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I have a disk from my old computer (Windows 3.11) the instalation diskettes are lost somewhere. Can I run it on Virtual PC? If yes, how do I do it?

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oh my god , you still have that , first check whether disk in good condition and working –  subanki Sep 11 '10 at 17:19
    
sure it is, I have now copied in a folder and nicely zipped to 60MB :) –  Lukas Sep 11 '10 at 18:23
    
I would find the install media instead; easier to adapt to different hardware that way. –  grawity Sep 12 '10 at 18:49
    
@grawity:Besides there is very litterl chance of the installation media appearing by magic, I do not want a random old computer - I want my old computer so clear install would not be much help :) –  Lukas Sep 14 '10 at 23:58
    
I didn't mention physical install media. –  grawity Sep 15 '10 at 11:10

3 Answers 3

Your best hope would probably be to put the HDD from the Windows 3.1 box into the box you're running Virtual PC on, and using a program like WinImage to scan the physical disk into a vhd (Virtual Hard Disk) image file. (I believe the option is in the "Image" menu and called "Creating virtual hard disk image from physical drive..." or similar) Then you can create a VM in Virtual PC and choose the option to select an existing hard disk image, instead of creating a new one, and selecting the vhd file of your Win 3.11 HDD.

If you have problems booting the image, you could try Sun Microsystems's VirtualBox for Windows although, there are some extra steps involved.

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A friend of mine said that he has done this using DOSBox, which is essentially a virtual MS-DOS machine. Google also shows that it is possible.

Remember that the original (ie. non-NT) line of Windows ran on top of MS-DOS.

I still have a fully working ThinkPad 775c (my first laptop), for such nostalgia trips.

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Check your 60MB ZIP to make sure you didn't miss a few critical hidden files, IO.SYS and MSDOS.SYS, both in the root directory. Also, it may not be quite as simple as copying the files back, due to some esoteric stringent requirements about IO.SYS. Even before then, you have to format the blank virtual disk, which you can't do with DOS/Windows3 because you don't have the floppies. (There are workarounds, though.)

Overall, you might have better luck imaging the whole disk as suggested by AlanCF.

Once you can boot the the disk to DOS and try to start Windows, the main problem you will run into is driver support; that is, the emulated virtual hardware is different than the actual hardware in the old computer. VirtualPC is better than VirtualBox in this regard, because VPC emulates older hardware, for which Windows3 drivers are available (or even, ever created). For example, you can still download Windows 3.11 drivers for the S3 Trio video card that VPC emulates (you're looking for w3117004.zip, near the bottom of the page).

If you're lucky, the actual video card in that old computer used an S3 Trio, and so the drivers are already in place. But the odds of that are not great. Better odds that the sound card was a SoundBlaster 16. In any case, I simply do not remember how installing replacement drivers worked -- perhaps rerunning SETUP.EXE

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