorry to double post, but this notion tickled me enough that I felt it almost remiss not to do so -

    Common Users --->anagram---> Mo' Consumers.
     
  11. elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    Ditto.

    I do acknowledge all of this is a problem. I'm also certain the people who want to do genuine "software archaeology" are few in number.

    Again, I'd hoped by now there'd be some competent wrapper solution at least for games. I take GOG as the gold standard - DRM free digital download of a thing that delivers DOSBox+Game in a bundled installer for you to double-click and run with minimal effort.

    There were some efforts to port WINE to Windows, and while that sounds a bit silly at first, the point is that WINE is still the best non-Microsoft source of binary compatibility wrappers for legacy Microsoft software. And given that Steam's Proton can put provisions in place to set up custom WINE environments and compatibility layers per game, that would be a cool thing for Steam/GOG/Lutris/whoever to achieve natively on Windows too.
     
  12. gdjacobs

    gdjacobs Member

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    That's a fair criticism. I'm the first to admit that Windows has never been sunshine and rainbows. However, my criticisms are relative to prior releases of Windows. For instance, tasks which were formerly available through one control panel in Windows 7, Vista, and XP are now split amongst two. Users are stuck in the confusing situation of learning the new suck while working around the parts that are half implemented with pieces of the old suck that remain.

    I see IOS on a similar trajectory as Apple continues to add gimmicks in search of another home run. The best answer for users is to maintain a high degree of consistency between software releases and avoid the necessity of people relearning usage patterns for things they can already do.

    It seems nGlide is being worked on to better support operating under WINE. That should address the majority of early 3D titles not directly supported by OpenGL or WineD3D.
    http://www.zeus-software.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=2232
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2021
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  13. MUTMAN

    MUTMAN Member

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    just my postulating
    linux poses a threat to windows so MS take the step of 'pulling it in'.
    it keeps/locks in the windows user base that want/need access to linux

    old versions of windows pose a different threat to new windows
    I'm guessing security is the main one
     
  14. elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    I think the reality is a little less antagonistic than that. The current Microsoft leadership aren't as stupid as the ones gone by. Previous bosses said very stupid things like the internet was a fad and open source was cancer.

    The current leadership gets that open source makes business work better, and that sharing with your customers enables them, and makes them want to pay you.

    It's a new way at looking at where the world is headed, and what they need from software. As much as Microsoft is known for Windows, their money maker previously have been tools like Office and their development tools, SQL server, etc. Things have changed somewhat, but Microsoft get where the world is going. Data science, cloud services, mobile integration - these are what customers need help with. Microsoft are clever enough to realise that embracing things like Android and Linux aren't a risk to them, but actually a much more profitable thing to partner with.

    Needing to compete with everyone all the time is a left over model from the 90s. The 21st century demands integration and cooperation across many vendors.
     
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  15. MUTMAN

    MUTMAN Member

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    i should of said posed a risk. yes, its a bit different now
     
  16. rugger

    rugger Member

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    Actually, Microsoft knows that Linux isn't a substantial threat to their current business model. And windows isn't actually that important for Microsoft's cashflow.

    They would still sell plenty of windows product, but to them it is not as important going forward as their cloud offerings like office365 and azure live platforms, as well as selling games on the Xbox platform, and their Microsoft Live subscription service.

    Windows is more of a set of libraries and tools, from which Microsoft uses as a base to make their real money from. As part of Windows 10, Xbox, and Windows Server, it is just a convenient place to run software from and sell you services using it.

    If the world switched to Linux tomorrow, while it would certainly bother them, it wouldn't really bother them nearly as much as if it happened 10-15 years ago. They would port office/one drive and other bits and pieces over, and still earn a good percentage of their current revenues. Hence why Windows 10 and 11 are more of less free, but geared to collect information and try to sell you stuff.
     
  17. elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    Azure made Microsoft an absolute killing in the last year. Way more than XBox, Windows and traditional income streams combined. And two more interesting factoids:

    1) Azure's networking stack is built off Linux

    2) As of November last year, there are more Linux instances on Azure than Windows instances.

    Here's a cute picture of Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella infront of a cute slide he had made up at a presentation a few years back. What a happy chap.

    microsoftloveslinux.0.0.jpg
     
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  18. MUTMAN

    MUTMAN Member

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    windows is the needle to which MS inject office and exchange into corparate veins
    pre 365 it was hellish important for the home market.
    and today still just as important today in the corparate world

    20211027_221754.png
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2021
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  19. elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    Two issues with that data:

    1) It doesn't differentiate desktop and server.

    2) Data released literally this week for Q3 analysis show the exponential explosion of cloud continues along, making it by far Microsoft's largest earner - much more so than that year old graph demonstrates. And a year in tech is 10 years in any other industry.

    I'm certain (and I mean first hand experience certain) Microsoft continue to bleed governments and large orgs on huge support contracts for their legacy desktop setups. But that's so stale, stagnant and boring in 2021. It's certainly not a growing market, nor one where any form of innovations or improvements are happening. Far more interesting pushes into remote work, BYOD, and getting more valuable data into the hands of users on mobile devices via cloud services is where the big and interesting money is happening now. (I'm working on a project with Microsoft to crunch important soil, rainfall, fire, wind, and other weather information inside Linux containers and put it on Android and iPhone devices for Aussie farmers - 100% Microsoft, 0% Windows!).

    Satya Nadella did an online presentation around the launch of Windows 11 called "The future of Microsoft". How much air time did Windows get? Let's grab my quote from the Windows 11 thread:

    In 41 minutes of presenting to the ENTIRE WORLD, Windows was only important enough to talk about for 40 seconds. The desktop is dead, baby. Relegated to OCAU's retro forums. (Ooooh look at me desperately trying to get this back on topic :lol: )
     
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  20. MUTMAN

    MUTMAN Member

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    1) why does that matter in the context of this discussion ? money is money ?

    2) yes cloud has exploded, but not at the expense of windows/office. the windows trend line is also on the up.

    just because MS didnt "just one more thing - ooooh, win11 is dead sexy" at a presser does not mean they are walking away from 20 billion dollars a year.
    yes windows isnt sexy, again its the vehicle that will carry sales of office and exchange for another 10 years

    back on topic - my point is/was/might have been, MS doesnt support old version of windows cause there's no money in it. just bad publicity for old security bugs.
     

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