Feeds

Happy 23rd birthday, Windows 3.0

The OS with three different memory modes chalks up another anniversary

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

This week marks the 23rd birthday of Windows 3.0, which came into this world on May 22nd, 1990, and gave the world improved colour graphics and the infamous File Manager.

Windows 3.0 was all about getting closer to Apple’s Macintosh after Windows 1.0 and 2.0 fell a long way short of Jobs and Co's WIMPy UI.

The MSDOS Executive file manager was replaced with the icon-based Program Manager alongside File Manager, greatly enhancing the user experience and giving Windows the look and feel that would persist until the advent of Windows 95.

The Control Panel was re-designed to look a lot like Apple’s and graphics were enhanced to support a whopping 16 colours.

Under the covers, performance was also improved by Gates and co. with support for the faster Intel 386 processor, helping cement the burgeoning Wintel partnership which would come to dominate the PC space for years to come.

Windows 3 and its much-improved successor 3.1 managed to ride the wave of new 386-powered PCs introduced to the market, propelling the OS to sales of 10 million copies in the first two years to become Microsoft’s most popular operating system at the time, Redmond says.

Minimum system requirements for a Windows 3.0-powered PC were MS-DOS 3.1 or later a hard drive with 6MB free space and at least 384K of RAM. The "at least" was important, because the OS had three memory modes. Real mode could run on anything up to a 286. Standard mode could handle a 286 while Enhanced mode purred when paired with a 386. The latter two modes required more than 384K.

As well as the first appearance of Program Manager, File Manager, and Print Manager, Windows 3 saw the introduction of popular apps Notepad and Paintbrush alongside that slacker staple Solitaire, making it increasingly popular with home users.

A new Windows SDK, meanwhile, got the developer community on board by encouraging more enthusiasts to write programs for the OS.

Windows 3.0 quickly made way for Windows 3.1, which was more stable, and Windows for Workgroups, which had far stronger networking features that made it an even bigger hit. We covered that in this 20th-birthday retrospective of the OS last year.

Have a look at this wonderfully dated video clip to see Windows systems engineer Margaret Johnson run through the operating system and its features. ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Euro Parliament VOTES to BREAK UP GOOGLE. Er, OK then
It CANNA do it, captain.They DON'T have the POWER!
Download alert: Nearly ALL top 100 Android, iOS paid apps hacked
Attack of the Clones? Yeah, but much, much scarier – report
NSA SOURCE CODE LEAK: Information slurp tools to appear online
Now you can run your own intelligence agency
Post-Microsoft, post-PC programming: The portable REVOLUTION
Code jockeys: count up and grab your fabulous tablets
Twitter App Graph exposes smartphone spyware feature
You don't want everyone to compile app lists from your fondleware? BAD LUCK
Microsoft: Your Linux Docker containers are now OURS to command
New tool lets admins wrangle Linux apps from Windows
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing and building an open ITOA architecture
Learn about a new IT data taxonomy defined by the four data sources of IT visibility: wire, machine, agent, and synthetic data sets.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
10 threats to successful enterprise endpoint backup
10 threats to a successful backup including issues with BYOD, slow backups and ineffective security.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
10 ways wire data helps conquer IT complexity
IT teams can automatically detect problems across the IT environment, spot data theft, select unique pieces of transaction payloads to send to a data source, and more.