Windows 2.x Windows 386

Windows 2 changes from Windows 1.x consist mainly of visual improvements. Windows 2 adds overlapping windows, menu keyboard shortcuts, VGA support, and other user interface changes influenced by IBM standards. Windows 2 is the last version that supports installation to a floppy disk, and to be available as an application run-time. Later editions of Windows 2 added support for 286 high memory, and running applications in a 386 VDM. The versioning is a little confusing. 2.x and 2.x/386 were released side-by-side. When it reached 2.1x, the regular 8088 version was renamed to Windows 2.1x/286. This is all unified in Windows 3.0.

For a brief time during the Windows 2.x era, Microsoft considered dropping Windows in favor of OS/2. After a fallout between Microsoft and IBM, development refocused on Windows 3.0 and what would become Windows NT.

Wanted: Supposedly, Microsoft had a beta program manager and file manager for Windows 2 downloadable from their BBS.

Windows 2.1 came out less than a year after the initial 2.0 release and was released in two variants for the Intel 286 and Intel 386. The 386 version, in addition to the HIMEM.SYS support available for the 80286, Windows/386 could take advantage of the Virtual 8086 mode of the new Intel 386 processor. This allowed for true multi-tasking of MS-DOS applications (along with already cooperatively multi-tasked Windows applications) where as previous behavior was to suspend any application that was not in the foreground.

Installation instructions

Windows/386 requires an existing installation of MS-DOS 3.30 or higher.

Wanted: Microsoft Windows/386 2.02 (one was spotted on eBay)

Product type
Release date
End of life date
Minimum CPU
80386 or higher
Minimum RAM
Minimum free disk space
User interface


Download Name Version Language CPU File type File size
Microsoft Windows 2.01 386 (5.25) 2.01/386 English x86 5¼ Floppy 6.51MB
Microsoft Windows 2.03 386 (3.5) 2.03/386 English x86 3½ Floppy 2.79MB
Microsoft Windows 2.03 386 [NEC PowerMate] (5.25-1.2mb) 2.03/386 [NEC PowerMate] English x86 5¼ Floppy 957.82KB
Microsoft Windows 2.10 386 (3.5) 2.10/386 English x86 3½ Floppy 1.1MB
Microsoft Windows 2.10 386 [Amstrad OEM] [German] (3.5-720k) 2.10/386 [Amstrad OEM] German x86 3½ Floppy 2.11MB
Microsoft Windows 2.10 386 [Amstrad PC] [French] (3.5-720k) 2.10 386 [Amstrad PC] French x86 3½ Floppy 1.08MB
Microsoft Windows 2.11 386 (3.5) 2.11/386 English x86 3½ Floppy 3.44MB
Microsoft Windows 2.11 386 (5.25) 2.11/386 English x86 5¼ Floppy 1.17MB
Microsoft Windows 2.11 386 [NEC PC-9801] [Japanese] (3.5-1.23mb) 2.11 386 [NEC PC-9801] Japanese x86 3½ Floppy 1.25MB


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