Happy birthday to Windows 3.0, which just turned 25 years old

Joseph Finney

Windows 3.0 turned 25 years old

There are few who doubt Windows has been a successful product for Microsoft. One of the first truly successful versions of Windows was Windows 3.0 and the classic OS is now 25 years old (Windows 3.0 was released back in May 22nd of 1990). During this time, Microsoft has evolved Windows into a product which doesn’t look too different from the early GUI. Obviously interfaces of computers in 1990 were simpler but there are a surprising number of common elements. UI elements like the minimize button, scroll bars, and the ‘File’ drop down remain in most desktop applications today.

Windows 10 still contains Notepad, Calculator, and a DOS prompt for users to accomplish simple productivity much like Windows 3.0 did. Mostly Windows has evolved as a platform; supporting faster processors and video cards, more ram and larger hard drives, and new interface methods. The majority of improvements exist below the GUI where users cannot see such as support for more advanced programming languages as well as more sophisticated security.

Early GUIs brought computers to everyday people who weren’t interested in memorizing DOS commands. Windows 3.0’s large adoption was assisted by it being pre-installed on hard drives instead of just including disks in the box. This began Microsoft’s reign by default which has continued for many years. Looking back, we can all smile and be glad our computers can display more than 256 colors and sample higher than 44.1 kHz of audio.