With a history as long as Windows has, it’s no surprise that the operating system (OS) has adopted and dropped many features over time. We’ve looked at ancient programs still in use today as well as longtime Windows tools that new features superseded. But did you know that Windows still hides some outdated functions?
Let’s take a look at some old, archaic features Windows 10 can still do that most people haven’t used for years.
1. Floppy Disks
Floppy disks illustrate the growth of storage media quite well. The most recent form of floppy disk, which measures 3.5 inches, only holds a measly 1.44 MB. That’s not even enough to hold an average song in MP3 format!
Indeed, even with just 16 GB of storage in your phone, you’re carrying around the equivalent of 11,111 floppy disks. While 99 percent of users have moved onto solid state drives, USB flash drives, and even CD-ROMs to store their data, Windows 10 can still handle floppy disks.
Of course, you won’t find a brand-new computer with a floppy drive. Instead, you can use floppy disks with an external reader that plugs into a USB port. If it’s a recent model, Plug and Play should enable it as soon as you connect it to your PC. Older ones might require you to find updated drivers to make them work with Windows 10. You can buy a USB floppy disk reader from Amazon for fairly cheap if you don’t have one.
Why would you bother with this? Perhaps you want to play an ancient DOS game that uses floppy disks, or just want to try it to say you did. If you have old floppies that you only use for drink coasters, check out better creative uses for them.
2. Dial-Up Internet Connection
Think you’ve got a slow internet connection? Be thankful you don’t connect via dial-up, which Windows 10 still supports. Open up the Settings app and head to the Network & internet section, and you’ll see a whole tab dedicated to Dial-up. You’ll need a modem that connects to a jack on the wall via a phone cable to use it. Windows 10 will walk you through adding your credentials to connect via dial-up on that menu.
If you’re not familiar, this ancient form of internet access uses a modem to dial a phone number that connects your computer to an internet service provider (ISP). In its time this was a revolutionary way to get online, as many folks who used America Online (now AOL) as their ISP know. It’s hideously slow by modern standards, though. Dial-up connections provide around 56 Kbps, while a decently fast broadband connection today is 10 Mbps.
Using a comparison tool, we can see that downloading a 10 MB file (like a software installer) would take nearly 25 minutes on dial-up but only eight seconds on a 10 Mbps connection. Up this to 100 MB (the size of a short video) and you’d be waiting four hours and nine minutes on dial-up. That same download would take about a minute and 20 seconds on a modern connection.
In areas with poor coverage, dial-up is still the only method of internet connection available. Thus, millions of people still pay for AOL’s inexpensive dial-up internet. But if you want to relive the glory days of dial-up without the pathetic speeds, this Chrome extension will play the iconic sound of a modem dialing every time you open your browser.
3. Windows 95 Compatibility Mode
Whenever a new version of Windows arrives, people expect it to work with all their old devices and programs. Because of this, Windows includes some special modes to help get old software working. If you right-click on any program installed on your computer and choose Properties, then hit the Compatibility tab, you’ll find these options.
Checking Run this program in compatibility mode for: lets you choose a previous edition of Windows to run it under. When you do this, Windows applies settings for that particular Windows version to try to make it work. Most modern software works fine with current versions of Windows, but you can use this feature if older games aren’t working, for example.
What’s funny (and ancient) is that Windows 95 is included as an option here. The thought that someone would need to run software designed for a 22-year-old operating system is comical, but could be the case for business applications. Still, it’s neat to see this leftover from the past in Windows 10. It won’t work for ancient 16-bit Windows 3.1 programs though, since even software for Windows 95 was 32-bit.
4. Windows Faxing
When was the last time you sent a fax? Aside from some business sectors and government usage, fax machines have largely died off. Due to the ease of email and cloud storage, sharing files via fax isn’t efficient anymore. Thus, for most people, it’s not worth the wasted space to keep a fax machine around when you can send faxes from your computer for free if needed.
But if you do have a physical fax machine and a modem for connecting to a phone line around, you’ll be happy to know that Windows supports faxing natively. Type Fax into the Start Menu, and you’ll see the Windows Fax and Scan entry. Click that to take a look. You might have used this same utility to scan pictures or documents into your computer, but it doubles as a faxing tool too.
Click New Fax and you’ll be prompted to connect a fax modem to your computer. Once that’s done, Windows will walk you through sending the fax. Again, for most people faxing is obsolete and surpassed long ago with email. But this has hung around in Windows for several versions.
Holding Onto the Past
Windows 10 has dropped a lot of features that aren’t relevant anymore and even introduced some that made people upset. But it’s interesting to see that Microsoft kept these four ancient functions and didn’t require you to work to resurrect them. Of course, if they worked in prior Windows versions it’s not hard to port them over, but we wonder how long these features will persist.
Will the next version of Windows feature a compatibility mode for Windows 95 and built-in support for faxing and dial-up internet connections? We’ll find out in time.
For more Windows feature fun, check out bygone features we don’t miss or mostly forgotten Windows programs that are still kicking.
Have you found any other ancient functions that Windows 10 still supports? Do you use any of the above four utilities? Tell us what you think by leaving a comment!