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Home / Technology / Running Windows 95 in an "app" is a stupid trick that makes a good point

Running Windows 95 in an "app" is a stupid trick that makes a good point



A dumb new app has made the rounds this week: Windows 95 as a stand-alone application. The Windows 95 "App" runs on Windows, macOS and Linux, combining Electron (a framework for building desktop applications with JavaScript and other Web technology) with an existing x86 emulator written in JavaScript. The emulator can run a number of operating systems: For the app, it comes preinstalled with Windows 95.

This is of course Software Piracy . The developer of the app has no rights to distribute Windows 95, and I'm a little surprised that the app has not been removed from GitHub yet. And now the app is just a toy; There is no real reason to use Windows 95 like this, except for the novelty factor that actually works.

But Windows 95 (and software running or requiring Windows 95) was an important part of computer history. I think it could be made the case that it is Microsoft's most important Windows version of all time, and its influence is still felt today. Not only was it technically an important step out of the world of 1

6-bit DOS and Windows 3.x to 32-bit Windows NT, and it not only presented a UI that has stayed with us for over 20 years -Windows 95 was also a major consumer event as people lined up to buy the thing as it became available. A comprehensive understanding of today's computing landscape is not possible without running, using, and understanding Windows 95. However, Windows 95 was designed for mid-1990s hardware. Compatibility with hard disk controllers, video cards and other important devices is already essentially non-existent. By 2020, it's unlikely that it will even boot on new PCs, as compatibility with older versions is slowly being discarded to make the PC platform faster and more secure. These hardware changes mean that in the long run, very old software is a challenge even for virtualization software like VMware.

A neatly bundled emulator in a stand-alone package eliminates hardware issues. Also, using JavaScript for the emulator provides a high level of longevity: the emulator is not tied to specific underlying hardware functions and can be run more or less anywhere.

Systems like these are important to get these important parts of computational history. And yet there is no effective way to develop and disseminate it without violating copyright law. This, of course, is the same problem in the console emulation world, but with even greater historical impact: games are important cultural artifacts, but authentic access to Windows 95, Office 95, Netscape 3 (and the web content of that era), and so on more importantly, because of the greater influence that these things ultimately had.

The software industry has at best shown indifference to preserve and protect this legacy, and hostility in the case of ROM games. As silly as the Windows 95 emulator is – it's basically put together for fun – it serves a purpose that's becoming increasingly important. Rightholders and legislators should work to ensure that such work is at least legally or better actively supported by the industry itself. If they do not do it? Our recent history will be lost and inaccessible to the detriment of all of us.


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