Time flies whether you're having fun or simply trying to work out
which Registry change left your system hopelessly borked, and before
you know it, Windows 3.1 is turning 30.
Windows 3.1 was more than a user interface refresh of the preceding
Windows 3.0. Arriving on April 6, 1992, and still on MS-DOS, the
operating environment brought forth support for TrueType fonts,
introduced the Windows Registry and dropped support for older silicon.
Windows 3.1 insisted on 80286 or above, finally sticking a knife in
the heart of the Real Mode that was still supported in Windows 3.0.
As well as a visual update (although nothing compared to what was
coming a few short years later with Windows 95) multimedia support was
improved and Microsoft introduced a concept called The Registry.
The Windows Registry was (and remains) a database of settings hidden
within the environment, ostensibly intended to replace or complement
the .INI configuration files scattered throughout the environment both
by Windows and applications targeting the platform. It is a handy
database, but one that has become considerably more complex in the
intervening 30 years.
Windows 3.1 also increased the maximum memory available: when running
in 386 enhanced mode, the limit was a mighty 256MB, up from the weedy
16MB of Windows 3.0 (although care needed to be take with the version
of the HIMEM.SYS driver.
The requirement to run in Standard or 386 Enhanced Mode also made
things a good deal more stable, although the elephant-on-a-traffic
cone nature of Windows perching on DOS meant there remained plenty of
opportunities for sudden crashes.
Windows 3.1 sold very well, with an appealing user interface and
consumer-friendly multimedia features. It did, however, have a
relatively short life. Networking shortcomings would be at least
partially addressed by a quick-fire succession of Windows for
Workgroups releases, taking the version number to 3.11 by 1993 and
also dropping Standard Mode. Windows 95 turned up shortly after,
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