The old and the new
Just for the laugh, I loaded Windows 3.1 into my Virtual Machine the other day.
I did it, mainly just to see if I could.
What you see above is both Windows 7 and Windows 3.1 running in their own Virtual Machines on a Linux Mint host.
When I started working with PCs the standard machine came with 1Mb of memory and a 20Mb hard disk. Windows 3.1 was considered to be fairly bloated as it weighed in at nearly 15Mb, so it took most of the disk space. Of course, Windows wasn’t an operating system in those days; it was essentially a programme that ran on DOS, which also had to be loaded onto the PC.
In those days, the Internet was still very much in its infancy, and neither DOS nor Windows came with TCPIP/IP software or a browser so they had to be loaded and configured separately. What was worse, loading IP and a browser required a full 2Mb of memory to run properly. To connect to the Internet meant adding memory, loading a TCP/IP stack (Lan Workplace was the software of choice), configuring DOS to handle the stack and then installing Netscape Navigator.
In contrast, Windows 7 handles IP and the Internet as an everyday item and we take it for granted that it will connect to the Internet as soon as it is installed. There is one small difference between 3.1 and 7 though – while 3.1 weighs in at 15Mb, 7 comes in at around 12Gb. Nearly a thousand times bigger. I would also love to see it try to run with 1Mb of memory!
Things have changed a bit over the last twenty years.
I can remember your former employers using Windows 3.11 right up until 1999 or so.
And they used windows mail with Microsoft’s Mail post office. I still shudder at the thought of seeing that setup the first time I had to call to the Cork offices.
If I remember correctly, Offices down the bogs were given 3.11 while the Mother House progressed to NT. As for the mail – that was always a bit of a mess!
I’m surprised that windows 3.11 can even be emulated on current hardware! What was it designed for, an 8 bit or 16 bit processor?
Windows 3.11 was 16bit. As too was DOS upon which it relied.
CPU’s at the time would have been 80386 (1985) series with the 80486 (1989) just entering market. These were 32 bit processors. But Windows (And DOS) were 16bit for compatibility with the many 80286 powered PC’s out there. But the 286 was limited to 16Mb of RAM, the OS could theoretically support more but it was limited by hardware.
The first truly 32bit Microsoft OS was Windows NT 3.1 in 1993. Windows 95/98/Me were 32bit but kind of as they still relied on DOS.
Windows NT 4.0 was the start of the fully 32bit revolution in 1996 followed up by Windows 2000 (in 1999) and ultimately Windows XP which is now 10 years old believe it or not.
Windows 3,1 appeared in 1992 and was succeeded in 1995 by Windows 95 just 3 years later. Windows 95 gave way to Windows 98 which in turn gave way to Me and then XP.
Over the past 5 years almost all processors in all PCs are 64bit capable but still 32bit computing still dominates.
Windows 7 and Vista come in both 32 and 64 bit flavours, as to does Linux, FreeBSD etc. Windows 7 will apparently be the last 32 bit microsoft operating system.
It’s interesting to see that now the software is playing catch up to the hardware. W
Aha! The old 386! Happy days indeed!
I installed DOS 6.22 and Windows 3.1 on the VM and it runs remarkably well. The only problem I had with it was that the mouse driver wouldn’t work properly, and the curser would skitter all over the place. It was only an experiment and a drop of nostalgia anyway.