Things I miss that were in Windows 3.1

This first one I noticed immediately upon starting with Win 95: The clock on the bottom right corner of the screen can be formatted for all sorts of international standards, but none of them display the seconds. In Win 3.1, it was very easy to display the seconds, but none of the versions since then have had it.

The second one took me a long time to notice, and I suspect that’s because it went away very slowly. First from one application, then another, until nowadays it seems to be totally gone. Back in the Win 3.1 days, if you would press the F1 button, or click an on-screen Help button, the software knew what screen you were at, and often even which field you were at. The result was that your request for Help would often yield some useful info about what you were trying to do. But nowadays, I almost always end up at the home page of the software manufacturer’s website, and I have to go through a whole tree of options and/or type several paragraphs trying to explain myself. Aaargh!

Other stuff too, but I wanted to get the ball rolling with these.

I miss the AfterDark screensaver that I had with Win 3.1.

I still have a Flying Toaster tie.

What do I miss that was in Windows 3.1? My late teens/early 20s.

The DOS Gorillas game.

Hell, I miss DOS 3.1

I would miss my Commodore 64- except that I still have it. I need a new drive cable.

I remember the excitement when going through the Mouse tutorial and you’d double click to send a basketball through a hoop. Woah! Graphics!

i miss the dr blackjack game … I remeber it caused a slight controversy because it had a half assed card counting tutorial that card rooms and casinos didn’t appreciate

I do miss Solitaire and Minesweeper. Yes, I know they can be obtained nowadays, and legally and for free, but I hate having to put up with those ads.

From a “User Experience” perspective, I miss a lot of the way Win 3.1 was designed graphically. There were very clear borders around each window, with a 3D texture to it, making it extremely simple to know where one window stopped and the next one started. Then (quite ironically at the same time as screen sizes grew so that there was more room for stuff) those borders got narrowed to just a thin black line, and now they sometimes don’t even have that.

Control buttons changed too. To enable some feature, for example, you would push a button in, and because it was a 3D button, you could see that the button stayed in, very much like in real life. To disable that feature, you’d click it again, and the button now rose to the surface.

Nowadays, the designers seem to prefer simpler graphics. But the result is that I cannot easily distinguish buttons from labels from other stuff. For example, as I type this write now, I am in a blue-bordered box, with a few things on top which I have learned to be captionless buttons for “bold” and stuff. Below and to the left are two buttons, although they do not look like buttons at all. The one on the left has white letters on a dark blue background, and reads “<-- Reply”. The one on the right has no border, and could be mistaken for random typing, but it is actually a button labeled “cancel”. Beats me why one of those buttons is highlighted - In my experience, a highlighted button means that you can choose to press “Enter” on the keyboard in lieu of clicking the button, but that’s not happening here. (Because pressing Enter
moves me to the next line.) Perhaps nowadays, highlighting is a way of saying, “Hey! This is a button, and it’s the one you might be looking for!”

Some people might say that I’m a crabby old senior citizen (and they’d be right) but it seems to me that we have lost some real functionality and ease-of-use, and I can’t figure out what the upside is.

Old-style Windows games, free, legal, and no ads

… and a few other classic Windows apps.

The sneaky thing about Solitaire was that it was a way to teach mouse skills, since in the course of playing the game, you have to double-click, drag and drop and do other things with the mouse. And yet it ended up being the cause of so much wasted time on work computers.

There was one feature of the file manager that I really liked: the ability to show two directories’ contents side by side, to allow you to drag things between them.
Of course, we can open two windows today and do this, but in Windows 3.1 this was a very convenient feature of the single file manager window.

The fact that it was stuck with 8.3 filenames is a bit of a drawback though.

Thanks! I’ll try it when I get home!

I remember reading that Solitaire and Minesweeper were included as a marketing tool. NOT because they were fun toys, but because at the time, computers were generally understood to be text-oriented. For example, an office worker would fill in all the boxes to enter a purchase order, or a healthcare worker would type in all your personal info and symptoms. The concept of “pointing to an object on the screen” was new and foreign and people couldn’t grasp how it might be useful. But when they played Solitaire, and could “virtually” grab a playing card and move it to another pile, they began to understand the power of the graphical interface.

Didn’t Win XP have a sweep second clock? I used to put it on screen when I was bidding on EBay and thought I still used it for XP.

I’m 69 years old and didn’t even know where the on/off switch was on a desktop computer pre-Windows 98 so what there is to “miss” before that I wouldn’t know about. I DO know I DON’T at all miss dial up.

YUCK! :nauseated_face:

Yes! I forgot that one!

I was working tech support in the the late 90s/early 2000s supporting win 95/98/2000 and I’d ask people to click the start button only to have them flip the power switch. Oy.

There is also an application called T-Clock (it has several incarnations, and I’m hanged if I know which one I’m using) that allows you to customize the taskbar clock. Currently mine reads Fri 15 Oct 2021 10:47:48 (the mask is “ddd dd mmm yyyy HH:mm:ss”).

I was literally about to look up to see what that program was called, and if it still worked in Windows 10. I haven’t used it since the Windows XP days.