With tablets and
smartphones running more powerful ARM processors, you can get more
work done and try some new tricks. If you’d like to run some older
legacy Windows software (from the 9x era, in particular), you might be pleased
to know that a QEMU emulator designed for Android exists in the Google Play
Store called Limbo PC Emulator. It’s free to download and use for both commercial and
non-commercial purposes.

Simply follow the steps below to run legacy Windows software on your tablet. With Limbo PC Emulator, you can also run legacy Windows software on your Android smartphone. I
used my old Windows ME disc for demonstration purposes, but you should have no
problems getting Windows versions up to XP working this way as well.

  1. Create
    an ISO image of your Windows install disc. This can be accomplished using a
    tool like LC ISO Creator for Windows, Disk Utility on OS X, or dd on Linux operating systems.
  2. Plug
    in and mount your Android tablet as a USB Mass Storage device,
    then copy the ISO image to the location of your choice.
  3. Turn
    to your Android device, fire up Limbo PC Emulator, press the drop-down menu next to Load VM, then press the New option to create a new
    virtual machine (Figure A).
    Figure A
  4. When
    prompted, type in the name for your VM, then press the Create button (Figure B).
    Figure B
  5. At
    this point, you’ll be given quite a few options to tweak and alter. For my
    example, I set memory size to 256 MB and CPU model to pentium3 mode (Figure C).
    Figure C
  6. Select
    the location of your ISO next to the CDROM option. If the disc image is not
    bootable, you’ll need to provide a boot floppy image as well down below (Figure D).
    Figure D
  7. In
    order to install the OS, you’ll need a hard disk. Select the drop-down next
    to Hard Disk A and press New. Set the file name and
    size of the drive, then press Create.
  8. Feel
    free to adjust the rest of the emulated hardware according to your preferences.
    There is no single right way to configure, depending on the guest OS being
    installed. Don’t forget to set your default boot device to the drive you’ll
    boot the OS install disc from.
  9. Lastly,
    select SDL as the option for the User Interface pull-down menu, so that everything you see is scaled to the entire screen (Figure E).
    Figure E
  10. Press
    the Start button to commence the boot sequence (Figure F).
    Figure F
  11. Install
    Windows like you normally would. It’s strongly advised that a Bluetooth
    keyboard is used, since the on-screen keyboard doesn’t have all the buttons,
    like function and arrow keys. You’re also able to see more with your on-screen
    keyboard out of the way (Figure G).
    Figure G

Installing a guest OS designed
for x86 processors can take a while, since x86 instructions are being
translated to their ARM equivalents. Also, the author of Limbo PC Emulator advises everyone
to utilize save states rather than shutting down your virtual machine. This
way, you won’t have to wait for the guest operating system to take awhile to
fully boot. 

For mouse functionality, simply treat your tablet touchscreen as one giant trackpad, with single-finger taps representing
left-clicks and double-finger taps representing right-clicks. Finally,
networking, sound, and VESA graphics are fully emulated and available to guest
operating systems that support those features.

Have you installed legacy Windows software on your Android device? Share your experience in the discussion thread below.