Windows 3

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Windows 3 box.

Windows 3 is an operating environment developed and published by Microsoft on 1990-05-22. It is the third release of Windows, and the last major release before it became a true operating system rather than a program running inside of MS-DOS. There were several versions, each introduced new features.

My family's first computer was a Packard Bell 386 SX running Windows 3.0 With Multimedia Extensions and I spent a lot of time playing around with the program. Looking back on it now, it's surprising how little there is to do with it.

Despite the growing popularity of Windows for office and home computers, the OS had very little in the way of gaming support, which was my primary interest in computers at the time. So, like most gamers of the day, I would quit Windows and get into DOS to play my games.

Shortly before getting my first Windows 95 computer, I had upgraded to Windows 3.11 For Workgroups, though, as a non-networked user, I didn't use very many of the new features.


The following is Windows 3 software that I have enjoyed.


See all Windows 3 Applications.


See all Windows 3 Games.

Programming Languages



  • The colorful high-resolution icon-driven graphical user interface is far more ascetically pleasing to look at than a command-line.
  • Many of the long archaic DOS commands have a fairly simple drag-and-drop or menu-driven interface.
  • The display had a lot of customization including colors, font-sizes, wallpaper, and patterns.


  • Gaming was awful in Windows 3 because it had poor support for graphics and sound, and poor control over input and memory.
  • Icons and program groups do not have right-click menus. So, if you want to make a copy of an icon or delete it, you have to use the file menu or keyboard.
  • The original release had very little driver support for external hardware like audio devices, Ethernet, or SVGA.
  • The OS doesn't yet take advantage of dynamic memory which prevents running multiple large programs at once.
  • Although it appears to be multi-tasking, it's really just shifting control from one program to another in sequence for a short period of time.
  • Even if you had a 256 color display, Windows remained at 16 colors. You needed to upgrade to a 16-bit color hardware before Windows would accommodate additional colors.


  • Because external programs were allowed to alter the memory of Windows, general protection faults were extremely common.