Windows Longhorn build 3683

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Build of Windows Longhorn
OS family
Timebomb2003-09-19 (+361 days)
Works in
LH3683 Winver.png
Media Center Edition
TCB.png TCBGallery.png BA.png

Windows Longhorn build 3683 is a Milestone 3 build of Windows Longhorn and is currently the earliest leaked build of pre-reset Longhorn. The build was leaked on 19 November 2002 by the beta group XBetas, and their branding can be seen in the setup handle (advertising for their now long-gone IRC channel). The actual unmodified copy of this build remains unleaked, but it is believed that some members of the private beta scene have it.

This build is one of the earliest to introduce the blue Plex theme, which would be used all the way up to Milestone 6. Builds from this timeframe are also notable in that the window captions are centered when the Plex theme is enabled, which is reminiscent of early Windows versions and which was also later used in Windows 8 and Windows 8.1. The Windows flag on the Start button has been changed to monochrome white in order to fit in the new theme. The login screen was changed to include a clock in the top-right corner and to use a silver and dark blue color scheme, although it still gets to keep the same overall layout as in Windows XP. Windows Explorer was updated with a new Plex-styled task pane and new templates for the My Documents and My Pictures directories. A new file copy dialog has been implemented, although it doesn't use Avalon.

A preliminary version of the Avalon user interface framework is included and is used to implement the new Windows Sidebar and Desktop Properties. The Sidebar is empty upon enabling and similarly to later builds, it can be combined with the taskbar, which enables a new Start button design also found in later builds. A new virtual desktops feature is also accessible from the Sidebar. Desktop Composition Engine is also included with this build, although it is quite unstable and is only known to work on real hardware. When enabled, it renders open windows with a translucency effect.

This build still uses the i386 installation used in previous versions of Windows (and as such still has the same minimum requirements as Windows XP). However, this build cannot be installed by directly running winnt.exe from MS-DOS unless the user appends the launch parameter /I_am_TedM. This is a debug parameter that exists as far back as Windows NT 3.5 build 782.1 (maybe earlier) and was used by the author of winnt.exe, Ted Miller, to debug winnt.exe inside NTVDM. It remained in winnt.exe because a preprocessor definition to enable it was not removed.

New features and changes[edit | edit source]

Desktop Composition Engine[edit | edit source]

Contrary to popular belief, this build already contains Desktop Composition Engine, but it is unstable and only renders window transparency. It is only known to work on real hardware, and it lacks a user interface as well. It can be enabled on the next startup by adding the following registry key and restarting:

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\DesktopComposition]

Alternatively, DCE may be started or stopped on request by substituting "StartupOptions"=dword:00000001 with "StartupOptions"=dword:00000002 in the reg key above. After restarting the computer, DCE may be started by entering rundll32 user32.dll,StartDCE in a command prompt window and stopped with rundll32 user32.dll,StopDCE. After stopping DCE it is helpful to drag a few open windows around to redraw the screen.

WinFS[edit | edit source]

An early revision of WinFS is also included in this build, but very little in the way of a user interface was included, and as such it appeared to early testers to be nothing more than a service that consumed large amounts of memory and processor time.

Sidebar[edit | edit source]

This build was one of the earliest to include the Sidebar, which contained many of the gadgets that would much later be seen in Windows Sidebar, such as an analog clock, slide show, and search capability. An option in this version of the sidebar also made it possible to move the Start button into it, and disable the traditional taskbar entirely. Unlocking the sidebar allows the user to resize it, similar to resizing the taskbar. Minimizing the sidebar would create a second tray menu in the taskbar.

Desktop Manager gadget[edit | edit source]

This build includes Desktop Manager gadget for Windows Sidebar, but such functionality would not make it into a final Windows version until Windows 10.

Avalon[edit | edit source]

This build also includes a display settings applet based on the Windows Presentation Foundation (codenamed Avalon). It can be accessed by right clicking the desktop and then selecting "Properties". However, this applet is largely incomplete; only the "Desktop Background" and "Use Classic Display Control Panel" options work (the earlier option is partially broken), while "Scale and Resolution" and "Display Connection Settings" crashes the applet and Theme and Screen Saver applets and "More Information" option of Display Connection Properties only lead to a screen saying these components are under construction.

In the Desktop Background, one can select to choose a solid color background, gradient background, rotate to different images (this functionality was under construction) or even make picture collages. The option to change images on the desktop periodically would eventually be a feature that would come in the final release of Vista. Gradient backgrounds made by the applet will be created as a bitmap file named "Wallpaper1".

Unlike later builds, this build's Avalon is based on the original .NET Framework 1.0, released on 13 February 2002, and as a result can be installed on Windows XP.

Media Center[edit | edit source]

Much like the other Milestone 3 builds, this build contains an early version of the Media Center components, codenamed Freestyle. The components can be added from the Add or Remove Programs in the Control Panel under the name of "Freestyle". However, Media Center is somewhat unstable and the application may crash instantly on some systems. This also changes the boot screen, altering the "Professional" text to "Freestyle", while the About Program banner changes from "Professional" to "Media Center Edition".

When prompted for the second disk, it should be pointed to the D:\I386 directory of the installation media.

Start Page[edit | edit source]

This build, along with the other Milestone 3 builds, contains a new Start Page feature, appearing to be a prototype to a different OOBE to replace the one used in Windows XP. By default, it is not accessible, but Stanimir Stoyanov provided the original Start Page Launcher which can be used to open the Start Page[1]. Due to its earliness, it only contains four tiles that are nonfunctional, being E-Mail, Calendar, Quick Launch, and PromotionsTile.

Bugs and quirks[edit | edit source]

OOBE[edit | edit source]

  • The Please Wait... screen seen before OOBE may take quite some time to disappear before bringing the user to OOBE.

Explorer[edit | edit source]

  • When logging in, Windows Explorer will be fairly un-responsive for several minutes.
  • Logging off has a chance of crashing Windows Explorer.
  • Deleting the registry key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\WebView will disable the details pane in Explorer and will enable the Windows XP style task pane.

Sidebar[edit | edit source]

  • Often, switching to a virtual desktop will fail if the virtual desktop has at least one open program.
  • When combining the taskbar with the sidebar, balloons will still pop at the same place as where the taskbar would be at if not combined with the sidebar.

Applications[edit | edit source]

Paint crash.
  • Task Manager allows the user to terminate critical system processes.
  • Paint crashes on exit with a memory could not be "read"error.
  • As with later builds of Longhorn, this build is incompatible with a number of applications that require Windows XP or earlier due to the kernel version. Many of these compatibility issues can be resolved by running applications in Windows Compatibility Mode or by editing the CSDVersion key located in the Windows Registry.
  • Some installers that rely on Windows Installer may incorrectly say that this build is x64.
  • Outlook Express has a broken pane close button.

Upgrading[edit | edit source]

File copy error when upgrading from XP
  • On some software configurations, upgrading from Windows XP can result in setup reporting that a file is missing in C:\$WIN_NT$~BT. The filename will always start with the letter 'a' followed by a random string of seven alphanumeric characters, but the file extension will always be .sys. This can be fixed by expanding any valid .sys file in to the C:\$WIN_NT$~BT folder.
  • On some machines, setup will crash the system on registering components. When the system reboots, setup will restart. However, it will fail to find several files (mainly during Installing Start Menu Items) despite the files being in the correct location.
  • Some drivers may cause a BSOD when booting to the desktop. This can be fixed by booting into safe mode, uninstalling the offending driver and then reinstalling the driver.

Gallery[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]