Microsoft discontinues Windows… 3.x

If you’re hurting that Microsoft will soon discontinue Windows XP, you may take heart in the fact that the company has only just put an end to Windows 3.x.

As of November 1, 2008 Microsoft has stopped issuing licences for Windows 3.x, which debuted in May 1990.

The BBC reports that Microsoft maintained support for Windows 3.x until the end of 2001, but it lived on as an embedded operating system until this November. As an embedded system, it was used in devices such as cash tills and ticketing systems.

It is also used as the embedded operating system that powers the in-flight entertainment systems on some Virgin and Qantas long-haul jets.

Windows 3.x was the first Windows-based operating system to seriously rival Apple’s Mac graphical user interface – and rapidly overtook it as the world’s favourite operating system.

Microsoft first introduced an operating environment named Windows in November 1985 as an add-on to MS-DOS and so was not a complete operating system. Microsoft Windows version 2.0 was released in November 1987. Windows 2.03 (release date January 1988) changed the OS from tiled windows to overlapping windows – which led to Mac-maker Apple Computer filing a suit against Microsoft alleging infringement on its copyrights.

Microsoft Windows version 3.0, released in 1990, was the first Microsoft Windows version to achieve broad commercial success, selling 2 million copies in the first six months. It featured improvements to the user interface and to multitasking capabilities.

Windows 3.x required a 10MHz 8086/8088 processor, with 640K RAM, 7MB disk space, and a graphics card that supported CGA, EGA and VGA graphics.

Windows Vista Home Premium requires a 32-bit 1GHz processor, 1GB RAM, 40GB disk space, and a graphics card with at least 128MB of memory.

Mainstream support for Windows XP will continue until April 14, 2009; and extended support will continue until April 8, 2014.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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