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Executive Summary

Microsoft Backgrounder

Microsoft Windows Environment Version 3.1
August 1991

Overview

With more than 4 million copies sold since the announcement of version
3.0 in May 1990, the end user community has affirmed its support for
the Microsoft Windows environment. Users have made Windows the best-
selling retail software product of all time and the second most
popular operating system ever (after MS-DOS). More than 200,000
Windows users have attended Microsoft-sponsored conferences,
workshops, shows and 20 third-party events this year. And users have
made Windows applications the fastest growing segment of the total
software applications market, according to data from Software
Publisher Association and other sources.

It is fitting, then, that Microsoft should look to users to understand
how to advance Windows in its next release, version 3.1. In the year
since the announcement of version 3.0, Microsoft has conducted an
unprecedented campaign to reach out and listen to the feedback and
comments of the Windows installed base. This feedback collection
process has taken several forms:

A commissioned survey of 11,000 U.S. households revealed Windows usage
patterns, satisfaction levels, favorite and least favorite features as
well as data about the hardware configuration of typical Windows
users. This data was particularly interesting in that it was a "pure"
user pool, not biased toward users who are more likely to register
their software, subscribe to a particular magazine, etc.

Microsoft "Strike Teams" fanned out to gather data from corporate
Windows 3.0 users. Nearly 90 percent of the suggestions resulting from
these meetings have been implemented in Windows 3.1.

About two thousand Windows users called Microsoft Product Support
Services each day for more information about using Windows. From these
calls, PSS has developed an extensive knowledgebase; a representative
from PSS served on the Windows 3.1 design committee. The 10 most
commonly asked questions have been addressed in Windows

An active CompuServe support forum through the auspices of the
Windows Presentation Manager Association (WPMA) resulted in extensive
suggestions and feedback.

User suggestions were the driving force behind the improvements and
new features in version 3.1. As an important evolutionary step in what
is planned to be a long series of Windows-based operating systems from
Microsoft, Windows version 3.1 will offer refinements to version 3.0
that are designed to bring greater ease of use, functionality, and
performance to Windows users while maintaining backward compatibility
with Windows version 3.0 applications. These refinements fall into the
following categories:

. Improved usability and performance
. Application and system robustness
. TrueType scalable font technology
. Improved application integration
. Extensions for new computing platforms

This paper will describe the key added features of Windows version 3.1
in greater detail .

Improved Usability and Performance

Among the results of the extensive feedback from users of Windows
version 3.0 are significant enhancements to the usability of the
Windows environment. Dozens of improvements will be immediately
noticeable, while hundreds of others work behind the scenes to support
the new features. While many of them are minor, taken together, these
improvements contribute to a smoother, more responsive user
interaction with Windows.

Improved Installation

The Windows version 3.1 Install program will be able to detect even
more hardware and software configurations than its version 3.0
predecessor. The result is an improved ability for Windows to
configure itself optimally for the machine on which it is being
installed. The Installer program detects a wide variety of TSRs
(terminate-and-stay-resident programs), and hardware devices that are
known to cause problems, taking action to notify the user or correct
the problem without user involvement.

Windows version 3.1 will be easier for novice users to install with
Express Install, and more customizable for advanced users, who can
select groups of programs to install. For PC coordinators, Windows
version 3.1 installation is improved with the batch install option,
and better network setup features for installation in networked
environments.

File Manager Improvements

The Windows version 3.1 File Manager has been completely redesigned
for improved usability and performance. The File Manager now supports
multiple "panes" for easy browsing. Users can now display the
directory tree and a list of files side-by-side in a window. The File
Manager also allows the display of more file attributes than before
and can even display file and folder names in a choice of fonts.

Another significant improvement is the new "quick format" capability,
which allows users to format floppy disks in much less time than
before.

The File Manager will support an easier, more intuitive "drag and
drop" model for manipulating files. For example, to print a file, the
user draws the file's icon with the mouse and "drops" it onto the
Print Manager, which prints the document. Users will also be able to
take an icon and drop it on a running application or the application
title bar; then the application will automatically open that file.

Program Manager Improvements

Improvements to the Program Manager include "wrappable" icon titles
that sit neatly under each icon in multiple lines, instead of a single
long line that may overlap with other icon titles. Users also will
appreciate the new "startup group," which allows them to launch any
group of applications automatically when the Windows environment is
started.

Printing Improvements

The Windows version 3.1 Print Manager now has the ability to resume
stalled print jobs automatically, without user intervention. For
example, if a printer runs out of paper, the print job will be resumed
after the paper tray is restocked.

Another printing improvement introduced with Windows version 3.1 is
the universal printer driver (UNIDRV). This software offers a single,
printer-independent driver for which specific printer drivers can be
built rapidly. The universal printer driver makes it easier for
printer manufacturers to write or update printer drivers because it
encapsulates all the major features of a printer driver in a single
piece of software Vendors simply provide a table of printer-specific
parameters for each printer. Instead of using dozens of large
"monolithic" printer drivers, the Windows environment will need only a
single driver and a small support table for each printer. Nearly 250
printers will be supported in Windows 3.1, with the majority supported
through UNIDRV.

Better Support for Networks

A number of improvements will make Windows version 3.1 easier to use
on a computer that is attached to a network. Network administrators
will find that setup is easier under Windows version 3.1, especially
for complex system configurations. Network problems are also easier to
trace and fix because network errors are displayed with more
information regarding the type and source of the problem.

Another significant change is that users can specify "persistent"
network connections, meaning that information about a remote disk
drive or printer is maintained by the Windows environment after a
network session is terminated. Any "disconnected" drives will appear
in the File Manager's drive bar as "unavailable." To re-establish
connection, users will simply click on the drive's icon.

Improved Performance

Performance improvements have been achieved throughout Windows 3.1.
These include faster, more responsive user shell components (notably
File Manager and Program Manager); increased display driver
performance (for example, the VGA and 8514 drivers); better printing
performance (overall speed is improved, but Windows will also give
control back to the application quicker once the print command is
invoked) and faster paging in 386 enhanced mode. Version 3.1 will
include FastDisk, a 32-bit driver that allows Windows to bypass DOS in
the BIOS for its virtual memory paging file.

Application and System Robustness

Since its shipment in May of 1990, Windows version 3.0 has proven to
be a remarkably stable product. In fact, Microsoft has only
implemented a single update release (version 3.0a) to accommodate
minor bug fixes. Like any mature operating system, however, Windows
works in cooperation with a vast number of hardware platforms,
applications software and peripherals. With the countless permutations
of software and hardware, occasional conflicts are inevitable, and
approximately one to two percent of Windows-related calls to Microsoft
Product Support Services are regarding these "Unrecoverable
Application Errors" (UAEs).

Through its communication with Windows version 3.0 users and
developers, Microsoft has developed a fine-tuned understanding of how
applications generate and handle errors. Most UAE questions have been
resolved through helping users deinstall misbehaved TSRs, resolve
questions on Windows 3.0 versions of drivers or software, or remove
unnecessary lines in the Windows CONFIG.SYS files. In Windows version
3.1, Microsoft's accumulated knowledge serves as the basis for the
following design focal points: 1) Better diagnostics to pinpoint the
cause of application errors; 2) Tools and information to help
developers write error-free applications; 3) Graceful handling of
application errors if they do occur (so the faulting application
doesn't crash the System). Following are several examples of how these
design goals are implemented in Windows version 3.1.

Error Diagnostics and Reporting

If an application program generates an error under Windows version
3.1, the user will receive an error dialog box with more specific
information about the type of fault that occurred and which
application generated the error (the Windows 3.0 dialog box says:
"Unrecoverable Application Error"). This allows problems to be traced
and corrected much more quickly than before.

Additionally, Windows version 3.1 will ship with a diagnostic tool
called "Dr. Watson" that will record and store information about an
application error, should one occur. This data will provide feedback
on the error that can be used by a support technician to determine the
solution for the error.

Developer Tools for Error Tolerance and Prevention

Microsoft's developer support program for Windows version 3.1 includes
tools and information to help developers write more error-free Windows
applications. For instance, a new mechanism has been implemented
within Windows version 3.1 that enables validation of the many
parameters that applications use to communicate with the Windows
environment. If an application uses the wrong type of parameter, or if
the parameter's value is outside the acceptable range, Windows will
report an error. Developers are thus notified of potential parameter
problems before their product ships.

Several utilities are also being made available to Windows developers
that help to detect and trace the source of problems. For example, a
new "stress test" utility creates a highly active and dynamic
environment in which application bugs may be "shaken out" during all
stages of development.

Error Recovery

Windows version 3.1 includes a number of improvements designed to
handle UAEs more effectively. Under version 3.1, if an application
"hangs," users can press the CTRL+ALT+DEL reboot key sequence, and
Windows will ask whether the application should be continued or
closed. If the user chooses to close the application, Windows will
reset the environment to a stable state which will allow the user to
continue working within the Windows environment. There is no longer a
need to exit and restart the Windows environment.

TrueType Scalable Font Technology

Windows version 3.1 includes the new TrueType scalable font
technology. TrueType provides "outline" fonts, giving users instant
access to fonts in any point size, and allowing high quality output on
any monitor or printer supported by Windows itself. TrueType was
designed and developed to meet the requirements of type professionals
and graphic designers. TrueType offers the following benefits.

Complete Integration with the Operating System

TrueType is an integrated component of Windows version 3.1. For users,
this means that there is nothing to buy or install. All the benefits
of scalable font technology are built into the operating environment
itself, and existing Windows applications can use them immediately.
Four TrueType scalable font families will ship with all copies of
Windows version 3.1: Arial (alternative to Helvetica), Times New
Roman, Courier and Symbol. Every major font vendor (with the exception
of Adobe) has committed to develop substantial TrueType font libraries
for both the Macintosh and Windows platforms.

Cross-Platform Compatibility

TrueType is also offered on the Apple Macintosh and TrueType fonts can
be ported between Windows and the Macintosh without conversion. So
documents using TrueType fonts may be exchanged between a Windows PC
and the Macintosh without required changes in character set, font
metrics or line endings. TrueType is also available in Macintosh-
compatible laser printers, in TrueImage printers, and has been
licensed to numerous printer vendors for use in future products.

Dynamic Font Downloading

TrueType fonts are automatically converted to bitmap images and
downloaded to laser printers so that what the user sees on the screen
is the same as the printed page. TrueType uses dynamic downloading,
sending only the characters requested rather than the entire character
set, resulting in faster, more efficient printing.

Open Technology

In order to make it easy for vendors to support TrueType fonts, each
font's "metrics" are made available as public specifications and are
available without royalties. A font's metrics provide a complete
mathematical description of the font's characteristics, which allows
vendors of output devices to render the font exactly as it appears on
the screen. Public availability of TrueType font specifications will
make it easier and less expensive for vendors to support TrueType
fonts on their products.

Improved Application Integration

Windows environment version 3.1 provides the most sophisticated
platform yet for application integration, making it easier for users
to exchange data between documents and for programmers to build these
capabilities into Windows applications. Application integration is
supported by the following features in version 3.1:

Object Linking and Embedding

An important technology for the 1990s, Object Linking and Embedding
(OLE) creates an environment in which applications can share
information seamlessly. With OLE, all data can be thought of as being
a type of "object." A spreadsheet chart, an illustration, a table, and
even a paragraph of text are all examples of objects. OLE provides the
capability for applications to share these objects easily.

Windows environment version 3.1 supports OLE by providing standard
libraries, interfaces and protocols that applications will use to
exchange data objects. As Windows developers begin implementing OLE
capabilities within their programs, users will see a new generation of
applications that work together cooperatively.

OLE capabilities have already been implemented within new versions of
the Windows Write, Faint, and Cardfile accessories, all of which are
provided with the Windows version 3.1 product. A user can, for
example, create an illustration using the Paint program and "embed"
the graphic in a Write document. If the illustration must be updated,
the user can click on its icon within the Write document, which
automatically launches Paint to allow editing of the drawing. Since
the original graphics file is "linked" to the image embedded in the
document, any change made to one will automatically update the other.
This eliminates the need to modify multiple copies of the image or
modify the original image and re-import it into the document.

Better Support for Dynamic Data Exchange

In the Windows environment, the standard way of sharing data between
applications is through a mechanism known as dynamic data exchange
(DDE). Object Linking and Embedding (as well as other forms of data
exchange) use DDE as their primary means of data exchange. Windows
environment version 3.1 Provides developers with a new Dynamic
DataExchange Manager Library (DDEML) that offers a higher-level
programming model and makes it easier for developers to implement DDE
capabilities in a Windows application.

Better Support for DOS Applications

A number of changes improve support for existing DOS- applications
within the Windows environment. In particular, DOS application
performance is enhanced when using Windows version 3.1 in conjunction
with MS-DOS version 5, since MS-DOS 5 makes significantly more memory
available to DOS applications. In addition, Windows version 3.1 now
supports DOS applications in VGA graphics mode in a window or running
in the background. Also, Windows version 3.1 will include more pre-
written Program Information Files (PIF files "tell" Windows how to run
specific DOS applications) for even greater DOS application support.
Finally, disk-paging will allow users to run more DOS applications
than they can under Windows version 3.0.

Extensions for New Computing Platforms

Windows version 3.1 will allow users to exploit significant new
computing platforms such as pen-based computers and multimedia PCs.

Windows for Pen Computing

Building on the Windows Graphical user interface and coupled with
advances in symbol recognition, pens will be the foundation for highly
intuitive and "personal" user interfaces. To exploit the potential of
pen computing, Microsoft has developed a series of extensions to
Windows that include: enhancements to the user interface to allow for
pen input; a pen message interpreter allowing existing Windows (and
DOS) applications to use the pen; and a modular open handwriting
recognition engine. More than 30 hardware vendors will ship Microsoft
Windows version 3.1 with extensions for pen-based computing with their
systems, starting in early 1992.

Multimedia

Windows version 3.1 will work seamlessly with the Microsoft extensions
for multimedia computing. These extensions allow users to include new
objects such as audio, animation and full-motion video and embed them
in existing applications. These features will also enable a whole new
class of multimedia documents, such as encyclopedias enhanced with
video and audio clips, or catalogs that display animated
illustrations. Personal computers integrating Windows and the
multimedia extensions to Windows will begin shipping this fall.
Windows' extensible architecture makes it possible for multimedia
computing to span low-cost systems for home and education and
sophisticated multimedia authoring platforms for the high end of the
market.

An important enabling technology for multimedia computing is the OLE
protocol described above. With OLE plus the Windows multimedia
extensions, a user can embed a multimedia "object" such as a video or
audio clip into an existing Windows application, just as he or she
would a chart or text file.

Laptop Support

Many vendors of today's popular 286 and 386-based laptop computers
ship Windows version 3.0. Users of laptops will appreciate a feature
in Windows version 3.1 called "mouse blur," which makes it easier to
find the cursor on a laptop display. In addition, Windows version 3.1
supports the Advanced Power Management specification, which allows
Windows to interact with native power management of a laptop PC for
longer battery life.

With version 3.1, vendors of laptops and other small form-factor
computers will have the option of licensing a special version of
Windows in ROM. This version of Windows 3.1 will be burned in to a ROM
chip and will execute directly from ROM rather than from a hard disk.
A ROM version of Windows opens the doors to other types of computing
as well, including the emerging category of palm-top computers.

Beta Testing and Developer Support

Windows environment version 3.1 is currently in beta testing. The beta
program will be one of the largest Microsoft has ever conducted,
eventually involving as many as 10,000 participants. Additionally,
Microsoft is conducting technical seminars for Windows developers to
discuss the details of the new APIs in Windows version 3.1. A new
Software Development Kit (SDK) and Driver Development Kit (DDK) will
allow developers to more effectively implement the API features.
Microsoft's Hardware Compatibility Program currently includes 350
testers and Microsoft is actively recruiting additional participants
to ensure the tightest possible compatibility of Windows with the vast
array of hardware and peripherals on the market today.

Developer enthusiasm for Windows version 3.1 is high. Nearly 2,000
Windows developers attended a recent Seattle conference on Windows
version 3.1. In addition, a June 1991 survey of the top 70 PC
independent software vendors (ISVs) found that 100 percent are
planning to test for and take advantage of Windows version 3.1.

Conclusion

Windows version 3.1 is an important next step in Microsoft's core
Windows strategy, an evolutionary strategy that spans 286 laptops to
high-end workstations or servers. Today, Windows runs on MS-DOS, the
operating system that spawned the PC industry and is currently in use
by tens of millions of people. Today's Windows runs the thousands of
existing MS-DOS and Windows-based applications. Extended versions of
Windows -- for example, for multimedia or pen -- allow users to run
all of these applications as well, plus unique new applications
developed with pen or multimedia in mind.

Microsoft will ship a high-end version of Windows called Windows NT
(for "new technology") in 1992. Windows NT will run the same DOS-based
and Windows-based applications as Windows 3.1., while also supporting
advanced security, multithreading, multiprocessor systems, and RISC
chips that promise even higher performance.

Microsoft's vision of computing in the 1990s and beyond is that
computers will empower individuals and organizations. With its
scalable implementations, the investment of Microsoft and the
commitment of third parties, Windows will be the foundation for
realizing this vision.


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