Windows 3.1x DOSBox Guide

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Windows 3.1x DOSBox Guide

Postby Dominus » 2005-7-13 @ 21:42

This guide should help you get on the way with using Windows 3.1x in DOSBox.

- DO NOT ASK FOR A COPY OF WINDOWS 3.x Even though Windows 3.x is really old now, it is not freeware. But cheap copies can sometimes be found on ebay or thrift shops.

- I am not substituting the DOSBox README. If you haven't worked with DOSBox before and you just want to have a quick Windows 3.x fix, please read the README.

- DON'T mount your actual c:\ drive root as c in DOSBox when you are doing this, or chances are you are going to mess with your regular Windows when you try to install Windows 3.x. YOU'VE BEEN WARNED!
(never do 'mount c C:\' - it's okay to 'mount c C:\doswin')

- DOSBox supports Windows 3.x since DOSBox version 0.65, but the latest version is recommended for enjoying Windows 3.x on DOSBox.

-----Graphics/Video drivers-----

By default DOSBox emulates a S3 graphics card, for running Windows 3.x you will need to download the S3 drivers at (version 1.70.04).
With these drivers you can run Windows at 1024x768 with 64k colours (large or small fonts).

DOSBox can also emulate three other graphics cards (among others) which can be used with Windows 3.x. To use those you need to change the machine setting in dosbox.conf.
You can use the following "graphics cards":

- Tseng 3000 (machine=svga_et3000), download the drivers from

- Tseng 4000 (machine=svga_et4000), download the drivers from

- Paradise graphics card, download the drivers from

You can also choose the generic SVGA drivers that come with Windows 3.1x.

I advise to use the generic VGA driver on Windows setup and change to the S3 (or other "cards") afterwards.

-----other drivers-----

- Soundblaster drivers can be found at (or you can download the package that worked for me so far at
Best use this driver, other drivers may not work correctly.

- for Joystick support download and install

- Win32s (Win32 Subset) 1.30c can be downloaded at
it is not necessary, but interesting :) Lets some few 32-bit programs run on Windows 3.1x. Comes with Freecell.

- VfW Video for Windows 3.1x at

- WinG at

- Quicktime seems to work best when you install Quicktime 2.1.2.
Also note that DOSBox 0.74 and earlier releases didn't handle CD-ROMs well that have both the Windows and Mac version on it. You will need to either wait for the next release of DOSBox or download and install a SVN built.

- a site with downloads, tips and tricks to Windows 3.1x:


Windows 3.1, 3.11 and Windows for Workgroups 3.11 run ok in DOSBox when running from a mounted folder and that's what I'm advising.

For actually installing Windows 3.1x, I did copy all of the files from the original 3.5" floppies into a folder called win31 and installed from that. Some generic instructions:
On your computer make a folder called "C:/doswin".
Copy all the files on your Windows 3.1x floppies to "C:\doswin\win31".
Extract the drivers to "C:\doswin\drivers\" (for example the S3 drivers to "c:\doswin\drivers\s3" or "C:\doswin\drivers\tseng" for the Tseng drivers).


Start DOSBox.
At the prompt enter:
mount c c:\doswin
cd c:\win31


And off you go. The settings that setup chooses should be ok and left at default. If you want to have control over which programs get installed with Windows choose the "Customized Setup" and not the "Express Setup". When Windows asks which printer to install, choose the generic/text printer.
When Setup finishes and offers you to either reboot or return to dos, you can either choose return to dos AND then close DOSBox or you can just skip the return part close DOSBox right away.


Before you start DOSBox again to test Windows 3.x I recommend editing dosbox.conf to make it easier to work with Windows 3.x. Edit the end of dosbox.conf like this:
Code: Select all
# Lines in this section will be run at startup.
mount c c:\doswin

Now to install the S3 graphics driver, start DOSBox again, type
cd windows

You get a screen similar to the initial setup of Windows 3.x. Scroll up to the Display driver and hit enter. Now scroll all the way down to "Other (requires disk....)" and hit enter again. Enter the path to the S3 drivers "c:\drivers\s3" and hit enter.
You can now choose on of the S3 drivers. The highest working resolution is 1024x768 at 64k colors. For playing games a much lower resolution is enough. Some can't even handle more than 256 colors and will look odd.


After installation of the driver you can start Windows by entering "win".

To install the Soundblaster driver, exit Windows 3.x again. At the prompt type
cd c:\drivers\sb16w3x

This pretty much runs on its own, just make sure
- that the path to Windows is correct (c:\Windows)
- that the interrupt setting is correct. The installer wants to use Interrupt 5 by default, but DOSBox uses 7 by default, so change that.
- to let the installer overwrite files if it want to.
When the installer asks whether you want to load Dos drivers select "No" since DOSBox won't use those drivers in any way.
After the installer finishes you can run Windows right away, no need to "reboot".


NOTE: Best use the driver I link to. Other drivers may give you headaches.

To install the joystick driver you have to have started Windows. Open the main group in Program Manager and start Control Panel. In Control Panel start Drivers. Click on "Add...", select "Unlisted or Updated Driver", in the next dialog enter "c:\drivers\ibmjoy\" as the location of the driver. The next dialog lets you install "Driver for Joystick" and then asks you whether you want to setup the driver for "one or two 2-Dimensional" or a "single 3-Dimensional Joystick". I recommend using the first option. It seems that most games will recognize if the joystick has four buttons, even though the IBM joystick control panel shows only two working buttons. The latter option is only advisable if you use a joystick with a throttle. You need to restart Windows after this.


My advice for using the joystick with Windows 3.1x games is to edit dosbox.conf again and in the [joystick] section set the option
One game (Microsoft Fury³) gave me problems with timed enabled. If you have calibrating problems, change this again.
Also take not that most games require you to calibrate the joystick again, after a Windows 3.x restart.


- to change graphics drivers, I'd advise exiting Windows 3.x and then change directory to the Windows directory (cd windows) and run setup.exe.
But beware! Windows 3.x doesn't like it when you change drivers too often and then Setup crashes when you want to load other video drivers. In this case, got the Windows 3.x system directory (\windows\system) and get rid of the "oemX.inf" files (for example "oem0.inf" or "oem1.inf") you don't need.

- In some applications the font looks strange. It seems to get better if you install *any* printer in Windows 3.x (no matter that you can't use it). Some of you might remember that Windows 3.x didn't let you use most fonts unless you did that back in the days :)

- When you mount a floppy drive to a:\ it doesn't show in the Windows file manager and in the "run" dialog you can't select it either. But you can enter the path (for example "a:\setup.exe") and it works ok. When you don't have anything mounted to a:\ the a:\ drive shows up in Windows 3.1x. Strange but true.

- When you choose the Tseng drivers when you install Windows, the mouse pointer might not be visible. To fix this go back to the DOSBox prompt, change dir to the Windows directory ("cd windows") , run setup again and then choose the VGA or SVGA drivers that come with Windows 3.1x. Start Windows again (your mouse pointer should be visible now) and then run setup from inside Windows to choose the Tseng drivers.

- 32-bit file and disk access doesn't work in DOSBox
Here is an article that gives a lot of information on how 32-bit disk access worked (and that explains why it doesn't in DOSBox).

- NO Internet yet :)

- Windows programs that rely on share.exe or the later Windows 3.x driver vshare.386 will crash on starting with an error message that share.exe has not been loaded. This affects mostly office programs, e.g. Microsoft Office, Works, Publisher, Lotus Office programs... DOSBox is not emulating something that is needed for share.exe or vshare.386 to correctly work and since it isn't needed for games chances are slim that this will ever be emulated.
HOWEVER there are two workarounds.
1. Run Windows 3.x on a boot image (see below on how to), this is the safe way since when you boot an image in DOSBox the needed functionality is working.
2. Download and run fakeshar before starting Windows in DOSBox. THIS IS NOT SAFE since it only fakes that share is running even though it doesn't. When you insist on actually working with the affected programs in Windows you will experience data loss.

-----Running Windows 3.x on a boot image-----

You can also mount an image, boot from that, install Dos and then install Windows on that. The guide on boot images is at viewtopic.php?t=7260, when you are done with that, use Disk Explorer (link is in the guide) to copy the install folders to the image, boot from the image (see the guise again) and begin installing.
In dosbox.conf both xms and ems must be set to false.
For most uses a boot image is not worth the hassle, though. One of my registered shareware games (Inner Space) only installs as registered version on a boot image, so if all else fails a boot image install might be the last resort.
Another Problem with using a boot image is that you can only use mounted images not mounted real drives (floppy, cd-rom).
Note 1: using an image is mostly overkill now for running Windows 3.11
Note 2: Share and 32bit disk and file access works when you boot from an image


See Dosfreaks first post for mirrors of the drivers and the utilities.

P.S.: If you think that Windows95 might work as easily and good, you are wrong :)

Edit: mentioned Ian's soundblaster driver guide and another boot image problem/shortcoming.
Edit: Mentioned problems with mouse when setting up Windows from the start with the Tseng drivers.
Edit: Little adjustment for the 0.65 version
Edit: Uploaded drivers and other useful stuff to Those files were uploaded by me and *should* be okay.
Edit: did some layouting
Edit: The guide is now for the upcoming DOSBox 0.70 but I kept the 0.65 specific instructions
Edit: SET PATH= does not like spaces, so SET PATH=%PATH%;C:\WINDOWS; works. SET PATH=%PATH%; C:\WINDOWS does NOT :)
Edit: fixed joystick driver section
Edit: deleted 0.65 instructions
Edit: updated the guide since Vasyls patches have been integrated ages ago, removed Ian's soundblaster drivers installation guide since it wasn't necesary for quite some time now. Fixed download links and put the files and guide pictures onto a dropbox account. Added the share issue and two workarounds to Troubleshooting. Added little mirror message
Edit: added a note about Quicktime and uploaded the 2.1.2 version of it to the dropbox account. Linked to the 32bit disk access article that Dosfreak posted. Share/32bit disk/file access works when you boot from an image.
Edit: Reshuffled stuff a bit (quicktime moved up to the other drivers), S3 driver version number
Last edited by Dominus on 2013-5-13 @ 11:34, edited 41 times in total.
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Re: Windows 3.1x DOSBox Guide

Postby DosFreak » 2011-8-09 @ 15:46

Things to do:

Look into adding networking instructions

Go over guide.
Compare to Sierrahelp guide. Include changes when needed. ... ivers.html

Compare S3 drivers ... chive.aspx

SB16 Drivers ... B16/Win31/

It looks like IE5 included "TCP/IP Stack and Dialer" which installs TCP/IP support on Windows 3.x. (If you install IE5 on Workgroup edition it will not install it)

Newer driver for S3 864 chipset for Windows 3.1

Possibly compatible NT 3.1/3.5 drivers as well.

S3 864 Win 3.x Drivers ... 86150F.EXE ... (v1.69.02) ... (v1.50.02) ... (v1.50.02)

S3 864 Win95 Drivers ... 862019.EXE ... (Only for VLB/PCI?) ... (Only for VLB/PCI?)

S3 864 NT 3.xx Driver ... 00230A.EXE ... 00112J.ZIP ... ...

S3 864 OS/2 Driver ... 30316Q.EXE ...

Need permanent storage location for 3.1 drivers and software.
Any other files that should be hosted?
Graphical guide to Windows 3.1 in DosBox
Site to host freely available tools..shareware/freeware.

Windows 3.x drivers and software hosted by gulikoza

S3 Trio/64 v1.41B5 (S3 Vision 64 or Vision864)
Tseng ET4000
Tseng ET3000
SoundBlaster 16 Windows 3.x
Video for Windows

Other site with drivers

Need to see if Windows 3.x works with FreeDOS. If so then use my 2GB FreeDOS .img from 9x thread.

Accord to this:
it does. Need to verify.
Last edited by DosFreak on 2012-4-06 @ 19:02, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Windows 3.1x DOSBox Guide

Postby DosFreak » 2012-4-17 @ 14:23

Info on CD Audio driver?

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Re: Windows 3.1x DOSBox Guide

Postby Dominus » 2013-5-13 @ 11:45

Updated S3 drivers to version 1.70.04 (same name for the zip, though), moved Quicktime up to the other drivers and bolded some key words.
Need to do the CD Audio driver thing at some point :)
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Re: Windows 3.1x DOSBox Guide

Postby DosFreak » 2015-4-02 @ 10:41

Link to thread on launching a program in Windows and exiting DOSBox
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Re: Windows 3.1x DOSBox Guide

Postby Great Hierophant » 2016-11-26 @ 02:38

The guide is great, but I encountered an installation error trying to install a custom video driver in the initial Setup. What I did was to use the basic VGA driver for the initial install, then change the video driver using Windows Setup in the Main program group. When the driver spouted up a prompt to Insert the Trio 64V Flat Mode Driver disk, I redirected the installer to \WINDOWS\SYSTEM, which completed the graphics driver install.
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