When Microsoft first released their Windows operating system, it was named Windows 3.0. Subsequent versions were named after this original version as in Windows 3.1, Windows 3.2, etc. The entire family of the Windows operating system based on that original version is referred to as Windows 3x.
Windows 3.0 was released in 1990 and was hailed as the next big version of the operating system. It would soon take the computer world by storm and be hailed as what every computer user needed to effectively and easily operate a computer system. The Windows 3x family of operating systems would be the basis for many new and exciting developments in the world of operating systems.
With the release of Windows 3.0, virtual memory and loadable virtual device drivers were present in the operating system which allowed the system to share arbitrary devices between multi-tasked DOS Windows. Because of this, Windows applications could then run in 16-bit protected mode and gave them access to several megabytes of memory. It also removed the obligation to participate in the software virtual memory scheme.
The applications still ran inside the same address space where the segmented memory provided a degree of protection and multi-tasked cooperatively. For Windows 3.0, Microsoft also rewrote critical operation from “C” into “assembly” making this release faster and less memory-hungry than its predecessors.
With the introduction of 32-bit Windows for Workgroups 3.11, the family of Windows 3x operating system could finally stop relying on DOS for file management. The most important novelty of this version of Windows was the possibility of running 32-bit multi-threaded preemptively multi-tasked graphical program. However, the necessity of keeping compatibility with 16-bit programs meant the GUI components were still 16-bit only and not fully re-entrant which resulted in reduced performance and stability.
Nevertheless, the Windows 3x family of operating systems was still one of the most innovative designs for an operating system seen to date. Even though in 1990, operating system technology was still evolving, Windows 3x operating systems were technologically advanced way over their competition.
This version of Windows would introduce the graphical user interface making it easier for anyone to operate a computer system. Point and click technology would soon become the norm, but it all started with the Windows 3x operating system. The computer world, at the time, hadn’t seen anything like Windows 3x, but they would sure see more with the advent of technology.
Operating systems have evolved over the years, but the Windows 3x family of operating systems set the groundwork for the operating systems we know today. Constant updating and improving gave us the capability to use our computers in new and exciting ways. And it all started in 1990.