back to article 'Completely useless' Windows 3.1 hits Google's Android

First, it was Windows Vista on the iPhone. Now, an even earlier Microsoft creation has been updated for the smartphone set. Windows 3.1 has been ported to Google's Linux-based Android phone platform by developer Shawn McHenry using the DOSBox emulator. DOSBox is usually used to run old MS-DOS games for Intel x86 PCs that can' …


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  1. Shane Kent

    Standard or V86 Mode?

    As the standard mode is not impressive at all. If it is standard mode then whippy shit it is a VCPI DOS Client.

  2. Jack Klein

    Fact Check, Please


    "Windows 3.1 added support for long file names, virtual memory, and the ability to share devices."

    -- Long file names. Nope.

    -- Virtual memory, yes, but not new in this version.

    -- "share devices"? Can't agree or disagree, as I don't understand what that's supposed to mean.

  3. Tzael

    Small correction

    "Windows 3.1 added support for long file names"

    Erm, they arrived a little bit later for mass consumption. Windows 95 introduced long file names to the general public, but many in the industry were already using long file names with Windows NT 3.5, which was visually half-way between Windows 3.1 and Windows 95.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      WinNT 3.5 was a totally different architecture and had pretty much nothing to do with the 3.1/3.11/95 range of Windows OSes, other than some UI similarites. Certainly there was no shared code.

  4. FARfetched
    Thumb Up

    Well done!

    Some things, after all, don't have to be useful to be cool.

  5. JasonW
    Gates Horns

    Whatever else Windows 3.1 did

    ... it didn't add long filename support. That kludge came along with Windows 95.

  6. Sly

    long file names?

    Windows 95 did that. You could trick windows .1 with the win32s extensions and a few other drivers though, but that did not come with the operating system.

  7. E 2

    Not completely useless

    This would let me play Civilization II on a Android phone.

    I want to take that on a flight over the 'States, just so I can observe the reaction of a USA air-marshal when he sees me using my phone to unleash nuclear weapons against my enemies!


  8. James Le Cuirot

    Long file names?

    Wasn't that 95?

  9. Anonymous Coward

    The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

    "Windows 3.1 added support for long file names"

    Um, no... that was Windows 95

  10. Richard Steiner

    It could be useful depending on how compatible it is.

    Windows 3.1 will run Visio 4 Pro, Quicken 4 Windows, ABC Snapgrafx, older Paintshop Pro, and a fair number of other interesting programs. Just sayin...

    1. John Angelico

      It could actually... useful in say answering an email (MS-Mail), typing a letter (MS-Write), or even drawing some graphics (MS-Paintbrush).

      Now I wonder how much more Windows 7 on the Android could do? Is it really worth waiting for, now that Win 3.1 is already shipping?


  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Completely useless indeed, but what self respecting geek hasn't installed Windows 3.1 on modern hardware for shits and giggles? This guy just takes it a step further. Well done I say.

    1. Mike Flugennock
      Thumb Up

      who hasn't, indeed?

      I found this open-source full-emulation package -- including ROM emulation, iirc -- which runs MacOS 1.5 or something like that, in a disk image on the desktop under OSX. I actually got MacOS 1.5 -- what I got back when I bought my 512K -- to run in the original video space as the old Mac internal monitor in a window inside Tiger on a G4 iBook... similar to when you run OS9 in a window inside OSX when you still need to crack open old files with "legacy" software.

      Futzed around with MacPaint. Sweet, just as I remembered it. Then came the true test, digging out the old GridWars master disk, firing up the old G3 to use its floppy drive, then copying it over the wifi onto the iBook. I'll be goddamned if it didn't run GridWars in emulation as well.

      Trouble was, it ran a little too well... it ran as fast as the PPC would allow, which was way too blindingly fast -- remember, it's MacOS 1.5 -- to properly emulate the true 512K Mac Experience.

  12. Steven Knox


    Not COMPLETELY useless.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    long filenames?

    Win NT or Win 95 surely?

  14. Wisteela

    Slight technical error

    "Windows 3.1 added support for long file names" - Incorrect.

  15. Roger B
    Thumb Up

    Can I still edit...

    the winmine.ini file in notepad so my minesweeper highscores are 1, 2 and 3 seconds?

  16. Cnor

    link is refered as phishing site

    The link in the document is called a Phishing site by OpenDNS. A reason to drop OpenDNS now, with the always trust worthy "Register" sending me there?

    1. Disco-Legend-Zeke

      I Get...

      ...the phishing warning also.

    2. Jeff Deacon

      link is refered as phishing site → #

      Me too.

      "Phishing Site Blocked"

      "We prevented you from loading this page as part of our safer, faster, and smarter DNS service."

      IWF on Steroids? Anyone got the numerical address?

    3. James Woods

      what link

      and who uses opendns?

      lotta corporate interest behind those folks.......

  17. Paul Mitchell
    Thumb Down

    Long File Names?

    "Windows 3.1 added support for long file names"

    I don't think so... That was Windows95 and VFAT I believe.

  18. Kris Fowler

    Long filenames?

    Long filenames didnt tip up til Windows 95.. unless you count whatever flavour of NT was around at the time? Either way Win3.1 was good ol 8.3

    Some people have got far too much time on their hands.

  19. fluffy

    Win3.1 didn't have long filenames

    You may be confusing it with NT 3.1, which was the first Microsoft OS to have LFN support. Windows 3.1 did not - that feature didn't make it into their consumer operating systems until Windows '95.

  20. Anonymous Coward


    "Windows 3.1 added support for long file names, ..."

    No it didn't.

    Windows 3.1 ran on top of dos 6.22 (I think), which was strictly 8.3.

    Long file names didn't come in until windows came in 32bit flavours, along with the FAT32 filesystem.

    And yes, I still support one customer who's running windows 3.11

  21. ByeLaw101
    Thumb Down

    Not quite right

    "Windows 3.1 added support for long file names, virtual memory, and the ability to share devices"

    It did bring virtual memory, but it was stuck with 8.3 naming convention filenames (DOS) and it was Windows 3.11 that had network support to share devices.

  22. bobbles31

    My memory may be fuzzy.....

    but i am fairly sure we didn't get long filenames until win 95.

  23. Andrew Taylor

    Long file names

    "Windows 3.1 added support for long file names,"

    Er, I don't think so. Support for long file names was added in Windows 95.

  24. Rippy


    But ... sharing came with 3.11, aka WFWG, didn't it?

    Enough quibbling! now I can run all that wonderful Classic Win software! like ... give me a moment ... like minesweeper!


  25. Nick Galloway
    Thumb Down

    Long file names...?

    Given the mists of time may have dimmed my recollections but I am almost certain that long file name support didn't happen until Windows 95 and the introduction of FAT32. Who needs more than 8 characters anyway..... ;o)

    As for Win 3.1 being 'almost useless' it did a fairly fine job in the office productivity stakes and Word 2.0/AmiPro 3.0/WordPerfect 6.0 ran just as fast back (possibly faster) then than the current crop of bloatware on what now appears truly meager system resources. I would have thought that was the ideal to run on a small and light hand set!?

  26. N2


    Windows 3.1, them were the days - quite a good OS so long as you diddnt connect to the internet or bother it with that new fangled 'multi tasking'

  27. Goat Jam
    Dead Vulture


    I notice that nobody has yet done WFW 3.11. Does that mean that if I unpack my old wfw3.11 archive onto my android device* and then go to a DOS box and type "SETUP" I can have my own article on The Reg?

    That'd be cool.

    * Android device may be imaginary

  28. Moogal

    Windows 3.1 added support for long file names

    Did it? I could swear that was 95...

  29. John Savard


    Windows 3.1 was exciting for a number of reasons. It added support for TrueType, and Microsoft Office was available for it.

    But long file names didn't come along until Windows 95.

  30. YARR

    Long File Names

    ...were never in Windows 3.1, they were introduced with Windows 95. Though according to Wikipedia, NT 3.1 did support them because it had NTFS.

  31. ravenviz Silver badge

    Time for bed 3.1

    Wasn't Mr McHenry off the Magic Roundabout?

  32. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

    Someone please

    Tell me about long filenames

    1. TeeCee Gold badge

      Re: Someone please

      They're filenames, they're long and I'm getting the impression around here that they weren't in Win 3.1......

  33. Anonymous Coward

    Windows Vista on the iPhone?

    You mean they found a work around to run flash video on an iphone?

  34. Chris Clawson


    "DOSBox is usually used to run old MS-DOS games for Intel x86 PCs that can't run modern operating systems such as Window XP, Vista, Linux, or FreeBSD."

    Not quite. DOSBox is used to play old MS-DOS games ON modern operating systems. Those old games expect to have things like direct access to old Soundblaster hardware complete with IRQs. A modern OS can't provide that, so DOSBox emulates it.

  35. Les Matthew

    This smug user

    had long file names in OS/2 way before windows 95.

    But I'm sure some smug Unix user will be along shortly.

    1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      Here I am!

      Long filenames on UNIX appeared in the Berkeley Fast Filesystem in BSD 4.2 around 1983. In AT&T releases up to SVR3, you still had the original limits of 14 characters overall, including dots or other characters (UNIX does not and never had the concept of a three character extension).

      Around 1987, when SVR4 (and soon after, OSF/1) appeared, pretty much all UNIX vendors either had, or had plans to drop the original Version 7 derived version of UFS for one based on BSD FFS.

      So yes. UNIX had it before Win95 AND OS/2.

  36. Il Midga di Macaroni
    Thumb Up

    I like this guy McHenry.

    He has a good sense of humour and a good sense of coolness.

  37. Badbob
    Thumb Up

    You have your iPhone OS...

    ...and I will have my Windows For Workgroups.

    Yes, you may have fancy apps for everything including best tips for a good bum scratch and GPS directions to the nearest Kosher Thai restaurant. But do you have XCom, Transport Tycoon and Theme Hospital?

    I suddenly feel all nostalgic for MS-DOS, and feel the urge to go home and dig out my old 133MHz Pentium (now with MMX technology!!) from the attic, and fire up the old bird.

    1. Ben 42


      On a 133? I'm pretty sure the 166 was the slowest clockspeed to get MMX, which I only know because a 166 with MMX was my first desktop PC and I spent months researching it in Computer Shopper and the like (no internet at the time, of course).

      Yeah, I know, damn kids and our music, get off your lawn, etc. :-)

  38. ShaggyDoggy


    "dawn of PC computing" I think you need to go back a further 10 years for that

    And anyway you only need MSDOS to run Prince of Persia

  39. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    Whilst we're nit-picking

    I'd say it was 3.0 that set the stage for world domination, not 3.1. Folklore tells that it was the warm reception given to 3.0 (and its virtual DOS boxes) that persuaded Young Mr Gates that he could tell IBM where to stick the troubled OS/2 2.x development and go it alone.

    3.0 was also the last release where programmers were trusted to write working software. For 3.1, MS added a parameter checking layer on top of the kernel, gdi and user libraries, and compatibility hacks to ensure that buggy apps kept on working even when they shouldn't. As a result, 3.1 was just about usable for software development, whereas 3.0 had required a reboot every few hours or so.

    But even so, it was 3.0 that wowed the punters. Just shows you how stupid punters are.

  40. Frank Sattler

    The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

    Does that mean we can expect a floppy adapter for mobiles next?

  41. Anonymous Coward

    File Manager

    God how I miss it!

    I'd love to see a screen shot of the old Control Panel...

    Oh, and Windows 3.1 (just to pile it on) was 8.3 for file names, 8 or less characters for directories.

    Now if this guy could show how he edited the Win.ini and Config.sys. etc., to actually get it to work, that would just bring back old times.

  42. RW

    @ Richard Steiner

    To your list of meritorious Win3.1 apps, let me add Improv 2.0 (never, alas, really finished), Lotus 1-2-3 release 5 (the single best spreadsheet program), and FontMonster. Also WordPerfect 5.1, the best word processor ever written.

    However, these will all run under Win95 & Win98, which are far more stable OSes than Win 3.1. When I was using Win3.1, I'd have to shut it down and reboot two or three times most workdays because the GUI heap would become corrupted. I learned that the instant I saw *any* "funny" on the display, to save my work and reboot.

    If you want to run these inside Linux, your best bet is probably to use Virtual Box, as Wine is glitchy in its handling of older Windows software.

  43. heyrick Silver badge

    Oops - Error establishing a database connection.

    Fifteen minutes of fame and... :-)

  44. Christian Berger
    Thumb Up

    So unlike Windows Phone...

    So unlike Windows Phone, Android can now execute Windows applications. So a Linux distribution (if you can even call Android that) is now more compatible with Windows than a "Windows" distribution.

  45. Cliff

    Microsoft Bob next!

    I'm one of the few people to ever use MS Bob - the only thing more awkward than Win3.1 on my G1 would be MS Bob. Hmmm I must work on it ;-)

  46. Annihilator
    Paris Hilton

    Vista on iPhone?

    Presumably you mean "RDP client on the iPhone"? Unless I missed something huge

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    in a geeky kinda way. Anyone know of a USB <--> 10 base 2 adapter (trying to keep it vintage oldskool).

    AC - dont want my boss to find out I have a vintage oldskool fetish.

  48. Mark Eaton-Park

    win 3.1 sat directly on DOS so no long filename

    Yeah like I said

  49. Christopher E. Stith

    How about checking some other facts (or proofreading)?

    DOSBox is usually used to run DOS programs on PCs that _are_ running more modern OSes like Windows 7 or Linux. It's not used because those PCs can't run newer OSes. It's because the old DOS games can't run on the newer PCs with more modern OSes.

    Perhaps the line:

    "DOSBox is usually used to run old MS-DOS games for Intel x86 PCs that can't run modern operating systems such as Window XP, Vista, Linux, or FreeBSD."

    Was meant to be written as:

    "DOSBox is usually used to run old MS-DOS games that can't run on modern Intel x86 PC operating systems such as Window XP, Vista, Windows 7, Linux, or FreeBSD."

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns


    "It's completely useless, but really damn cool."

    Where have I heard someone say that about WIndows before?

  51. Mike Hawk

    File names

    Win 3.1 did NOT support long file names.

  52. Anonymous Coward

    Long File Names

    Well, Windows 3.1 did come with long file names support, but only in File Manager. The reason being workgroup/network support. You could trick File Manager into supporting long file names locally by installing LFN support TSRs into DOS and couple it with a custom command intepreter like 4DOS, but no, it doesn't do LFN out of the box locally, because DOS doesn't.

  53. Anonymous Coward

    Oh dear...

    ..."It's completely useless, but really damn cool"

    Err no, it's not cool.

    Naked Volleyball with a bunch of models, that's cool.

    Surfing the waves in the Bahama's or the Artic, that's cool.

    BASE jumping blindfolded, that's cool.

    Porting Windows 3.1 onto a phone, trust me that ain't cool.

    1. James Hughes 1

      And how many of those have you actually done?

      Cool is as cool does.

      Coolness is in the eye of the beholder.

      Or something.

    2. Ben Rosenthal

      re: basejumping twatdangle

      it's not the 90's and you're not in a Pepsi advert

  54. Anonymous Coward


    OpenDNS rejects this link as a phishing site. I tried a couple of proxies and they returned an error:

    This has been a public service announcement, all harsh words and hissy fits will be ignored. Thank you.

  55. Chris Cartledge
    Gates Halo


    The killer feature of Windows 3.1 over 3.0 was Truetype WYSIWYG support. I loved it and later versions brought no killer improvements for me. When support for modern hardware became an issue, I moved on to Linux, never to return.

  56. Nuke

    Just So

    I still have a MSDOS v5.0 / Windows 3.11 dual booting with Kubuntu on an AMD 64. I use the Windows occassionally as I have an old but fast scanner with drivers only for Windows 3.x or Win95. Win 95 will not work on the AMD 64, but DOS / Win 3.x are fine.

    I've even tried playing the freebee DOS game where two gorillas throw exploding bananas at eachother, but each banana throw takes spends about 15 minutes in the air and when it explodes DOS crashes.

    1. Francis Begbie
      Black Helicopters


      " but each banana throw takes spends about 15 minutes in the air and when it explodes DOS crashes."

      So it's a 100% spot-on emulator then?

  57. El Pollito
    Dead Vulture

    So what's new?!

    I've been running Windows 3.1 on DOSBox on my FreeBSD box for ages, just for nostalgia's sake (not because it's "really damn cool"). How is this any different? Sorry but I don't see how this is newsworthy.

    Oh and as others have mentioned, Windows 3.1 did *not* have long file name support out of the box.

  58. Sodabread
    Thumb Down

    Broken record...

    It's amazing how many people seem like they can't be bothered to even read the first couple comments and continue to repost "3.1 didn't have long file names!".

    1. Trevor 3

      Well thats because... didn't, did it? LFN didn't come into the home user market until Win95.

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