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How Windows Blue Has A Lot In Common With Windows 3.1

A direct comparison may sound odd to you, but then again, not many know the story behind the Windows 3.0 iteration of Microsoft’s line of operating systems. Let’s just say that that version number, released in 1990 had quite a colorful history.

The third major release of Windows actually came into being when a bunch of Microsoft programmers tried some independent adventuring and whipped up a concept that impressed the executives enough to commission it as an official project.

The concept boasted a significantly revamped user interface — not unlike the special emphasis on the UI afforded to Windows 8, between things like the Start Screen and Live Tiles.

But while 3.0 was a success, it actually was the update (Windows 3.1) released in 1992 that brought along a number of lasting improvements and enhancements. Features like the debut of Windows Registry, support for TrueType fonts, and backwards compatibility with older versions of the OS.

And finally, icons were much more detailed and could be dragged and dropped.

These may seem like trivial changes now, but so lasting was their impact that most of them still continue to this day. Windows 3.0 may have been a bold new beginning, but it was the successor, 3.1 that stole hearts.

Windows 3.0 was the foundation — Windows 3.1 the institution.

Same could well be the case between Windows 8 and Windows Blue. Microsoft has even reportedly labelled the update 8.1, as subtle (or not so subtle) hint to the days of past perfect.

All signs point to a similar retread. The recent leaks show several new features and enhancements to old ones that reveal Windows Blue may well be something that really make a case not just for itself, but the Windows 8 platform too, on the desktop as well as the tablets.

Oh, and wondering how the Windows 3.1 story ended?

So successful was the year of Windows 3.1 for Microsoft that Forbes Magazine awarded it the distinction of the “Most Innovative Company Operating in the U.S.”, all the while Windows itself became the most popular GUI based operating system in the world.

Closest thing to a fairy tale in the technology world, I say.

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  • Frankleweeze

    Uhhhh…do what? From what I’ve seen so far Windows Blue (8.1) is a rehash of Windows 8 with slight improvements to the Metro UI and some new features under the hood. The deliberate destruction of the desktop, laptop and ITX platforms is still in play with Windows Blue. That destruction would be fine if Microsoft commanded the tablet market, rather they are wayyyyy behind in the game. Don’t get me wrong, I want MS to stay around. But if they kill Xbox with the 720 (like they’re killing Windows) we could be in for an Apple/Mac dominant world, and higher price tags all around for working PC’s going forward.

    • Fahad Ali

      Agreed, but I think Microsoft’s dominance of the tablet platform is just around the corner. Mobility remains the company’s immediate focus, and all that is missing are smaller and cheaper Windows based tablets.

      There is still room enough for three big players on the tablet front, be it Apple, Google and Microsoft.

      The Xbox Next fiasco could be really big, though, I concur.

    • Oobgular

      I disagree. They are totally different from leading tablet makers in that they focus on productiveness. They aren’t another toy, they are fully-functioning PCs. And in that, they are ahead. They even may replace laptops some day, though I don’t think desktops will ever leave. But they will still dominate it.
      Would you buy an iPad to replace your laptop? Probably not. But a Surface Pro? maybe.

      • Fahad Ali

        True, true.

  • Webslinger

    I know there areall sorts of 3rd party programs and / or tricks to bring back the old desktop in Windows 8 / 8.1, but I think that if Microsoft themselves made their UI a
    choice instead of ramming it trough our collective throats eventually everyone
    would start using their new ‘8’.

    As you said, 3.1
    was sort of a revolution and the first to use concepts most of us still use today, it made Windows well, Windows.

    And I think that’s where they went wrong;
    Since 3.1 we are all using our Windows pc’s in more or less the way that 3.1 laid the
    foundations for, it got better (sometimes), faster and more beautiful but the principles
    stayed the same.

    So since 1992 people are using something that clearly works for them and Microsoft drops it out of the ‘Blue’…
    Slaying the goose that lays the golden eggs.

    That’s like Coca Cola saying: The whole world loves Coca Cola (well, you know what I mean) but we are throwing away the recipe and from now on Coca Cola will taste like apple juice.

    I understand wanting to make things work together, but if I wanted a tablet I would buy one, I have no interest in turning my desktop into one.

    • Fahad Ali

      Very much agreed. 😉 I have always maintained that at least for this first generation of the new platform, the change should always have been subtle. And this includes bundling the Start Screen with the Start Menu.

      This way the Start Screen could have had time to mature, people would have grown accustomed to it in time, and the excuse that Windows 8 is too different would be nonexistent. Win-win-win, if there ever was one!