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Thread: Windows 3.1 on XT 286?

  1. #31
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Chicagoland, Illinois, USA
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    Quote Originally Posted by SpiroGiro View Post
    10 mhz XT/8088 DOS palmtop running Win3.0 and usably, Word for Windows and Excel for Windows with a mouse (or without).
    Yes, but the 3100 came with 2MB of RAM, which is a big reason why it's able to do that. A system with 1MB total is not going to have a very fun time.
    Last edited by Trixter; January 22nd, 2020 at 08:26 PM.
    Offering a bounty for:
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  2. #32
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    New Zealand
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trixter View Post
    Windows 3.x on an 80286 system is one of those instances where, just because you can do it, doesn't mean you should.
    Windows 3.1 runs fine on my Zenith Z286LP Plus 286/12 with 8megs of ram. Released in 1990 it was actually designed to run Windows 3.0 which it came bundled with and a Zenith Branded MSDos 4.01. It's my primary IRC box running PIRCH16. Wouldn't try it with 2megs though GeoWorks would be a far better option there.
    Last edited by Caluser2000; January 22nd, 2020 at 08:31 PM.
    Thomas Byers (DRI)- "You'll have a million people using the A> [MS-DOS prompt] forever. You'll have five million using [nongraphic] menu systems such as Topview, Concurrent PC-DOS, Desq, and those types. But there'll be 50 to 100 million using the iconic-based interfaces."

  3. #33


    I installed Win 3.1 on my IBM AT. It will go with 1MB of RAM if part of that is mapped as extended memory. Later I added some 41256s to the memory board and got it up to 1.5MB. It is slow though, regardless of RAM. Basically, you get to watch every individual portion of each window being redrawn on the screen. I never tried to do much with it except to install the ESS1868 sound card drivers and play some MIDI files.

    Better to have at least a 12MHz CPU. I recall this being tolerable by the standards of the day. In fact, one of my favorite things to rant about at one time was "Why does Windows 95 take longer to boot on this 486/Pentium than Windows 3.1 did on a 286?"

  4. #34


    I ran Aldus PageMaker 5 on Win 3.1 on a 286 - for actual work. It wasn't too bad. A 10MHz 286 and 9MB RAM, as far as I remember. The 8MB on an Intel Above Board...

  5. #35


    My first PC was a Epson EL2: 80286, 2MB ram, VGA, 20MB HD. It came with Windows 3.1, which worked well enough. I upgraded the ram to 4MB (all it can hold), and the HD to 40 MB.

    Of course, that PC is long gone to the dumpster in the sky, but I kept the custom memory sims, which are extremely difficult to find now. Not sure if I have the HD still.

    To answer the original question though, yes it's possible to run 3.1 on a 286, and on the EL2, it ran fairly well. FYI, Windows for Workgroups needs a 386 (I found that out the hard way).

  6. #36


    Windows 3.1 can be installed on IBM PC 5170 (with 80286 6MHz and 1MB RAM)

  7. #37


    Sure, technically speaking, Windows 3.1 can be installed with only 1MB or RAM, but it'll run like [expletive deleted] - and forget running any serious Win 3.1 apps. I initially ran Win 3.1 on a 5160 XT in standard mode with a 1MB Intel Inboard - It barely booted. I then added the 2MB InBoard daughter card wihch gave me 3MB of extended RAM - much better, but still not sufficient to run heavyweight Win 3.1 apps like Office, Aldus PageMaker, Photoshop 2.5 and many more. You see, even with a 16MHz 386 the issue wasn't the CPU speed, it was the amount of extended memory (or rather, lack thereof). That's why the 4MB Inboard daughter cards have been in such high demand. As someone pointed out, a recent Intel InBoard went for a whopping $1500 because it came with the rare 4MB daughter card. I eventually lucked out and got a 4MB InBoard daughter card off of eBay (the seller must not have known what it was cause they sold it for pennies on the dollar), giving me 5MB total extended RAM - allowing me to run Win 3.1 in enhanced mode with virtually any Win3.1 app ever made of which I have a decent collection. I have no idea if an InBoard would run on your 286, but there was a version of the board that was built for the PC AT.

    But the RAM is only the half the story. To run Win 3.1 well you really at need at least 3-4MB of extended memory PLUS a faster HDD such as a more modern drive hung off a XTIDE. I use 2MB CF cards which allows for easy swapping out of various OSes between boot ups.

    So sure, what will install and run vs run well are two different stories - which is why I built FrankenXT (which folks here appropriately named) with its 5MB Inboard and even a 486 compatible CPU upgrade running at 33MHz (limited mostly by the InBoard's oscillator) along with a rigged copy of Windows 3.1 that uses some of the drivers from the special edition of Windows 3.0 for the Inboard to allow Windows 3. 1 to run in enhanced mode without the keyboard locking up on an XT

    Last edited by nc_mike; January 25th, 2020 at 05:08 PM.

  8. #38
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Western United States


    Quote Originally Posted by nc_mike View Post
    Sure, technically speaking, Windows 3.1 can be installed with only 1MB or RAM, but it'll run like [expletive deleted]
    Or, it may run better than expected. I posted a video on the prior page of this thread demonstrating a 1MB setup. Either my use-case is just atypical, or I simply have a high tolerance for [expletive deleted].

  9. #39


    I've installed and run on the following minimum IBM PC AT 5170.

    CPU : 80286-6
    BIOS : 01/10/84
    DOS : IBM PC-DOS 3.10 (It can't be installed or run on IBM PC DOS 3.00)
    RAM : 1MB (512KB on board + 512KB on expansion card)
    HDD : 10MB MFM (Seagate ST-412) (Type 1)
    Video : IBM Original EGA

    At Windows 3.1 (standard) minimum requirements seems to be following.

    DOS : MS-DOS (or IBM PC DOS) 3.10
    CPU : 80286 6MHz
    RAM : 1MB
    HDD : 7-8MB of space

  10. #40


    Quote Originally Posted by Trixter View Post
    Yes, but the 3100 came with 2MB of RAM, which is a big reason why it's able to do that. A system with 1MB total is not going to have a very fun time.
    No, the extra 1mb is only used as storage on Drive E:. You only have the 640Kb of memory unless you use an upper memory manager such as Qram. In my case I employ Qram to give me 704Kb of working memory and in addition, EMS is employed to appoint drivers away to upper memory blocks.


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