This is a post covering the content included with the Freeserve 7.0 2001 Sign Up CD-ROM as part of the Shovelware Showcase series.
This is another example of a Freeserve ISP sign-up CD-ROM. This edition is from 2001 and includes Version 7.0 (not sure exactly what that means as Internet Explorer 7 wouldn’t be released until 2006, and Freeserve’s web browser is simply a rebranding of Microsoft’s web browser). This CD-ROM is a great example to show the bridge between the very simple presentation from 1999 to the full blown multimedia experience in 2002. This CD-ROM does feature a Macromedia Flash based menu system but there is no voice guidance or video animations (excluding the basic intro animation).
Utlimately there is little different here to previous or future iterations – as with its siblings this CD-ROM includes a branded copy of the latest version of Internet Explorer at the time, and includes other related applications such as Outlook Express. The most interesting part however is the inclusion of the third party software titles on this CD-ROM, some of which were strangely absent in the 2002 edition. Namely the inclusion of RealPlayer which for anyone who experienced the world wide web in the 2000s knows how having RealPlayer installed on your computer was a must for viewing multimedia content (certainly streaming radio). The Freeserve Webphone application makes an appearance again too, yet again it is non-functioning due to needing internet activation which currently fails.
The most interesting part of the third party software offerings is the inclusion of Worlds 3D Chat. This is an early 3D chat room wherein members of the public can congregate in a virtual space and talk with one another. The software is similar to that of SecondLife, PlayStation Home or for a more current example VRChat. Why this software is interesting is that the servers are still on-line meaning you can not only connect, but also register for a new account using sign-up forms of the period. When I entered the world of Worlds 3D I didn’t find much of anyone, however I did explore a few additional worlds internally such as music to see what they were like. The Worlds 3D universe is certainly trapped in time with adverts, logos and promotions existing inside the 3D space for websites, services and products of the era. The graphic style of the game is more akin to Quake or the first Deus Ex game in quality and although I hunted to find some kind of audio experience the only voice I heard was from an NPC which was ultimately rather compressed. The fact that this software still runs, connects to the internet and is still playable online while using Windows 98SE (admitedly in a virtual environment) is truly outstanding. Hopefully it will stay around for the foreseeable future for people to log in and wander around. I looked on YouTube to see how popular the software was and there appear to be a few dedicated fans still using the service. The most popular video on YouTube would be that from Lets Player’ Vinesauce, you can check out his video below.
Vinny – Worlds Exploration” description=”One of the most bizarre “games” I’ve ever played. Literally a relic from the internet’s past; exploration yielded some… unexpected results.” upload_date=”20120203″ duration=”12M29S” /]
Packaging consists of a standard size CD cardsleeve made from a thick glossy paper which folds out into a gatefold presentation. Various parts of the packaging are die-cut. A small booklet which folds out to provide various bits of promotional information about the service.
The sleeve has an identifier of Version 7.0 09/01.
The CD-ROM has an identifier (matrix ring) of 98618 FREESERVE 10B.00.
The CD-ROM is filled 229 MB out of a possible 700MB.
The featured items of software are:
- Internet Explorer 5.5
|Freeserve Webphone||Callserve||3.15||Yes – Broken
Requires on-line activation
|Worlds 3D Chat||Worlds.com||1890||Yes – Working, still online and playable on Windows 98SE.|
|Yes – Working|
|Yes – Working|
|RealDownload||RealNetworks||Build 126.96.36.199||Yes – Working|
Images, Audio and Video
There are no multimedia files of note included on the CD-ROM.
A HTML based help guide exists under the Help directory on the CD-ROM, a copy of which can be found here.
A copy of the CD-ROM in ISO format can be found here on Archive.org.