Windows XP may be Microsoft’s current latest and greatest, but rewind 10 years ago and you may well have been using Windows for Workgroups 3.11. That came on 8 floppy disks (although often you only needed the first 6), and when installed would only take a small chunk of hard disk space – perhaps less than 10MB if you tried. Nowadays, you need to set aside about a gigabyte and a half for XP, since for some reason it installs the entire driver library to disk (instead of asking you for the CD and conserving space).
But if we step back into 1993 again, you may be interested to know that it’s possible to get a bootable copy of Windows 3.11. Yep – a working version of Windows in 1.38MB.
It is somewhat ‘cut back’ – in fact the only programs it has are File Manager (the ancestor of Windows Explorer), Notepad and, of course, Minesweeper. Program Manager, which is still included in XP, isn’t even included. But as a concept it’s impressive.
The article also includes information about the author’s failed attempts to fit Windows 95 on a floppy – it almost fits if you restrict it to Safe Mode, but sadly it needs a 4MB swap file to boot.
While I was tempted to try it, I realised that Windows 3.11 does not have support for FAT32, which is what my main partition is formatted as (the others use Linux file systems, which it is even less likely to support). But, considering you could, if you had an older computer and really did not have anything better to do, I suppose it could be interesting to try it out.