Windows 95 Speed Hack Discovered After 24 Years

/ 5 years ago
windows 95 mds

For those older ones amongst us, Windows 95 represented what was likely our first true gateway into PCs. While it was certainly not the first operating system to be released, it was perhaps the tipping factor that led many to actually go out and get their first system. Put simply, compared to everything that came before it, Windows 95 offered a friendly place where even the most abject beginner could learn how to do things.

In a report via StackExchange, however, a long-standing rumour for the operating system has (after 24 years) finally been confirmed! There was a very easy way to get it to run faster, and you probably did it without even realising it!

windows 95 mds

Windows 95 Speed Hack

While reading a webpage (such as this one) it isn’t uncommon to idly scroll your mouse around the screen. It seems, however, that due to a quirk in the design, moving the mouse actually made Windows 95 run faster.

While it does get a little technical, one user on the forum explains:

Windows 95 applications often use asynchronous I/O. That is they ask for some file operation like a copy to be performed and then tell the OS that they can be put to sleep until that operation finishes. By sleeping they allow other applications to run. Rather than wasting CPU time endlessly asking if the file operation has completed yet.

For reasons that are not entirely clear, but probably due to performance problems on low end machines, Windows 95 tends to bundle up the messages about I/O completion and doesn’t immediately wake up the application to service them. However, it does wake the application for user input, presumably to keep it feeling responsive, and when the application is awake it will handle any pending I/O messages too.

Thus wiggling the mouse causes the application to process I/O messages faster, and install quicker. The effect was quite pronounced; large applications that could take an hour to install could be reduced to 15 minutes with suitable mouse input.

Windows 95 Nostalgia!

I must admit (having an old Windows 95 CD something amongst my pile of outdated tech) that I would be more than a little curious to try this out myself to see if it does really work. Think of all those hours I could’ve saved! – Just to tickle your nostalgia bones, however, I did (very deliberately) put that video above in. If you don’t get the reference, without meaning to sound patronising, Windows 95 was clearly before your time.

You are, of course, welcome to try this out on whatever version of Windows you’re running these days. I can’t, however, promise such equally good results!

What do you think? What was the first operating system you used? – Let us know in the comments!

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