Yes it crashed a lot. It crashed less than its predecessor though, and kept Microsoft on the path to desktop domination. This was Windows 3.1, released on 6 April 1992, nearly two years after Windows 3.0 was pushed out in May 1990. Minimum system requirements are MS-DOS 3.1 or later, 2MB RAM, and a hard drive with 6MB free. This …
ISTR you still needed Trumpet Winsock with WIn 3.11 to get IRC and Netscape to work. There might have been some sort of API for the raw network interface though. (WinQuake networked using IPX didn't it?) It's been so long I can't remember.
That was Windows for Workgroups. The first version of it was 3.1 but it was replaced with 3.11 a bit less than a year later.
Windows 3.1 required Trumpet, I remember using it when I first got on the interwebs via dial-up slip which trumpet provided.
Windows for Workgroups 3.11 came with its own TCP stack that included dialup so Trumpet was unnecessary.
Yep. You could get it to work with 3.1, but it was a DOS kludge running as a TSR under the 3.1 skin. It was one of the things QEMM was better at managing than memmaker.
No, it was Novell Netware.
I never got the rush to 3.11, after all, the networking was working fine already. Of course, it quickly went downhill when you needed Novell driver updates every time MS changed something.
About that 2MB of RAM
It cost more than the 4GB that's probably sitting in the average desktop these days (and that was in 1992 pounds as well).
Intel had stopped making RAM as they were being undercut by Japanese manufacturers and the US government has decided that RAM wasn't a strategic resource (!) so there was no need to prevent the loss of the manufacturing capability. Then Kobe got hit by an earthquake which trashed a large proportion of the RAM fabs. Whoops.
The price of RAM rocketed so much that when offices got burgled (as ours did) the thieves would strip out the RAM and leave the rest of the PC behind. In the middle of all this we've got a new version of the OS that needs a RAM uplift like a fish needs water. Oh dear.
I enjoyed the trip down memory lane, thank you, it reminded of many battles lost and software written that's still somehow limping on. (Oh, and Word 2 would do everything that I need to do today, while Word 6 will still do everything that I want to do, even now).
Re: About that 2MB of RAM
I was about 14 when we got our first machine - about £1500, I think, for an SX-25 with 2 gig of RAM. The cost of that compared with what we have today is almost mindboggling. The first word processor I used was Wordstar - 6, I think. I kept the discs when my dad finally took the computer to the tip, along with the Windows 3.1 floppies that came with it, and the 3.11 that we, err, acquired from the local shop we frequented. Wordstar did most of what I wanted, to be honest, and 6 did everything. Even now on the rare occasions I need a word processor I find myself wading through Word 2008 (on a Mac, so no ribbon) just trying to find the features that were already there in 6. On my Windows machine I'm still running Office XP from back when I ran Windows 2000.
I also got a second hand 286 with 640k of RAM and a 40 meg hard drive from my uncle, running DOS 4.0 or 4.1, which I've still got (unopened, shrink-wrapped) floppies for. You had to partition the drive into two 20 meg drives since DOS had a limit of roughly 30 meg per partition.
Re: About that 2MB of RAM
In St Pauls Square in the Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham, you can see a Georgian office building with a notice that says 'memory chips removed from computers overnight'. Its engraved into the glass of the door. Always brings back memories of those times when I walk past. Just down the road a bit by the Mail Box you can see an architecht's office with 70+ iMacs each with a 27 inch display. Thats a quarter of a billion pixels...
Re: About that 2MB of RAM
2 gig of RAM on an SX-25... Simply: wow!
Re: About that 2MB of RAM
That would certainly have been impressive. I did, of course, mean 2Mb, and it ran like a dog. We upgraded to 4 as quickly as we could afford.
Misty water colored mammories
One of our security guards was busted for lifting RAM from our machines (this was in the HQ campus of a very large company). I still remember coming in one morning in 1996 to no memory in the machine.
By the time they finally caught him, he had lifted $40,000 dollars worth of the stuff.
Re: Misty water colored mammories
One of our students (probably) was a smart thief. He worked out that there was only one piece of software that used RAM above 1Mb. After that course module had been taught, he stole 3/4 of the RAM out of every machine. Nobody noticed the missing RAM until eleven months later. What chance of getting caught?
I guess he sold his next idea to a Chinese crime syndicate. they bought up tens of millions of low-grade electrolytic capacitors, used forced labourers to replace all the labels with fake high-grade labels, and sold them back to PC manufacturers. All capacitors lasted 2+ years before they started to ooze brown gunk, or (occasionally) exploded.
Memories!.......on 1.44 MB disc
I remember loading MS-Office onto Win 3.11.
All 35 x 1.44MB discs.
You'd get to disc 32/35 and then get some random error....
Then we got CD-ROM drives.
Life was never the same.
Re: Memories!.......on 1.44 MB disc
think you might be confused there, it was 6 disks for 3.1x, you're thinking of 95
Re: Memories!.......on 1.44 MB disc
six disks for Office on 3.1x I mean, not the GUI
Re: Memories!.......on 1.44 MB disc
Except as I recall they were DMF formatted disks, so technically they were 1680KB disks :-)
I'll climb back under my pedant rock now
Just a reminder....
As I remember it, another reason Windows 3.1 came out on top was the kernel code that prevented it from running on PC-DOS. As it so happens, that smidgen of kernel code was the only code in all of the Windows code base that was obfuscated, a fact that came out in the later anti-trust lawsuit in '98. So you could say that anti-trust behaviour was programmed in from the beginning. If only Microsoft had been stopped then, we would all probably be using a descendant of OS2 Warp or BeOS, both of which were massively more stable and forward looking than Gates could ever be.
Re: Just a reminder....
I'm not sure how it would have went. We'd probably have gotten OS/2 which only was marginally better than Windows NT.
What would have tipped the tide if there were any good unixoid operating systems around, but those still were in their infancy. People back then did want something unixoid, Sun has proven that with their workstations. However few people could afford it. A Unix cheaper than DOS, running on about the same hardware might have changed something.
Re: Just a reminder....
OS/2 was, and is, better than win NT and win today.
Most of win 3.1 was a copy of OS/2 and MS are still trying to get something like the OS/2 desktop to work.
Not just that
Some very advanced assembly guy spotted a quirk (yes, these guys read hex) which would be impossible to get shipped from Microsoft like company. It is from "The Microsoft file". Remember this happens while "good cop BillG in charge.
He found out it is triggered once customer runs dr-dos. Dare to run better DOS under windows? That is what you get.
People wonder why all got shocked when Icaza like people pushed for Microsoft stuff inside Linux. That is the "ethics" of company they deal with and their promise they trust.
OS/.2 was shite
IBM only tested it on IBM hardware. The chances of ugly installation failure on anything else were high.
IBM initially crippled it for the sake of compatibility with obsolete (286) IBM PCs making it a worse DOS than DOS and frankly a non-starter.
That incredibly stupid decision to sacrifice software backwards compatibility for the sake of hardware backwards compatibility is the reason we are all running windows and not OS/2 or 3 or 4 or whatever it would have been by today.
No doubt the decision was the result of pressure from the hardware side of the business who couldn't stomach telling their customers all the expensive 286 based PS/2s they just bought were obsolete crap. The 386 was a real game changer, Intel got the backwards compatibility so right and IBM ignored it.
Re: OS/.2 was shite
It is true that IBM wasted a lot of time making earlier versions of OS/2 compatible with 286s. But they had dropped that idea by v2.0 AFAIR.
I was around back then, and what you need to understand is that there was no processor arms race then. It was assumed by most people that 286s would be around for a long time to come and that 386s were only for power users and servers. When I first bought a PC I seriously considered getting a 286 even though 386s were already available. Then suddenly everyone went CPU power mad and we got 386/486/Pentium/Pentium2 in rapid succession, and I actually got a 486.
To think of an analogy today, the 286 and 386 were regarded like entry-level and professional level Nikon SLR cameras. No one is expecting Nikon to drop their entry level SLRs just because their professional model is more powerful.
But that was not the reason OS/2 lost the race. It was the MS tactic of getting Windows pre-loaded onto every new PC, apparently "free", and the negative attitude of the computer press towards OS/2. I am sure a lot of money changed hands under the tables for MS to get into this position, because OS/2 v2.x was certainly better than the contemporary DOS/Windows v3.x
Some of the underhand MS tactics have become public knowledge since then, but I suspect we still do not know the half of it.
Re: OS/2 v2.x was certainly better
Probably that's why everybody at Microsoft was so excited when they divorced with IBM so that they didn't have to accept "crappy IBM code" anymore
Was really too orientated for Games.
Companies that installed NT 3.5 / NT3.51 servers in 1995 and held off till NT4.0 to buy new computers saved a lot of grief and money. WFWG 3.11 with file & print sharing off, 32bit TCP/IP, decent graphics and decent 32bit Disk and a few other tweeks was superior to "out of the box" Win95a for Business.
Also in 1996 there was little need for USB in business. Professional scanners used SCSI as did Professional backup etc.
Oddly on Win 3.1 /WFWG3.11 I had a 3rd party spelling checker that worked with ALL applications. Why now does each application have it's own or none and separate dictionaries for each?
I have WFWG 3.11 on CD via MSDN clients disc years ago and about 5 sets of Word 2.0a with licences/Manuals. I copied the Word 2.0a floppies to "gold" CD about 8 years ago.
There are better VMs to run Win3.1 in probably than the Oracle one.
Win95 was always oriented for home users, enterprise users were supposed to make the move to NT4 Workstation on the desktop. Win95 was still a GUI layer on top of DOS despite the shared graphics, they didn't properly integrate the OS kernels until Win2K.
I still can't forgive them for moving the GDI into Ring 0 in the shift from NT3.51 to NT4, a precursor of the sloppy thinking that eventually led to Vista.
(Old Git because there's no Old Grandma).
Oddly, Tim Cain reported the other day that Fallout failed its initial win95 compatibility testing because it worked on NT.... They sure were funny about the enterprise/home line back then.
3.11 A proper minimal OS that didnt get in the way of what you actually wanted to do with YOUR computer, providing you knew about alt-tab. If i could install Chrome on top, find a bit torrent client, somehow burn avi's into dvds & use some sort of USB emulation for my flash drives & stuff, I'd consider going back to it.
Funnily enough I'm thinking of doing something similar with an old PC this weekend, only with Win98SE & KernelEx, which extends the 9x kernel to run some 2k/XP applications: http://kernelex.sourceforge.net/
98SE+browser+BitTorrent client+VLC should make for a decent media centre in 64Mb RAM - though I'm going to try Debian Stable on it as well for comparison...
Reminds me of an article I wrote, oh, six years ago
I put DOS and Windows onto a PII-400. S**t the bed it was fast! I'm still of the opinion that most users really do not need anything more powerful than a PII-400 and [a stable] Word 2. With "thin clients" and SaaS of course this is irrelevant. But still true in it's own context.
Fond memories of Windows. I had been using a PET, TRS-80, C64 and Amiga from the very late 70's until 1991, when I was posted to an "in-house" IT unit in the Forces, and struggled with Unix, StarLan, terminals, and Informix (spit). And then 3 months later we changed to DOS. And I learned how to make SuperCalc sit up and beg. Fond memories of hand-optimising the config.sys and autoexec.bat files to maximise conventional memory, playing with QEMM and OS5. And 8086 assembler to make TSR keyboard hacks. And then moved from DOS to Windows 3.1, and Wfwg 3.11, only to find QEMM didn't work. Still have QEMM7.1 somewhere here, and a set of MSDOS6 disks.
My own PC come 1994 or 95 was an Apricot F1, 386SX-25. In 93 I was lusting after a 486DX-50, or DX2-66 - am I the only one who thinks that 386-DX33 and 486DX2-66 sound 'sexy' - although I had a bought a 16mb P133 from Escom, obtained a 486 of some flavour from the resettlement course I did. The P133 came with Win95, so the 486 was used to run 3.11 and for a few days OS2.
Would I go back to running Win3.1? Despite my experiment 6 years ago (THAT long!! Where did the time go!), probably not. It's like a rose-tinted dusty childhood memory, when TV was innocent, Mars Bars cost 9p (and were bigger), and the summers were always very hot an very long; best not to go back, because then you don't just relive the bad bits (GPFs), but become painfully aware of the limitations...
Nice article. Thanks.
I did a similar experiment around the same time - the goal to see how connected I could get it with my test 2003 server. I was running it on an Athlon 1Ghz CPU and you'd barely see the blue WFW loading screen.
Networking was quite a surprise, I did have to lower some security settings on the 2003 server, but:
And for those old school Delphi programmers:
If you really want a good Windows 3.1/WFW 3.11 experience AND you are running a Windows host OS use MS Virtual PC 2007. No weird mouse jumping problems, copy/paste works well and you can choose video drivers with resolutions up to 1280x1024 32bit. I still have a VM that I like to fire up every once in a while when I feel nostalgic.
Like many others here I used DOS for most of my tasks, running Windows only when I needed fancy fonts or graphics (MS Publisher for Win 3.1).
I also agree with those comments comparing Word back then and Word now. A few more features were added but the resource requirements have increased by unprecedented amounts. Think about it. You were using Word back then in Windows 3.1. You time travel from 1994 to 2012 and are shown a modern era PC. Wow, cool flat screen! You fire up WIndows then Word and after checking them both out you ask, "Cool, what else does it do? THAT'S IT?!?". I'm going back to 1994!"
I spent far too much time playing with Win3.1. We bought a machine with it on in 1992 and it was only when I went to uni in 1997 that I got round to using something more up to date. With practice you could get Win3.1 to run Excel 4 with 2 MB of RAM, which we did until we saved up enough to double it to 4 MB. It was slow and you couldn't do a great deal before it started running out of memory, but try doing that with Win7 and Excel 2010 on 2 MB.
Win3.1 included a tutorial that assumed not everyone had a mouse, so it gave keystrokes as an alternative. Most of those keystrokes still work in Windows 7, including Alt+space to activate the window control menu, and +, *, - and ctrl+* to expand or contract directory trees in (then) File Manager or (now) Explorer. Knowing you can maximise a window by double clicking the title bar or close it by double clicking the top left corner (where the control menu sometimes appears) also saves a bit of time. Ctrl+Esc no longer calls up a task manager but pops up the Start menu instead.
There was also the time when MS introduced a deliberate bug into Win3.1 so it wouldn't run on DR-DOS: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AARD_code. That didn't get settled until 2000, by which time Digital Research was owned by Caldera, and they agreed to settle for $280 million.
I'll use Word if I have to but when you compare it to what WordPerfect can do, Word is a really crappy word processor - more like a mincing machine than a word processor. It was a stinking pile of shite then and it still is - a monument to programmers who had to look up kerning in a book and then implemented it while playing Solitaire in the background.
WordPerfect isn't "perfect" by a long way - but it's a tool several orders of magnitude better than Word.
Re: Fsck Word
so what exactly is so good about word perfect? I'm not exactly a fan of MS Worse - I tend to use LibreOffice when I want something done on my linux box - but am intrigued by the thought of something new that might be a bit more stable and with the commands not hidden behind some bloody indecipherable ribbon shite.
Re: Fsck Word
Anthony Hegedus wrote :- ".....so what exactly is so good about word perfect?"
The "Reveal codes. " function.
When I use Word it manages to get its knickers in some awful twists, which seems to be beause it is putting in layer upon layer of formatting codes, most of which are contradicting each other.
Reveal codes in WordPerfect and you could see what is going on and clean it up if necessary. MS thinks we are dumb and need to be "shielded" from the formatting codes.
Open/Libre Office is not much better.
I get confused sometimes between the words "nostalgia" and "nausea". Which one am I experiencing now?
"Naustalgea" sounds like a word that should be in the dictionary for precisely this situation.
I dunno... "nostnausea" seems to roll off the tongue better.
(Eeeewww! That doesn't sound right at all!)
My first PC
...was an Opus from late 1993. Had a 486DX, 170MB HDD, 4MB of ram and a Cirrus Logic graphics card. Was also a VL bus machine too.
I remember having to adjust the config sys etc to get games to work. Got quite good at it too. Used to annoy me when games used high or low memory to work.
Then getting 3.1 to hook up to the internet in 1994. Had to install Trumpet Winsock, configure my static IP address (those were the days) and download Netscape V1.0 from a dial up bulletin board. Also plugged in and manually configured the IRQ for a 16650 serial port to get the best from my 19200 Multitech modem.
Was so excited when my first actual Internet page loaded in all its grey/Times New Roman glory.
That Opus machine kept going till around 1998. It did get a few upgrades like 8MB of ram, DX66 and a SoundBlaster 8bit card.
I'm another one who can remember keeping a few machines running on 3.1/3.11 for our school back in the day. Sadly, my original install floppies started getting a bit "sporting" years ago, so now I have to install from a subdirectory containing all seven discs - although, to my surprise, my equally ancient 1-2-3 and WP floppies still work just fine. Whaddya mean, your machine hasn't got a floppy drive?
Apart from recognising the comments about the expert lore required to "tune" config.sys and autoexec.bat, though, the most noticeable thing is that my old DX2-66 boots into 3.11 in a tiny fraction of the time that my later machines took to start any of the later versions, which makes one wonder just how much cr@p the thing is loading now that isn't strictly necessary to the task of running the user's programs. (The XP machine I'm typing this on, f'rinstance, starts loading, then stops doing anything at 45 seconds in for a whole two minutes before it resumes. Yes, I have run BootVis. It shows the machine doing nothing at all for two minutes starting 45 seconds in, without comment or explanation!) You can see why stuff like sleep mode, Splashtop and so on had to be invented.
The good news for nostalgiacs is that you don't even need a fully fledged VM to run 3.x. My current 3.11 nostalgia install runs as sweet as a nut in DOSBox - and uses very little of the GHz, GB etc. available to it. Oh, well, back to Bloatworld ... they call it "progress" ...
Re: Happy days
I figured something was wrong when I loaded up a Windows 3.1 version of Missile Command.
I had a version called Armageddon written for the 16k Spectrum that must have run in around 12k.
The Windows version looked and played very similar but ran in around 600k. Not quite sure what that extra 588k was doing really.
One of the very few computers I've hung onto after all these years is the 386 I learned DOS on. I'm now feeling inspired to fie the beast up later on - all 25mhz (no co-processor), 2 meg of ram, 80 meg hdd, dos 5 and win 3.11 of it. If I can find a 5 pin din keyboard and a 9 pin serial mouse, that is..
That is almost the exact same spec of mine, although it only has a 20MB hard disk, it does trump yours totally by having a Sega MegaDrive built in. PS/2 mouse and keyboard is useful for nostalgia moments, but you should be able to get those DIN-PS/2 adapters on eBay still. :P
How did it win?
Re: How did it win?
I went with market share but, you are right. Without all of those gamers with jobs, getting that market share would not have been as easy. IBM inexplicably created an "open" or non-proprietary hardware platform, so video cards and games were P.C. compatible long before Windows was an actual O/S, ... (and Microsoft benefitted greatly).
btw, I still think minesweeper rocks.
My first Windows encounter
Was 3.1. I got very good at wrangling the underlying DOS to fix problems for our poor users, some of whom had just had old dumb terminals replaced by not much smarter PCs. Going home to AmigaOS reminded me daily just how primitive the Windows boxes really were.
How I wish we could go back to having Word 2, with just the stuff needed to write a neatly formatted document. We installed the first 6 Pentium systems in the office back when 100MHz was the 'nads and it actually scrolled uncontrollably fast!
Preemptive is what we have today. Surely you mean cooperative?
Re: Preemptive multitasking
Actually it was claimed to have some simple form of preemptive multitasking. It certainly had a setting for selecting how much power "background processes" got.
One should note...
One should note that Microsoft only started to use Windows internally in the mid-1990s. Before they had Unix boxes and Terminals.
Re: One should note...
Complete fiction. One should note that making false statements about topics you know nothing about makes you unwelcome in any discussion.
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