The Redmond based software company stopped issuing licences for the Windows 3.x operating systems on 1st November 2008. Microsoft maintained support for Windows 3.x until the end of 2001, and it has lived on as an embedded operating system until 1st November 2008.
Windows 3.0 was originally released on May 22nd 1990. 3.0 came with a lot of improvements, but also with a lack of multimedia and network features, which led to 3.0 being replaced quickly by Windows 3.1. However, the improvements that Microsoft achieved with 3.0 were impressive. The platform offered 32-bit performance, advanced graphics, and full support of the more powerful Intel 386 processor.
New features included at the time were program, file, and print managers, a completely rewritten application development environment with modular virtual device drivers (VxDs), native support for applications running in extended memory and fully pre-emptive MS-DOS multitasking. Microsoft also improved the set of Windows icons.
The program manager and file manager gave users Macintosh-like big icons to click and drag-and-drop. Although it was replaced quickly, Windows 3.0 was widely accepted and respected among third-party hardware and software developers because Microsoft released a new Windows software development kit (SDK) which enabled the developers to focus on writing applications instead of device drivers.
Windows 3.x has found a role onboard some long-haul jet aircraft. As an embedded system, it was used to power such things as cash tills in large stores and ticketing systems. One of its more glamorous uses as an embedded operating system is to power the in-flight entertainment systems on some Virgin and Qantas long-haul jets.