Windows 3.1x

Summary

Windows 3.1 is a major release of Microsoft Windows. It was released to manufacturing on April 6, 1992, as a successor to Windows 3.0.

Windows 3.1x
A version of the Microsoft Windows operating system
Logo of Microsoft Windows 3.1x versions
Windows 3.11 workspace.png
Screenshot of Windows for Workgroups 3.11
DeveloperMicrosoft
OS familyMicrosoft Windows
Source modelClosed source
Released to
manufacturing
April 6, 1992; 30 years ago (1992-04-06)
Latest release3.11 / November 8, 1993; 28 years ago (1993-11-08)
LicenseCommercial software
Preceded byWindows 3.0 (1990)
Succeeded by
Support status
RetailUnsupported as of December 31, 2001
WFW 3.11 embeddedUnsupported as of November 1, 2008

Like its predecessors, the Windows 3.1 series ran as a shell on top of MS-DOS. Codenamed Janus, Windows 3.1 introduced the TrueType font system as a competitor to Adobe Type Manager. Its multimedia was also expanded, screensavers were introduced, alongside new software such as Windows Media Player and Sound Recorder. File Manager and Control Panel received tweaks, while Windows 3.1 also saw the introduction of Windows Registry and add-ons. Windows 3.1 has remained a 16-bit operating environment, although it can run more RAM.

Microsoft has also released special versions of Windows 3.1 through out 1992 and 1993; in Europe and Japan, Windows 3.1 was introduced with more language support, while Tandy Video Information System had received a special version, called Modular Windows. In November 1993, Windows 3.11 was released as a minor update, while Windows 3.2 was released as a Simplified Chinese version of Windows 3.1. Microsoft had also introduced Windows for Workgroups, the first version of Windows to allow integrated networking. Mostly orientated towards businesses, it had received network improvements and it allowed users to share files, printers, and chat online, while it had also introduced peer-to-peer networking.

The series is considered to be an improvement of its predecessors, and it had received lukewarm reception. It was praised for its reinvigoration of the user interface and technical design, although file managing had still remained slow. Windows 3.1 sold over three million copies during the first three months of its release, although its counterpart Windows for Workgroups was noted as a "business disappointment" due to its small amount of sold copies. It was succeeded by Windows NT 3.1 and Windows 95, while Microsoft, ended the support for Windows 3.1 series on December 31, 2001, except the embedded version, which was retired in 2008.

Development historyEdit

Its predecessor, Windows 3.0, was released in 1990, and is considered to be the first version of Windows to receive critical acclaim.[1] Windows 3.0 received around 10 million sales before the release of Windows 3.1 on April 6, 1992.[2] Microsoft began a television advertising campaign for the first time on March 1, 1992. The advertisements, developed by Ogilvy & Mather, were designed to introduce a broader audience to Windows.[3]

Windows 3.1 was codenamed Janus.[4] Like its predecessors, the operating environment ran as a shell on top of MS-DOS, although, it does not include the MS-DOS Executive shell.[2][5][6]: 3  Even after the introduction of Windows 1.0, Microsoft had worked on gaining support from companies in order to expand its operating environment on different types on PCs.[2] Tandy Corporation was open to shipping Tandy Sensation PCs with the Windows 3.1 operating environment, known as Modular Windows after its release.[2][7] IBM and its PCs were also provided with Windows 3.1.[8]

Release versions and featuresEdit

Windows 3.1Edit

 
Windows 3.1, showing some of the personalization options available

Further enhancements were introduced in Windows 3.1. The TrueType font system was introduced in order to provide scalable fonts to Windows applications, without having to resort on using third-party technology such as Adobe Type Manager (ATM).[2][9] Windows 3.1 introduced Arial, Courier New, and Times New Roman fonts, in regular, bold, italic, and bold-italic versions, which could be scaled to any size and rotated, depending on the application.[10][11]

In order to improve user interaction, Microsoft initiated warning and event sounds, and introduced computer command shortcuts for copy, cut, and paste. Windows 3.1 is also noted for its improvement of multimedia; screensavers, Windows Media Player, and Sound Recorder were introduced into the operating environment.[2] These features were already present on the Windows 3.0 with Multimedia Extensions version, although, they were only available to users with newly-bought PCs. The Media Player could play MIDI music files and AVI video files, while the Sound Recorder could play, record, and edit sound files that were affiliated with the WAV format.[2][12]: 21  Minesweeper was officially introduced in Windows 3.1 as a replacement for Reversi, alongside Solitaire.[2][13][14] MS-DOS programs were previously not able to be controlled with a mouse, although, this ended up being introduced in Windows 3.1.[13] Object Linking and Embedding (OLE) was added in order to allow drag-and-drop embedding of images and formatted text between Windows programs.[15][16] SVGA color support was also introduced in this version.[8]

File Manager had also received tweaks; split view-mode was introduced, users were now able to browse files without having to open separate windows, while files were able to be dragged and dropped to other locations on the system.[17] An option for quick formatting was introduced in order to format floppy disks and copy its files without having to quit Windows.[12]: 19  It is an MDI application that is utilized for moving, deleting, and managing files on the system.[5] Microsoft has also built Microsoft Bob, an utility that would act as a search assistant, on Windows 3.1, only for it to get released on Windows 95 in 1995.[18][19] The introduction of Windows Registry, a centralized database that can store configuration information and settings for various operating systems components and applications, also occurred in this version.[2][11] The Control Panel also received changes; its items were now hard-coded, and additional items could be added by placing additional .cpl files.[2][5] The Calendar uses the .cal extension.[20] Printer management tasks were moved over to Control Panel and Print Manager. Several printers were improved in Windows 3.1, making the Print Manager more efficient for use.[12]: 20  Windows 3.1 also includes troubleshooting and diagnostic tools such as the Dr. Watson utility which saves information about application errors, and Microsoft Diagnostics.[21][22]

Windows 3.1 also includes add-ons; Video for Windows was introduced in November 1992 as a reaction to Apple's QuickTime technology.[23] At the price of $200, the software included editing and encoding programs.[24][25] It was later built into Windows 95.[26] Microsoft had also published Windows for Pen Computing, a pen computing interface which was created in response to PenPoint OS by GO Corporation.[27][28] The operating environment was also given limited compatibility with then-new 32-bit Windows API, by introducing Win32s, an enabling technology.[29] Microsoft has also provided WinG, an application program interface, to entice developers to move from DOS to Windows.[30] It had also provided a device-independent interface to graphics and printer hardware, and allowed programs to have both read and write capabilities to the WinGDC.[31]

Unlike all previous versions, Windows 3.1 cannot run in real mode and it insists on the use of 80286 processors or above. Because of this, the maximum memory available was increased. When running Windows 3.1 in the 386 enhanced mode, the limit is 256 MB, in comparison with the previous 16 MB.[11][32] While Windows 3.0 was limited to 16 MB maximum memory, Windows 3.1 can access a theoretical 4 GB in the 386 enhanced mode. The actual practical ceiling is 256 MB.[33] Like its predecessors, it runs on 16-bit version of Windows.[16] It is also the first Windows to be distributed on a CD-ROM.[11][13] The setup interface was simplified; express mode was introduced in order to automatically set up Windows.[12]: 22  Microsoft had also published an online tutorial for users regarding the use of Windows 3.1 user interface.[12]: 20 

Windows 3.1 for Central and Eastern EuropeEdit

 
Retail box of the Japanese version of Windows 3.1

A special version named "Windows 3.1 for Central and Eastern Europe" introduced eleven languages to Windows 3.1.[34] It had also provided support for the Cyrillic script.[35] The Czech, Hungarian, and Polish terms required this version, while the Russian ones required the Russian version of Windows 3.1.[36] Similarly, Microsoft also released Windows 3.1J with support for Japanese, which shipped 1.46 million copies in its first year on the market (1993) in Japan.[37]

Modular WindowsEdit

Modular Windows was built for real-time consumer electronics, and was designed to be controlled via television.[38][39] It was a special version of Windows 3.1, which was designed to run on Tandy Video Information System; it allowed users to run multimedia software without having to buy a personal computer.[40][41] It also contained a software development kit (SDK) for programmers to write applications that would run on devices that have Modular Windows. The SDK was sold for $99.[42] Modular Windows was discontinued in 1994.[43]

Windows 3.11Edit

Released on November 8, 1993, Windows 3.11 was introduced with repaired network problems which were present on Windows 3.1.[44] A minor update, new features were not present in this version. It also did not run on IBM's OS/2 for Windows.[45][46] Windows 3.11 provided users to connect to each other as peers in order to share the resources of their computers.[47] Microsoft replaced all retail and OEM versions of Windows 3.1 with Windows 3.11 and provided a free upgrade to anyone who owned Windows 3.1.[44]

Windows 3.2Edit

An updated Simplified Chinese version of Windows 3.1 was released in November 1993, as Windows 3.2.[48][49] The update was limited to this language version, as it only fixed issues related to the complex input system for the Simplified Chinese language.[48] A font editor is present in Windows 3.2; it is used to add new Chinese characters to the already-existing fonts.[50]

Windows for WorkgroupsEdit

 
Windows for Workgroups logo

Windows for Workgroups served as an update to Windows 3.1, and it was the first version of Windows that was suitable for integrated networking.[51]: 55 [52] Initially developed as an add-on for Windows 3.0, it was later released in 1992. It introduced drivers and protocols for peer-to-peer networking.[53] Windows for Workgroups was mostly orientated towards businesses.[2]

Windows for Workgroups 3.1Edit

The first version of Windows for Workgroups, 3.1, was released on October 27, 1992.[54] Codenamed Winball and Sparta, it allows users to share files, printers, and chat online; files could be accessed from other machines that run either Windows or DOS.[55] The Microsoft Hearts card game was also added, while Object Linking and Embedding, which was implemented in Windows 3.1, was also included in the Windows for Workgroups version.[56][57] The Workgroups version also introduced the Microsoft Mail program, which allowed users to receive and send email, and Microsoft Schedule+, a time management app.[55][56]

Windows for Workgroups can also be accessed from an OS/2 client that uses the Server Message Block (SMB), a protocol used for sharing files and printers over local networks.[58][59] It had also allowed Windows to use the NetBEUI protocol.[60] The price sat at $69 for Windows 3.1 users.[61]

Windows for Workgroups 3.11Edit

 
Network capabilities of Windows for Workgroups 3.11

The other version, Windows for Workgroups 3.11, was released in November 1993.[62][63] It was codenamed Snowball, and it introduced the support for 32-bit file access, drive sharing, and group calendaring.[64][65] It also has built-in fax capabilities.[66]

It received network improvements; a Winsock package was released for Windows for Workgroups, although, it was later replaced by a 32-bit stack add-on package, codenamed Wolverine that provided TCP/IP support in Windows for Workgroups 3.11.[67][68][69] Its connectivity with NetWare networks was increased, while it has also introduced support for Open Data-Link Interface cards and Internetwork Packet Exchange drivers. Remote Access Service was introduced as a product for users in order to remotely access Windows NT and its advanced server nets.[66]

It runs in 80386 enhanced mode, and it supports the use of network redirectors.[51]: 56 [70] It was sold in two versions; the complete package cost $219 while the "Workgroup Add-on for Windows" cost $69.[65]

System requirementsEdit

The official system requirements for Windows 3.1 and following versions include the following.

Minimum system requirements
Windows 3.1[6]: 18–24 [12]: 13  Modular Windows[71] Windows for Workgroups[72]: xviii 
CPU 80286 processor for standard mode, 80386 or higher for enhanced mode 80386 processor or higher 386SX processor or higher
RAM 1 MB of memory (640 KB of conventional memory) 4 MB of memory 3 MB of memory (640 KB of conventional memory)
Storage A hard disk with at least 6.5 MB of free space (8 MB for enhanced mode users), and at least one floppy disk drive A hard disk with at least 20 MB of free space A hard disk with at least 8 MB of free space (14 MB needed for a complete installation), and at least one floppy disk drive
Video VGA adapter VGA-NTSC adapter VGA adapter
Network Optional hardware includes a Hayes, MultiTech, TrailBlazer, or any other compatible modem if user wants to connect on to a network An adapter card with Network Device Interface Specification (NDIS) driver, optional hardware includes a Hayes, MultiTech, TrailBlazer, or any other compatible modem
OS MS-DOS 3.1 or higher MS-DOS 3.22 or higher and Windows 3.1 MS-DOS 3.3 or higher, computers that act as servers require MS-DOS 5.5 or higher
Mouse A Microsoft-compatible pointing device is recommended, but not required

In order to use a printer or to run Windows on a network, additional 2.5 MB of free space will be needed on the hard drive.[6]: 19  The amount of RAM is dependent; if the user is on the network and if the network requires a lot of memory, more RAM will be needed.[6]: 21  Windows 3.1 includes more drivers for printers than its predecessor.[6]: 25  It is also possible to connect on to a network using Windows 3.1 via Hayes, Multi-Tech, or Trail Blazer modems.[6]: 26 [12]: 14 

ReceptionEdit

Windows 3.1 is considered to be more stable and multimedia-friendly in comparison with its predecessor, while its user interface was reinvigorated.[32] It has been shown as an improvement, and it possesses more features in comparison with its rival IBM OS/2 2.0, which launched a month earlier than Windows 3.1.[2] InfoWorld rated the operating environment a "very good" value.[73] Although, Windows 3.1 is also considered to still have problems; Unrecoverable Application Errors were common, while file managing remained slow.[74] Windows for Workgroups had received lukewarm reception; it has been praised for its technical design, although, it has been also noted as a "business disappointment" due to its small amount of sold copies.[75]

Regarding the marketplace, Windows 3.1 had received an enthusiastic reception; its retail price sat at $149, and over three million copies of Windows 3.1 were sold in the first three months.[8][76][77] The year of Windows 3.1's release was successful for Microsoft, which was named the "Most Innovative Company Operating in the U.S." by Fortune magazine, while Windows became the most widely used GUI-based operating environment.[78]

Microsoft ended its support for Windows 3.1 and Windows for Workgroups on December 31, 2001, although, the embedded version of Windows for Workgroups 3.11 was retired on November 1, 2008.[79][80][81] The operating environment was superseded by Windows NT 3.1, which was released in 1993, and Windows 95 in 1995.[82][83]

DR-DOS compatibilityEdit

The installer of the beta release used code that checked whether it was running on Microsoft-licensed DOS or another DOS operating system, such as DR-DOS.[84] It was known as AARD code, and Microsoft disabled it before the final release of Windows 3.1, although, it did not remove it.[85] Digital Research, who owned DR-DOS, released a patch within weeks to allow the installer to continue.[86] Memos that were released during the United States v. Microsoft Corp. antitrust case in 1999 revealed that Microsoft specifically focused it on DR-DOS.[87] When Caldera bought DR-DOS from Novell, they brought a lawsuit against Microsoft over the AARD code, which was later settled with Microsoft paying $280 million.[88][89]

LegacyEdit

Windows 3.1 found a niche market as an embedded operating system after becoming obsolete in the PC world. By 2008, both Virgin Atlantic and Qantas employed it for some of the onboard entertainment systems on long-distance jets. It also sees continued use as an embedded OS in retail cash tills.[90] On July 14, 2013, Linux kernel version 3.11 was officially named "Linux For Workgroups" as a tongue-in-cheek reference to Windows for Workgroups 3.11.[91]

In November 2015, the failure of a Windows 3.1 system in Orly Airport of Paris, which was responsible for communicating visual range information in foggy weather to pilots, made operations temporarily cease. Whether the failure was hardware- or software-based is not specified, though the highlighting of the operating system suggests a software failure.[92][93] In 2016, the Internet Archive organization released Windows 3.1 as an emulated environment in a web browser.[94] It is also possible to install Windows 3.1 as an emulator on an iPad.[95]

See alsoEdit

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