When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Here’s how it works.

A quick look back at Windows 3.1 which hit the RTM stage 32 years ago this week

windows 31

There's been a lot of talk lately about how Microsoft might be ready to send over the "Released to Manufacturing" (RTM) build of Windows 11 24H2 to PC makers to have them installed on upcoming desktops and notebooks. 32 years ago this week, a major Windows OS update hit that RTM milestone. It was Windows 3.1, and it turned out to be not only a successful release on its own but it paved the way for the even bigger success of Windows 95 over three years later.

Microsoft had launched Windows 3.0 two years previously, and it turned out to be a big success. The previous versions of Windows were not huge financial successes, as many people thought they were still behind the user interface efforts of Apple's Macintosh OS. However, Windows 3.0 was different, and even Time magazine said back in June 1990 that "Microsoft seems to have got it right this time." It ended up selling 10 million copies in its first two years, according to Extreme Tech.

The development of Windows 3.1 was handled under the code name Janus at Microsoft. Some of the new additions and improvements that were included compared to Windows 3.0 included support for the popular TrueType scalable font standard. Multimedia was also a major focus of Windows 3.1, which included support for Windows Media Player and screensavers with the boxed version of the OS. SVGA color support was also included, which meant that it could support more advanced PC monitors that used SVGA.

Let's not forget Minesweeper. It debuted as a free game in Windows 3.1 and became a major time sink at work and home. You can check out our article on Minesweeper for a more detailed look at its origins as part of the OS.

The release of Windows 3.1 was considered a major success, with three million box copies sold in its first three months on sale. Well over a year later, in November 1993, Microsoft released Windows 3.11. It was a minor release that fixed some bugs and included no major new features. However, it is still being used to help run parts of the German ICE railroad network, as we mentioned in a news story just a couple of months ago.

In the end, Windows 3.1 was the end of the first era of Windows at Microsoft. It had reached a point where its user interface was familiar to most people who used PCs in the workplace as well as at home. The second era of Windows was still to come, as Microsoft would handle a complete overhaul of the UI and add many more features for the launch of Windows 95 in August 1995.

Report a problem with article
Apple TV box with FaceTime
Next Article

FaceTime's arrival on tvOS 17 reignites rumors of Apple TV with a built-in camera

The Samsung 990 EVO SSD drive
Previous Article

Samsung 990 EVO SSD drops to new all-time low, now available for almost half the price

Join the conversation!

Login or Sign Up to read and post a comment.

16 Comments - Add comment