EmuOS: run retro games and apps right in your browser
If you experienced the late DOS days or early Windows days first hand and want to relive that, or want to experience it for the first time, then you may want to hop over to EmuOS to do just that.
EmuOS emulates Windows in the browser, and it comes with a number of games and applications for you to run right from that browser as well.
Want to replay Quake, the original Doom, or Half-Life? How about Transport Tycoon Deluxe, Worms 2, or Microsoft Solitaire? There is also Winamp, classic Paint, and Clippy to play around with and use right from the browser.
All it takes is a modern web browser. Nothing needs to be installed and it should work in most environments. It is far better than having to install the ancient operating systems on a device and the apps or games that you want to play.
The three operating systems were released between 1995 and 2000 by Microsoft. Windows 95 was released in 1995 and Windows ME, the ME stands for Millennium Edition, in 2000. The classic boot screens are displayed once one of the supported operating systems has been selected.
The desktops look identical and are quite messy, as they are plastered with shortcuts. These shortcuts point to apps and games that users may start with a click. Most of these may look familiar, even to users who never experienced the period in computing first-hand.
Operating system controls, such as Settings or the Start Menu, do not work in the current version. There is also no option to install more games or apps. The emulator is a work in progress, and some content is still under development.
Here is a list of popular apps and games that you may play using the service:
- Doom 1 to 3
- Wolfenstein 3D
- Quake 1 to 3
- Street Fighter Alpha
- Command and Conquer: Red Alert
- Diablo 1
- Worms Armageddon
- Prince of Persia
- Dune 2
- X-Com: UFO Defense
Just double-click on a game or app to start it in the browser; these are emulated as well, and performance depends largely on your system's capabilities. While you should be able to run most games and apps on any fairly modern machine, some may stress low performance machines, despite their age.
Many games and apps open instantly in a window on the emulated desktop. Windows may be moved on the desktop, closed and maximized, just like regular program windows on Windows PCs.
Access to the underlying system is required for some games and apps. When you start Quake 2 for example, you may get a browser prompt to allow EmuOS access to the file system.
Some shortcuts, mostly those pointing to Microsoft games, open new tabs in the browser. There is no indication about that on the desktop and probably a bug.
Some games support saves, which means that it is possible to continue them at a later point in time.
Open Source emulation of Windows 95, 98 and ME
You are probably wondering what EmuOS is all about, and how the project came to be. The GitHub project page provides a short description of the project and intention:
The purpose of Emupedia is to serve as a nonprofit meta-resource, hub and community for those interested mainly in video game preservation which aims to digitally collect, archive and preserve games and software to make them available online accessible by a user-friendly UI that simulates several retro operating systems for educational purposes.
The project website provides information on the supported browsers, emulators used by the projects, the list of supported games, apps and demos, and the libraries that the developers used.
EmuOS is not the first project designed to preserve and archive computer games and applications. The Internet Archive hosts a lot of game and application collections, e.g. this DOS games collection, C-64 emulation library, or Internet Arcade, all playable in the browser.
EmuOS offers an interesting look at early PC gaming and apps that users ran on their systems when Windows ME was the latest rage. Some of these apps and games are still available today, and you can even buy many of these games on Gog instead to play them locally and not in the browser.
The emulation is fairly limited at this point. There is no access to system functions or options, other than very basic features such as displaying the calendar when clicking on the clock icon. Installation of games or apps is not supported, and users are stuck with the selection provided.
While that is limiting, it still offers value, as several apps and games are all-time classics that are still popular today.
Now You: What is your take on game and application preservation projects?