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Packard Bell Navigator 1.1|
Packard Bell Navigator Version 1.1
Packard Bell Navigator 1.1 is an application that was developed for
and packaged with Packard Bell PCs running Windows 3.1 in 1993. PB Navigator
does not implement a desktop metaphor but rather acts as a very dumbed
down program manager.
Basically all version 1.1 consists of are a few screens with big buttons
on them that launch different installed programs. Later versions instead
used images of rooms with selectable objects in it in a style similar to
Microsoft Bob. (Unfortunately I do not have access to any later version
of PB Navigator to provide screen shots of)
Although PB Navigator is a very simplified user interface and can hardly
be called desktop, what is important about PB navigator is that it was
prepackaged to run as an alternate user interface shell on a large number
Ideally computer manufacturers should be allowed and encouraged to customize
the user interfaces on the computers they sell as they see fit. With a
diversity of custom UIs there would be greater competition and more innovation.
Manufacturers with better UIs would sell more computers and those that
screw up their UI (say by using a web browser for their file manager) would
sell fewer computers.
Unfortunately Microsoft started forbidding any kind of pre-installed
UI modifications after Windows 95.
The Packard Bell Navigator "desktop" consists simply of a series of
buttons that will take you to other screens with more buttons. While other
alternate desktops of the time tried to appeal to advanced users who needed
more tools or to users that were used to using Macintoshes, PB Navigator
was specifically designed for the drooling retard. Specifically the type
of retard that would often buy (then cheap and flakey) Packard Bell PCs.
PB Navigator 1.1 installs itself (and presumably was usually pre-installed)
so it always starts up by default when Windows starts.
You can not completely exit PB Navigator while Windows is running, although
it can be configured not to start. When you choose the "Windows" button
it only minimizes itself to let you see the windows desktop. Choosing the
"Exit" button exits Windows completely and goes back to DOS!
Option 1: Getting Started
"Thank you for choosing Packard Bell. To make computing as easy and
productive as possible we've created Navigator - the simple way to learn
and use your computer. Besides making computing easy, Navigator will introduce
you to all the software that's already installed and ready-to-run. Start
using a program, get help or take a computer tour - just press a button."
Option 2: Tutorials
By default it has at least a button for the Windows 3.1 tutorial. Apparently
additional tutorials may be installed.
Option 3: Service and Support
Service & Support - A slide show that praises Packard Bell and how
wonderful their support is supposed to be, eventually followed by the actual
support number to call.
Upgrading Info - Basically another slide show advertisement for add
ons from Packard Bell.
Registration Info - Displays your registration information that you
are supposed to give to Packard Bell support when you call.
System Info - Runs the DOS based Microsoft Diagnostics utility.
Option 4: Software
This is how PB Navigator users run their programs. There is no document
or file management in PB Navigator, programs are just launched directly.
The above buttons are actually groups that lead to screens with buttons
for the individual applications.
Personal Software group is a screen of blank buttons that the can be
customized for other applications.
Option 5: Windows
PB Navigator minimizes itself and reveals the Windows desktop.
PB Navigator is not to be confused with the Netscape Navigator web browser.
And PB Navigator is not a web browser (thank goodness).
Clicking the lock button in the lower part of the screen brings up this
There is a "security mode" that lets you lock buttons in PB Navigator
to prevent access to certain programs.
Clicking the envelope button in the lower part of the main screen opens
the Owner Registration Information screen. This is where you send off your
personal information to Packard Bell.
Most computer manufacturers even today will package some useless registration
and support software with their PCs. In this case the software is part
of PB Navigator.
Option 6: Exit, MS-DOS
Exiting PB Navigator to DOS.