The Windows version 3.1 Setup program can detect even more hardware
and software configurations than its version 3.0 predecessor.
Therefore, Windows 3.1 configures itself optimally for the computer on
which it is installed. The Setup program also detects a wide variety
of terminate-and-stay-resident (TSR) programs and hardware devices
known to cause problems; it then notifies you of a problem, or
corrects the problem without your involvement.
Windows 3.1 will be easier for novice users to install because of the
Express Install feature. This is the default setup method for Windows
3.1 and requires minimal user input. For more advanced users, there is
a Custom Installation option that gives you a high degree of control
over the setup process, so you can customize the installation to fit
your needs. For PC coordinators, Windows 3.1 installation provides the
Batch Install option and better network setup features for network
FILE MANAGER IMPROVEMENTS
The Windows 3.1 File Manager has been completely redesigned for
improved usability and performance. You can now display the directory
tree and directory contents side by side in a window. The File Manager
now supports multiple "panes" for easy browsing of different drives.
The File Manager also allows the display of more file attributes than
before and can even display filenames and folder names in a choice of
Another significant improvement is the quick format capability, which
allows you to format floppy disks in much less time than before.
The File Manager also supports an easier, more intuitive "drag-and-
drop" model for manipulating files. For example, to print a file, you
drag the file's icon with the mouse and "drop" the icon onto the Print
Manager icon. You can also drop an icon on a running application or
the application's title bar; the application will then automatically
open that file. This drag-and-drop functionality is controlled by the
new Registration Database, which stores information on how
applications open and print files and how file types are associated
with specific applications.
PROGRAM MANAGER IMPROVEMENTS
Improvements to the Program Manager include "wrappable" icon titles
that sit neatly under each icon in multiple lines, instead of a single
long line that may overlap with other icon titles. The Program Manager
also provides the new Startup group, which allows you to launch any
group of applications automatically when the Windows operating system
is started. Adding programs to the Startup group is done by simply
dragging and dropping an icon.
The Windows 3.1 help system has also been enhanced; it now provides
context-sensitive help information. By highlighting a command or
procedure and pressing the F1 key, you will be greeted with help
screens containing specific information about the command, as well as
any associated information.
The Windows 3.1 Print Manager can now resume stalled print jobs
without user intervention. For example, if a printer runs out of
paper, the print job will be automatically resumed after the paper
tray is restocked.
Another printing improvement introduced with Windows 3.1 is the
universal printer driver (UNIDRV). This software offers a single,
printer-independent driver for which specific printer drivers can be
built rapidly. The universal printer driver makes it easier for
printer manufacturers to write or update printer drivers, because the
driver encapsulates all the major features of a printer driver in a
single piece of software. Vendors simply provide a table of printer-
specific parameters for each printer. Instead of using dozens of
monolithic printer drivers, the Windows operating system needs only a
single driver and a small support table for each printer. Nearly 250
printers are supported in Windows 3.1, with the majority supported
BETTER SUPPORT FOR NETWORKS
Microsoft has made Windows 3.1 easier to use on a computer that is
attached to a network. Network administrators will find setup is
easier with Windows 3.1, especially for complex system configurations.
Network problems are also easier to trace and correct because network
error messages contain more information regarding the type and source
of the problem.
Windows also maintains persistent network connections, meaning that
information about a remote disk drive or printer is maintained by the
Windows operating system after a network session is terminated. When
Windows is restarted, it will reconnect automatically to the same
network connections present when it was closed. Windows will even
prompt the user for passwords if needed.
APPLICATION SUPPORT: INTEGRATION
Windows 3.1 provides the most sophisticated platform yet for
application integration, making it easier for users to exchange data
between documents and for programmers to build data-exchange
capabilities into applications for Windows. Application integration is
supported by several features of version 3.1, as discussed below in
Object Linking and Embedding
An important technology for the 1990s, object linking and embedding
(OLE) creates an environment in which applications can share
information seamlessly. With OLE, all data can be thought of as
objects. A spreadsheet chart, an illustration, a table, and even a
paragraph of text are all examples of objects. OLE provides the
information necessary for applications to share these objects easily.
Windows 3.1 supports OLE by providing standard libraries, interfaces,
and protocols that applications use to exchange data objects. As
developers implement OLE capabilities within programs, you will see a
new generation of applications that work together.
Microsoft has added OLE capabilities to new versions of the Windows
Write, Paint, and Cardfile accessories, all of which are provided with
Windows 3.1. You can, for example, create an illustration using the
Paint program and embed the graphic in a Write document. If the
illustration must be updated, you can double-click its icon within the
Write document, which launches Paint automatically so you can edit the
drawing. Since the original graphics file is embedded in the Write
document, there is no need to store or update multiple copies of the
image, and the file can be updated on any PC with Paintbrush.
Better Support for Dynamic Data Exchange
In the Windows operating system, the standard way of sharing data
between applications is through a mechanism known as dynamic data
exchange (DDE). OLE and other forms of data exchange use DDE as their
primary means of sharing data.
Windows 3.1 provides developers with a new Dynamic Data Exchange
Manager Library (DDEML), which offers a higher-level programming model
and makes it easier for developers to implement DDE capabilities in an
application designed for Windows.
Better Support for MS-DOS Applications
Windows 3.1 provides improved support for existing MS-DOS applications
within the Windows operating system. In particular, performance of MS-
DOS-based applications is enhanced when Windows 3.1 is used in
conjunction with MS-DOS version 5.0, because MS-DOS 5.0 can
significantly increase the amount of conventional memory available. In
addition, Windows 3.1:
- Supports MS-DOS applications running in VGA graphics mode in a
window or running in the background.
- Allows mouse support for MS-DOS-based applications when running in
a full screen or in a window.
- Includes more prewritten program information files (PIFs), which
tell Windows how to run a specific MS-DOS-based application; this
results in even greater MS-DOS-based application support.
- Offers disk-paging, which will allow you to concurrently run more
applications for MS-DOS than you can under Windows 3.0.
IMPROVED APPLICATION SUPPORT: TRUETYPE(TM)
Windows 3.1 includes the new TrueType scalable-font technology.
TrueType provides outline fonts, giving you instant access to fonts in
any point size, and allowing high-quality output on any monitor or
printer supported by Windows. TrueType was designed and developed to
meet the requirements of type professionals and graphic designers and
offers the following benefits.
Complete Integration with the Operating System
TrueType is an integrated component of Windows 3.1. For the Windows
customer, this means there is nothing to buy or install. All the
benefits of scalable-font technology are built into the operating
system, so existing applications can take advantage of the benefits
immediately. TrueType fonts can be used in Windows applications and in
the system itself. For example, you can now choose your own fonts for
File Manager. Four TrueType scalable-font families will ship with all
copies of Windows 3.1: Arial (alternative to Helvetica), Times New
Roman, Courier, and Symbol.
TrueType is also offered on the Apple Macintosh, and TrueType fonts
can be ported between Windows and the Macintosh without conversion.
Therefore, documents using TrueType fonts can be exchanged between a
PC running Windows and a Macintosh without changes in character set,
font metrics, or line endings. TrueType is also available in Macintosh-
compatible laser printers and in TrueImage printers, and has been
licensed to numerous printer vendors for use in future products.
Dynamic Font Downloading
TrueType fonts are automatically converted to bitmap images or
outlines, depending on the printer being used, and then downloaded to
the printer. For PostScript printers, both bitmaps and outlines are
used. For printers using Printer-Control Language (PCL), bitmap images
are used. TrueType uses dynamic downloading, sending only the
characters requested rather than the entire character set, resulting
in faster, more efficient printing.
To make it easy for vendors to support TrueType, Microsoft has
published the complete specification for the TrueType font format.
This specification details every aspect of the font format, including
the outlines, metrics, font names, and all technical information
associated with the font. Public availability of the TrueType font
specification will make it easier and less expensive for vendors to
support TrueType fonts with their products.
SYSTEM ROBUSTNESS AND PERFORMANCE
Since its shipment in May 1990, Windows version 3.0 has proven to be a
remarkably stable product. In fact, Microsoft implemented only one
update release (version 3.0a) to accommodate minor corrections. Like
any mature operating system, Windows works in cooperation with a vast
number of hardware platforms, applications, and peripherals. With the
countless permutations of software and hardware, occasional conflicts
are inevitable, and approximately 1 to 2 percent of the calls to
Microsoft Product Support Services about Windows 3.0 are regarding
unrecoverable application errors (UAEs).
Through Microsoft's communication with Windows users and developers,
Microsoft has gained a detailed understanding of how applications
generate and handle errors. Most UAE questions pertaining to Windows
3.0 have been resolved by helping users remove misbehaving TSR
programs, by answering questions on drivers or software, by removing
unnecessary lines in CONFIG.SYS files, or by installing later versions
of the applications that are causing problems.
Reducing UAEs and enhancing system robustness were primary goals for
the designers of Windows 3.1. Microsoft's accumulated knowledge serves
as the basis for the following design focal points:
- Developing better diagnostics to pinpoint the cause of application
- Providing tools and information to help developers write error-free
- Protecting the system from application errors
- Graceful handling of application errors if they do occur (so the
application causing the error doesn't stop the system)
The following are several examples of how these design goals are
implemented in the Windows operating system version 3.1.
Error Diagnostics and Reporting
If an application generates an error running with Windows 3.1, you
will receive an error dialog box with specific information about the
type of error that occurred and which application generated the error.
(The Windows 3.0 dialog box simply says
This allows problems to be traced and corrected much more
quickly than before.)
Additionally, Windows 3.1 ships with a diagnostic tool called Dr.
Watson that logs information about an application error, should one
occur. This logged data provides feedback on the error that can be
used by a support technician to determine the solution to the error
and help developers solve the application error.
Windows 3.1 includes a number of improvements designed to handle
application errors more effectively.
One of these improvements is the use of parameter validation--the same
type of parameter validation that developers use also works in the
retail version of Windows 3.1. This validation monitors application
calls to ensure that applications do not violate system integrity.
An errant application may still cause problems, such as stopping so
that your computer no longer responds to input. Under version 3.1, if
an application stops, you can press the CTRL+ALT+DEL restart key
sequence, and Windows will ask whether the application should be
continued or closed. If you choose to close the application, Windows
will reset the environment to a stable state that will allow you to
continue working within the Windows operating system. You no longer
have to exit and restart Windows. This gives you better control over
The sum of all these efforts is a system with significantly enhanced
reliability, in which application errors are far less likely to cause
you to stop working and shut down the application or restart the
Many performance improvements have been achieved throughout Windows
3.1. These include:
- Faster, more responsive user shell components (notably, File
Manager and Program Manager).
- Faster disk caching. The Windows SMARTDrive disk-caching utility
has been completely redesigned for Windows 3.1. It installs
automatically during setup and significantly boosts performance by
caching read and write disk operations.
- Faster paging in 386 enhanced mode. Version 3.1 includes a 32-Bit-
Disk-Access driver that allows Windows to bypass MS-DOS and the
BIOS to access the Windows virtual memory paging file.
- Increased display driver performance (for example, the VGA and 8514
- Better printing performance. The overall printing speed is
improved; but, more significantly, Windows also gives control back
to the application more quickly after the Print command is invoked.
Audio services and Media Control Interface (MCI) support have also
been added to Windows 3.1. The audio application programming
interfaces (APIs), which are identical to those found in Multimedia
Extensions 1.0, specifically support waveform or PCM audio and Musical
Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) synthesized audio. Additionally,
any application for Windows that supports OLE can take advantage of
the audio capabilities in Windows 3.1 with no additional development
required by the independent software vendor (ISV). From an
application's perspective, audio becomes just another object type.
The MCI architecture supports control of media devices such as video
discs and videotape. Using drivers provided by third-party peripheral
vendors, this support provides greater flexibility to the standard
computing environment and meets another growing market need,
especially in the areas of corporate presentations, training, and
For those who require full multimedia support, Microsoft offers a CD-
ROM version of Windows 3.1 with the multimedia extensions and drivers.
This product includes Music Box, an accessory for playing CD audio
disks, and HyperGuide, an online Help program. The addition of audio
services and media control support to Windows 3.1 is yet another
evolutionary step toward bringing multimedia functionality into the
mainstream of desktop computing.
Windows 3.1 works seamlessly with Multimedia Extensions 1.0. These
extensions allow you to embed new objects such as audio, animation,
and full-motion video in existing applications. The objects also allow
you to create a whole new class of multimedia documents, such as
encyclopedias enhanced with video and audio clips, or catalogs that
display animated illustrations. The extensible architecture of Windows
makes it possible for multimedia computing to span low-cost systems
for home and education to sophisticated multimedia authoring platforms
for the higher end of the market.
An important enabling technology for multimedia computing is the OLE
protocol described above. With OLE and Windows 3.1 or Multimedia
Extensions 1.0, you can embed a multimedia object, such as an audio
clip, in an existing application for Windows, just as you can embed a
chart or text file.
Many vendors of today's popular 286- and 386-based laptop computers
ship Windows version 3.0. Laptop users will appreciate a feature in
Windows 3.1 called mouse trail, which makes it easier to find the
cursor on a laptop display. In addition, Windows 3.1 supports the
Advanced Power Management (APM) specification, which allows Windows to
support the native power management of a laptop PC for longer battery
The Windows operating system version 3.1 is an important next step in
Microsoft's core systems strategy--an evolutionary strategy that spans
286-based laptops to high-end workstations or servers. Today, Windows
runs with MS-DOS, the operating system that spawned the PC industry
and is currently in use by tens of millions of people. Windows also
runs the thousands of existing MS-DOS and Windows-based applications.
Extended versions of Windows--multimedia or pens, for example--allow
you to run all these applications as well, plus unique new
applications developed with pens or multimedia in mind.
Microsoft's vision of computing in the 1990s and beyond is that
computers will empower individuals and organizations. With its
scalable implementations, the investments of Microsoft, and the
commitment of third parties, the Windows operating system will be the
foundation for realizing this vision.