Microsoft Wiki

Windows 3.0 is a version of Microsoft Windows released on May 22, 1990. Like its predecessors, it is an operating environment that runs on top of MS-DOS.



Work on what became Windows 3.0 began at Microsoft in 1988 when David Weise and Murray Sargent independently decided to develop a protected mode for Windows applications, to allow reliable multitasking. In previous versions of Windows 2.xx for 386 processors, protected memory only supported DOS applications. The team cobbled together a rough prototype that could run Windows versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint simultaneously, then presented it to company executives, who were impressed enough to approve it as an official project.[1]

Release history

Version Release Dates:

  • Windows 3.00.55 (Windows 3.00 Beta): January 2, 1990 (leaked release)
  • Windows 3.00: May 1, 1990 (compiled) / May 22, 1990 (first official release)
  • Windows 3.00a: October 31, 1990 (bug fix release)
  • Windows 3.00a with Multimedia Extensions 1.00: October 20, 1991 (release)
  • Windows 3.01: 1992 (Korean release)
  • Windows 3.02: November 1991 (Japanese release)

Succeeded by Windows 3.1 on April 6, 1992.
Officially supported by Microsoft until December 31, 2001.

New features

  • Improved user interface
  • Better memory management with Intel's 80286 and 80386 processors.
  • Multiple DOS program multitasking support.
  • Revamped Control Panel
  • Solitaire card game program added.
  • Improved Paintbrush program.
  • Improved Windows icons in EGA\VGA mode, support for 256 color VGA. (80286 processor or better required)
  • (Multimedia Extensions 1.x release): included a CD-ROM drive and sound card support, such as the Creative Labs Sound Blaster Pro.

System requirements

The official system requirements for Windows 3.0x:

  • 8086/8088 processor or better
  • 384K of free conventional memory (real mode, protected modes require more)
  • Hard disk with 6-7MB of free space
  • CGA/EGA/VGA/Hercules/8514/A graphics and an appropriate and compatible monitor
  • Microsoft DOS version 3.1 or higher

Also, a Microsoft-compatible mouse is recommended.

Memory modes

Windows 3.0x was the only version of Windows that could be run in three different memory modes:

  • Real mode: For older computers with a CPU below Intel 80286. Allows the function of Windows 2.x applications. Removed in Windows 3.1x. Limit of 4MB of EMS memory.
  • Standard mode: For computers with a 80286 processor, and corresponding to its protected mode.
  • 386 Enhanced mode: For computers with an Intel 80386 processor or above, and corresponding to its protected mode and virtual 8086 mode. Has 32-bit addressing and paging for faster memory access, and virtual 8086 mode for safer execution of MS-DOS programs, uses virtual 8086 mode to allow multiple DOS programs to run along with being windowed and allowing multitasking to continue. Virtual memory support allows the user to employ the hard disk as a temporary storage space if applications use more memory than exists in the system.

Gallery of screenshots


  1. Edstrom, Jennifer; Eller, Marlin (1998). Barbarians led by Bill Gates. Henry Holt and Company. p. 87-95. ISBN 0-8050-5754-4. Retrieved December 29, 2019. 

External links

Wikipedia (article: Windows 3.0 )
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).
Windows 1.0Windows 2.0Windows 2.1 (Windows/286Windows/386) • Windows 3.0Windows 3.1
Windows 9x
Windows 95Windows 98Windows Me
Windows NT
Early versions
Windows NT 3.1Windows NT 3.5Windows NT 3.51Windows NT 4.0Windows 2000
Windows XP (development) • Windows Vista (editionsdevelopment) • Windows 7 (editionsdevelopment) • Windows 8Windows 10
Windows Server
Server 2003Server 2008 (2008 R2) • HPC Server 2008Home ServerSmall Business ServerEssential Business ServerWindows Server 2012Windows Server 2016
Windows EmbeddedWindows PEWindows Fundamentals for Legacy PCs
Windows MobileWindows Phone
Windows 11
CairoNashvilleNeptuneOdysseyWindows 10X
MetroMidoriOS/2Windows AeroWindows SetupWindows XP themesMicrosoft Plus!