How Microsoft Windows 3.0 Dragged the IBM PC into the Graphics Age

1 of 11

How Microsoft Windows 3.0 Dragged the IBM PC into the Graphics Age

by John Pallatto

2 of 11

There really was a Windows 1.0

Few people actually bought the first edition of Windows that Microsoft introduced in 1985 for the first generation of Intel 8088 PCs that limited people to running programs in no more than 640K (that's right - 640 Kilobytes) of memory. The first edition of was little more than a demonstration prototype to show PC users and software developers what a graphical interface would look like on an IBM standard PC. (Credit: Wikipedia)

3 of 11

Then there was Windows 2.0

This version, which Microsoft Released in 1987, was optimized to run on the faster new Intel 80286 CPU. Another innovation was it took advantage of the "expanded memory specification," which means it was able to access more than the 1M Byte of memory that was the standard installation on IBM PCs. But like its predecessor, Windows 2.0 was not very widely used mainly most home and business PC users were content to keep working with the text-based MS-DOS. (Credit: Wikipedia)

4 of 11

Windows 3.0&#151The Third Time Was the Charm

Window 3.0 was a huge success for a number of reasons. But the main reason was that the new operating system was optimized to run on the new Intel 386 processor, which provided enough computing horsepower to efficiently run a graphical operating system. The combination of Windows 3.0 and the Intel 386 processor convinced corporate and a home computer users that it was time to upgrade to the new PC generation.

5 of 11

The Windows 3.0 Hype Machine

There was huge media and market anticipation for Microsoft's introduction of Windows 3.0. Microsoft was staking its future on Windows 3.0 as its next generation desktop computing platform. The company spent months enlisting PC manufacturer and ISV support for the platform. It had primed the media hype machines to tell the world why they would love the graphical user interface even if they had never touched a Macintosh in their lives. The operating system was rolled out at glitzy parties on both coasts.

6 of 11

Windows 3.0 Triggers Application Development Explosion

With advent of Windows 3.0 developers had to learn the intricacies of graphical interface programming. Many developers had to brush up on C and C++ programming to build applications for the GUI. Microsoft's own VisualBasic, introduced in 1991, was in part an answer to the demand for Windows development tools as a way to reduce the amount of brute hand-coding required for GUI development. Other ISVs pitched in with their own tools.

7 of 11

Windows Program Manager Streamlined Application Access

The Windows 3.0 Program Manager ensured that users' essential applications were always just a mouse click away. There was no longer any needs to remember the sometimes lengthy command line file names. The applications included games such as solitaire and reversi, with which PC users killed countless hours of time, including what often should have been productive office work time. (Credit: Wikipedia)

8 of 11

Windows 3.1 Supports PC Desktop Publishing

Since the mid 1980s the Macintosh had been the unquestioned choice for desktop publishing because its graphical user interface allows users to layout newspaper, newsletter and report pages on the screen. The main enhancement of Windows 3.1 in March 1992 was the introduction of the introduction of the TrueType font, which made the PC an effective desktop publishing platform. However, Windows 3.0 users were also able to get access to desktop publishing features through the Adobe Type Manager. Despite these improvements, the Mac was still favored by many users for its desktop publishing prowess. (Credit: Wikipedia)

9 of 11

How Windows 3.0 Killed IBM OS/2

In 1985 IBM and Microsoft signed an agreement to develop a new PC operating system that was to become known as OS/2. The goal was to provide IBM with a desktop operating system that IBM could market with its own brand of PCs independent of Microsoft's own operating system strategy. IBM released OS/2 1.1 with a graphical user interface in October 1988. Microsoft had already released Windows 2.1 and was working on Windows 3.0. IBM's plans for OS/2 ultimately failed because the many IBM standard PC manufacturers of the day decided to preinstall millions of copies of Windows 3.0 on their machines as original equipment. OS/2 was available only for the new IBM PS/2 computer line or as a stand-alone package that was more expensive than Windows. IBM has probably never entirely forgiven Microsoft for developing the more successful Windows 3.0 even as Microsoft executives publicly spoke glowingly about...

10 of 11

Windows NT 3.1 Takes Aim at Business Desktops, Networks

Windows NT 3.1, released in 1993, was Microsoft's first 32-operating system and designed to take advantage of the full capabilities of the latest Intel 386 and 486 processors. As Microsoft's "New Technology" operating system it was marketed as a high-powered platform for networked business computing. As such it was the platform used to run the client/server applications that allowed corporations to rapidly set up new money-making business applications without waiting for access to expensive mainframe or mid-range computing resources. Windows NT remained widely deployed on corporate networks well after it was superseded by Windows XP, which Microsoft introduced in 2001.

11 of 11

Windows 95: The end of a Computing Interlude

The introduction of Windows 95, released in August, 1995, signaled the end of the Windows 3.0-3.1 period of home and business computing. Originally called Windows 4.0 prior to release, this 32-bit operating system was marketed mainly as a home consumer edition, but it could be found on many business desktops. Windows NT was marketed as the networked OS for business. Windows 95 was the first version of Windows to introduce long-desired "plug-and-play" features that automated the installation of software device drivers that eliminated the need for PC users to reset motherboard switches when they needed to add third-party peripherals, such as printers, external disk drives or gaming joy sticks. However, Windows 3.1 kept running on many desktops for years after the release of Windows 95. (Credit: Wikipedia)

Top White Papers and Webcasts