How to Quickly Install Windows 3.1 on Oracle VirtualBox

If you want to try and see the kind of operating system your forefathers worked with, then you should try installing Windows 3.1 operating in a virtualization software. We can use Oracle VirtualBox for running guest operating systems such as Windows 3.1 on a modern Windows 10/11 PC.

The normal method of doing this involves first installing Microsoft DOS and then insert the disks for installing Windows 3.1 . Images of these disks are available from many different online sources. But this process takes a much longer time and might even not work in the end.

Here is how it can be done much faster:

  1. Download Oracle VirtualBox from and install it on your system. We are going to use Windows as the host OS.
  2. Download Windows 3.1 VirtualBox VDI image from and save it on your local storage drive. It is only 22 MB in download size.
  3. Launch VitualBox Manager and click on the New button.Windows 3.1 on VirtualBox
  4. In the next window, give the guest OS a name “Win31”. VirtualBox will automatically change the guest OS to Microsoft Windows and version to Windows 3.1. Click on Next to continue.Windows 3.1 on VirtualBox
  5. VirtualBox selects a RAM of 32 MB for Windows 3.1. There is no need to change this. Click Next to proceed.Windows 3.1 on VirtualBox
  6. When it asks to add a hard disk, choose the last option – “Use and existing virtual hard disk file”. In the next window, click on “Add”, select the VDI file downloaded in step 2 above, and select it. Click on the Create button to finalize the Windows 3.1 VM.Windows 3.1 on VirtualBox
  7. Now you can go to VirtualBox Manager, select Windows 3.1 from the list of guest operating systems and click on the Start button to run it. The Windows 3.1 guest OS is not supported by VirtualBox extensions.Windows 3.1 on VirtualBox

There is nothing much you can do with Windows 3.1 in today’s world. However, it is fun to see how simple operating systems used to be in the bygone era.

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