View Full Version : Browser for Windows 3.11

January 20th, 2009, 07:09 AM
OK, what's the "best" browser for WFW 3.11? I tried IE 5.01 and NS 4.07. I don't think I found a single site that rendered properly.

Any opinions?


January 20th, 2009, 07:15 AM
I really haven't tried to get my 486 in net yet, but have you tried early versions of Mozilla?

January 20th, 2009, 07:25 AM
4.08 was the end of the line for Win3.1. Guess you could try 4.08 instead of 4.07. Unlikely much will improve.


January 20th, 2009, 07:44 AM
There is also Opera 3.62, but someone wrote it is horrible on Windows 3.11. YMMV, it may be worth checking out.


Elsewhere the OffByOne web browser was mentioned, but it seems not available in a 16 bit version?


Anyway, doesn't Windows for Workgroups run 32-bit code as well? I seem to remember it is different than the regular Windows 3.1 in this matter, or perhaps I've been dreaming. Would installing Win32s (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Win32s) allow any newer browser (i.e. Firefoxes) to run?

January 20th, 2009, 07:55 AM
That's true. You could install win32s addon and try later 32 bit version of Netscape.

January 20th, 2009, 08:08 AM
I checked the list of compatible software for win32s. It didn't list netscape but I'll try it. IE 5.5 is listed as not working.

I do have win32s installed. Gotta have my freecell.

January 20th, 2009, 09:24 AM
IE 5 works ok if the cpu can handle the load under Win 3.1 (I tried it on a 386 and it was too slow).

Netscape tends to just blow up when in use for some reason.

nige the hippy
January 20th, 2009, 02:22 PM
Years ago I used to use "Arachne" under dos, a few boxes to fill in, so not totally plug & play but it was good & it should work with 3.11, There was also the "Mosaic" browser, but I never got to use that. (perhaps I should have!).

January 20th, 2009, 02:26 PM
I think the problem is that many web sites today have a CSS driven layout, DOM and JS, even Flash which certainly is a big problem on 16-bit Windows if the Flash Player is too outdated. What you would want is a modern browser which can handle all the CSS and other stuff, but compiled to run on Windows 3.x. Even with browsers you can compile yourself, I suppose it isn't quite that easy to get a working 16-bit binary.

Ole Juul
January 20th, 2009, 03:10 PM
carlsson nailed it. Its the java and flash thats the killer. Flash you can do without, any website that relies on it isn't worth going to anyway, but you're going to need at least CSS and java for a "normal" experience. The older browsers like Netscape 1.0, Cello, etc. won't do it.

nige the hippy's suggestion of Arachne is perhaps not so bad. I see it it still out there and has a following. I regularly use a minimal browser called DILLO. It only does text and pictures, but it also doesn't choke on anything. Apparently there is a version for Windows (http://dillo-win.sourceforge.jp/index.en.html) but it is said to be somewhat unstable. It still might be worth a try.

January 20th, 2009, 03:22 PM
Dillo is great fun! In a masochistic kind of way :p

January 20th, 2009, 03:27 PM
I'm sure there are tens of thousands of web developers out there who think "any user who is stuck with old Windows on a 486 isn't worth bothering about anyway". 8) Actually many may consider people stuck with MSIE 6.0 on Windows 98 out of their target group, but in that case at least there are some decent alternatives.

Occasionally I'm using the Links browser in text mode. It actually handles most sites just fine, I can even place bids on eBay although I'd hesitate to go through PayPal without a full-fledged, graphical browser. Actually the Vintage Computer Forum is one of few web sites I'd rather not surf with a text only browser. For some reason I find vBulletin based forums a bit too complex for text browsing. On the other hand phpBB based ones are very easy to traverse.

Ole Juul
January 20th, 2009, 05:00 PM
Dillo is great fun! In a masochistic kind of way :p
Not to start an arument here :) but whats masochistic about it? I use it for browsing sites with heavy java script, like media sites. The reason I do this is so that I don't have to suffer! All I want to do is read the d*** story, and not have to wait for all kinds of "clever" (by half) coding to finish. It certainly makes my life easier. Yes Firefox can do that, just not very well in my experience.

January 20th, 2009, 05:29 PM
......There was also the "Mosaic" browser, but I never got to use that. (perhaps I should have!).

Mosaic did not conform to what eventually became html 2, H1 reversed with H5 for example.

It's more than I would be willing to tackle, but I think the trick would be to write a CSS/html 4 addon to the browser of choice, like Netscape 3.

Terry Yager
January 20th, 2009, 07:29 PM
When you get tired of fussing with all that pretty crap, there's always Lynx.


January 20th, 2009, 07:39 PM
Ole Juul said...kinds of "clever" (by half) coding
Just turn scripting off in your browser...

January 20th, 2009, 08:07 PM
carlsson nailed it. Its the java and flash thats the killer. Flash you can do without, any website that relies on it isn't worth going to anyway, but you're going to need at least CSS and java for a "normal" experience. The older browsers like Netscape 1.0, Cello, etc. won't do it.

I've used the net on my Pentium 133 with Windows 98 SE and Internet Explorer (version 5? I can't remember), and sites that have a lot of animation (advertisements and such) are incredibly slow. I couldn't imagine trying it on a 486.

Ole Juul
January 20th, 2009, 10:20 PM
Just turn scripting off in your browser...
Thanks, I haven't actually tried that but its worth a look.
Normally I have more than half a dozen windows open on several desktops and, as you know, if you change one, they all change. I like different settings for different kinds of sites. To solve that problem, I use 3 and ocationally 4 browsers at the same time. It just seems easier that way.

They are, by the way, Firefox, Dillo, and Epiphany, with the fourth sometimes being Konquoror. I rarely use a text browser these days, but when I do, it is Elinks.

March 8th, 2009, 06:10 PM
I've been playing around with WfW 3.11 in VirtualBox for awhile now with very poor results. None of the browsers I've found can render most modern web pages even remotely correctly. You'll get lots of crashes too in my experience. This is basically regardless of whether the site uses flash, java, or anything else.

March 8th, 2009, 06:15 PM
I'm not sure if there's a DOS/Win311 port of this, but Links2 does javascript, which is nice if you're stuck needing it for something.

March 9th, 2009, 02:49 AM
If you just want to have the progman interface, you could install NT 3.51. With the lastest patches at least the latest version of Firefox2 will work. I havn`t tried FF3. With addional work Flash 7 (can`t remember exactly) can be used. NT 3.51 will have much more RAM instead of 3.11. Officially it needs 12 mb, but I`ve heard that 8 are enough to run.

March 9th, 2009, 11:14 AM
Here's all the browser's I've used with Windows 3.1x and my opinions on them in a modern environment......

Netscape 2.02 - Utterly worthless, more Javascript errors than you can shake a debugger at!

Netscape 4.08 - Works rather well except on certain websites that make extensive use of Flash and Java. Can have some Text issues with some sites.

MSIE 5.0 - Works okay, but Google links are unclickable, and once again, the bugger of Javascript and Flash becomes a problem.

The best browser I have going on my 486 is Arachne for DOS, if it were not for some games, I would probably drop back to just using MS-DOS on the machine with no Windows whatsoever, since everything can be done in MS-DOS now given all the programs that are out there from LeetIRC, to CD-Roast, to Arachne, to WordPerfect 5.1 (even the old standbys get quite a lot of use).

March 11th, 2009, 03:13 PM
Let me narrow the question, what's the best browser for WFW 3.11 using a 386DX33 with 8megs. I tried 5.01 and after I got installed found a readme.txt file that stated that a 486 was required for ie5.01. It worked but very, very, slow.

Would NS4 work with a 386?


March 12th, 2009, 07:20 AM
To anwser my own question, just the basic ie3 worked. It was installed without any java VM support. There was a text file that recommended that VM not be installed in a 386 class machine. I believe it. I was able to post a message to a vbulletin board I run but it took about 30 minutes to load the pages needed to post a new thread. It did work though. It casscaded nicely and displayed what it did correctly. I used the default style page from vbulletin. I ran well with other static html test pages.

Next up, can I post a message with a 286?


March 12th, 2009, 11:05 AM
If there is a text browser running on a 286 (DOS mode?), it shouldn't be a problem. I'm posting on several forums with a text browser, some are easier to operate than others. This one (vBulletin) may be the only one I haven't tried to access text only.

March 12th, 2009, 01:55 PM
My machine in my sig goes online.

March 13th, 2009, 02:55 PM
My machine in my sig goes online.

You've inspired me to get my Canon Navigator 40HD (NEC V30, 640kb, 40mb, 1.44MB, grayscale EGA) online. The thing has a built-in modem, but I don't have a real analog phone line, and I can't remember if the thing has an ISA slot to add a NIC, but I am now on a mission.