updated 02:30 pm EST, Wed November 5, 2008
MS Windows 3.x dead at 18
As of November 1st, 2008, Microsoft has stopped issuing licenses for its first operating system to put the company on the map with a wide range of users thanks to its graphical user interface, says a Wednesday report. The many versions of Windows 3.x, including 3.11, which launched in the US in May of 1990, were used worldwide and enjoyed great success, making Microsoft a viable alternative to Apple computers. Compared to the Mac alternative, the Windows OS could make use of improved graphics, had a wider color range and allowed for the addition of sound cards and CD-ROM drives.
Microsoft offered technical and other support for the OS until the end of 2001, but the operating system was embedded in certain applications until the beginning of this month. It was used to run cash tills in large chain stores and ticketing systems, for example, along with operating the in-flight entertainment systems on a portion of Virgin and Qantas international airliners.
The OS required an 8086/8088 processor with a clock speed of up to 10MHz, along with 640KB of RAM, 7MB of hard disk space and a CGA, EGA or VGA graphics card. It was compatible with older MS-DOS applications, making it flexible. In contrast, today's Windows Vista Home Basic requires a 1GHz, 32-bit CPU, 512MB of RAM, relatively large 20GB of memory and a 32MB graphics card.