Windows 95 is reborn - in a browser

The 20-year-old Microsoft OS can be run directly from the browser - thanks to a student project to recreate memories of computing from their childhood.

The Windows 95 desktop.
It's been more than 20 years since the release of Windows 95 but today the OS, which once needed a dedicated PC costing more than $1,000, can be run in the browser.

For those wanting to take a trip down memory lane, Andrea Faulds, a student at a Scottish university, has created a hosted Windows 95 emulator that is available across Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer and other browsers.

Windows 95 is running on Em-DOSBox, a version of DOSBox that can be compiled using Emscripten. This tool takes code generated from C/C++ and compiles it to JavaScript - the scripting language supported across web browsers.

Faulds cites nostalgia as the driving force behind creating the emulator.

"I really wanted to recreate the experience of using Windows 95 from my childhood."

Despite being just 19-years-old, Faulds said she grew up with the OS, due to her father's attachment to mid-90s operating systems.

"My dad stubbornly refused to upgrade to Windows XP for quite a long time, so the family computer kept running Windows 98SE."

While users report various bugs with the emulated version of Windows 95, such as Internet Explorer crashing, various simple tools and accessories, such as Paint, are working and available.

The OS also runs rather slowly due to running on an emulated system and the way that DOSBox runs inside the browser.

Faulds, "an occasional programmer" who is active in the PHP community, is currently studying German and Language and Linguistics at the University of Aberdeen.

At present the site that provides access to the emulated version of the OS seems to have gone down under the high amount of traffic it is currently receiving.

Faulds isn't the first to emulate older operating systems in the browser, with systems ranging from Windows 3.1 to Mac OS being ported to the web over the years. The student also points out that Windows 95 is a copyrighted piece of software and is being made available for "education purposes" - adding it will be taken down if she receives a 'cease and desist' letter.

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Nick Heath is chief reporter for TechRepublic. He writes about the technology that IT decision makers need to know about, and the latest happenings in the European tech scene.

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