DOS 7

Originally posted on April 1st, 1994, to alt.folklore.computers and comp.os.msdos.misc .

A leaked internal memo from Microsoft revealed today that their forthcoming operating-system release, DOS 7.0, will finally allow programs to exceed 640kB in size, and will otherwise make much more efficient use of RAM.

DOS 7.0 will include a new device driver, RAMSQUSH.SYS, which will provide on-the-fly compression/decompression of all executables in RAM. Although the *actual* storage will still be limited to 640kB, it is expected that most executables are sufficiently compressible that they may occupy a virtual space of up to two-and-a-half to three times the true physical maximum. As each machine command is executed, RAMSQUSH.SYS will extract the next command from the compressed code.

RAMSQUSH.SYS is a development from Microsoft's popular DBLSPACE disk-compression manager. It is expected to make full use of the power of Intel's forthcoming Hexium processor.

Asked for comment, IBM representatives hinted that they too have been working on on-the-fly compression of executables. They insisted that although the soon-to-be-released OS/3 will occupy only one-third of the original amount of RAM, "it is STILL not any fraction of an operating system."

The message resulted in a number of interesting follow-ups from people who thought it was a really neat idea, and more follow-ups from people explaining why it couldn't work. (On-the-fly decompression of an executable is certainly possible. But it would slow down the machine's performance by a couple of orders of magnitude, and that's not even counting in problems such as indirect addressing, jumps in the code, and so on. On-the-fly decompression of data is effective because even with the computing overhead, it's faster to work with compressed data in memory than with a much larger file on disk.)

But then things got really interesting. Because a year or so later, a software company offered a package that was supposed to do more or less exactly what this "RAMSQUSH" system utility was described as doing store compressed executables in memory and decompress them on the fly.

And then things got even more interesting, when testing showed that the utility did no such thing. It was a more or less functionless TSR; it sat there consuming memory and some CPU cycles, and let the other programs run pretty much as usual. In other words, the package was a fraud. (The supposed tool was "SoftRAM", described in PC Magazine Dec 1995, Time Nov 1995. Also, the vendor, Syncronys, seems to have plagiarized code from several sources.)

Needless to say, I don't know if my joke posting inspired the perpetrators in their scam. At any rate, I disclaim all responsibility in the matter...

Copyright (C) 1994 by Joel Polowin. Permission is hereby granted to reproduce this material in any non-profit medium provided that its content is not altered and that this notice is appended. I would appreciate receiving a copy of any publication in which it appears: Joel Polowin / 18 Norice St. / Nepean, Ont. / CANADA / K2G 2X5

jpolowinXYZZY@sympatico.ca but remove the XYZZY - it's a little magic to baffle the spambots.

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