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Microsoft Windows GUI Operating Systems Technology

Microsoft Windows 3.0 Is 20 Years Today 307

Posted by timothy
from the great-platform-for-playing-jeopardy dept.
siliconbits writes "Some say that the Windows 3.0 GUI (remember, it needed MS-DOS or DR-DOS to work) was the single most important version, as it allowed Microsoft to get its day. The first truly successful Windows operating system is 20 years old today; Windows 3.0 was launched on 22 May 1990 and was the successor to Windows 2.1x."
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Microsoft Windows 3.0 Is 20 Years Today

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 22, 2010 @02:27PM (#32307168)

    If you visit Bing [slashdot.org] you can run a Windows 3.0 emulator written in Javascript. Even has sound.

    • by daveime (1253762) on Saturday May 22, 2010 @02:38PM (#32307270)

      And if you'd formatted your link correctly, even other people could have visited it.

    • by gyrogeerloose (849181) on Saturday May 22, 2010 @02:40PM (#32307290) Journal

      If you visit Bing [slashdot.org] you can run a Windows 3.0 emulator written in Javascript. Even has sound.

      And if you go here [helltycoon.com], you can run their Hell simulator, but who would want to? Same deal with a Windows 3.0 emulator.

      • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Saturday May 22, 2010 @03:43PM (#32307844) Journal

        I think everyone should give those Windows 3.x emulators a try. They are great demonstrations for why many of us chose to buy Atari STs, Commodore Amigas, or Apple Macintoshes instead.

        I hated using Windows 3.x.

        Multitasking was an exercise in masochism (and also sadism when you pounded your keyboard). On Mac it was as easy as clicking Apple in the top corner, which would produce a dropdown of all running programs. On Amiga it was even easier. The Amiga-M and Amiga-N keys rapidly flipped through the running programs. I typically ran JRterm, a file manager, WordPerfect, C compiler, and the Workbench all at once.

        Windows 3.x multitasking was like stepping 10 years back in time. It felt as if I was using a slow C64 again. I avoided using that OS as much as possible. Not until Windows 95 did they finally get a decent interface, which was basically just a clone of the Mac desktop (trashcan, shutdown procedure, finder, et cetera).

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Daengbo (523424)

          I'd argue that Windows 3.0 wasn't nearly as important as 3.11.

          I like to remind remind the "Linux desktop sucks!" folks that Windows 3.0 is 20 year old, NextStep 2.0 (That's OS X to you) is the same age, but the 1.0 releases of GNOME and KDE were but 11 and 12 years ago, respectively. Although Linux (the kernel) is almost 20 years old, the Free desktop isn't even a teenager yet.

          • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Although Linux (the kernel) is almost 20 years old, the Free desktop isn't even a teenager yet.

            Just don't look at the source code unless you want to end up in jail.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by TheRaven64 (641858)

            3.0 was a big improvement over 2.x. Visually, it defined the look - the beveled buttons were first introduced with Windows 3.0 (although Microsoft was not the first company to use that visual clue). It was also the first version to support multimedia.

            Most importantly, however, 3.0 was the first version to support protected mode properly. Windows 2.x supported protected mode a bit, but only for using the VM86 mode to isolate running DOS applications. With Windows 3.0, you could use a full 32-bit address

        • by hedwards (940851)
          In honor of this occasion, I might have to pull out my old install disks and run it in dosbox. Perhaps even on my phone. But, I won't because I doubt that either Google or HTC will pay for the warranty repairs should my phone burst into flames.
          • About a month ago my employer gave me an old laptop with Windows 3.1 --- trust me, you're not missing anything. Although I'm impressed that the OS and software fit inside just 0.008 gigabytes of RAM, I'm not impressed when I compare it to the other OSes of the day like MacOS 7, Amiga OS, or Atari ST-OS, all of which were superior. Even GEOS on the lowly C64 was better (imho).

            Windows95 and NT 4 were Microsoft's first truly good OSes.... prior to that MS is best avoided.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by TheRaven64 (641858)

              Although I'm impressed that the OS and software fit inside just 0.008 gigabytes of RAM,

              8MB? You're off by quite a bit. More than 4MB of RAM was quite rare for Windows 3.1, and a few machines shipped with 2MB (although that was very cramped). The machine I had that ran 3.0 only had 640KB of RAM.

        • Win 3.x and Mac OS both had cooperative multitasking. Win95 brought true preemptive multitasking. The Mac didn't have that till OSX.

        • by sgage (109086) on Saturday May 22, 2010 @08:20PM (#32310066)

          "Dollars are votes. We the People hold power to bankrupt corporations out of existence. No such power exists over Gov't."

          No, dollars are not votes. We the People have no power to bankrupt corporations, and you are delusional if you think that.

          However, we do have real power over Gov't - it's called actual votes.

          Of course, the real problem is the power that the corporations have over Gov't.

          The idea of dollars as votes is extremely un-democratic.

    • I don't want to start a flame war, but can someone tell me when windows is going to support a one button mouse?

    • by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Saturday May 22, 2010 @03:00PM (#32307442)
      So you're saying that we went from PacMan to WIndows 3.0 in only 9 years, 364 days? Wow, that seemed to fly past.
    • by HermMunster (972336) on Saturday May 22, 2010 @05:00PM (#32308572)

      I don't see that as enough justification for visiting Bing.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by fishexe (168879)

      If you visit Bing [slashdot.org] you can run a Windows 3.0 emulator written in Javascript. Even has sound.

      Yay! Between the two of them, my two favorite games!

  • My teenage angst had to be fueled by something. Windows 3.0 was useful for that, but not as much as this, which incidentally occurred on the same exact day. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DEXKOR5Oepo [youtube.com]
  • I remember.... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jolyonr (560227) on Saturday May 22, 2010 @02:37PM (#32307258) Homepage

    I remember going to a big computer show in early 1990 up in Birmingham. This was just before the Windows 3.0 announcement, so the Microsoft booth had a secret area inside it where they were showing the product to invited guests. As a dedicated Amiga fanatic at the time, I wasn't entirely impressed with it - however I did go back and recommend to my employer at the time (BP - no I don't work for them any more) that they should start looking into Windows again (we'd discounted Windows 2.x for widespread deployment).

    Commodore used the same show to preview the Amiga 3000 computer, which was far more exciting to me, and I put my order in a couple of days after!

    Jolyon

    • Re:I remember.... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by sammyF70 (1154563) on Saturday May 22, 2010 @02:43PM (#32307334) Homepage Journal
      So an overtly advertised secret booth? Sounds like MS alright ;)
    • >>>I did go back and recommend to my employer at the time that they should start looking into Windows

      Traitor. ;-) You should have recommended the Amiga. If you and other had done that, maybe Amiga would not have disappeared three years later due to lack of sales. ------ And yeah I was similarly unimpressed with Windows 3.0. It was a crappy, shitty OS. To quote someone else: "Using 3.0 and 3.1 largely consisted of opening random program groups, trying to find where your programs were hidde

      • by jolyonr (560227)

        Traitor. ;-) You should have recommended the Amiga.

        I did try, every chance I got. But purchasing had to be done through their official channels, if it wasn't on the official supply list, we weren't allowed to get it. I did however create the graphs used in the photos on their annual report one year using Deluxe Paint III on my Amiga 2000 at home. And I was far too junior to be involved in changing decisions made much higher up.

        Also it was extremely difficult to multitask.

        Don't forget multitasking, at the time, was seen as a "power user" option only. We'd experimented with all sorts of crap such as dos

        • by Daengbo (523424)

          Don't forget multitasking, at the time, was seen as a "power user" option only.

          Funny how the phone business is repeating history.

      • by iJusten (1198359)

        Also it was extremely difficult to multitask. If you were running both Word and Excel for example, you had to first minimize the Word window, then locate the icon representing Excel, followed by clicking it. Then if you wanted to switch back, minimize Excel, find the Word icon, and click it. Royal pain in the ass.

        Didn't Windows 3.x have Alt+Tab? I distinctly remember using it. Worked like charm, and even today the best way to move between two programs, no matter what OS you prefer to use.

        • Didn't Windows 3.x have Alt+Tab? I distinctly remember using it. Worked like charm, and even today the best way to move between two programs, no matter what OS you prefer to use.

          Indeed it did, and it is. And that probably remains the one useful innovation Microsoft has contributed to the world of computing.

        • by Longjmp (632577)
          Actually it was Norton Commander to make Win 3.x work like a charm... ;-)
    • Me, like many other amigans of the time, were enjoying all kinds of amiga GUI goodness, and wanted to check out this expensive IBM PC stuff that was starting to be all the rage. When I saw DOS and the MS Word that was running on it, well, I just thought I'd puke - what the FUCK is this lame ASCII graphic clusterfuck (we didn't use the term "clusterfuck" at the time, but it's very appropriate)? But as we all know, Amiga died and Microsoft and the PC became kings. And this wasn't the last time that the lesser

  • Win (Score:5, Funny)

    by clinko (232501) on Saturday May 22, 2010 @02:38PM (#32307262) Homepage Journal

    The only time where you type Win to lose.

    I thought of that joke when I was 11. Damn you misconfigured autoexec.bat! You led me down this path to the cubical I now live in!

    • On my computer, you typed "lose" to Win.

    • Mod Parent Up (Score:2, Insightful)

      by fyoder (857358)

      Damn you misconfigured autoexec.bat! You led me down this path to the cubical I now live in!

      Insightful. Woefully, tragically, OMG what have I done with my life, insightful.

    • by Kjella (173770)

      You led me down this path to the cubical I now live in!

      Well, I suppose cubicle is derived from cubical but I don't think you can live in an adjective.

  • by lseltzer (311306) on Saturday May 22, 2010 @02:39PM (#32307274)

    by me in PCMag.... [pcmag.com]

    • Is this a mistake? "This was a cooperative or 'non-preemptive' multitasking"..... "Windows 3.0 could run multiple DOS sessions preemptively". I think you meant cooperatively in the last sentence?

      When people ask me the difference, I tell them that in cooperative multitasking, if your Email Program crashes, it takes down the whole system because it never releases control of the CPU. That happened a lot on my old Quadra Mac, making it freeze. In contract in preemptive multitasking, like an Amiga, the OS

      • by Blakey Rat (99501)

        It's impossible for DOS apps to run preemptively, since they don't yield time to the OS.

        The article is correct, the multitasking for DOS sessions was preemptive.

        • by ChipMonk (711367)
          Almost, but not quite. Native Windows 3.x programs were cooperatively scheduled, and that included the DOS compatibility layer (a.k.a. the DOS box). From the DOS program's perspective, everything appeared to be a normal DOS environment, but the interrupts were hooked by the DOS box. When a DOS program wanted to do I/O to a disk file, or the "display," or the printer, or the modem, or the keyboard, the x86 INT call would be sent to the DOS box, which would yield to the Windows scheduler.

          The catch is, if a
          • by siride (974284)
            No, the DOS boxes were actually pre-emptively multitasked. They had to be; that's how Virtual 8086 mode worked. All the Windows programs were cooperatively multitasked in a single 16-bit VM. The manager for all this was vmm386.exe, which ran in 32-bit protected mode and even used paging for memory management.
      • Is this a mistake? "This was a cooperative or 'non-preemptive' multitasking"..... "Windows 3.0 could run multiple DOS sessions preemptively". I think you meant cooperatively in the last sentence?

        No, DOS program were actually ran in separate virtual machines when Windows 3.0 was running in 386 Enhanced mode. Preemptive is correct.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_3.0#Memory_modes [wikipedia.org]

      • by Bungie (192858)

        Under pre-emptive multi tasking the scheduler interrupts the application's execution and suspends it's state registers to memory. It doesn't matter if the application yields or not becuase it's execution will be interupted by the timer and the scheduler will run.

        Cooperative tasking requires the application return control to the OS by some means (like the DoIdle function on the MacOS). There are also schemes that allow indirect control to return to the OS, like when the program calls a system function the OS

  • dr-dos? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    you dont have good memory, eh?

    read up about undocumented dos functions in ms-dos and what happened when you tried to run windows 3 in dr-dos...

    digital research went to court about it and roughly 10 years later they won .... only that they were already moved out of os market because of microsofts behaviour (oh these memories)

    • by westlake (615356)

      read up about undocumented dos functions in ms-dos and what happened when you tried to run windows 3 in dr-dos...

      Fair enough:

      The AARD code was a segment of obfuscated machine code that is included in several executables, including the installer and WIN.COM, in a beta release of Microsoft Windows 3.1. The code ran several functional tests on the underlying DOS that succeeded on MS-DOS, but resulted in a technical support message on competing operating systems. The name was derived from Microsoft programmer

  • by ClosedSource (238333) on Saturday May 22, 2010 @02:41PM (#32307308)

    because it had truetype fonts. The combination of Windows 3.1 and HP's deskjet printers made it possible to perform desktop publishing for hundreds of dollars less than using other alternatives.

    • by gyrogeerloose (849181) on Saturday May 22, 2010 @02:53PM (#32307398) Journal

      because it had truetype fonts. The combination of Windows 3.1 and HP's deskjet printers made it possible to perform desktop publishing for hundreds of dollars less than using other alternatives.

      Of course, it didn't work as well as the other alternatives either. I worked at a service bureau at that time and we absolutely hated it when files that had been created under Windows 3.x came in because we knew it was going to cause us headaches. While Windows might have worked okay for simple documents printed to a user's own printer, it wasn't adequate for high-end graphics work.

      • by Anpheus (908711) on Saturday May 22, 2010 @03:12PM (#32307542)

        People didn't want high end work though, they wanted Good Enough(tm) and didn't want to spend a fortune to do it.

      • I'm sure the file produced wasn't compatible with high-end equipment, but since the rendering was done in the computer rather than in the printer, Windows was a much more trouble-free method than using a laser printer.

        I never had a problem printing a page on the deskjet but encountered many pages that wouldn't print on the laser printer because they were too complex.

      • by Skuld-Chan (302449) on Saturday May 22, 2010 @03:57PM (#32307986)

        I remember supporting PageMaker on Mac and Windows - it was awful on both platforms (this was Pre-Quark when PageMaker was pretty much the only app to do layout with). To get really good results on the Mac you have to have an 8-10k machine, to get decentish results on a Windows PC you could get away with a $1200 Dell.

        In other words - an 8 meg Mac was worthless for DTP, but an 8 meg Dell did ok at it - I think this was largely for the fact that System 7 just had that much more overhead. 8 megs was a ton of ram for Windows 3.x, but I can specifically remember my 8 meg IICX being horrible at about everything (and it was like an 8000 dollar machine with the nice screen attached) until it was upgraded to 32 (I think) - which was a ton of money at the time.

        • by Bungie (192858)

          System 7 wasn't bad at all. It had a minimum requirement of 1MB of RAM or something (I remember people were in a uproar over how much more it needed that system 6). I ran it on my MacSE with 2.5MB of RAM just fine.

          I think the difference is the way the systems managed memory. On the Mac applications would have the initial and maximum size under the "Get Info" window. IIRC PageMaker's requirements were fairly high (and you would want to give it more memory if possible for better performance). I'm positive tha

    • A certain amusement park still used Windows 3.1 with some AMX/Panja touch screens to control it's audio for parades. This was back in 2002 but I didn't foresee them changing anything anytime soon.
    • I had an Amiga A1200 in college. It would send the fonts as images, so I got deskjet quality out of my uber-cheap dot-matrix. Of course it only printed a page a minute, so I would start it printing and finish getting ready for class. By the time I was done, it was, too :-)

      Good times!
    • by microbee (682094)

      No. 3.1 was more significant because of the 386 enhanced mode.

    • by dbIII (701233)
      It wasn't "Desktop Publishing", it was just Word Processing where the printed output actually resembled what was on the screen. Word 2007 still doesn't have all the features of a twenty year old desktop publishing program, but most of the time that just doesn't matter.
  • Ah yes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by msgmonkey (599753) on Saturday May 22, 2010 @02:47PM (#32307358)

    The version of Windows that made you wish your 286 was a 386 and 640KB of ram certainly was n't more than you would ever need. Fond memories of wondering where 150K of memory had disappeared to only to realise that lovely desktop background image you set sucked 15% of your free memory. I also remember if you typed fast enough MS Write could n't keep up and you would fill the input buffer, let alone running MS Word. I can n't say I'ill miss those days.

    • You're whining because you didn't have enough RAM? On a 386 with plenty of RAM Win 3.0 did a pretty good job for it's time. I preferred OS/2 in those days but I used Windows (often WinOS2, sometimes via dual boot) plenty as well and it was good for what it was. Then again I had 4 Meg of RAM, not the 640k you're whining about.

      As for the overhead in DOS, it was very easy to boot all sorts of DOS configurations with memory managers to free up a LOT of space. Towards the end of the DOS era many games almost

  • by lloydsmart (962848) on Saturday May 22, 2010 @02:59PM (#32307432) Homepage

    The day Microsoft release a product that doesn't suck will be the day they release their first vacuum cleaner!

  • Okay, Google. I want to see a running Win3.0 logo on your home page by Sunday. If you can do that great Pacman/Ms. Pacman, I know I can see File Manager running there next.
  • I read the title as "Microsoft Windows 8.0 Is 20 Years Away"

    (and I wasn't even very surprised...)

  • Google logo (Score:3, Funny)

    by lurker412 (706164) on Saturday May 22, 2010 @04:06PM (#32308064)
    To celebrate, Google will change their logo to one which crashes your machine when you click on it.
  • Windows 3 (Score:2, Interesting)

    by philofaqs (668524)
    Like it or not Windows 3.1 was a ground breaker in business, as a techie at the time it was a challenge to get enough conventional memory at times, but Microsoft's marketing dept and indeed their programmers produced Office 4.2. The entire Office suite for the price of the competitor's single product and it worked under windows rather than DOS based. Wordstar for example under Windows just emulated a DOS screen. Businesses jumped enmass. And as they did so their suppliers and competitors went with it. MS a
  • Is there a point? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Blakey Rat (99501) on Saturday May 22, 2010 @04:49PM (#32308472)

    Is there a point to this story, other than "hur hur let's make fun of Microsoft! hur hur hur!"

    Now if you found someone still using it today, that might be newsworthy.

    • by Kjella (173770)

      Why is any such celebration noteworthy? Is it anything different if something is 19,99 years or 20,01 years? No, but it's an excuse to look back and either reminisce to talk about how long/short/whatever we've come in the last 20 years. Or maybe just get the feeling you're getting old... I can't say 3.0 was a very memorable release for me but 3.11 was, just makes me realize how much of the stone age of the home computer I caught - granted, I was in diapers when the PC was invented but the first PCs were pri

    • by bazorg (911295)
      I don't know about people actually using it today, only that I would love to see this GUI (or a skin) on the OS used for machines with 1024x600 screens.
  • I was using Amiga Workbench 2.04 back then

  • From the article:

    It also introduced the world to applications that are now part of the Windows experience; File Manager, Write, Paint Brush, Print manager and Program manager.

    Windows Explorer essentially replaced File Manager in Windows 95, and they were actually included as separate programs for quite some time (altough File Manager only as the executabe if you knew where to look). I suppose you could argue that Explorer was derived from File Mananger, although they are actually quite different (especially

    • by Bungie (192858)

      Write did morph into WordPad, and PaintBrush into MSPaint. In fact, if you type "Write" or "Pbrush" into the run box there is an App Paths mapping that redirects them to their newer equivellents.

      File Manager was atill used for a long time under Windows NT. At one time it was the only tool that could work with some of the Services for Macintosh. It may even be included with Server 2003, but I haven't had to use it in so long I don't even know. There is also a version of winfile for Vista [brydon.net].

      Program Manager was

  • While Windows 3.0 was important in its day, the more important version is Windows 95, which came out on August 24, 1995. Windows 95 took full advantage of 32-bit memory addressing, and the interface standards pioneered by Windows 95 are still with us in 2010, where even Windows 7 still has the taskbar on the bottom of the screen with the Start button on the lower left corner of the screen.

    • That's one thing I am very pleased with Microsoft about - that certainly up to and including Windows XP (I've not used Vista or 7 yet), you can set the default interface to be the "Classic" one as in Windows 2000 and 95. Yes, the interface has it's limitations but I'm used to them and can work round them now - plus as a mainly Gnome and Linux user, it's an interface that can be closely replicated in Gnome to keep some kind of commonality between the two.

      I have NEVER EVER understood the popularity of the def

  • 3.0 sold a lot, but Windows 386 convinced Microsoft to give up on OS/2 and live the "Windows! Windows! Windows!" mantra. The key was its support for all those DOS applications using the DOS-box VM with the i80386 EMS in hardware, something the 80286 OS/2 could not do without special hardware. If IBM had not been so fixated on the 80286 architecture (e.g., segmented addressing verses the linear address space of the 80386), OS/2 may have succeeded.

"Consistency requires you to be as ignorant today as you were a year ago." -- Bernard Berenson

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