Welcome to Windows 2.x! Our first build is Windows 2.01, which was developed and sold specifically for Compaq 386 machines. As such, it will have Compaq-exclusive options, and was not sold in stores by itself. This was the first Windows build to be designed specifically for the then-new 386 processor in mind. As the name suggests, these builds will not run on anything below a 386. We immediately notice a difference in the Setup program, which has changed considerably.<
Probably in order to further differentiate the 386 builds from the normal/286 builds, the default name for the Windows directory in these builds is "WIN386" rather than "WINDOWS", and the command to start Windows is "WIN386" instead of "WIN".
Here we have an example of the Compaq-exclusive nature of this build. As a result, this build is very rare to come across.
Here we see more Compaq branding, as well as another first! This is the first Windows build to officially support VGA, which had just been introduced by IBM earlier that year in their "PS/2" series.
The keyboard selection screen is more intuitive.
There are considerably less pointing devices than before. I wonder why...
They moved the printer installation to the middle of the Setup instead of having it at the very end.
While we're here, I should note that this is also the first Windows build to be distributed on 1.2 MB high-density floppy disks.
Here's the boot screen!
Here it is! Welcome to the GUI of Windows 2!
As you can see, the interface is overall very similar to the Windows 1 interface, except...
...THE WINDOWS OVERLAP!!!
Most of the built-in programs have been refined, and are made to run in smaller windows instead of filling the screen.
I like how Cardfile's about box tells you how many cards you have.
As you can tell, not every program got a new icon for their about box.
The Control Panel looks so much better when it's a small window!
There are now more options for customizing the window colors.
The border width can now be adjusted.
The mouse acceleration can be changed.
The PIF editor has been expanded upon, as we can see here.
Reversi in a window!
Well, if only I had an old printer handy!
Technical note: When starting this build, DO NOT touch the mouse until it is fully booted, otherwise the mouse will disappear, and you will be forced to rely on the keyboard! I'm not kidding!
There are a lot more options regarding where you wanted to install Windows. Clearly, they wanted to make sure that Windows could run on as many computers as possible, as we'll also see as we go further through the Setup program.
For most computers, the "Compaq" option is the one you want. It's referring to the fact that the first PC clone to use a 386 was the Compaq Deskpro 386, which PCem can emulate.
There are A TON of video options here.
...and this is also the first build that allows you to install a third-party video driver. In this case, I'm installing an unofficial VESA-compatible 800x600 driver.
There are a lot more mouse options as well.
These next two screens will only appear if you're installing a third-party video driver.
This is when they were trying to make Windows more friendly towards computers of other regions. This effort would lead to some interesting developments, as we'll see later on. This is the first build that asks you if you want to read the README, which in the case of Windows 1-2, is a great way of finding out the differences between each build, as they list the differences with every new build. Why did they stop doing that? It makes our job so much easier!
NOTE: After installing any build of Windows 2.x, don't just press CTRL+ALT+DEL, but rather do a hard reset. If you don't, for some reason, the mouse will only work after the first boot, and then will never work again. Hard resetting immediately after installing Windows prevents this odd bug from occurring. Every time it happened to me, I simply re-installed Windows, as it doesn't take very long. These early builds of Windows only take a few minutes each to install.
Here's the boot screen!
As far as I can tell, this was the only major addition. It's a converter that's meant to go with the built-in Paint program.
Also, I do believe that this is the first version of Windows to have a help menu! Here's the one for the PIF editor, which honestly surprised me! This is really neat!
Here's the extremely rare 386 build of Windows 2.03. As far as I know, very little people know of this build's existence, as there's not much special about it, but there are some differences worth mentioning.
Here are the most common 386 machines at the time.
There are surprisingly less video options in this build.
The wording on the keyboard options has changed.
There are also less keyboard options.
I have never seen this boot screen on any compilations, which I think is a testament to this build's obscurity.
This was the first build to have "286" in the title, even though it does not require a 286 in order to run. It will run just fine on an 8086/8088 machine. The name change was made in order to advertise this build's major new feature, which we'll get into in a bit.
This list has changed a bit.
There are A TON of graphics options in this build. In fact, there's so many that you have to scroll down in order to see them all! I also install the VESA patch on this build. Note that the VESA patch does not work on the 386 builds.
Here's the major new feature: Support for extended RAM! One of the features of the 286 is that it added support for the high memory area (memory above the 640KB mark), and this build includes a program called "Memset", which enables the extended RAM support within Windows and DOS.
It automatically adds drivers to the CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT files.
The introduction of SmartDrive, which would be a vital component of Windows for next 5 years or so.
This is mostly the same as the 286 build, only it takes advantage of the 386's "virtual 8086 mode" to enable to execution of multiple DOS applications at once within Windows.
Here's a larger list of 386 machines.
DO NOT BE FOOLED! HARD RESET AT THIS POINT!!!
This build tells you how much conventional and expanded memory you have free.
As the README states, all this build added is printer drivers! That is literally it! LAME!
This is pretty much identical to the 286 build, only it added one extra video adapter, according to the README.
And that's all of the builds! No beta builds, I know, but still pretty interesting! Don't worry, things will get A LOT more interesting from here! Stay tuned for the Windows 3.0x builds! :)