||This article relies largely or entirely upon a single source. (September 2010)|
|Part of the Microsoft Windows family|
|Screenshot of Windows 3.0|
|Initial release||May 22, 1990info][|
Multimedia Extensions (October 20, 1991 ) [info]
|Source model||Closed source|
|Preceded by||Windows 2.1x (1988)|
|Succeeded by||Windows 3.1x (1993)|
|Unsupported as of December 31, 2001|
Windows 3.0, a graphical environment, is the third major release of Microsoft Windows, and was released on May 22, 1990. It became the first widely successful version of Windows and a rival to Apple Macintosh and the Commodore Amiga on the GUI front. It was followed by Windows 3.1.
Windows 3.0 originated in 1989 when a group of Microsoft programmers independently decided to develop a protected mode Windows as an experiment. They cobbled together a rough prototype and presented it to company executives, who were impressed enough to approve it as an official project.
Windows 3.0 succeeded Windows 2.1x and included a significantly revamped user interface as well as technical improvements to make better use of the memory management capabilities of Intel's 80286 and 80386 processors. Text-mode programs written for MS-DOS could be run within a window (a feature previously available in a more limited form with Windows/386 2.1), making the system usable as a crude multitasking base for legacy programs. However, this was of limited use for the home market, where most games and entertainment programs continued to require raw DOS access.
The MS-DOS Executive file manager/program launcher was replaced with the icon-based Program Manager and the list-based File Manager, thereby simplifying the launching of applications. The MS-DOS Executive is also included as an alternative to these. The Control Panel, previously available as a standard-looking applet, was re-modeled after the one in Mac OS. It centralized system settings, including limited control over the color scheme of the interface.
A number of simple applications were included, such as the text editor Notepad and the word processor Write (both inherited from earlier versions of Windows), a macro recorder (new; later dropped), the paint program Paintbrush (inherited but substantially improved), and a calculator (also inherited). Also, the earlier Reversi game was complemented with the card game Solitaire.
The Windows icons and graphics support a full 16 colors in EGA and VGA mode while Windows 2.x only had colored menus and window boxes with in-application graphics being monochrome. 256 color VGA mode was supported for the first time.
Windows 3.0 includes a Protected/Enhanced mode which allows Windows applications to use more memory in a more painless manner than their DOS counterparts could. It can run in any of Real, Standard, or 386 Enhanced modes, and is compatible with any Intel processor from the 8086/8088 up to 80286 and 80386. Windows 3.0 tries to auto detect which mode to run in, although it can be forced to run in a specific mode using the switches: /r (real mode), /s ("standard" 286 protected mode) and /3 (386 enhanced protected mode) respectively. Since Windows 3.0 (and later Windows 3.1) runs in 16-bit 286 protected mode and not 32-bit 386 protected mode, applications must still work with 64k memory segments like in DOS although 32-bit instructions may be contained in the code (Ami Pro was the first Windows application to require a 386). Because of this, Windows 3.0 can only access 16MB total of RAM even on 386 CPUs which have the theoretical capability of utilizing 4GB.
This was the first version to run Windows programs in protected mode, although the 386 enhanced mode kernel was an enhanced version of the protected mode kernel for Windows/286.
A "multimedia" version, Windows 3.0 with Multimedia Extensions 1.0, was released later in 1991. This was bundled with "multimedia upgrade kits", comprising a CD-ROM drive and a sound card, such as the Creative Labs Sound Blaster Pro. This version was the precursor to the multimedia features available in Windows 3.1 and later, and was part of Microsoft's specification for the Multimedia PC.
Windows 3.0 was the last version of Windows to advertise 100% compatibility with older Windows applications. This only applies to real mode.
System requirements 
The official system requirements for Windows 3.0:
- 8086/8088 processor or better
- 384K of free conventional memory (real mode, protected modes require more)
- Hard disk with 6-7MB of free space
- CGA/EGA/VGA/Hercules/8514/A graphics and an appropriate and compatible monitor
- MS-DOS version 3.1 or higher
Also, a Microsoft-compatible mouse is recommended.
Windows 3.0 cannot run in full color on 8086 machines because the EGA and VGA color drivers require a 286. Microsoft dropped support for the Tandy 1000 line by 1990, so a Tandy graphics driver was not provided for Windows 3.0, however, the Windows 2.x Tandy driver could be copied into the target system and used.
Memory modes 
Windows 3.0 was the only version of Windows that could be run in three different memory modes:
- Real mode, intended for older computers with a CPU below Intel 80286, and corresponding to its real mode;
- Standard mode, intended for computers with an 80286 processor, and corresponding to its protected mode;
- 386 Enhanced mode, intended for newer computers with an Intel 80386 processor or above, and corresponding to its protected mode and virtual 8086 mode.
Real mode primarily existed as a way to run Windows 2.x applications. It was removed in Windows 3.1x. Almost all applications designed for Windows 3.0 had to be run in standard or 386 enhanced modes (Microsoft Word 1.x however runs in real mode). However, it was necessary to load Windows 3.0 in real mode to run SWAPFILE.EXE, which allowed users to change virtual memory settings. Officially, Microsoft stated that an 8Mhz turbo 8086 was the minimum CPU needed to run Windows 3.0. It can be run on 4.77Mhz 8088 machines, but performance is so slow as to render the OS almost unusable. Up to 4MB of EMS memory is supported in real mode.
Standard mode was used most often as its requirements were more in-line with an average PC of that era – a 286 processor with at least 1MB of memory. Incidentally, not all 286 and 386 computers remapped memory between 640 KB (the upper limit of Conventional memory) and 1 MB as extended memory — some did not show memory between 640 KB and 1 MB at all — so on some systems with 1 MB of RAM, there is no extended memory and memory was limited to 640 KB. On such a system, Windows was limited to real mode. Many 386 computers ran Windows 3.0 in standard mode due to a lack of memory and also for performance reasons.
386 Enhanced mode was a 32-bit virtual machine that ran a copy of 16-bit Standard mode, and multiple copies of MS-DOS in virtual 8086 mode. In 286 mode, the CPU temporarily switches back into real mode when a DOS application is run, thus they cannot be windowed or switched into the background, and all Windows processes are suspended while the DOS application is in use. 386 enhanced mode by comparison uses virtual 8086 mode to allow multiple DOS programs to run (each DOS session takes 1MB of memory) along with being windowed and allowing multitasking to continue. Virtual memory support allows the user to employ the hard disk as a temporary storage space if applications use more memory than exists in the system.
Multimedia Extensions 
The Multimedia Extensions were released in autumn 1991 to support sound cards, as well as CD-ROM drives, which were then becoming increasingly available. The Multimedia Extensions were released to Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), mainly CD-ROM drive and sound card manufacturers, and added basic multimedia support for audio input and output and a CD audio player application to Windows 3.0. The Multimedia Extensions' new features were not available in Windows 3.0 real mode. Windows 3.1x would later incorporate many of its features. Microsoft developed the Windows Sound System sound card specification to complement these extensions.
The MME API was the first universal and standardized Windows audio API. Wave sound events played in Windows (up to Windows XP) and MIDI I/O use MME. The devices listed in the Multimedia/Sounds and Audio control panel applet represent the MME API of the sound card driver.
MME lacks channel mixing, so only one audio stream can be rendered at a time. MME supports sharing the audio device for playback between multiple applications starting with Windows 2000, up to two channels of recording, 16-bit audio bit depth and sampling rates of up to 44.1 kHz with all the audio being mixed and sampled to 44.1 kHz.
This version of Windows was the first to be pre-installed on hard drives by PC-compatible manufacturers. Zenith Data Systems had previously shipped all of its computers with Windows 1.0 or later 2.x on diskettes but committed early in the development of Windows 3.0 to shipping it pre-installed. Indeed, the Zenith division had pushed Microsoft hard to develop the graphical user interface because of Zenith's direct competition with Apple in the educational market. However, Zenith PCs had to run a proprietary OEM version of Windows because they used hard disks with 1024 byte sectors (instead of the normal 512 bytes) and could not use the standard SWAPFILE.EXE
In December 1990, Microsoft released an updated Windows 3.0 with bug fixes and improved ability to move pieces of data greater than 64k (the original release could only manipulate one segment of RAM at a time).
Windows 3.0 was not available as a run-time version, as was the case with its predecessors. A limited-use version of Windows 2.x was often bundled with other applications (i.e. Ami Pro) due to the low market penetration of Windows itself. It again was unsupported after December 31, 2001.
Standard retail and OEM distributions of Windows 3.0 were on high density 1.2MB and 1.44MB floppy disks. A 720k version was also offered, and a 360k edition could be ordered from Microsoft. Fully installed, Windows 3.0 used 5MB of hard disk space.
Software support 
Windows 3.0 was the first Windows version to see widespread use, although DOS still remained dominant (especially for games) and freeware and shareware applications for Windows considerably outnumbered commercial ones. It also significantly spurred sales of new PCs with larger RAM capacities as many older machines lacked the speed or memory to handle a demanding OS like Windows properly, and some could not run it in protected mode due to outdated BIOSes or lack of proper P-mode implementation (since very few applications used protected mode prior to Windows 3.0, PC manufacturers sometimes did not bother including functional support for it in either the hardware, BIOS, or both.
Windows 3.0 had a software update that was never released that increased the speed of the floppy disk drive. By the time it was ready to be launched, a new version of Windows was released.
- Mark Ward (5 November 2008). "The end of an era - Windows 3.x". BBC News. Retrieved 4 September 2009.
- Windows 3.0 Modes and Memory Requirements http://support.microsoft.com/kb/58317
- Windows Version History http://support.microsoft.com/kb/32905
- Raymond Chen, If Windows 3.11 required a 32-bit processor, why was it called a 16-bit operating system?
- GUIdebook: Windows 3.0 Gallery - A website dedicated to preserving and showcasing Graphical User Interfaces
- Windows 3.1 Rocks Mailing List Support, links and freeware downloads for users of Windows 3x.
- Windows 3.0 Modes and Memory Requirements