back to article Microsoft retires Windows 3.11 on 18th birthday

Microsoft finally withdrew its ancient operating system, Windows for Workgroups 3.11, on 1 November from the embedded market. In July the company told electronics vendors that the 15-year-old OS would be put to bed at the start of this month. Presumably it made that announcement to give manufacturers still partying like it’s …


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  1. Anonymous Coward


    We'll miss ya, li'l buddy.


    Nah, just kidding. Get lost already.

  2. Yorkshirepudding
    Thumb Up

    goodnight old friend

    windows certainly has a lot of critics but i will remember 3.1 with affection as the first O.S. i ever truly dabbled with and its been amusing to know the old war horse has still been battling on for nearly 20 years

    kudos to my first OS

  3. benito darder oliver

    Win 3.11 is dead... Long life to Win 3.11

    Luckly i still keep an ancient 486 laptop with it...

  4. Nigel Wright

    Don't knock

    I still run WIn95 OSR2 and WIn98SE at home - albeit on virtual machines (on LInux). And for fun I still have a real WIn98SE machine running to remind myself how fast a simpler o/s can operate. Mind you, It is stripped down with all the Internet Explorer crud removed - it's reliable to - courtesy of WIn98 Lite. 32MB of RAM and a 300Mhz processor should be enough for anyone. ;-)

  5. Rob Beard
    Gates Halo

    Goodbye dear friend

    Goodbye dear friend, you will surely be missed.

    Finally it's joining the ranks of OS/2 2.x.

    Personally I can't see how it could be used for in-flight multimedia systems, that is unless there's either a Win32s or 16-bit multimedia player available?

    (Somehow I bet there is somewhere!).

    I'm half tempted to bang it on my P3-750 Stinkpad and see how well it runs.


  6. Serrio

    Up to 10mhz

    So are those the maximum requirements? Would sticking it on my modern laptop do something terrible?

  7. Alan Clark

    required an 8086/8088 processor or higher

    I was sure that was right for Windows 3.0, but for 3.1 onwards required Real Mode which was only available on 80286 onwards, and only 80386 onwards could switch into and out off real mode, so Win 3.1 onwards would refuse to run on anything less than a '386. (Shame; had to stick with Win 3.0 on my Zenith databook laptop complete with black & white CGA screen...)

    It's Ok gov, I can make my own way to the door...

  8. Mister Cheese
    Paris Hilton

    Inflight entertainment

    When my terminal crashed on a Virgin flight a few years ago, I was treated to a little penguin logo during the reboot - not Win3.11...

  9. Chika


    Goodbye then, Windows 3.

    You weren't my first brush with Microsoft

    But I installed enough of it.

    What will they use now

    To run with?



    With apologies to E.J. Thribb.

  10. Ed

    Please get rid of the mandatory title box.

    "Virgin and Qantas have both been known to use the OS to power some of their in-flight entertainment systems for long-haul flights."

    On first reading of this sentence I missed the word "entertainment", which was more than a little unnerving!

    So long, Windows 3.11. I'll miss you. :-)

  11. Andy Silver badge

    er, no

    You shouldn't believe everything written on the BBC website, especially if technology related.

    There was no real mode in Windows 3.1[1], so the minimum processor was an 80286. IIRC, you needed at least 1MB of RAM to run in standard mode, 2MB for 386-enhanced mode.


  12. Codge

    R.I.P. WFW 3.11

    Ah yes, I remember it well.

    It used to take under 10 seconds to boot up after the POST beep on a 486DX50. Despite all the promises of improved speed over the subsequent years, nothing that followed it has ever come close.

    And it used to run a treat under good old OS/2 Warp.

    Tux, because I'm never going back to the dark side.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Farewell and adieu :-(

    I cut my teching teeth on WfW; it was an easy interface to hack around: notepad was all that was required, with a little bit of patience you could customise the little tinker to your heart's content through pif and ini files. True it was driver hell with new "improved" hardware, p2p was an interesting experience, especially getting users to remember which PC to boot up first. But when coupled with Novell 3.11 it was a fine piece of kit (sssh, I'm trying to forget about networked printer management) but I have very fond memories of the blighter.

    Bon voyage WfW as you begin you journey to software heaven. The coat's for WfW not me, and I hope that's faux-mink lined.

    sob sob sob.

  14. Steven Hunter


    SEVEN megabytes of disk? COLOR Graphics Adapter? Those mad bastards over in Redmond have really pushed it this time, these computer requirements are nothing short of bloatware!

    It it won't run on my PC-AT in 80-column monochrome, then it's crap.

  15. Anonymous Coward

    but... but...

    What about BOB???

  16. druck Silver badge
    Gates Horns

    Better than anything that came after

    In many ways Windows 3.1/3.11 was better than anything that came afterwards from Microsoft.

    If copying multiple files with 3.1;s File Manager there was a problem, such the a source or destination files was open, it would warn you about it and allow you to continue copying the rest of the files. Win95 File Manager and all that follow, just abort the entire process with half the files copied, forcing you to find the culprit, exclude it, and copy everything again.

    If you had an iconised application window in 3.1 would allow you to drop a file on top it, and the file would be loaded in to that window. In Win95 and later you can't drop files on to the taskbar icons, you get an error box telling to go through the utterly ridiculous palather of hovering over the icon mid drag, waiting an age for the window to deiconise, then dropping the file on to it - why for fucks sake?

    Such is progress when it comes to the worlds worst operating system.

  17. Anonymous Coward

    what a week

    WFW 3.11 and Opus - put to bed for the final time this week. :-(

  18. adnim


    Make WfW a free for all, toss in Win95 and Win98 as well. Oh hell, why not go the whole hog and make XP and Vista abandonware too. M$ has made more than enough money from it's userbase. It is about time it gave something other than frustration and angst to the computing masses.

    Although I am sure it isn't, Vista on a 3.2Ghz dual core CPU, with 4Gb of RAM and 512Mb 825Mhz GPU card appears slower than WfW on a 33Mhz 386 with 4Mb of RAM and a 512Kb Cirrus Logic VGA card. How did m$ manage that?

  19. A J Stiles

    Obligatory YouTube link

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Star Trek

    The Star Trek Experience (Borg and Klingon "rides") at the Las Vegas Hilton were all run on Windows 3.11 (according to the "behind the scenes tour). They had tried to upgrade, but systems kept crashing. They had stockpiled the older hardware as backup spares. Of course, the "Star Trek Experience" was closed on September 1, 2008 after more than a decade of fun. Luckily, I got see it all before it died.....

  21. Jon

    open source it!

    Go on Redmond - give openWindows 3.11 to sourceforge :)

  22. Kevin


    FYI it was not a OS at all but just a GUI like DOS Shell, your first OS was probably MS DOS 5.0 up to 6.22 if you used win 3.1seeing it wouldn't run at all on the other versions of DOS like DR.DOS 7.0 ;)

    I actually just threw out my copy of it on floppies last week with the original instruction manual.

  23. Joe

    Sad day..

    But it annoyed me when it failed to run on my Amstrad 2086 :(

    I'll miss it.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Windows for Workgroups 3.1 (not 3.11)

    Still runs like a cat on fire on my Athlon X2. I have never seen an OS (MS-DOS 6.22) and a GUI shell (Win3.11) load this quickly before...

    You'll be missed. :-)

  25. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    German copy?

    Why a picture of the German start up screen? Or has it always been "Windows für Workgroups"

    Always find it bizarre how they can withdraw a product from sale. I'd quite like to buy a copy of XP for an old machine that I know won't run Vista, but can't buy it from MS anymore and so have to resort to the bay of pirates...

    Amazed they don't just flog it for peanuts and turn it into a cash cow.

  26. C. P. Cosgrove

    Chris Cosgrove

    I am not alone ! There are others out there with fond memories of Windows 3.11 and DOS 6.20. Was this Microsoft's last stable operating system ?

    If anyone out there still has a flopppy disc drive, I think I have an installation copy of 3.11 in the back of the cupboard somewhere - all 22 floppy discs ( was it 22 ? ). Any offers ?

    Alas, poor 3.11, I knew him well.

  27. Daniel
    Dead Vulture

    Good Night

    Good night 3.11, you served us well...

  28. PushF12
    Gates Horns

    Does anybody have a Windows 3.1 patch archive?

    Does anybody have a link to a patch archive for Windows 3.1, something like an AutoPatcher collection?

    This stuff will disappear if it isn't archived.

  29. J

    Alle Rechte vorbehalten.

    Shouldn't it have been called "Windows für Arbeitgruppen" then?

  30. Anonymous Coward

    Alles ist verloren!

    … Bin ich mit Anonymem Feigling. Was ist oben mit dem screenshot?

  31. jake Silver badge

    @C. P. Cosgrove

    > Was this Microsoft's last stable operating system ?

    Nope. That would be Windows 2000. The box I use for AUTOCad hasn't crashed a single time since I got the drivers sorted out back on April 23, 2000 (according to the date on the system directories). Granted, it's only used for CAD, but it is used fairly heavily.

  32. KarlTh

    @Chris Crosgrove

    WfW 3.11 _stable_?

    If only!

    The intervening years must have faded the memories of the regular GPFs. The most stable OSes I currently find are Vista (yes, really), XP and W2K3. I find various Linux distros slightly less so. Interestingly enough, the Linux guru down the way finds Linux more stable than any of the Windows offerings. Rather than come to any bizarre conclusions I put this down to him being damned good at administering LInux and me being damned good at administering Windows.

    And sod the juvenile OS wars once and for all.

    But I digress.

  33. david Silver badge

    Stable OS?

    And at the same time, those IBM mainframe OS's were so stable that they had System Admins on call all night, who actually had most of the system code memorised, so they could fix things when they were called in.

    And the bank ATM's were so stable that the petrol stations had little pads of paper forms to fill out with your banking details so they could enter the transaction later.

    Expectations have changed since then.

  34. Anonymous Coward


    Now I make no bones about my feelings for MS or Windows and have thus participated in my fair share of flame wars. However making cogent and reasonable statements such as "And sod the juvenile OS wars once and for all." just will not do. You should report to the nearest IT re-education center to have the (win, linux, free, apple, os2, etc)-tard trigger implanted back into your brain at once.

  35. Daniel B.

    DoubleSpace! DriveSpace!

    I never installed this piece of ... whatever; because when I was able to get it, it came saddled with DOS 6.22 as well.

    I had been using DOS 6.2's "DoubleSpace" and got the nasty surprise of MS changing it to "DriveSpace" (yes, I know about the lawsuit) ... which would also turn out to be incompatible. So upgrading would've meant all my data would be lost, so I just decided to forget about the upgrade.

    I went straight through to Win95 sometime during Summer of 1996.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    WfW311, you will be missed...

    I admit, I still have a running setup that boots into WfW3.11, primarily for running games that my x64 gaming rig and Windows 9x/XP won't run, and I even have one or two games that are so picky that even Win9x won't do. And yeah, on a Pentium 2-266 Machine with 128MB of RAM (exploited using DR-DOS instead of MS-DOS) and a 5400RPM Quantum hard disk, it has a boot speed that would even put flash ROM devices to shame.

    Reg tombstone, as a honor for one of the finest gui shell/extenders out there.

  37. Mark

    So why do they still have copyright on it?

    They aren't making any money. Things needing WfW3.11 will NEVER impinge upon Vista sales.

    So why kill it off?

    I thought that copyright was to enrich the public domain. How will a deletion of all source code in the MS vaults help enrich the PD?

    WE have paid for copyright by the removal of our rights. When are we going to get paid back for our grace by MS?

  38. David Wilkinson

    They never stopped selling XP.

    You can go out and by as many copies of XP as you want. They haven't stopped selling it yet. They even udated the install discs to SP3.

  39. twat

    How much for a CD?

    How much would someone offer for an OEM CD with Mess-DOS 6.22 and WfW3.11? Or should I just put it in the plastics recycling bin?

    Twat Dangler

  40. John Chadwick

    I keep meaning to.....

    See if my old copy of GEM will boot under Windows Vista, and yeah how exactly is Windows Vista better that WFW, for us humble domestic users. (Apart from all the exploitable holes that is)

    BTW. I started my GUI career on Xerox Star, and my association with the Interweb around the same time. Vista really isn't that big an advance.

    But I did like WFW, did everything I wanted it too. Unlike most of its successors.


  41. Chris Hemedinger

    Alas poor Windows 3.11, I knew him well

    Windows 3.11 -- that's where I first worked with SAS.

    I've posted my sentimental eulogy to

  42. Dr Wheetos

    My 75 year old Dad...

    retired his trusty 486 PC running WFW 3.11 just this year. It had to happen as he couldn't get printer ribbons any more! With Word an a Golf game, even Sol, it did everything he needed.

  43. twat

    Double space drive space

    actually I think you meen MS-DOS 6.0, 6.2 was the interim version with no disk compression.

    (Shows that I'm a sad git that remembers these things)

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