Nostalgia is a powerful thing. The moment I booted up this Windows 95 emulation, Brian Eno’s famous launch tone took me straight back to my teenagehood. Back then, my PC would boot straight into Windows 95, after which I’d boot straight out to DOS in order to launch Doom.
The work of 19-year-old Andrea Faulds, this browser-based emulation uses DOSBox and Emscripten to bring a slice of 1990s life to the modern internet. While prone to the odd crash, it’s a great way to play Solitaire (or Minesweeper, I guess), and it’s nice to be reminded how much (or how little) has changed. The emulation’s local drive is actually your RAM, so you won’t be able to save or install anything. It’s for looking purposes only.
So how was it done?
“I installed Windows 95 in DOSBox using this guide from a virtualised CD, then packaged up the disk image, along with an AUTOEXEC.BAT file and a custom dosbox.conf using Em-DOSBox,” Faulds writes. “Really, all the hard work was done by the Emscripten, DOSBox and Em-DOSBox people. And, of course, the browser vendors and other people who have worked tirelessly to make the modern web platform what it is today. In the process of making this, I never once had to touch the DOSBox source code!”
One very important thing to note: running this emulation is technically something you shouldn’t do, ie, it’s illegal. “Windows 95 is a copyrighted piece of software, and Microsoft (and others) have not had their rights expire yet, in fact they probably never will,” Faulds warns. “While Microsoft no longer sell Windows 95 as a retail product, nor do they still sell licenses or support for it (which ended on December 31, 2001), it is still very much protected by copyright law, and you may be infringing it.”