When I learnt that the entire of the Apollo mission that put two men on the moon happened with the help of computers having no more than 64 kilobytes of memory, my jaw dropped. My jaw dropped once again this fine Friday morning when I heard that Windows 95—the operating system that powered tens of computers in my school library and millions around the world—is now a mere 128MB application I can download and run on my Windows, Mac, or Linux computer.
Felix Rieseberg, a developer at Slack, shared a project on GitHub on Thursday which encapsulates what appears to be the full version of Windows 95. The project contains executable files for Windows, macOS, and Linux. The port has been made possible by Electron, a cross-platform application development framework from GitHub. Though the original operating system only demanded a piddly 4MB of RAM to run back in the day, this emulated version eats up between 200MB and 300MB of RAM on a Mac. This is because of the overhead posed by Electron.
When the Electron application is launched, Windows 95 appears fully booted up, and the desktop is what is presented first, along with an unsaved Notepad file that reads, “Hey! I’m Felix, the maker of this little dumb thing,” and the developer’s Twitter handle. The emulated version will let you relive the 90s Windows experience by letting you play with the classic Windows UI and open applications like WordPad, Paint, and Calculator. It will also let you open and play games like Minesweeper, FreeCell, Hearts, and Solitaire.
Windows 95 was the first version of Windows to introduce elements like the taskbar and the Start menu, invoked by the Start button on the lower right corner. These elements, and many more, live on even today in the latest version of the operating system, Windows 10. Windows 95 also brought in a new way of navigating through windows that exists even today. In many ways, Windows 95 was a huge leap from its predecessor, Windows 3.1.
It’s unclear at the moment if Microsoft, which recently announced its acquisition of GitHub, will raise objections to the use of its code in such a way. However, this gives old-time fans of Windows (like me) an opportunity to revisit the screens of the 90s without being pestered by the Windows Activation window. Head over to this GitHub page to get another taste of that evocative, long-forgotten Windows flavour.
Cover Image Courtesy: GitHub