Solved Android, iOS or Windows Metro skin for Windows 3.1?

February 12, 2014 at 08:16:47
Specs: Windows 7
Has this been done already?

It seems much easier to me than Calmira, because you only have to replace the icons from Program Manager (.ico files) and if possible change the background from white to black.

In fact most Operating Systems for the newer mobile telephones have an interface that resembles the good old Windows 3.xx Program Manager.

Like Windows 3.xx they mostly lack true multitasking too! ;-)

In spite of that they became very popular and successful.

Did Microsoft miss something here?

Their Windows Pocket PC and later Windows Mobile versions were quite different from Windows 3.xx.
They aimed to resemble Windows 9x, but even that was not the case which made things very confusing for end users.

Looking back at this I think it would have been better for MS if they made their first OS for mobile phones resemble Windows 3.xx as close as possible (and if possible the software that runs on it backward compatible with Windows 3.xx and/or 95).
In stead of abandoning the Windows 3.xx interface and platform they should have developed/updated it further (it was already 32 bits with the Win32s update), without changing the user interface too much.
The 'old' progman.exe user interface without Start button and Taskbar seems to be perfect for small screens that are used on mobile phones (that's why Android, iOS and the new Windows Phone OS's don't have a Start Button and at most a limited Taskbar).

Changes of the user interface have always been the biggest problem for the next version of Windows in the past and present.
At the time of Windows 95 people were still willing to learn and change, but then again PC users were small numbered compared to now and at that time they consisted mostly of pioneers and nerds that were interested in this new device called a (personal) computer, with more knowledge than the average user.
After the PC became popular to the mass public, people refused to learn or master the new user interfaces (or they were simply just too stupid ;-).
This is the main reason why Vista and now Windows 8 had problems with their introduction.
Their user interface just differed too much from the old Windows 9.x/Windows XP interface.
The "updated" Windows Vista version called Windows 7 and now the updated versions of Windows 8 called 8.1 and 8.2 have interfaces that are modified to resemble the old Win 9x/XP look which people are still used too.

Ok, these were my (free) tips for Bill Gates, who recently started to be more involved again with MS and his new Chief Executive from India Satiya Nadella. ;-)

message edited by Soedesh

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February 12, 2014 at 10:26:00
You're forgetting that most modern software applications won't run on Windows 3.xx no matter how many Windows updates you throw at it.

Windows has had to evolve and become more sophisticated in line with the evolution of more sophisticated applications. Anything less and millions of PC owners would be abandoning Windows altogether.

Who the heck needs Windows 3.xx nowadays anyway? It's dead (or rather it has evolved) What's the point of bringing up new customisation ideas for an obsolete OS which few people use these days?

message edited by phil22

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February 12, 2014 at 11:54:47
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Windows 3.1 was released almost 22 years ago and even then it was obsolete. Microsoft was well aware that the 16 bit architecture had many serious issues that could not be solved. 16 bit was the past and the future was with a 32 bit OS. Only then could a secure and reliable OS be built that would meet the current and future needs of business. If Microsoft did not develop such an OS someone else would have.

Win32s provided only limited compatibility with current 32 bit software. Because of it's very nature there was little possibility for future development. It was a dead end.

"Looking back at this I think it would have been better for MS if they made their first OS for mobile phones resemble Windows 3.xx as close as possible (and if possible the software that runs on it backward compatible with Windows 3.xx and/or 95)."

Introducing compatibility with Windows 3.1 would have provided no meaningful benefits. Backward compatibility is done out of necessity but tends to hold back future development. In a competitive market that spells disaster.

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February 12, 2014 at 16:30:30
hmm I clicked the button twice...

message edited by Soedesh

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February 12, 2014 at 16:32:05
If evolving Windows 3.xx was a dead end and the OS was obsolete 22 years ago, why is it that iOS, Android and even Windows Metro resemble this old OS the most?

Apart from Microsoft no one really know's what is inside this old OS and what can be updated and what not.
It is just that MS (Steve Balmer at the time) told you that modern software can't run on it and you have to buy their newest product, so you think it's so.
However you can never tell for sure if you didn't write the code for the OS yourself or have seen it and have working knowledge of it (remember, the source code for older Windows versions was never released to the public).
If you have written some software for Windows 3.xx, you may have encountered limitations, but even then you don't know if these limitations could be fixed with an update of the OS itself or not.

On most of my Apple iOs phone's applications sometimes crash and hang the whole system, just like they used to do in Windows 3.xx in the past, up to a point where you have to restart the whole system/computer! ;-)

This is also the case for other phones like Android and BlackBerry and even the new tablets.

In fact what I am saying is this: modern OS's and software are not that sophisticated at all (modern hardware is).

But to repeat my question:

Has anyone already made an effort for a skin (like Calmira, useless or not) that resembles one of the modern OS's for mobile phones and tablets?

message edited by Soedesh

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February 13, 2014 at 07:47:59
If evolving Windows 3.xx was a dead end and the OS was obsolete 22 years ago, why is it that iOS, Android and even Windows Metro resemble this old OS the most?

I would say Microsoft Bob was the concept that resembles today's dumbed down interfaces most. Even the Linux-verse are adapting their distros to accommodate the Unity (Metroesque) interface.

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February 13, 2014 at 11:16:05
Look what I just found on:

"....Now in July 2013, Bill Gates is hinting that Bob, or at least the concept behind the failed project, will come back to life...."

It seems that I am not the only one who is interested in reviving 'old' and 'obsolete' software.

I have never used Microsoft Bob myself, but I will try to get my hands on it to see if it's really similar in concept.

Meanwhile I also found out that Windows XP supported the Program Manager (progman.exe) shell/interface until SP1.
I have posted a question about this on the XP forum which has been answered.

My question here remains unanswered, but the information I have gathered until now is quite useful.

The next step is to find some 'new' icons and (if needed) convert them to the .ico format.
If I use these for Program Manager (or Microsoft Bob if possible) I am almost there.

I just had a look at the "Guided Tour" of Microsoft Bob, but at first glance I think Program Manager resembles the 'new' (dumb;-) interfaces more.

message edited by Soedesh

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February 13, 2014 at 11:47:41
Just to be clear my comments were regarding the design of the Windows 3.1 OS itself, not the user interface. I have no particular interest in that.

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February 20, 2014 at 04:58:10
Meanwhile I have experimented with the old Program Manager interface on a Windows 2000 server that I have running.
I had to refresh my memory working with this old interface, which is similar to Windows 3.xx and in this way I could do it without having to install Windows 3.xx.

It is indeed possible to use progman.exe as the default shell on this operating system (even with the latest Service Packs installed) and it is also possible to replace the Icons with more modern versions (you can find new icons in the .ico format on many places on the Internet).

The overall experience is almost what I am trying to achieve (trying to mimic the new dumb ;-) interfaces) , but there are a few things that are not possible / need to be refined:

- The background color can not be changed from white to black
- Single clicking is not supported (which is supported in the normal Windows desktop)
- When using (new) Icons in the .ico format the size and color resolution is limited, especially in Windows 3.xx but I have to investigate more about this

Hope anyone who is interested can use the information I have gathered so far.
As I said it must be much simpler than Calmira and in the end you will have an interface / GUI that resembles the most 'modern' devices.

Another approach would be not to start with Program Manager but an alternative shell.
Calmira can be used to start with so I think I will contact people who are (still) working on this project.
If I remember well there were also a few other more basic shells.

Many of the 'old' and 'obsolete' software that was written for DOS, Windows 3.xx and Windows 9x was of higher quality than the new 'apps' for mobile phones and tablets.

message edited by Soedesh

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February 20, 2014 at 16:29:03
Belongs in the Lounge?

Not everyone can decipher Klingon script...
chay' ta' SoH tlhe' vam Doch Daq

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March 17, 2014 at 12:44:13
If they were ever to release the source code, maybe you could re-write it :)

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