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Originally encoded on September 5th, 2015 and published the same day
Internet, Yeah Okay
Thanks to Windows 95's native support for TCP/IP (as opposed to Windows 3.1x needing a separate TCP/IP stack), going online is pretty easy whether you use broadband or dial-up. That much is clear, but the internet has changed a ton since 1995. Websites are more complex, and 640x480 is almost never taken into consideration now.
In the nearby past, trying to reach a modern website from an archaic browser like Internet Explorer 5.5 would work, but would often turn out garbled as that thing doesn't bother with remote fonts, newer scripts, and added styling attributes. Due to the wide gap between the finalization of HTML4 and HTML5, a lot of websites could still be practically usable even in such an old browser.
Another issue comes up, though, and that's HTTPS becoming mandatory on many of the newest websites, with only TLS 1.2 or later being supported. These websites are now completely unreachable from old versions of Internet Explorer at all.
But at the end of the day, Internet Explorer is still just a browser like plenty of others. You can install a newer one. Firefox supported Windows 95 for a while, up until 2007. As for Opera, some other people have covered a late version working even in Windows NT 3.51! You could probably guess that while local area networking was all the rage on my channel, internet connectivity was more of an afterthought for me, as I didn't bother with those later browsers.
Opera seems to have done away with Windows 95 by now, but there is one actively maintained browser called RetroZilla; you could use that to connect to a number of sites, if you can live with a lack of HTML5 support. It does support TLS 1.2, so there's that, but security is not guaranteed.
A lot more sites started becoming HTTPS-only in 2016 when the Electronic Frontier Foundation started up a certificate authority called Let's Encrypt. From a practical standpoint, this was a major advancement in electronic privacy, as any independent website developer could pick it up at no charge and ensure nobody's being eavesdropped when they connect to a site.
Even with that, I still question how secure a lot of modern websites are. An independent blog made from scratch that's HTTPS-only will probably be very secure, but a lot of the trendier websites absolutely CHOKE on scripts and cookies that are basically designed to track as much of your activity as possible, even when you're not on the website that's tracking you. This nullifies any such privacy benefits of HTTPS, which makes me question why anyone even bothers with that apart from the need for secure logins.
Even without all the privacy concerns, such websites are so damn bloated now that Windows 95 might not stand a change against them. YouTube is the worst offender of all when it comes to website bloat. It strangles SeaMonkey so hard that I've been forced to hold out on Firefox 78 ESR to evade the eye-splitting design of Firefox 89 (and also ensuring ABSOLUTELY NO ADS appear on YouTube). It's not SeaMonkey's fault, it's the fucking website!
Thankfully, a significant number of people are also as frustrated as I am with shitty website design, enough to form countercultures of sorts where they prefer to either create something unique or just as simple as a ball. I've been fueling this rebellion as well; just check out Razorback's footer.
Expansion Pak Included!
PCMCIA cards are pretty cool given how compact they are and how they can be plugged in while the computer is running, well before USB came about. PCMCIA was originally intended for memory cards, and it can certainly serve that function well if you get a CF card reader. I'm pretty sure Windows 95 doesn't even need an additional driver for that.
Over time, PCMCIA's uses grew, and so this standard can be used to expand your laptop in a variety of ways. You can add SCSI or USB 2.0 support, or you can bring your laptop online with a compact modem and/or an Ethernet jack.
Why do some network adapters work in Windows 95 OSR2, but not Gold? Well, alongside Windows NT 4.0, OSR2 ups the version of NDIS from 3 to 4. NDIS is an API for network drivers to interface with, and is primarily used in Windows. The additions to each new NDIS version aren't readily obvious, but NDIS 5.0, introduced in Windows 98SE and 2000, does add support for certain power management features. The rest is probably just hardware lingo.
NDIS3 is used by Windows for Workgroups 3.11 and Windows 95 Gold, so if you happen to find an NDIS3 driver, it'll probably work on Windows 95. WfW 3.11 not so much, as it uses a different .386 driver format. NDIS2 is largely just for MS-DOS, and uses the .DOS format for network drivers. An NDIS2 driver was shown in action in the second segment.
Stunningly, Intel has continued to maintain their PRO/100 and PRO/1000 drivers for MS-DOS all the way up until November 4th, 2019 with version 24.3! I have to wonder if it could work with integrated network cards on modern motherboards, maybe that's something to try later on. The driver was mainly meant for deploying other operating systems which need MS-DOS to kickstart them, but if an old PCI network card plugged into a PCI Express adapter won't do, maybe this thing can. After all, Windows 95 is very much capable of working with NDIS2 drivers.
A Turning Point
This was the first video of mine to become significantly popular in a very long time. I think it had everything to do with the title, "oh wow old stuff thing in current year whoa!!!" Significant viewership spikes occurred in early 2016. It only peaked at around 90 views in a single day, but more videos would end up growing as well.