Fancy running Windows 95 on your Ubuntu, macOS or Windows 10 desktop? Of course you don’t, but for some bizarre reason you now can.

A developer by the name of Felix Rieseberg has resurrected Microsoft’s ancient OS using the power of Electron, a cross-platform app development framework. 😱

“I put Windows 95 into an Electron app that now runs on macOS, Windows, and Linux. It’s a terrible idea that works shockingly well. I’m so sorry,” he writes on Twitter.

And we’re not talking a “fake” experience, or something just skinned to look like the real deal: this is a full-fat Windows 95 experience replete with all the apps, games and other cruft the OS is famous for.

Yes, that including Microsoft Paint, Notepad, and even a ridiculously early version of Internet Explorer.

windows-95-menu

Wondering how it’s possible to package and run an entire OS inside an Electron app? All props go to the v86 project, which promises “x86 virtualization in JavaScript, running in your browser and NodeJS”. Felix says 99.999% of his “joke” effort is down to their work.

Admittedly Felix’s Windows 95 electron app is more of a novelty showcase than a practical way to run the old school software. But I have to admit that it runs far better than it probably should!

Playing around with old versions of any operating system is always a hoot, even if you lack the “nostalgia” factor of having sampled it first time around.

For instance, I hadn’t ever used Windows 95 until I installed this app. What I found interesting (other than checking in on older versions of apps I haven’t used for the best part of a decade) is similar successive releases of Windows are to this formative version.

JavaScript, man: is there anything it can’t do (other than run efficiently)?

How well does it work?

First thing first: booting is instant: you launch the app, tap esc, and the whole desktop is there, right in front of you, ready to go.

I found the mouse sensitivity inside the virtualised window to be a little off. This made it difficult to accurately navigate my way around, move app windows, and access buttons. Once I got my bearings I did manage to get some some apps open, twiddle a few settings, and play around in minesweeper.

A couple features didn’t work (at least, not on my system) including network connections, display resizing, and pointer speed control. Oh, and launching the MS-DOS prompt did nothing other than freeze my session (blub).

You also can’t “reboot” the system, add new users, copy/paste between app and host OS, or make any major configuration changes without seriously stressing the poor thing out.

But Felix says, as this is all open source, he’s open to pull requests.

For me, I can’t complain; this is 22 year old legacy OS running through javascript virtualisation on a modern system. I’m amazed it functions at all.

In summary:

  • Full Windows 95 OS
  • Fast and responsive
  • Included apps work well
  • Saves state between session (i.e. remembers files, settings)
  • Can be quickly reset from the boot screen
  • Missing/broken features, including network

Want to try it yourself? I know you do.

Download the Windows 95 Electron App

You can download Felix’s Windows 95 Electron app and run it on Windows, macOS or major Linux distributions like Ubuntu and Fedora. All you need is the ~100MB install available over on GitHub:

Download Windows 95 (Electron App)

This project might not stick around for too long (Windows 95 isn’t open source) so if you fancy checking this effort out in all its weird glory, do it sooner rather than later!

Once you have Windows 95 installed/unpacked go head and launch it. You’ll see a boot screen with two options. Just click inside the windowed area and select your choice, and, well, away you go!

You can “release” your mouse with a tap of the ‘Esc’ key.