Friday, July 11, 2008

Microsoft to kill Windows for Workgroups 3.11

After ending the sale of Windows XP to consumers last month Microsoft is completely killing off another operating system, Windows for Workgroups 3.11 (WFW).

WFW has been unavailable to consumers for many years but certain software is licensed for use in embedded devices for much longer. Now, according to a Microsoft employee, it will be discontinued from November 1st.

“For those that were not aware, we recently announced that effective November 1st, 2008, OEM's will no longer be able to license Windows for Workgroups 3.11 in the embedded channel,” said John Coyne, who is with Microsoft’s OEM Embedded devices group, in his blog.

“Now we all know that it's been long gone in the standard (retail/OEM) channel, but one of the unique things in the embedded business is that we allow the classic OS products to be sold longer than the other channels. It's finally the end of an era!”

WFW was initially released in November 1993 as the final English language operating system before Windows 95. There was a Windows 3.2, but this was solely for the emerging Chinese market.

It contained a number of innovations, including TrueType, which allowed the PC to begin to rival Apple as a desktop publishing platform, and was the first operating system to allow native TCP/IP access, via an ad-on codenamed Wolverine.

It was also the first Microsoft operating system to require the use of a 386 processor, along with 3MB of RAM. WFW was also the first Windows product to include the game Minesweeper, which some have suggested, cost businesses millions each year in lost productivity.

For a long time the embedded version was used by banks to control cash machines and their payment systems, but has now been superseded by other embedded software.

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