Windows – Is there a modern browser that runs on Windows 3.1?


Simply put, is there a modern browser that runs on Windows 3.1? Sometimes there's situations that restrict the ability for an environment to be upgraded, and web browsing is a must these days. The idea is that that it can render a site such as

The existing browsing options for that OS simply break on most sites.


Ok, so I know what you are thinking: "What on earth are you doing
still running Windows 3.1?"

Here's the situation. The computer running 3.1 is also the controller
for $150,000 bandsaw made in Germany, so any chance of upgrading the
actual computer without spending quite a bit of money up front to the
manufacture is slim to none. The problem is that the timeclock
software is on a web driven platform. Netscape 4.0 does not display
the site correctly and does not respond to the button pushes like
"login" or "punch".

Things like Java or flash are not necassary. AFAIK, it just needs to
support HTML 4 and CSS.


So I figure it might be a good idea to disclose the software being
used. It's [Gorrie Regan's Time and Attendance][1] software. They
have done some updates since we first acquired them. The service is
hosted through a combination SQL server and IIS.


Best Answer

Sorry to put this as an answer, since I can't give you one, but seemed too big for a comment.

To add to the people recommending not to do this: the more useful that you make the Win 3.1 machine (by allowing it to do other work), the longer the machine is just useful enough to not replace with something that makes sense.

Win3.1 is a horrible OS to have as a controller. Think of it as DOS with a GUI, which is what it is. There's no process isolation so a bad browser window (or any app) can scramble memory in the controller's memory space wreaking havoc. Since you have old browsers looking at modern HTML/CSS/JavaScript, there are a lot of possibilities for browser bugs and the odds of scrambled memory are relatively speaking, high.

There's also not a lot of Win3.1 support for realtime. Even Win95 was better, though not by much. This means that as apps try to cooperate and share the CPU, they don't necessarily have to, and some app or browser window may use up all of the CPU, throwing off the timing for the controller software. That may not end well. This is in fact a bandsaw.

There were (possibly still are) viruses for 3.1 (err, DOS really), so opening it up to any network should scare you. Any wise network engineer would require a firewall (if you could find one for Win3.1) and at that point you bog the machine down. Then, many answers recommend IE5, which is unpatchable at this point.

Win 3.1 was end-of-lifed about 4 years ago (surprisingly recently in my book). Internet Explorer 5.x had its last support of any kind in 2010. I'd tell my boss that this is connected to a bandsaw and we don't want any problems with the controller software. If the controller-software people were at all smart, they'd have a clause not allowing any other software on the controller box, or you void some support from them.

If you really need something close to the controller, I'd say WiFi+cheap tablet/used iPod Touch, but I'd obviously say you need to secure your WiFi network as well.