I wish every day could be April Fools Day

I’ve read an awful lot of truly bad April Fool’s Day jokes today, with a few brilliant ones mixed in. So why do I wish every day could be like April Fools Day?

Because we’re all skeptics on April 1. When you read a story online today, your first thought is probably "Is that really true?"

Frankly, that’s the reaction I wish more people had every single time they read something on the Internet, 365 days a year. Healthy skepticism is a good thing. If more reporters would check their facts instead of blindly regurgitating whatever they just read, the pool of information we all share would become immensely more worthwhile.

Meanwhile, here’s my contribution to the April Fools Day madness, over at ZDNet:

Save Windows XP? Ha! I have an even better idea

At my editor’s insistence, I put a big April Fools banner at the top of the post, and still—still!—some people thought I was seriously arguing that Microsoft should bring back Windows 3.1.

After I posted this, I heard from a reader who said he still has a PC running Windows 3.11 with AOL 3.0. "Really?" I said. "Can I get a picture?" No problem:


A few minutes later, I received the e-mail message that had been captured on this screen. The message headers contained a line I hadn’t seen in over a decade:

X-Mailer: AOL 3.0 16-bit for Windows sub 60

How awesome is that?

By the way, if you have a TechNet subscription, you can download Windows 3.1, 3.11, or 3.2 along with MS-DOS 6.22. Trying to run that old stuff on a modern machine is a problem, though. For starters, you need a floppy disk drive. And a floppy disk. And given that the operating system was designed for a time when 4 MB of RAM was a lot, it tends to freak out when it sees 1000 times that much installed RAM.

Honestly, I don’t want to go back to those days, but it was fun seeing this.

8 thoughts on “I wish every day could be April Fools Day

  1. Windows 3.2? I don’t recall ever hearing about that before. I was under the impression that the successor to WFW 3.11 was Win95, along with some WinNT versions on the side.

  2. As I understand it, the Windows 3.2 number was only used for the Simplified Chinese release of Windows 3.x.

    For everybody else, the successor to Windows 3.1x was Windows 95.

  3. I wonder how the 3.x and 9.x versions would run in Virtual PC – might be kind of fun to have a working copy of those old OS’s for old time’s sake.

  4. I have the files downloaded from TechNet, but need to convert the floppy disk images to a format that Virtual PC or Hyper-V will recognize. If anyone figures it out, let me know.

  5. Ed, I’d just invest in a USB floppy drive. It’s a terrible, but very needed item in my bag of tech tools. It works with Virtual PC last time I checked.

    I’ll have to admit too, I did read through about 1/2 the article before I got a clue. Well done!

  6. It’s funny that you should bring this up. I was actually cleaning out my attic two days ago and found my old 486DX system. My niece asked what it was,so I fired it up for her. She looked at me funny when she could not locate the “Start” menu in Windows 3.11, and laughed when I showed her the game Alone In The Dark. Just for the heck of it, I installed Internet Explorer 5.0 and the system ran out of memory just from going to http://www.google.com.

    It’s sad remembering just how much that computer cost back then and how worthless it is now (other than sentimental value of course).

  7. I have an old laptop in a closet somewhere that has Windows 3.1 on it. I always hated 3.1. I used a Mac at work, and at home I used a shareware program called Quik Menu that featured buttons to click on to load programs, until we could no longer avoid Windows. We were very happy when Windows 95 came out. It felt more like the things I liked about the Mac.

  8. Someone has asked if there is any way to convert floppy image for working in Virtual PC. Why do you not try VirtualBox (an opern source alternative to VirtualPC) which can read floppy images directly.

Comments are closed.