30 years of Windows: travel into the past with Windows emulators

Windows is turning 30 and we’re celebrating! On November 10,1983 Microsoft unveiled the Windows operating system to the public. For the software giant this was a real milestone, even though launching was still two years away. Today, we’ve seen versions of Windows that we’ve loved, and others that we’ve hated. These web emulators will let you look back at Windows 1.0, 3.0, 95, ME, 2000, XP, and Vista – ready for a serious trip down memory lane?

From today’s perspective, the early versions of Windows are so simple you can easily run them in your browser with a Windows emulator. With the newer versions, it’s a more involved process, but it’s worth it for a nostalgic look back on Windows XP and Vista. Windows emulators and simulators for browsers certainly bring back some memories!

Windows 1:01 emulator (in browser)

The first version of Windows was released on November 20, 1985. The public reaction was pretty limited because without expensive hardware like a mouse, hard disk, and memory expansion, Windows had no real purpose.

From today’s perspective, that’s kind of hard to imagine! Today to run Windows 1:01 all you need is a web browser and Java. With the PC emulator PCE.js by James Friend, you can operate a complete IBM PC XT including floppy drive and Windows 1:01. The first version of Windows can’t do much though – maybe you could have a fun game of the classic Reversi?

Windows 3.0 emulator (in browser)

With PCE.js you can also try Windows 3.0 in your browser. The third version of Windows was the first major commercial success. Windows 2.0 actually kicked off a copyright dispute with Apple which was triggered when Apple questioned Microsoft about certain  features they claimed were copied, such as overlapping windows.

The Windows 3.0 emulator doesn’t work with the mouse and you’ll have to rely on some finger acrobatics to find your way around. Use the arrow keys, as well as ALT and TAB, to switch between menus and windows. It’ll be just like navigating round a cluttered desktop! A quick game of solitaire will make you feel better!

You can also install a version of Apple’s old Macintosh, as there’s an emulator based on the 7.0.1 system from 1993. In the same year, incidentally, Windows 3.1 was also released. Install them both and see which looks funnier – with the Mac emulator for the browser the mouse even works!

Windows 3.1 simulator (in browser)

No emulator is available, but you’ll still find a pretty smart web simulation of Windows 3.1, on www.michaelv.org. It really captures the operating feel of Windows 3.1. The programmer has even gone to the trouble of porting programs such as Minesweeper and the Calculator. The media player cheats a bit – it actually loads videos from YouTube!

Windows 95 “simulator” (web app)

The Windows 95 “simulator” illustrates, in a humorous way, the instability of this version of Windows. Having said that, Windows 95 was undoubtedly a great Windows milestone: the 32-bit processor supported multitasking for the first time, allowing parallel operation of several programs. But Windows 95 was still extremely challenging to use and crashed all the time.

Windows 98, Windows ME, Windows 2000, Vista and XP simulators

You can find simulators for Windows 98 to Windows Vista. But it’s still pretty versatile – with just a click of the mouse you can select the version of Windows of your choice and take a look at the main programs. All clickable elements are in pink, so you can check out all the features you can explore at a glance.

Windows XP to Windows 7 apps and fantasy simulators

We’ve discovered a very different type of Windows emulators over at Newgrounds. It makes Flash versions of some flovors of Windows, like XP, Vista, and Windows 7. The developers make fun of classic Windows issues such as security, funny messages, and system crashes. A particularly good example is the Windows Vista simulator called Windows Doors Ultimate. There’s even a radio app on the widget bar for background music!

You’ll find lots of these funny simulations on each page. They’ve all got names Windows Mista, Windows ABC SP2 or Windows 6012!

After taking a good look at the old versions of Windows, 2 things became clear: From a user perspective, the worst of Windows is certainly behind us. The current Windows 8.1 is stable, powerful and very versatile, thanks to its new touch interface.

There have been lots of complaints about Windows 8.1, but we’ve heard them all before. New versions of Windows have always had problems. Microsoft will release products that aren’t ready, then improves them through updates, as is the case of Windows 8 and Windows 8.1.

Do you have good or bad memories of the old Windows versions? Leave us a comment!

Original article by Markus Kasanmascheff of Softonic DE

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