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Microsoft Windows GUI Operating Systems Technology

Microsoft Windows 3.0 Is 20 Years Today 307

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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  • 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!


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

    by me in PCMag.... []

  • 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.

  • Win 3.1 emulator (Score:5, Interesting)

    by complacence ( 214847 ) on Saturday May 22, 2010 @02:57PM (#32307418)
    Try this one [].
  • 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.
  • Re:Win 3.1 emulator (Score:2, Interesting)

    by complacence ( 214847 ) on Saturday May 22, 2010 @03:04PM (#32307486)
    True. It's more a look & feel simulation than a true emulator.
  • Re:Ah yes (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 22, 2010 @03:28PM (#32307676)

    Fixed-that-for-you-dept: The version of Windows that made you wish your 286 was a 386 because now there was more you could do with your computer. ...just like any state-of-the-art game we've bought since.

    Yeah, yeah, sure -- I completely understand the load of that clumsy GUI got in the way Productive Applications we'd run happily in DOS. I was there. I even remember debate over CRT versus paper scroll output. The history of software release is littered with cries of "OMG Pony! Want!" followed by a cloud of griping that the requisite stable did not materialize for free.

    There are so many valid complaints to be made about Win3, but to complain that it required hardware that could handle the extra load of a fully utilized GUI? C'mon. You're not _really_ remembering yet. You're still blocking out the anguish. Lean back in your chair, close your eyes. It's 1990. Your desk is covered with expensive 3.5" floppy disks. Your coffee has gone cold, and your coke, flat. You can hear the fan of the computer. You are beginning to realize that your friends with Amigas and Macs are still going to be laughing at you tomorrow...

  • 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 Daengbo ( 523424 ) <daengbo AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday May 22, 2010 @04:17PM (#32308160) Homepage Journal

    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.

  • by Bitmanhome ( 254112 ) <bitman&pobox,com> on Saturday May 22, 2010 @04:36PM (#32308362)

    That used to be a joke, but today you can run Microsoft Robotics Studio on your Roomba [].

  • by Arker ( 91948 ) on Saturday May 22, 2010 @04:43PM (#32308424) Homepage

    Windows 3.0 wasnt succesful at all. A lot of boxes may have gone out, but after a week of playing with it, they sat on the shelf and we all went back to getting work done without it. It was atrocious.

    Now was it a "Windows operating system" however you parse it. It was at best a windowing environment. The Operating System was still DOS, and remained DOS until NT/XP.

    Windows 3.1 was the first MS Windows environment to be useable enough that people actually ran it for more than just a 'look at this' phase. It was still a huge step down from other multi-tasking DOS shells, and it took years for it to be forced down the throats of the more clueful users, by the expedient of discontinuing support and development of all the applications in favour of new, inferior versions which would only run within the Windows environment.

  • Windows 3 (Score:2, Interesting)

    by philofaqs ( 668524 ) on Saturday May 22, 2010 @04:49PM (#32308466)
    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 at the time were really really lucky to be the chosen one, but they were and it's no surprise that the "monopoly" ensued in the business world. At the time the entire home market had a share of the market that linux would be ashamed of.
  • Near.... Far! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by decora ( 1710862 ) on Saturday May 22, 2010 @06:04PM (#32309114) Journal
    Near... Far! Near.... Far! In the old days you could learn programming from sesame street.
  • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Saturday May 22, 2010 @08:33PM (#32310162) Journal

    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 space on a 386. You also got swap - programs on previous versions of Windows (and Windows 3.0 on older CPUs) typically hacked around low memory by manually writing as much as possible to .tmp files in low memory conditions, and reading it back when in the foreground.

    Windows 3.0 was also the very last version to support the 8086. I ran it for several years because of this. Wikipedia claims that most Windows 3.0 programs required a 286 (standard mode) or above, but I never came across any - programs either required Windows 3.1, or worked on an 8086.

    In some ways, Windows 3.0 was a more impressive accomplishment than 3.1 due to its far more limited system requirements. I ran 3.0 on a machine with an 8MHz, 16-bit CPU, a crappy addressing system that required 'far' pointers if you wanted to access data more than 64KB away from some arbitrary point (the value in an offset register), an EGA display, and 640KB of RAM, and no MMU. In contrast, the first machine that I owned that ran Windows 3.1 had a 16MHz CPU, 5MB of RAM (not a typo - 1MB on the board, and a matched set of four 1MB SIMMs) and a VGA display. The most important difference is that the 386, and even 286, in spite of numerous idiosyncrasies, has all of the features of a modern microprocessor. They had an MMU, separate privilege levels, and everything required to run a modern operating system. In contrast, the 8086 makes a $1 microcontroller look advanced in comparison.

Things are not as simple as they seems at first. - Edward Thorp