back to article MS takes Windows 3.11 out of embed to put to bed

First question: which electronics manufacturers embed Windows 3.11 for Workgroups in their products? Second question, and much more pressing: why? We ask merely because Microsoft has told world+dog it’s withdrawing the ancient operating system from the embedded market. In November 2008. So this gives manufacturers plenty of …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Phantom Wibbler

    the memories

    Reminds me of better times, when I used Windows as a novelty rather than because I had too.

  2. david bates

    I still have

    a 486 DX 33 IBM PS/Valuepoint running 3.11

    It boots is seconds - much faster than XP or Ubuntu on my Prescott, and the keyboard (IBM M Series FTW) is still in daily use...

    They dont build them like that any more...

  3. Anonymous Coward

    Is there...

    Any relevance in the use of a German WfW logo?

    If there is, I'll guess that it is used in the FIA approved F1 ECUs.

    Mines the M&S fake uniform....

  4. Daniel Bennett

    Everyone is long gone? Ehm.. I'm still here

    I remember using 3.1 ... It worked! Just...

    Oh the school days...

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    ...I have it on good authority that the Xerox support team based in Welwyn Garden City still use 3.11...

  6. Smallbrainfield

    I remember Windows 3.11 being installed on my work PC

    It was on 6 disks as I recall. I still have some BMP wallpaper I created with MS Paint in Windows for Workgroups, so we're not all long gone.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Still soldiers on -if you haven't replaced it

    It's used to control a piece of laboratory equipment here. Running on a P75 Dell

    An occasional archiving of data files to cure slow down and it does the job fine.

  8. Anonymous Coward

    Aww come on...

    ...I remember the happy day I _upgraded_ to this operating system! We'd only briefly been on 3.1 after a long spell on 3.0 (you may recall the extra 0.01 added tentative 32-bit-ness and an insistance on running in 386 protected mode). It wasn't that long ago! Was it?! Am I that old already?!

  9. Jason Scrutton

    3.11? pah cutting edge

    I remember the 'joys' of using an Apricot Qi and Windows 286 in the late eighties

  10. alphaxion


    another old 3.11 user here - I even still have the 324mb hdd it was installed on kicking around somewhere.

    I remember the packard bell my parents bought that came with 3.11 on it, it also had packard bells "navigator" desktop replacement application that tried to provide an alternative interface to microsofts... wonder what happened to that concept.

  11. Nick

    Long Gone!?

    We're still here. I remember using (and crashing) Windows 3.11. I remember being impressed with using a GUI for the first time instead of using DOS.

    And at 38, I didn't think I was THAT old!

  12. Neil Milner-Harris

    Hang on a minute

    "everyone who actually remembers using this operating system is long gone"

    I used 3.11 during my first year at Uni and I'm only 29!

  13. Anonymous Coward


    Speaking as someone who deals with Xerox daily, that doesn't surprise me.

  14. Eponymous Cowherd

    Wet behind the ears?

    ***"But there will be few mourners: everyone who actually remembers using this operating system is long gone. "***

    Only if we implement Carousel.

    If you understand that, then you should remember remember the Apple 1, let alone any version of Windows.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Where to?

    "But there will be few mourners: everyone who actually remembers using this operating system is long gone."

    I'd really like to know where I've gone to? Can anybody tell me? If you know, please reply, as I'd like to find myself!!!

    (Yes, I know, I'm a sarcastic Ba****d - I just can't help it!)

    Paris - because she doesn't know where I am either!

  16. Brian Wright

    Long gone?

    Bah, I started with Windows 2 on 8088's then we got the super duper 8086's!

  17. Ron Enderland
    Thumb Up

    I actually messed with 3.0

    I like Geoworks a lot better. That was one sweet GUI.

  18. Wize

    Glasgow Edition

    "Any relevance in the use of a German WfW logo?"

    I though Windows Fur Workgroups was the standard in Glasgow.

  19. Neil Smith

    I'm still here too

    I remember quite a lot of stuff even older than windows 3.11. Don't write off us old timers just yet.

  20. Rob
    Gates Halo

    leave it to the military

    The computer system that is used to diagnose the Patriot Missile systems made use of Windows 3.1 as of 2003 when I finished my contract with the US Army. I guess it sort of goes along with the Stealth Bomber upgrades.... Maybe they were trying out the "security through obscurity" approach.

  21. Pete mcQuail

    something more modern

    You mean there has been an upgrade?

  22. Simon


    imagine what it would be like running windows 3.11 on todays dual core machines

  23. NHS IT guy
    Paris Hilton

    I'm not gone...

    I'm 22, and I remember using 3.11 when I was 8 on my Tandon NB286/SX laptop. I've still got it somewhere. Whilst 3.11 isn't anywhere as full featured as XP/Vista or even Win95 it had a certain charm, it was so quick and simple.

    Paris because she isn't afraid to mourn the loss of 3.11

  24. Anonymous Coward


    You can still use it in DosBox and I know place that was still using it up until about 18 months ago. Once again the MS PR men telling us the "truth" rather getting out and asking the ground troops, who support their crud, what is actually happening in the real world.

  25. Adrian Jones

    My first job...

    ...I used WfW3.11 on a 386SX, running at 25MHz with 1MB of RAM.

    Saving and backing up at the end of the day took me about two and a half hours. Until my boss found me with my feet up on the desk, reading a book.

    A memory upgrade arrived the next day. :)

  26. Paul Swindlehurst


    Remember using it!!!! Christ I remember having to write applications for it.

    I've started feeling a little funny, I'm gonna have to get my coat and go have a lie down....................

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We still use it.

    In one of our embedded solutions. Why? Because the ramifications of changing a otherwise perfectly working product is far to great.

    Lets be clear, this is not the desktop version of WFWG3.11, this is the embedded version, different kettle of fish, stripped down it's very light, pretty robust and very small footprint.

  28. Elrond Hubbard
    IT Angle

    Back when

    MS new the difference between an OS and a GUI

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Who uses it?

    Casino video poker machines, video slots etc. Not an insubstantial market.

  30. Graham Hawkins

    Everyone who actually remembers using this operating system is long gone.

    What do you mean 'gone'?

    The f*cking arrogance of the youth of today!

    Put you baseball cap on (backwards) and p1ss off back to school!

  31. Robert Lamont

    Long dead - I think not

    Remember it well, was a leap forward. I'm still alive and working.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Halo

    @ Daniel

    School!!! I remember setting up, or trying to setup, a workgroup <shudder> MS Mail anyone??

  33. Hany Mustapha
    Paris Hilton


    DX33, huh! Before the days of clock doubling? I recall having a big conversation with a man from Intel as to whether "the one to recommend to our 'high-end' customers" was the DX50 or the DX2-66... still not sure the answer I got was the right one!

    Paris - cos she knows all about embedding!


  34. Anonymous Coward

    Still in use

    We've still got a customer that uses it daily.

    A couple of years ago he had a hardware fault on his mobo, so he's now running a 15 year old OS on 5 year old hardware!

    Had to try to remember the commands for installing a CD drive - old machine didn't have one, new (second hand) does... oh the memories of mscdex.exe, autoexec.bat, config.sys, etc etc.

    Does the job, bloody well!

    From the days when microsoft actually produced decent software, needing a mere 3 floppy disks for the OS.

    I vote for a nostagia icon!!

  35. Mark Lockwood

    I remember...

    I still have the mental scars of trying to get LAN/Modem PCMCIA combo cards working, IRQ settings coming out of my ears...

  36. Sarah Skelding
    Dead Vulture

    Dereference this.

    Happy memories <\sarcasm> of moving to a Win 3.11 platform from mainframes and laughing myself sick at the memory model.


  37. Greg

    Yep, I'm still here too

    My claim to fame at that time was creating a standardised platform for an office of 20/30 users using 3.11. It was installed on a Netware server mapped drive and the PCs had no local copy. They booted to Dos, connected to the network, and then ran Win.bat which pointed them to this shared installation. The server RAID array was quicker than their local HDDs, so it loaded really quick and their desktop was always the same, locked down. Office was on there too.

    The performance and stability was no different to running locally, with the advantage that it was centrally managed.

    Who said you couldn't do cool things in those days (on a shoestring too)?

  38. Tony
    Thumb Down

    Old and Past it.

    Oh dear am I really that old?

    Nice to see there are a few other old fuddy duddies around who remember this truely ancient software.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    WfW 3.11? PAH!

    Try Windows for Workgroups 3.1 (not the 11, but the 1). That's even older. And it's still happily running on an AMD64 X2.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ah, the smell of festering crudware

    On an almost parallel tack, I was in Madrid last year and one of the bank ATMs that I went to use (think it could have been a Nixdorf) had crashed and as it tried to reboot, up came a logo I hadn't seen in ages:

    OS/2 WARP!

  41. Tawakalna

    gone and apparently forgotten..

    "everyone who actually remembers using this operating system is long gone."

    I'm afraid not, we're still here.

  42. Martin

    Long gone??

    I remember my next-door-neighbour coming in and telling me about this wonderful Windows for Workgroups which allowed you to share files with each other. He was amazed.

    Of course, as I was using Sun workstations at work with X-windows on them, and had been for several years, I couldn't quite see what all the excitement was about.

    (And frankly, I still don't understand how Windows can work so badly. Why can't I run a program on my PC, and launch the display onto another PC without having to use special software?)

  43. andy rock


    "imagine what it would be like running windows 3.11 on todays dual core machines"

    probably like using linux. but shit.

  44. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    Some of us are still alive

    3.11 ran my DOS programs properly. I tried 95 for a bit, and went back to 3.11 because I did not have time for my machine to reboot four times a day. When NT got foisted on me, some of my DOS programs became a bit wobbly. A friend had some expensive MS technical support to spare, and here is they advice the had him pass on to me: "God hates you."

    I should thank MS for that, and for some similar advice I received when I tried to install a new MS compiler (the disk thrashed for two days before I let the machine give up). MS's helpful advice convinced by to try a Linux CD from the cover of a magazine.

    Suddenly all the software I was familiar with from university became available. No more swearing at word because I could not get it to do the things I had done with Tex. It came with free compiler that worked better than anything I had used before. The same compiler worked as a cross compiler. There was a choice of software for schematic capture, PCB layout, and circuit simulation.

    Better versions of all the stuff I could no longer use because MS kept "upgrading" their operating system.

    I never had to deal with anything that explicitly required windows 3.11. Dosemu under linux and freedos have been sufficient so far, and it has been a long time since I had to resort to either.

    XP has past me by, and I made no effort to investigate it. Now that it too is on the way out, I have no legacy XP programs to deal with. It is unlikely that I will buy a Vista capable machine - my newest kit is fanless and I expect it to last beyond Windows 7 service pack 2 (assuming Windows 7 is only two years late).

    Have we reached the point yet when people get fired for choosing to be locked into expensive software with a short life span?

  45. Tim Schomer
    IT Angle

    @ Smallbrainfield

    Actually, Windows for Workgroups 3.11 shipped on 8 floppies, (maybe you're thinking of 3.1) but you only used the last 2 disks if you had a network card in the machine.

  46. Phil the Geek

    Antiques Roadshow

    Remember 3.11? I remember designing hardware for it to run on! Damn, I'm so old...

    Whereas workstations had adopted GUIs and multi-tasking quickly, PCs were still mostly text-based single-taskers when Windows 3 came along. At the time Windows (and previously DR GSX) were a bit of an oddity rather than mainstream. I remember people who saw Windows 3 for the first time saying "wow, this will change everything" - and it did.

    Respect for the old girl, she led the mass adoption of graphical user interfaces on PCs. What am I bid for my original set of install floppies?

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    I remember it well

    Dusted off MS-DOS 6.22 and Windows 3.1 recently. I needed Corel Draw 3 which I found wasn't on my system any more. Now although CD3 will run on Windows 2000 (my main system) it will only *install* under 16-bit incarnations otherwise it hangs up wondering why installing a true type font doesn't create a .FOT file.

    Installation went OK and now I'm keeping DOS and Windows 3.1 on my FAT-16 format C: drive and made several copies of the boot floppy.

    So another old system lives on inside my PC box, joining the (emulated) Amstrad CPC464 dual-floppy system.

    Icon of another old dual-floppy system

  48. pctechxp
    Gates Halo

    I was 11 back then

    And just starting to develop my love for technology (errr not in that way) Ah win 3.1

    Used it on a tosh laptop first (my home PC ran DOS and did not have enough RAM or processor horsepower to run Windows.

    Thought it was the best thing since err bread till a few years later when I tinkered with it on a laptop I was given and realised what a pain it must have been to administer but it tought me a lot.

    Next incarnation was on a network at secondary school with all the desktops running via remote boot ROMs using a BNC ring and RM LAN Manager.

    People had to log on one at a time or the server would just fall over, it would also have a lie down if you opened more than application, I did that a few times and brought the network to a grinding halt!

    Ah those were the days!

    Not sure why it or Windows for Workgroups was ever embeded in anything though.

  49. John Sims
    Dead Vulture

    I'm still here

    "everyone who actually remembers using this operating system is long gone"

    I'm aged 26 and remember it well... and Windows 3.0... DOS 4... and I've still got all the disks and manuals... ah the days when a PC had a "Turbo" button on the front to give you those extra 3 Mhz when playing Duke Nukem or Castle Wolfenstein.

  50. Chris Matchett

    It's not an OS

    It was a GUI add-on for DOS.

  51. ChessGeek

    What d'ya MEAN "gone"?

    I still have to deal with Windows 3.1 as we have a couple of CNC machines at my place of work that run on OS/2 Warp.

    As for WfW 3.11, I just finally terminated a PC running that OS three weeks ago.

  52. Steve Evans

    Ah... fond memories...

    My first experience of the intarwibble was on WfW...

    Trumpet winsock...

    Spry mosaic...

    Ah, those were the days when a web page would load in a couple of a seconds even via a dial up modem (14,400 I think), no huge flash animations, no pop ups, no ads... Ahhh... Bliss.

    @AC... I don't think WfW came on 3 floppies.. IIRC it's about 6 or 7... Windows 3 came less. Now if you want Windows 2, I have a copy on 2 floppies.

    Oh, and I'm still alive and in my 30s... (Just!)

    Mines the one with the U.S. Robotics Courier V Everything not really fitting in the pocket!

  53. RainForestGuppy
    Thumb Up

    Did somebody mention Netware??

    In the days before they messed about with Office products and Second hand Linux. Novell actually had one of the best Network operating systems.

    The user/file management NDS in Netware 4.1 and above was brilliant, Far better that MS Active Directory even to this day.

    Pity they wasted all that money on Perfect Office and were slow to go to Native IP addressing.

    Now I could show my age and mention AppleTalk, what a dogs breakfast that was. When I watched Independence day it all made sense, it was developed by aliens, intent on wiping out life on earth, that's why Jeff GoldBluam could interface his MAC directly into the Alien Mothership.

    Happy Days........

  54. Dr. Mouse


    Yeah I helped set up a similar set-up while on work experience. Worked great! Everyone had the same setup. And if they needed a different config, copy the old and modify. The IT tech was greatful for years for me suggesting it (so old hardware ended up being thrown out in my direction, often before they needed upgrading :D so many servers in my attic, untill my parents complained about the noise and the electricity costs of running a datacenter at home), untill the company decided to "upgrade" to Windows 2000 (yes they skipped 9x all together).

  55. Jamie


    My first job was diskless DOS workstations on a Novell 2.2 network for a school. I upgraded it to Novell 3.12 after reading the 3,200 page manual with 3.11 clients. Seemed like such progress!

    My first PC was a Gateway 486 DX66 imported from America; two weeks after it arrived it was on the front cover of PC Mag as "Fastest ever". I really liked laying out the windows just so so I could see every icon. I also remember installing 400 fonts on it and grinding it it a halt.

    Moment of true sadness coming up: I asked for and got MS-DOS 5.0 for my 27th birthday....

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It was great

    being able to have 4 DOS windows open on the same screen. Only use for Windows in those days.

  57. Peter Kay


    Some may have a mistaken nostalgic view that Windows 3.11 was ok - at least until they remember the UAE/GPFs, the VxD model, the shitty multitasking, the DOS underpinnings, the horrors of multimedia and games.

    Now OS/2, *that* was a proper operating system, despite its limitations. It also multitasked DOS apps properly with far more control than Win 3.11 ever had.

    In an embedded environment, where everything is properly tested, controlled and hopefully not realtime critical Windows 3.11 is probably ok. As a general purpose OS? Garbage.

  58. Keith Martin

    Ah the good old days


    324MB - that was some hog for Win3.11! I first installed it on a machine with a 40MB hard disk and 1MB RAM.

    Still had to go back to DOS6.22 on a regular basis though. Some things never change.

    Oh, and I'm 29 and started on a BBC Micro with the Acorn O/S. First DOS version was 5. Drew has apparently been replaced by a 12 year old.

    A friend is still using DOS 3 on an 8088 laptop. It still works, although the monochrome screen is starting to die slowly.

  59. EdWeb
    Paris Hilton

    Ahh...Windows 3.1 and Winsock

    The days of Winsock. Ahhh...reminisce!

    Working like a trojan to get the TCP stack working; fiddling with your IRQs to get the modem working (14.4k anyone?). And waiting 11 minutes for a 100k bit of pron to download, only to get caught by the girfriend in the middle of it!

    Paris, because she knows what it's like to get caught with/in pron!

  60. Seanie Ryan

    classic tale

    I remember a guy contacting my to come install WfW 3.11 on all his machines and setup file sharing etc.

    I arrived on site and he proudly told me all the cabling was in ,I just had to connect, install and configure.

    When i started looking he had daisy chained cat 5 cabling between each machine

    and had left it like that, as he didnt know how to wire the RJ45 connector to loop on and thought I could do it properly.

    I had to stop myself from rolling around laughing and nearly choked, before explaining to him what a hub was etc.

    At that point the project cost got too high for him and he stuck to floppies.

    oh, the memories of more innocent days.... !!

  61. Paul Stephenson


    Gone, I'm only 24 and I remember using it!! I also remember the 'joy' of installing office under it, on what felt like a bazillion floppy disks.

  62. Stuart

    You think that's bad....

    One major mobile phone manufacturer still uses HP Basic interpreted code, running on MS DOS, for its mobile phone test equipment - including anything new. We were shipping them 1Ghz Celerons with 512Mb of ram, to run this on. Nice.

  63. Derek Thomas

    3.11 Phaa...

    Don't get me started... Just bring back GEM.

  64. Steven Raith
    Thumb Up


    I used to work in the test dept at WGC, and there were a couple of Win 3.11FW machines in there. That was a few years ago.

    I can remember my 486 SX25 with 4Mb of RAM struggling to play a 160*120 [or similar] MPG file from a double speed CDROM in Win 3.11FW. What a fucking chore.

    And then my mother killing the machine by switching it off when I was compressing the[120mb] hard drive. I think i was eleven or twelve at the time.

    Ah, physically changing IRQs to get sound cards to work, so much better than Plug'n'Pray and Windows Vista Hardware install [which sometimes tells me I need a restart to install a USB stick - I mean, WTF?].

    Bring back jumpers.

    Steven R

  65. Mike Brown

    not that long ago.........aka im truly a geek

    im 28 and i still remeber 3.11. i can still guess soundcards IRQ and DMA settings.........

    oh the memorys......

  66. David
    Gates Horns

    Over 25 == dead???

    "I used 3.11 during my first year at Uni and I'm only 29!"

    I feel your pain bro, I had to connect via ssh to our university's mainframe (on a 386sx with a hefty 4mb ram!!!

    In the second year I upgraded to a celeron 300 with 64mb ram, I havent experienced such a jump in performance since.

    To be fair to the author, I am "long gone", since I run Ubuntu 100% at home now.

  67. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    it doesn't run for me... (yes it's a slow day at work).

    I still remember 3.11... and I'm only 22 - maybe not at the top of when it was released but i started playing with it in 93/94 sortta time....

    anon cause im not meant to be playing with 3.11 on work time.... lol

  68. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Still in use

    We still use it to control / configure a specialist converter box on most of the voice switches in our UK switched voice network!

  69. brian davison

    I have a few copies of that

    still shrink wrapped, wonder if its worth anything ?

  70. Tony

    put me out to pastures new

    "everyone who actually remembers using this operating system is long gone"

    Actually no - I still have a copy (although I don't actually use it) and I remember it like it was yesterday.

    I also still have a box in the attic with about 300 copies of DOS 3.2 on 5.25 inch floppies. I bought them at an auction back in the early '90s, because I wanted the power leads, IDE cables etc and they were all bundled together.

    I only finally disposed of my trusty Amstrad 1512 a couple of years ago; it was left in the garage and the roof leaked all over it. I used it to set-up a database app using a product called First Choice back in the mid 80's - I did it as a favour for someone and I know that they are still using it, because they called me a year ago as they had crashed the system and wanted me to help get it running again.

    Happy days

  71. Andrew Culpeck

    Time to get a new job

    When I started work I was using DOS and did so untill NT because AutoCAD would not work with earlyer versions of windows.

    CHRIST I must get a new job

    Mines the faded denam jecket with a clamshell organiser in the pocket

  72. Ian


    I may be an old fogey at 35, but I both used and supported 3.11 for ages. The office I still work in now (although no longer in IT) went straight from 3.11 to Windows 2000 for deities' sakes.

    We still use DOS 6.20 to drive all the development kit for the current standard 2MHz interlocking systems though...

    I still haven't convinced XP and dosbox to let me run DI's Tornado flight sim though... These fake soundblasters and USB to serial converters for joysticks just don't cut the mustard.

    Ian P.

  73. This post has been deleted by its author

  74. Anon Koward

    @ all the "Long Dead"

    I think he was baiting us :)

    Yep I remember using 3.11 and even 3.1 (never used 3.0 as was busy compiling beta Linux kernels and trashing my FS before then)

    Ahh those were the days SCO System V was clunky but damn stable, Novell 3.x was 80% of market share (ctrl, ctrl, shift, esc anyone) and NT was a glimmer in the eye of MS...

    Nope not long dead but I do smell a bit!

  75. Mage Silver badge

    Win95? Bah!

    Windows 95 was rubbish in comparison., By then we where using NT3.51 for Servers and Workstations or WFWG3.11 on older workstations, then in 1996 NT4.0.

    I have WFW3.11 With 32bit TCP/IP and Win32S on CD. and a number of copies or Word 2.0a

    Really you want about 8M when networking, Or 4M without Networking!

    I have a NT 4.0 Workstation the attic with "Program Manager" on it instead of Explorer to save RAM and CPU.

    I still hate Explorers Filemangler in comparison.

  76. Sam

    i'm 19

    I'm 19... and I remember using it.. and I have the install floppies around somewhere too.

  77. Christian Berger

    Ohh video editing

    I have an old video editing card which does not work under anything else but Wfw 3.11 or maybe Win95.

    Other than that there are a lot of embedded system which install TSRs under DOS which hook up to the interrupts and essentially controll some hardware. They only load Windows for a nice GUI to the routines.

    There's even some GEM systems still in use. For example there are some Audio Workstations from Cortex (or something) running GEM under DOS. They have up to 4 DSP boards inside.

  78. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Alan Sugar to blame for me missing this...

    Yes, I seem to remember using an Amstrad PCW during Win 3.11's short and forgetable existance so never really used it.

    Ooopps! I mean Sir Alan Sugar. Sorry Sir Alan, I didn't mean it Sir Alan. What a crap PC that was Sir Alan.

    Paris - cos she knows all about sugar daddies.

  79. GrahamT

    I Aten't Dead

    I remember 3.11 for Workgroups. I used it for a small office network. I had to reboot it at least once a day, and tape backups took over an hour for what must have been all of 80Mbytes (yes, M not G)

    Then, I also remember 2.0 and 1.0 (like Kings and queens, it only got a number when it was dead and another one came along) Windows 1 only allowed you 4 windows, and they were tiled, not overlapping. About half as good as Desqview and twice as ugly. (There, now I've really shown my age)

    As someone that started on PDP8s and "progressed" through PDP 11, VAX/VMS, CP/M and all versions of DOS from 1.0 up, then you are nearly right. Replace "long gone" with "soon gone".

    (I must fire up 3.11 under VMWare on my Ubuntu server - I could do with a laugh)

  80. Phil Cooke

    Win 3.1 and the interwebz

    I remember using it as a student with Compuserve and running a copy of Dr Solomons Anti virus, back when it used to check for a whole 6000 viruses!

    Also remember Win 3.0 on the schools RM network, which had OS/2 on the server and a couple of old 186? PC's running Windows 1!

    Those were the days...

  81. Angus Ireland
    Paris Hilton

    Long gone?

    I'm still at school and I remember it! The first coherent OS I remember using actually.

    Anyone know where I can grab a copy to run on my VM?

  82. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Funeral for a Friend

    "everyone who actually remembers using this operating system is long gone"

    Long gone to MacOS in my case.

    But I still have fond memories of making my first websites and producing a printed magazine on the last Windows OS that was not unbearably ugly, stupid and irritating.

    Paris - because she is not unbearably ugly.

  83. Philip Kroker

    All gone eh?

    I resent the implication that I should be pushing up the daisies at 23 for having used WfW. It was better than DOS shell and it still boots faster on my 40MHz 386 than Windows XP does on my 2.5GHz Athlon64!

    Oh, and I found a few sealed OEM copies of it still for sale at a local computer store, on 3.5" floppies no less and at $20, I'd call it a bargain.

  84. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    re: It's not an OS

    Thank you Chris, for noting that a GUI is not an operating system. I had the same reaction to this article and the comments that followed it.

    Can it be that Microsoft's all-integrating strategy has succeeded so completely that we can no longer remember that Windows was just a shell? Of course, it was later integrated into the OS -- much the way Internet Exploder suddenly became an inseperable part of the OS a few years later.

    What a choice: you have to pick an OS developed by either a) the wax-ball borg, b) a swarm of neck-bearded penguins, or c) a consumer electronics cult. No thanks, I will unplug instead.

    The black helicopter icon, because el Reg lacks a proper neo-luddite or Amish icon. Maybe a horse and buggy icon?

  85. Anonymous Coward

    MS Dos

    On a side not I use M$ dos 4.0 on almost a daily basis, on an embedded piece of test equipment. No one has designed anything that does the job better than it since then, so it has to be used, (an repaired with ISA cards from ebay periodically)

  86. alphaxion


    and yet was still never enough to fit my games on!

    We played around with LOGO on the BBC Micros and I used to love the acorn pc's at school - starting off with the A3000's, then the 4000's and the beautiful A5000 "RISC PC" *drool*

    My first secondary was full of acorns and apples (os 8 era) and when I moved secondary school to a place outfitted with RM Nimbus with windows I wondered what the hell it was!

    Then my parents came home with our first PC (speccy 128 not counting) sporting the same stuff...

  87. Egons Proton Pack

    I still have a sealed box....

    Of Windows version 3.0.

    It says on the box "New! Breaks the 640k memory barrier. Unleash all the power of your PC"

    "Microsoft. Making it all make sense"

    Ahhh the good 'ole days

  88. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ 3.11 Phaa...

    Gem! Gem! Someone else remember Gem! Oh... bugger...

    Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale

    Her infinite variety: other GUIs cloy

    The appetites they feed: but she makes hungry

    Where most she satisfies; for vilest things

    Become themselves in her: that the holy priests

    Bless her when she is riggish.

    Or something.


  89. Anonymous Coward

    When you're on the train home tonight

    Just remember that it's running on WfW 3.11 too - at least the Siemens trains are!

    (Although there are two of them, one at each end. That's why you'll see the driver running through the train when you stop unexpectedly - s/he's got to Ctrl-Alt-Del the other one!)

    Closest logo to a train-spotter...

  90. Charlie


    Drew, did you have a bet in the office about how many people you could get to react by putting in that last line? ;)

  91. Dangermouse



  92. Mark

    @david bates

    Try Puppy Linux.

  93. alistair millington
    Thumb Up

    I mourn it

    Every time I hear Vistas new start up music, after the three minutes waiting to hear the music and after I see the immediate notification message (windows has downloaded updates, click here to install) because vista is so fast at downloading them each day. (Notice I say each day)

    I remember the icon sizes were huge because my monitor was only 480 by 320. I remember you had to type "win" in dos or something like that and you had to edit your autoexec.bat to get it to do it for you. You had to edit your autoexec.bat which was another thing, and config.sys.

    Them were the days...

  94. David Cornes

    For anyone who's bothered to read this far down.

    I think you might find the "long gone" comment a deliberate attempt to wind up all those (me included) who used Win16! Good to see you all feel for it :-)

    I do worry though that the majority of you seem to have VERY rose-tinted memories of Win 3.x. It was far from stable, not particularly fast on the hardware of the day (especially when compared against running stuff direct from DOS), and the still emerging GUI interface was pretty clunky at times, particularly when compared to that PROPER graphical operating system MacOS.

    I was playing around with VMWare a year or so back, installing old OSes, and came across some Win 3.1 floppies. I spent a good hour or three getting it installed and running, and then I stared at it... no TCP/IP network, no IE, no installed app... and turned it off again! :-(

  95. Nigel

    Not long gone

    Not long gone, stuck with it. Because it's embedded!

    We're a university science department. We have a number of instruments that would be very expensive to replace with modern equivalents, and which are still usable and useful. "Very expensive" means five or six digits. They were made in the early 1990s. The control computer runs Windows 3.1. The company that made the instrument never made available any upgrade path that did not involve replacing the instrument, and has since gone bust.

    So continuing to run Windows 3.1, and keeping a stockpile of ancient hardware to do repairs with if needed, are what we do. As for the venerable O/S, it's just a boot-loader and operating environment for one executable, and a means of getting small amounts of data saved on floppy disk.

    The end will come when some bit of hardware fails in the instrument, or when the control computer fails and it is no longer possible to obtain anything that'll run Windows 3.1 and support four ISA cards (the interface). In the meantime, obsolete and dead should not be confused!

  96. Daniel B.

    Re: Did somebody mention Netware??

    Oh yes. It was my first PC network, Novell 3.x if I remember well. Oh the fun when the coax cable faulted in some odd location, it was hell to search that. However, NE2000/NetWare Ethernet wasn't my first network ... that would've been AppleTalk. Back then, it was a nice thing to have, as we were mostly Mac users at my home, and it let us share our printers; though I did find an issue about folder-sharing not being available until System 7. (And System 6 had the "client-side support".) Of course, I found out the limitations of AppleTalk/LocalTalk years later when I tried to transfer 30-Mb files over it. Uggggh!!!

    As for Windows 3.11 ... I hated it back then, I kept my MS-DOS 6.2/Win 3.1 combo up until Win95 was released. I don't know why, but the "jump" to MS-DOS 6.22 b0rked MS Backup, changed "Doublespace" into "Drivespace" AND BREAKING COMPATIBILITY; so jumping to that would have rendered a metric assload of my drives unreadable. (I know there was some odd patent problem back then, but coudn't they at least give us a "migration path"???)

    Anyway, neither me or my Dad were too convinced on 3.11, same look, same crap, and we were all using Macs with System 7 anyways. (Which incidentally, could run in our old Mac Plus.) My few games for PC ran in DOS; the Mac was my gaming platform, alongside my C-64 =)

  97. Paul R
    Gates Halo


    Well, this probably explains why I can get WfWG off my MSDN license then, always wondered why it was there.

    BTW, I have been using Windows since v2. :)

  98. J-Wick
    Thumb Up


    Since we're all reminiscing, we had a room full of NeXT computers in the Physics lab when I were at school. I vaguely remember playing Doom on them (and surfing to inappropriate places, too!)

  99. Darren


    I remember using Windows 3.11, so it wasn't that long ago...

    you can't tell me the UK school system is behind the times!!

  100. Philip Cheeseman


    I've still got two or three sets of 3.11 on Dell branded floppy disks (and DOS 6.22).

    I remember fixing problems by extracting files manually from the install disks to replace the corrupt files on the hard disk. Vista really doesn't like you doing that.

    Also I can remember it being far easier to install than Redhat 5. Those were the days (And I'm only 27).

    (Pirate flag - No stupid licenses keys to lose!!!)

  101. Alan Esworthy
    Dead Vulture

    I don't want to go on the cart! I feel fine!

    Can any of you claim truthfully to have even seen Windows Version 1? No? Close your eyes and imagine...text-based windowing. That's right, it ran in text mode, not graphics. It, um, didn't go over very well as it was not only ugly, but slower than a three-legged sow.

    WfW 3.11 has been useful for networks of very dumb DOS machines running a dedicated app. You had to add the Windows for Workgroups Add-On for MS-DOS to the app boxes.

    And CPM? Anyone remember CPM?

  102. John Ellin
    Thumb Down

    I'm still here

    And I remember Windows 2.

    and Geoworks

    and Desqview

    and Deskview X

    Heck, I even remember DOS....

  103. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    <no title>

    Oh come on, it was only launched 15 years ago. I've had cars older than that.

    Still, it's a wonderful indication of how crap can succeed in a marketplace where it adds next to nowt, except a limited ability to run 2 things at once.

  104. Philip Garnett

    Still got it

    Yup, I have Windows 3.11 installed and running on a 386 co-processor in an Acorn A4000. How hi-tech is that. I have the original floppy discs....

    Mines the one with the 5"1/4 drive in the pocket....

  105. Pekka Puupaa


    I actually have an installation of 3.11 still on a hard disk. It's fun to try it on new PC-hardware and see how amazingly fast it is compared to Vista/XP/NT etc.

  106. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    DOS is, however, still alive (just)

    A couple of weeks ago I wanted easy access to a sub-sub-directory of a network disk. I could vaguely remember that there was a command in DOS 2.0 (the first version with directories) which allowed old DOS 1.0 programs (which just knew about c:, d: etc) to use those directories. Surely, I thought, it wouldn't still be there 25 years later. I was wrong; the "subst" command is *still* in Windows XP! Am I the first person to use it in all those years?

  107. Anonymous Coward

    @Tim Schomer

    Wasn't disk 7 the printer disk on 3.11?

    Ah, I remember the days. 8-floppy installs on my old Alt386-SX (with an optional 386 co-proc!!) followed by a full weekend lost to installing Office off 20 floppy disks...

    Those were the days! These youngsters don't know they're born!

    @guy who mentioned carousel

    That stupid shiny robot was.... weird.

    Thank heavens we've reached the futuristic Sanctuary of... Vista. Ah. Back to 3.11 then!

    Bones- we're not all like them yet.

  108. Matthew Smith


    "imagine what it would be like running windows 3.11 on todays dual core machines"

    If you carefully choose your mobo chipset (maybe Intel?) and video card (Matrox) then it will probably work fine, within the limitations of device drivers. Remember, most of us are forced to upgrade OS due to lack of device drivers, rather than any particular desire to fill our new HD with bloated plodware.

  109. Kevin Turnquist

    Not gone yet

    I remember running this on a 386SX-25 with a whopping 4 (yeah, 4) megabytes of memory.

    Added a smallish little second box via a 10B2 network and ran a 2 node Renegade BBS for a number of years while in college. Met the wife on that setup - sold the setup, still have the wife ^.^

    I remember the days before it - 3.0, Windows/386 and 286, even "just plain old DOS" - though I think it was 2.x (on a Compaq luggable).

    (I still have, somewhere, the PC Magazine review of the Deskpro 386, declaring "Enormous memory, unlimited future" - things have changed a bit since then)

    I'll be joining the guy at the bar for the memory lane drinking round.

  110. Chad H.

    Isnt it odd

    Isnt it odd, the Concept of an OS that does what an OS should, Run programs and organise files at a decent pace, fitting into such a small space.

    Makes me wonder where we went wrong.

  111. Richard Waterhouse
    Gates Horns

    The REAL nostalgia bit:

    The last windows OS that would actually let you exit and go back to DOS

  112. Pekka Puupaa


    I just realized that I still liked MS & Windows when 3.1 and 3.11 were around! It was only after those versions that I switched to Linux.

  113. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I mourn W3.11 Menu system

    I've wished for a long long time for the return or at least the option to use the old Windows 3.1 menu system. It's MUCH quicker than XP or Vista and very logical. You could group all your desktop shortcuts into sensible windows and they wouldn't get blown to bits if you changed screen resolution.

  114. adrian sietsma

    BOFH : Boring Old Fart Here

    WFW 3.11 - the first usable windows version ? I remember it as being a huge improvement over Win 3.1, from a s/ware developer's point of view.

    I'm therefore waiting for Vista 3.11 - it may be sorted by then.

    ps Everyone is long gone ? sheesh you lot have short memories : it was only 15 years ago. My car is older than that.

    Mine's the one with "Grandpa Grumble" embroidered on the back (for any Tove Jansson fans)

  115. Tim J

    So many memories of OSs past...

    ... but astonishingly no one's mentioned BBC Basic yet. Back in the 80's that was the dogs nuts.

  116. Anonymous Coward


    Oh no, the dangers of an MSDN subscription... just downloaded 6.22 and WfW, VMWare ready to go.. hell, not due down the pub for another hour, how long could it take?

    Mine's the cagoul containing a pair of NHS specs held together by 'leccy tape.

  117. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    mouse drivers!

    Mouse drivers! How could anyone forget mouse drivers..

  118. Anonymous Coward


    I'm 24 and I remember 3.11. It always p*ssed me off that it couldn't display orange.

  119. Tom

    @Graham Hawkins

    I SECOND THAT!!... ok.. I never used 3.11... I had something called 'Headstart', which was a nice thing put out by.. ummm Magnavox. That was on my screaming 11MHZ (in turbo mode) box.

    Those were the days. Ahhh yes. But unfortunately or fortunately I didnt go to windows till 95, which just blew me away from my little tree spanning directory driven 'gui'.

    and I'm not old!.. am I? please tell me I'm not...

  120. Dave

    In a dark attic...

    I might still have a machine with it on somewhere in the loft, I've got some old 386 and 486 machines lurking up there. Most will boot to DRDOS if they still work, but it's possible that there's still a Windows shell. For comparison, there's even still a BBC B Micro and an Archimedes up there.

    As for OS/2 Warp, I'm afraid I still have that running on a machine. It's my home mailserver and I have yet to port the custom and highly tuned spam filter program (that still occasionally rejects mail from Reg Hacks) to Linux and hook it into Sendmail or Postfix.

  121. HKmk23


    What was wrong with the Commodore PET 64k ram and you had to write all your own software.........

    That was computing!

  122. The Mighty Spang

    Old CNC machines...

    "I still have to deal with Windows 3.1 as we have a couple of CNC machines at my place of work that run on OS/2 Warp."

    Pah. I remember seeing a CNC machine running off a Dragon/32 with a hole cut into the top of it to get some signals or other out of it.

  123. Doug Glass

    Business Plan

    It's scheduled to be re-released as Windows 7.

  124. Svein Skogen

    You're making me feel old.

    You're making me feel old. Real old. Like I should have turned to oil, or something.

    I have one hint: "CP/M-80 v 2.2"


  125. Peter

    Not an OS

    Windows 3.11 wasn't an OS. It was some flakey collection of graphics libraries and utilities. DOS was the operating system. (7.0 if you took a Win95 machine, ripped out the windows directory, turned off bootlogo, and then installed 3.11. :) )

  126. Frank

    Good old days...

    Dos 5.0 and DosShell.... Or better yet: Norton Commander. And now we're talking !

    On a sidenote, After seeing my GPS crashing randomly, and performind a CHKDSK... I have the the beast is in my new Focus...

  127. Anonymous Coward

    Lost Soul

    Around the Windows 2x timeframe I was working for IBM. They had just come out with their own desktop OS, TOPVIEW. It was such a miserable failure I'm not surprised no one here has mentioned it. OK I'm going now....

  128. Steven Knox


    Some basic math software we had in college ran on Windows 1.0. That version didn't even have any pretenses of being an OS -- it was strictly a "graphic" UI framework. I use quotes because it ran at the super high-resolution 640x400 (monochrome) or the low-res 320x200 with 4 stunning colors.

  129. Kevin Bailey

    Win 311 was fine

    We were able to program a big 4GL application which ran on PC's or UNIX boxes, run serveral unix terminal sessions, and run remote sessions on other PC's over phone lines for support.

    You could snapshot all the .ini files so you could exactly see what installing a program did - and roll back if needed.

    It was stable. Basic machines which only needed DOS could be set up quickly.

    We could send out replacement PC's - get the users to plug them into a phone line and connect a parallel cable to their problem PC. Then we'd transfer the data and get them up and running no problem - and do all this remotely.

    Users could have their machine boot straight into their 4GL application easily - or for other stuff normal users also liked dosshell.

    But most important of all - I could copy my entire hard disk to a server or spare HDD - and then when i came back from holiday and found my boss had trashed my machine I could restore it by format c: /s and then copy the files back. And I did this a few times.

    Then we had win95 which I avoided at first but then thought I'd try.

    Unix apps stopped working, the registry (nuff said), random crashes, now we had to reinstall every freakin time as restoring from backup was impossible, Users didn't like it - they were bakers and just wanted their 4GL app, bloat, more ram needed. Everybody seemed to spend everyday from then on constantly reinstalling the pile of crap. Our system builder said that on identical hardware the install would be different every time.

    Fonts did look better though!

    Made me laugh when Bill G described win95 as a highlight.

  130. stizzleswick

    I'm not dead yet...

    ...I remember fondly many attempts at editing a 50-page document in WfW (that's Word for Windows) 6, running on WfW (that's Windows for Workgroups) 3.11... after almost having given up (WfW 6 had a bug that basically made it crash randomly when editing anything with more than 50 pages) I switched to OS/2... where WfW6 ran noticeably faster and stably. Oh, the days... and indeed, Windows has never been an OS, it's just another Pretty Program Starter running (or rather, trying to) on NT6 in its current incarnation.

    Oh yes, the horror of the first days of the internet, trying to make WfW 3.11 allow me to actually get online using something other than America Offline or Compuswerve...

    @AC from Friday, 12:17 GMT: you will keep seeing OS/2 on ATMs and in similarly security-heavy computing applications for a few more years. OS/2 had a market share of approx. 80 % in the banking sector in the mid-to late 90s; it let the banks run their old DOS applications unmodified and at the time was much more secure against hacking attempts than WfW, W9x and NT 3.x/4. Also, zero virii in the wild...

    Me, I have an old PC running Warp 4, so I can play my old DOS games that wouldn't run on DOS because one couldn't free enough of the lower 640 k... and the old Windows games, too, of course.

    Mine's the one with the Z80 machine code manual printed on the back...

  131. Anonymous Coward

    My last company had such a bad IT Department....

    that they just pulled their last Citrix Windows NT 3.1 Metaframes out of production only 8 months ago! I don't even know how they nursed along the old hardware for it to even run on.

    Thank GOD I've got a new job and my new company spends some money!

  132. Captain DaFt

    Gone? Phht, yeah, right!

    I still have my original disks and run it in dosbox for old games that just won't run anywhere else.

    And the WIN 3.11 community is alive and well!

    What? You never heard of lagging edge geeks? We use the old stuff because it's FUN!

    (And guess what? We can run DVDs, USB, and any other new tech on it, just because people tell us it ain't possible!)

  133. Doug Glass

    We Talking Old???

    My first usable home computer was an Apple ][. I wanted an Apple 1 but couldn't scrounge the cash. My favorite non graphic program was AppleWorks: Word processing, Spreadsheet, and Database all in one neat package.

    At work we started with the a TRS-80 using 8" floppies. We moved to Apple 3 and I installed a HUGE network drive. It was 20 Megabytes and about the size of two shoeboxes. We backed up to a VCR.

    The Apple 3 computer's chips were all friction fit and if there were problems you dropped it on a flat surface from about three feet ( approx. 1 metre) to re-seat the chips. Worked every time.

    Thuse were the days.

  134. Doug Glass

    RE: We Talking Old???

    And on the TRS-80 we used Visicalc. At the time it was truly an awesome program. For me, THE killer app.

  135. Colonel32

    Not that old

    I'm 28 and have used Win 3.11 as recently as 2000. I had changed jobs from a company using NT4 and felt pretty dirty. Thankfully I moved to a new project and got some newer kit shortly after that.

    I have a functioning Trash-80 CoCo at home sitting next to my Odyssey 2. I was the only 6 year old anybody knew back then who could use BASIC.

  136. Terry Bernstein

    Win 3.11 laptop

    Back in 1999 we were being charged a small fortune by an assortment of "consultants" to protect our stuff from the Evil Millennium Bug. Orders From Above, Compulsory Millennium Bug training courses and emergency plans for when the lights went out, lifts plummeted etc. etc.

    To avoid wasting all our limited IT budget "protecting" some spare kit I hid some of our older laptops away.

    Last year I stumbled on one of these.

    A quick charge-up and it was away. Win 3.11 ran beautifully. WORD allowed me to type up some documents I needed. Job done.

    I bet > 90% of the work we do in our office could have run on it perfectly.

    Instead we have these energy pumping XP PCs, barely using all of that power.

    Skull and crossed bones in memory of those Millennium Bug "specialists"

  137. anarchic-teapot

    Everyone who actually remembers using this operating system is long gone

    I'm gone man, solid gone... <cue music>

    Well, I say use: I mucked about with it while staying with the Agèd Parents over the holidays, and only because it was pissing down with rain outside. Dreadful stuff, went straight back to Motorola-based computers, with occasional forays into DOS if unavoidable.

  138. Steven Raith

    DOSShell, Autoexec etc...

    My god, I have just remembered how I set that old 486 of mine to boot.

    Mod'd Autoexec that gave a menu of either Doom, Doom II, Heretic, DOSShell or WfW3.11

    God, those were good times :-) DOSShell pwns Win 3.11 for ease of use and speed.

    Steven R

    PS: I turned 26 last weekend and now feel very, very old!

  139. Anonymous Coward

    Hmmmmm 3.11 - Yes I really am that young.

    Shit eh... DOS 6.22, Win 3.11..... that is where I started.

    Actually except for the complete lack of "modern" functionality and interoperability, the idea of "updating" back to 3.11, as opposed to MS Fister, seems quite appealing.

    Opps sorry - forgot to mention Umbuntu....

    Yeah.... It's my way and MS can hit the highway.

  140. Robert M. Stockmann

    Windows 3.11 download here

    Windows 3.11 is still for download here :



  141. Jón Frímann Jónsson

    I once used Windows 3.11

    I once used Windows 3.11 long time ago. Even longer ago, I used Windows 1.02. But that was back in the 8080 and 8088 days. No internet back then.

  142. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Backward thru the snow

    "everyone who actually remembers using this operating system is long gone."

    Nope - those of us who really knew how to live are still here! You don't realize how good of a time we had - walking uphill backwards thru 6 feet of snow to school every day. Only to find sandstorms and 120° weather on our way back - but we did it because we knew the value of good hard honest work. DOS 3.11 was good honest work. Not like what you young whipper snappers do!

    Paris - because we were young whipper snappers once

  143. Allan Dyer

    I used 3.1, not 3.11

    Couldn't understand the fuss about "for Workgroups" when we already had a proper Netware 3 network. Yes, the NDS in 4 & 5 is brilliant for management, but the speed never seemed as good as 3.12.

    We're still using DOS 6.2 on one quite important machine - it works, so leave it alone.

  144. halfcut


    Tandy TRS-80. ZX-80/81. VIC-20. Commodore 64.

    Win 3.11 were bloody luxury. We used to have to go 14 miles through snow carrying the family and hopping, because we could only afford one boot, and the nearest source of spares were 3 light-years away. It took so long to get the memory right we used to have to wake up 4 hours before we went to bed. Aye, but we were 'appy. Tell youngsters that today and they won't believe you.

  145. david Silver badge

    re: It's not an OS

    Windows 1.0 was a command shell for MSDOS.

    Windows For Workgroups was a memory manager, file system, network system, and video system. It ran the memory in 80386 mode. The idea it ran 'on top of MSDOS' is true only in the sense that Linux is 'really only ROM BIOS with a few command shell files', ie not true at all.

    There was continuous development of the MS OS from DOS 1.0 to Windows 98 ME, when it was killed and replaced. WFWG was part of that, but, it wasn't Win 3.1, it wasn't DOS and it wasn't a command shell.

    People who think that even the original version of WFWG was 'not an OS' either never looked at it, or wouldn't know an OS if they tripped over one.

  146. Darren Prescott

    Windows 1.0

    "Can any of you claim truthfully to have even seen Windows Version 1?"

    Yup, at school. It wasn't text mode, although the MS-DOS executive shell was rather text-heavy. There weren't any apps installed with it though, as we were using Windows 3.0 on the 486s and Windows 2.something on the 186s (and I remember well the chunky hourglass cursor that Windows 2 used!) I suspect the teacher just found an old 186 box and installed Windows 1.0 on it to humour me.

    Better than that, as a leaving present I was given the (RM branded) Windows 1.0 manual, a ring-bound tome of several hundred pages (including a dozen or more on the painting program, together with pages of mono sample pictures!)

    NB - those RM Nimbus 186s were a real PITA. They wouldn't run Lemmings, even though it ran well enough on an XT. Turns out you needed a special program to make them PC-compatibile, but damned if I knew that at the time!

    The 486s we had played a mean game of serial-cable deathmatch Doom though, providing you booted them from a floppy!

  147. Steve VanSlyck

    Come Children - BELIEVE!

    "[E]veryone who actually remembers using this operating system is long gone."


    I clearly remember seeing the "Windows Toy," as I liked to call it, start up on a computer I purchased when I was in college. It was an accident - I hadn't yet edited it out of autoexec.bat.

    But I do remember! I do, I do, I DO remember!

  148. Steve VanSlyck

    @Ron Enderland

    GEOWORKS WAS FANTASTIC. It worked - and worked well.

  149. Martin Usher

    Can't really tell the difference myself

    I've used it. I don't see much difference between it and contemporary Windows except the modern stuff is, well, just HUGE. It all went downhill when MSFT discovered C++ (and what they thought were objects) if you ask me; they never quite got the idea so they now do 'cosmic scale spaghetti'.

    One thing about the millenium bug. I've got a very old XT clone from about 1984 or 5 in the attic. Jan 1, 2000, I was up there with a box of floppies with every version of MS-DOS and PC-DOS from about 2.1 onwards booting them up. Everyone got the date right. Of course I knew this was going to happen because of how the date's held (won't have a problem for another ten years or so) but it was nice to prove it. But then that's what comes from listening to journalists and authoritative sources.

  150. Jeremy

    I was using until three years ago

    Our POS system couldn't run its back end software on anything but DOS. We had an AMD K6-3+ @450 Mhz w/ a whopping 256 MB RAM running LanTastic 8.0. Also had DR-DOS 8 for a little while.

    Worked great.

  151. Tony Bryer

    More than a graphics shell surely?

    "Windows 3.11 wasn't an OS. It was some flakey collection of graphics libraries and utilities. DOS was the operating system."

    Surely that was 3.0/3,1, My memory is hazy, but wasn't it the case that 3.11 looked like 3.1 but bypassed big chunks of DOS for things like disk access: if not an OS half-way to being one.

  152. Peter Hewitt
    Gates Halo

    WHSmith Book Ordering

    When I worked at WHS our book ordering terminal was a dos contraption running on 3.11 coupled to a fabulous dot matrix printer that used to jam every time you turned it on. All of this helped us on the weekend team discover the wonders of playing 16bit solataire without a mouse.

    Then they replaced it with a dodgy website thing that ran on the XP (with no service packs) tills inside a full screen IE6. This was vastly less reliable.

  153. cyng cerdic

    Still going strong

    Why would you use anything newer, (bigger, more resorce hungry,) if you simply perform one or two basic tasks? I know a pub that uses it as a jukebox on a 486 DX4 100, with a two (?) year old Hard disc. It doesn't go onto the net, play games or run flash earth... it just plays music.

    For a task like this what possible reason would you have for paying MS for a new OS that does the task not 1% better and requires you to buy all new hardware that also performs not 1% better.

    Surely if you company makes little boxes by the thousend to work as jukeboxes, to follow my example, you also want something that just does the job. It should be small, reliable and use as few resources as reasonable.

  154. Gordon Crawford


    my disks do not work any more [3.0 or 3.11] wahhhh how do i load my 98 upgrade, waaaaaahaaahhh

  155. Richard Mason

    Still use it

    I still use WfWG 3.11 at least one a week, have it running under MS VirtualPC on my Win2K box at work as we have a program which needs more DOS memory than you can get in a Win2K DOS window. We only upgraded all our machines from 3.11 to 2K 3 years ago.

    I see someone also mentioned Netware, we still use a netware server to control the security on our otherwise 2K/2003 Server network beause Netware security is so much better Microsoft's.

  156. Leo Maxwell
    IT Angle

    IRC on win3.11 a 486 and a 14.4k modem

    Those were the days. I actually "upgraded to an Amiga-remember them?

    The first colour photocopier I worked on used WaW "Windows at Work" the embedded version of WfW3.11.

    Embedded stuff hangs around a long time, and it tends to be the last version produced- WinCE is still around, based on W98, XPe is only just taking off, Vista embedded is just a programmers dream ( nightmare, maybe)

    We're talking hardware manufacture here, where timescales are different, and you don't use buggy software.

    Which is why most Copier ( and an increasing number of others) manufacturers use RTOS, or one of the *nixes- Linux., BSD etc.

  157. Adrian Midgley

    Wine does a fair job on 3.11, does it not?

    And yes, I remember 3.11 as an improvement, and more DOS windows on the Novell networked 386s . Yes, boxes still on the shelf, next to Warp.

    Linux now, of course.

  158. Anonymous Coward

    Back in pre-windows time, I remember writing Assembler for a Dragon 32

    so I must have 1 foot in the grave......

    ah death sweet death come and take me !

    I reckon WFW will snuff it before me even though I now express my age as 21.5 Martian years (i.e. 40 earth years) .

    why will it snuff it before me ? well because I remember WFW dieing regularly on me, before i gave up and succumbed to W95.

    And now Mr Torvalds and Richard Stallman's followers have saved my soul , and I look forward to a nice trip to heaven in enternity, where I can reminisce about escaping the clutches of the Devil's OSes. Well they must be the Devil's OSes because they are all show, tempting false promises and enjoy dieing, as the current news proves........

  159. David Cornes

    @"I mourn W3.11 Menu system"

    I think you might just find the old Win 3.x Program Manager still in there somewhere (I *think* it was in XP at least...). Do a search in %WINDIR% and below for progman.exe ;-)

  160. Alan W. Rateliff, II
    Paris Hilton

    @Simon Reap

    Nope. I had to use "subst" on a Windows XP machine in which is installed a multi-card reader. For some stupid reason, between the BIOS and Windows, the empty slots in it are seen first, making the hard drive H: rather than C:. Pretty stupid, if you ask me, that I have to remove the internal USB cable for a multi-card reader in order to ensure that a Windows installation goes on C:.

    *sigh* On another OS I never have to mess with drive letters. I use volume names instead, and devices are DF0: and DH0:, the later of which really can be arbitrary; for instance, migrating from hard drive to a CF card I used DHX: instead.

    Paris, there just no subst.

  161. Chris

    @ Drew Cullen

    No, not 'alive' - it's..... UNDEAD...

    Mine's the ankle length cloak, hammer and and assorted wooden stakes

  162. Chris

    Win 3.11 on dur Interweb?

    Portion of used beer!

    I cut my teeth getting an Amoeba online. Then moved onto Macs - made serious money fitting them up with access for punters - via... dial up of course. There wasn't any way without rather iffy bits of free/shareware... Which was freely availiable... on the 'net :-) Which was where Commodore's greatest came in handy.

    Ah - the good old days, back when I were a sprog.

    Windoze 3.11 virtually had the Interweb built in by comparison - so don't knock it.

    Slips into his 'old codger's' coat and wobbles away on his zimmer...

  163. Anonymous Coward


    Old is punch cards lol. You may not have had the internet with windows 1.02 but you could do quite well with BBSes.... ah the days of innovation rather than evolution...

  164. Doug Glass

    On Being Old

    RE: "everyone who actually remembers using this operating system is long gone"

    I remember gasoline price wars and it being $0.11 / per gallon. I remember watching the first American Satellite launched into orbit. I remember live TV, B&W TV and the first color TV we ever owned. I remember taking computer programming in college and having to write programs and punch cards. I remember a lot of things because I'm 62, retired, and loving it.

    Old is a state of mind and I ain't there yet.

  165. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Afaik HP Smartstart was Windows 3.x, even not so very long ago?

  166. john
    Jobs Horns

    "everyone who actually remembers using this operating system is long gone"

    i remember using 3.11 that was back in the days when a game LINKS or supercool doom ran off a floppy.When i bought my first sx20all i asked was does it run doom? im 46

  167. n/a

    Not everyone "is long gone"

    Sorry to contradict the author of the article but I still have a MS Window 3.1 installation CD with the mark and logo of Creative Labs which came with the first Soundblaster.

    For what I know the CD should work.

    I think it was the first version in absolute on a CD.

    Maybe I should auction it on [fe]eBay. With a reserve of $1,500 perhaps.

    bluevic88 at hotmail dot com

  168. Wile E. Veteran

    If it aain't broke...

    .. no need to fix it. For many simple applications, even Win 3.11 approaches overkill. The cash register for the local coney island doesn't need anythnig more so why should the cash-register manufacturer shell out for anything else as long as they can get it? Same for dozens (hundreds?) of other products.

    Me, I learned to program on an IBM 1620 CADET which you loaded with the "monitor" (OS) before each job. Intel hadn't even introduced the 4004 yet and BillG was still in grade school then. Yes, it only used punch cards for high speed I/O.

    The 1620 was called the CADET (Can't Add, Doesn't Even Try) because (like many calculators) it did not have a fixed binary word width hence no hardware adder. Instead, a "number" was a string of 6-bit BCD digits between special delimiter characters. Math operations (including simple addition) were done by table lookup which allowed arbitrary precision arithmetic, limited only by the amount of time you wanted to spend on a calculation.

    Ah, the good old days! :-)

  169. James Pickett


    "Old is punch cards"

    Programmed in Fortran. Can't remember the model, but it was an IBM c.1968 with magnetic core memory...

    "I like Geoworks a lot better. That was one sweet GUI"

    Agree entirely. I had that on a 12 MHz 286 and it was almost perfect. Loved the option for level of complexity - e.g. it you just wanted to write a letter, you could switch off all the DTP stuff (not just greyed out - the whole menu system simplified itself).

  170. Who Gives A Dam

    This brings back the memories......

    I remember using Win 3.1 when i was younger along with DOS (the OS that will never die, lol).

    Heck i even remember our hard drive being too small and using a program called Stacker i believe to compress the drive to get up to twice the space. The only problem when DOS was loading i think you could hold down 'shift' if im right and it'll bypass loading everything (that way you can save memory for other crucial apps like games :-P ) but it didnt load stacker so nothing worked, :'(.

    I even remember using a TRS-80 like others on here mentioned back in the late 80s.

    And yes, i still have a 486(i think its a DX2/66) here with DOS 6.22 and Windows 3.1 with a 100MB HD and 8MB of RAM in all its glory still running for all of my older games

    for those of you that are curious im only 26, so im far from long gone, but my old age is getting too me (bones are for my old age lol)

  171. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Yes, I remember GEM. It looked utterly ridiculous next to the toaster mac interface and localtalk connected laser printers ---but then my eyes were better then :) I was over-joyed with VI on Unix hosts after running simulations on mainframes.

  172. Ben Hambidge

    We still use DOS

    Seriously.... if it ain't broke...

  173. Dick Emery
    Gates Horns


    ...those heady days of using Trumper winsock to connect to the interwibble. How I miss them. NOT!

  174. Chris Johnson

    Last of the Summer Wine

    I liked WfW 3.11. It meant I could replace my ancient Lantastic network with something Really Modern. I have hated every new version of Windows since then. Apart from the right-click concept, USB support, and easier networking it has been downhill all the way.

    I still have clients who run the Win16 versions of my software (on Win95 or 98 admittedly) and thus I still have an ancient laptop with 3.11 installed in case they need support. The battery is long dead but it still works OK.

  175. Jeff Deacon

    Want eye candy?

    You can still get Calmira II to make Windows 3.11 look like XP or even Vista if you want to! Try

  176. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Angus Ireland "The first coherent OS I remember using actually"

    Now, Coherent, that was an interesting OS. Each version only cost £99 too, and it ran a lot of Sco binaries.

  177. Carl

    Was first version of Windows I ever used...

    And I'm only 20! C'mon El Reg, I'm not THAT old yet!

  178. Andrew Underhill

    @Svein Skogen

    Oh CP/M - what about MP/M? Or better yet DMS HiNet! 31 workstations running off a Z80 based server with 64K of RAM running CP/M with networking extensions. The O/S only used 32K of RAM leaving 32K for CACHE! Those were the days. MS only did BASIC, MASM and XENIX.......

    Penguin because that what I prefer.

  179. Ed Gould
    Dead Vulture

    3.1 I was still using it...

    I was still using it at a international bank about 12 years ago and it crashed regularly (2-3 times a day). It did not like to do multitasking IIRC. After complaining for 6 months my boss upgraded us to XP. One good thing about XP it only crashed once a week. I kindly(?) reminded the boss that OS/2 never crashed, but he was not amused. Still we got used to the BSOD, luckily it seemed never to happen at a critical time.

    Of course on the mainframe we went a year without a "reboot" but who is counting.

  180. Billy Verreynne


    I'm still running it. In fact, not just WfW (with an IP stack), but also DOS 6.22 with Novel LAN Workplace for DOS (with IP stack), MS LAN Manager (with IP stack) - even have Windows 3.1 loaded.

    Kinda sweet having this all bundled (with Turbo Pascal, VB2, Turbo Pascal for Windows, games and stuff) in a neat little VM on one of my Ubuntu boxes...

    Hmm.. I still have OS/2 Warp (with IBM Communication Server still shrink-wrap, seal unbroken), Netware 3 and 4.. Windows 4 Chicago Beta.. Windows Daytona.. I feel more VMs beckoning...

    Oh, the joys of config.sys and getting everything squeezed into hi memory.

    Mine's the old stained engineer looking one with the one sleeve in tatters...

  181. Paul Rawdon

    Bring Back Windows 95

    I wish I could run Windows 95 on my computer, next to XP I think that was the best OS. It will be interesting to see how it runs on Windows 3.11.

  182. TeeCee Gold badge
    Dead Vulture


    I see your boot into DOS and load Win 3.11 from a Novell server and raise you diskless boot on Token Ring.

    Ah, the heady times of working out whether or not you needed to run "rplfix" over the boot image depending on which type of card the client had, which boot ROM revision it was using and which DOS version you'd used in the image (everyone needs a hobby).

    It said a lot about MFM hard disk controllers that a PS2 model 80 fileserver with a MicroChannel SCSI controller could boot a dozen clients into Win 3.11 over 16meg Token Ring simultaneously, faster than the pigging things could boot themselves given internal drives and a local copy.

  183. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    First OS

    3.11 - the first OS I ever used, I must have been about 4 or 5 at the time.

    I found the install floppies the other day.

    (Paris because she is old.)

  184. Johnny FireBlade
    Gates Horns

    Ah yes, 3.x...

    Back when Microsoft actually made reliable software (DOS). Nothing's worked as well as the DOS/Windows 3.x combinations since!

    Ah, the memories of all the autoexec.bat and config.sys tweaking to make my games work, with boot menu options for specific games...

  185. Jay

    @ AC OS/2 warp

    Alliance and Leicester machines still use it in the UK as well.

  186. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    We still use it!

    We still use Windows 3.11! I'm currently on board a Canadian Coast Guard ship doing oceanographic work, and the program controlling the metering block on our winch runs under Windows 3.11. The ADCP filter runs under DOS...on a Philips 286 box....with no hard drive (program is on a floppy disk). Other systems, like oxygen titration and XBT run under DOS as well....

  187. John

    29 year old remember beebs?

    Where did you go to school? That said I was still using an Acorn Electron (bought in 1983) in 1997 just before I took the plunge into win 95 which I loved straight away, in a fit of childish wonderment. Hard disks used to be called Winchester Rings.

    Mine's the straitjacket.

  188. Kevin Kitts

    I'm not dead, I'm just a zombie process...

    attached to MS's main process, unfortunately.

    Actually, I preferred Desqview 386 to Win 3.11 on my XT/AT 286/16. It was much faster and more efficient.

    And 3.11 is *not* dead. There are some places that still use 3.11 to power their security camera systems. It doesn't take DRM to run cameras. However, MS still hasn't released Windows Vista Security Edition, so there's no reason to upgrade. ;)

    I feel happy, I feel happy *THUNK*

  189. tony trolle

    funny thing is

    I loaded 3.11 (plain) on a CF card with a IDE adapter not to long ago. Think it loaded some games up. No moving parts; no PSU fan, no CPU fan, no Hard drive.

  190. Steven

    3.0 was good

    Us oldies (31?) aren't dead and some have fond memories of TaskMax, Dr Dos and gasping at Windows 3.0 running on a 286's (Microsoft had some "wow" factor back then).

    I'm sure a KVM switch and 4 386's running Windows 3.1 would be far faster and more productive than a quad core running Vista.

  191. Captain DaFt
    Thumb Up

    Speaking of which

    Just today I was looking through my favorite charity shop, and low and behold; A Microsoft Windows for Workgroups & MS-DOS CD,

    still in its original shrinkwrap with Certificate of Authenticity!

    I promptly plunked down the two bucks!

    My original copy of Win 3.11 is on floppies, and missing the Workgroups disks, but now I have the full set!

This topic is closed for new posts.

Other stories you might like