First the Internet Archive brought back Dos games at the start of 2015, then it uploaded Dos Malware.
But now if you fancy a break from the Windows 10 EULA, or just want to see how far PC graphics have come since the final decade of the 20th Century, you can use Microsoft’s Windows 3.1 from the safety of your internet browser.
Yes, Archive.org has salvaged and uploaded its Windows 3.1 collection of games and software from the days when computing was a much simpler 16bit graphical affair.
The new Windows archive includes nearly 300 productivity tools, and over 1,000 games, as well some rather interesting diversions from an era when Bill Clinton was yet to become President.
I remember Windows 3.1 myself. It came with my first ever PC. I think it used it once. Quite frankly it just got in the way of me playing ‘proper’ games.
But for others, Windows 3.1 was a seminal moment in PC history.
“The colorful and unique look of Windows 3/3.1 is a 16-bit window into what programs used to be like, and depending on the graphical whims of the programmers, could look futuristic or incredibly basic. For many who might remember working in that environment, the view of the screenshots of some of the hosted programs will bring back long-forgotten memories. And clicking on these screenshots will make them come alive in your browser.”
An OS for the 21st Century
It might seem ludicrous now to anyone under the age of 35, but Windows 3.1 had some jaw dropping features for the time.
3.1 came with a ‘media player,’ which allowed for the playback of ‘video’ on your computer screen. But that wasn’t all. It also came with support for ‘Compact Discs,’ which was fairly incredible. My first hard drive was 500 MB in size, and large games still came on 10 or so 1.44” floppy discs, which meant that CDs represented a large leap forward in storage capacity. DVDs were still over a decade away from being invented.
Win 3.1 on Win 10
Each piece of Windows software can be run via a standard internet browser, and runs in a Javaacript emulator called DosBox, which first boots up Windows 3.1 and then runs the program or game without virtually any drain on practically any 21st century machine.
Microsoft officially stopped supporting 3.1 in 2001, but the OS still continues to be used in a few places, including Air Traffic Control systems.
The Windows 3.1 apps have been categorized into 4 sections; Desktop Toys, Games, Productivity, and Shareware.
You can view the archive here.