ppgrainbow

Windows 3.1 @ 20

Windows 3.1 Poll   49 members have voted

  1. 1. How long have you used the operating system for?


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Windows 3.1, the successor to the widely popular Windows 3.0 operating system will mark its 20th anniversary this Friday. The series began with Windows 3.1, which was first sold and further editions of the OS between early April 1992 to February 1994 (Windows for Workgroups 3.1x, Windows for Pen Computing, Windows 3.2) were released until the series was superseded by Windows 95.

Windows 3.1 dropped support for Real Mode (8086/8088 support) and required a 6 MHz 80286 PC with only 1 MB of memory to run. Such a effect of this was to increase the stability over the crash-prone Windows 3.0. Windows 3.1 was the first version of the OS to be distributed on CD-ROM which typically came with MS-DOS 6.22 on one CD in addition to 720 KB, 1.2 MB (5.25") and 1.44 MB floppy distributions. Windows 3.1 required at least 10 MB to 15 MB of free disk space. While Windows 3.1 can theoretically address up to 64 MB of memory in Standard Mode, the OS under 386 Enhanced Mode can address up to 4 GB of RAM even if under MS-DOS 6.x, it can only address up to 64 MB of system RAM and a swap file of up to 256 MB. Furthermore, no single 16-bit application can ever use more than 16 MB of memory.

Windows 3,1 was the first OS to include support for the TrueType font system even though similar functionality was available for Windows 3.0 through the Adobe Type Manager (ATM) font system from Adobe. Windows 3.1 included support for Video for Windows as well as Win32s support for limited compatibility with the then-new 32-bit Windows API used by Windows NT 3.x and Windows 95. Microsoft released 16-bit versions of Internet Explorer from version 2.0 up to the first release of Internet Explorer 5 in early 1999 before support was dropped.

Microsoft dropped support for all 16-bit versions of Windows, including Windows 3.1 on the 31st of December 2001. The OS found a niche market as an embedded operating system after becoming obsolete in the PC world. Microsoft announced that on the 9th of July 2008, Windows for Workgroups 3.11 for the embedded devices channel would no longer be made available for OEM distribution as of the 1st of November 2008.

As we look back on the 20th anniversary of Windows 3.1, please share your thoughts of what it was like to use the OS, I would really appreciate it. :D

Edited by ppgrainbow
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As we look back on the 20th anniversary of Windows 3.1, please share your thoughts of what it was like to use the OS, I would really appreciate it. :D

JFYI:

jaclaz

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As we look back on the 20th anniversary of Windows 3.1, please share your thoughts of what it was like to use the OS, I would really appreciate it. :D

JFYI:

jaclaz

Thanks so much! I appreciate it. I'm currently running Windows for Workgroups 3.11 under VMware right now. :)

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World's most fave operating system of all time

Citation needed. I'd hardly call it that. Not even near.

please share your thoughts of what it was like to use the OS

It was mostly useless. Besides MS Office 4.x there was so very little non-DOS apps. For the most part it felt like a unnecessary launcher of MS-DOS apps: WordPerfect 5.x for DOS, Lotus 1-2-3 for DOS, all Borland "Turbo" compilers were for DOS (same for pretty much all other compilers), AutoCAD was DOS only, dBase for DOS (ditto for Clipper, Paradox, Clarion, etc), most file (de)compressors like LHA/ARJ/PKZIP and so on were DOS cmd line tools, almost all text editors were for DOS (like QEdit, several ANSI editors or even edit.com), if you wanted to copy/delete files or whatever most people did it from the cmd line or otherwise using more DOS tools like XTree or Norton Commander, almost all networking happened via DOS apps (novell netware's software stack along with NE2000 cards, laplink cables, DOS-based apps that would use [X/Y/Z]Modem to transfer files using a modem, etc), most picture viewers were for DOS (e.g. compupic), etc. Almost all games were DOS games too. Almost all the work and all the fun happened with MS-DOS.

By the time it started getting anything interesting Win95 was already out (and far better all-around -- Win3.x was *so* clunky). I certainly don't miss it one bit! I'd like to call it "World's most useless Microsoft operating system of all time" if anything (if win3.x can even be called an OS, with its MS-DOS requirement)

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It was mostly useless. Besides MS Office 4.x there was so very little non-DOS apps. For the most part it felt like a unnecessary launcher of MS-DOS apps: WordPerfect 5.x for DOS, Lotus 1-2-3 for DOS, all Borland "Turbo" compilers were for DOS (same for pretty much all other compilers), AutoCAD was DOS only, dBase for DOS (ditto for Clipper, Paradox, Clarion, etc), most file (de)compressors like LHA/ARJ/PKZIP and so on were DOS cmd line tools, almost all text editors were for DOS (like QEdit, several ANSI editors or even edit.com), if you wanted to copy/delete files or whatever most people did it from the cmd line or otherwise using more DOS tools like XTree or Norton Commander, almost all networking happened via DOS apps (novell netware's software stack along with NE2000 cards, laplink cables, DOS-based apps that would use [X/Y/Z]Modem to transfer files using a modem, etc), most picture viewers were for DOS (e.g. compupic), etc. Almost all games were DOS games too. Almost all the work and all the fun happened with MS-DOS.

By the time it started getting anything interesting Win95 was already out (and far better all-around -- Win3.x was *so* clunky). I certainly don't miss it one bit! I'd like to call it "World's most useless Microsoft operating system of all time" if anything (if win3.x can even be called an OS, with its MS-DOS requirement)

Well...I'm pretty sure that not everyone was happy with Windows 3.1 being so clunky, even you. :(

Windows 3.x is just a graphical environment on top of a DOS-based operating system.

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I've used it fair bit but it is quite useless, there wasn't you could do on it. Word processing and occasional PBrush and that was pretty much it.

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I've used it fair bit but it is quite useless, there wasn't you could do on it. Word processing and occasional PBrush and that was pretty much it.

Because you can do MUCH more with any more recent OS (excluding browsing the Internet and sending e-mails - both things that mostly weren't there in the times of Windows 3.x).

Comeon, you *need* anyway some kind of "Office" (a word processor and a spreadsheet at least), a decent image manipulating utility (and no, paint doesnt count), some specific app for your whatever profession,

@Coffeefiend

At the time the *best* Windows 3.11 spreadsheet IMHO was the mis-known Borland Quattro Pro for Windows (among other things, a much simpler way to "evolve" from Lotus 1-2-3 DOS than Excel):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quattro_Pro

and the actual office 4.0 arrived almost two years later than Windows 3.1:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Microsoft_Office

an "updated user" had Word 1.1 and Excel 3.0 (and only a bit later Word 2.0 and Excel 4.0), I guess noone has ever run Office 4.0 (aka Word 6.0 and Excel 4.0) on Windows 3.1, as everyone (talking of businesses) would have updated to Windows 3.11 for workgroups in the menatime.

There was also Paradox for Windows allright (and it actually kicked *ss at Access 1.0 and 2.0)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paradox_(database)#Paradox_for_Windows

Yes :), Autocad was at the time EXCLUSIVELY DOS (the R13 version arrived late and was actually a joke, probably also because hardware was so "UNpowerful", first usable Windows version being R14, MUCH later):

http://autodesk.blogs.com/AutoCAD%20Release%20History%202011.jpg

jaclaz

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As we look back on the 20th anniversary of Windows 3.1, please share your thoughts of what it was like to use the OS, I would really appreciate it. :D

ppgrainbow,

I was fascinated and delighted when the first IBM PC came out and a friend let me play with it. I knew that computers were the way to go when I tried a "learn typewriting" program and my typing improved more in four weeks than it had in two whole semesters in high school.

My own home PC had to wait till I had the funds to get my own computer (a PC compatible). Once I did, after just six months of regular use I remember one time having to type a letter on my electric typewriter, and feeling like I was back in the Stone Age!

So I was an enthusiastic PC-DOS/MS-DOS user back from the days of the 1.x versions. For me the UX was an interesting combination of simplicity and tech arcana with all those cryptic DOS commands. I remained happily in that environment for a dozen years, having moved to an Amstrad PC6400 when the needs of my business called for e-mail capability later in the '80s.

I stayed on the Amstrad, using my beloved WordStar (anybody else remember WordStar?) until the documents I worked on started to get too big to fit on even a 1.44MB floppy. It was time to buy a computer with a hard drive, and thus was born my Windows for Workgroups 3.11 PC.

TBH, I never really warmed up to WFWG. The Program Manager concept never made any sense to me; and when I clicked on the down arrow in a program it seemed to just disappear, only to be found (sometimes) completely by chance as a mysterious image under everything else on the screen. More often than not, when I wanted to go back into Word or whatever, I would just click on its icon in PM, unaware that the program was still actually open. And there was a ton of new technology and esoteric jargon that I never did learn (Winsock, Expanded/Extended Memory, Real Mode, etc. etc.). I had made the switch from computing explorer to practical user, and I had zero interest in any of this new techspeak except insofar as it impacted on my work. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" was my approach.

Even though I wasn't delighted with the OS, I stayed on it till 2002, when my customers' increasing needs meant that I had to adopt more modern software than Word 6.0 and CompuServe Information Manager (which was very limited in the kinds and size of e-mail and attachments that it could take). It was then that I reluctantly changed over to my Windows 98 machine (yes, in 2002) which I'd bought four years earlier to future-proof my business.

And, this time, the change in the UI was a real and great improvement! Thanks to the taskbar, I no longer had to minimize other stuff to go hunting for other open applications. Plus the newly introduced Start Menu was organized in a logical, easy-to-follow manner with the cascading panels. To me, this is the high point of the Windows UI, which Microsoft has preserved and kept building on till now, when it threatens to undo all that usability with the phase-in of the Metro interface.

I still have my WFWG3.11 machine, and in fact it was pressed it back into action three years ago (on dial-up) when my Win98 PC got sick and I had to wait three weeks over the holidays for the phone company to send a router and open my account. I still go back into it once in a while to look up an old e-mail or Word file, or simply for nostalgia reasons, but I'm glad that a better interface was developed.

--JorgeA

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At the time the *best* Windows 3.11 spreadsheet IMHO was the mis-known Borland Quattro Pro for Windows (among other things, a much simpler way to "evolve" from Lotus 1-2-3 DOS than Excel)

I've heard of it, but I've literally never actually seen anyone who used it. Not a single person. Not one. None. Virtually 100% of the people I've seen upgraded directly to Excel 4.x.

the actual office 4.0 arrived almost two years later than Windows 3.1

I'm aware of that but I'm not sure what point you're trying to make (perhaps you aren't).

There was also Paradox for Windows allright (and it actually kicked *ss at Access 1.0 and 2.0)

It's totally possible that it was nice but it wasn't all that popular (never seen anyone use it either).

the R13 version arrived late and was actually a joke, probably also because hardware was so "UNpowerful", first usable Windows version being R14, MUCH later

I've used R12 Win on Win95 and it was a joke indeed (R12 DOS definitely rocked for its time). Plotting under Windows seemed so strange as well. By the time it turned into a decent Windows app I had mostly stopped using it. As for UNpowerful hardware, yeah, tell me about it. I've seen plenty of people run R12 on 386's (and even seen some unfortunate people with the wrong stepping of the 386 who couldn't run it) with 4 or 8MB of RAM. Every time a n00b entered a fill value that was too high it would lock the machine for a half hour or more.

Either ways, there were very, very little common non-DOS programs back then. A lot of people around that time used only DOS apps (be it business apps or games).That's what made Win3.x pretty much useless. Aside from using MS Office, I'd say 90% of the use of Win 3.x I've seen was Solitaire, Minesweeper and MS Paint.

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Even though we nowadays call it Win3.yuk, it was the cat's meow for a few years. Maybe two.

I had what seemed at the time a very mature program called CorelDraw versions 3 through 5. It was seriously amazing what they managed to get that one to do on the Win3x platform.

The main Office style app that was everywhere was Microsoft Works which was really tailor made for the limited resources of the time : i486, 4 or 8 MB RAM, Hard Drives still measured in MegaBytes.

Games that were always DOS based were quickly being re-written for the GUI, with stuff like checkers, chess, tic-tac-toe, asteroids, missile command. Without Direct-X this must have been one heck of a chore, I don't know how they managed at all during this time period!

But one good thing was that the finally acceptable, standardized GUI desktop was working correctly and the Icons and PIF files let us centrally manage our collections of hard core DOS games and other programs. This was a paradigm shift from the previous decade (seems like an eternity) of incredibly creative uber BAT files and CONFIG.SYS menu selectors (or DosShell or GEM or whatever Menu launchers). This was the strong point IMHO, point and click with predictable results.

The pre-PnP environment gets a bad rap. If the cards all behaved (they had enough DIP switch possibilities) one could successfully configure the IRQ's and I/O and everytime the computer was booted the system was in an identical state. This consistent static state was sorely missed in the early PnP days when the neither the card manufacturers, the system BIOS programmers, nor Microsoft (Windows device manager) were on the same page.

Having said that, the jump to Win95 still could not come soon enough.

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the actual office 4.0 arrived almost two years later than Windows 3.1

I'm aware of that but I'm not sure what point you're trying to make (perhaps you aren't).

Not really "a point", only remembering how there was no "real" "Office suite" at the time, most people bought Excel separately as a stand-alone version, and it was a steep price :ph34r: .

Quattro Pro had the great advantage that used Lotus 1-2-3 compatible syntax for functions, no real advantage for a "newbie", but for the few people that were familiar with Lotus represented a "fifth gear"...

The Paradox database engine was as well - at the time - well ahead of Access, believe me, I have used both, waaay ahead.

At the time (we are talking of 1993/1994) the "Standard" was 4 Mb of RAM, to have 8 was already a "costly" option, the average processor was likely to be a 486 sx 25 or 33, I remember when I got the first machine with a 486 Dx 100 and 32 Mb, people passed by my office just to see how fast it was recalculating a spreadsheet.

And yes, noone had calculation on, and F9 was pressed only when really needed. :w00t:

I doubt the young peeps can understand the awe that provoked the first project plannings made with Project 3.0 for Windows! :angel

why, in MY day ....

http://reboot.pro/1908/

.... and we liked it!

OT, but not much ;), something I titled "Twenty years of evolution in design and breakthrough changes in paradigms"

http://reboot.pro/16395/

jaclaz

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The thread has driven me deep into my archives. This book came with my WFWG3.11 machine:

post-287775-0-45289900-1333640730_thumb.

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World's most fave operating system of all time

Citation needed. I'd hardly call it that. Not even near.

Was it even an OS at all? More like a GUI. :angel

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Was it even an OS at all? More like a GUI. :angel

That's pretty much what I said too:

if win3.x can even be called an OS, with its MS-DOS requirement

;)

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World's most fave operating system of all time

Citation needed. I'd hardly call it that. Not even near.

Was it even an OS at all? More like a GUI. :angel

Rightly or wrongly, I always viewed it as a needless accretion over MS-DOS.

--JorgeA

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