Retro Operating Systems to Test from Windows without Installing

Today practically all of us use Windows 10. This is the latest version of the Microsoft operating system, the system we work with day by day. And although we should not have problems, it is very common to find that, when trying to open old programs or games, they do not work in this operating system. Or we may just be nostalgic and want to remember how we used to use computers before. And luckily, going back to using retro operating systems is much easier than we think. And without using virtual machines.

Virtual machines, such as VMware or VirtualBox, will allow us to install practically any operating system on top of Windows without altering our main operating system. From the oldest and rarest systems to the latest Windows 10 or the latest version of macOS. Of course, as long as we have the corresponding installation discs, discs that, at times, can be difficult to obtain.

Retro Operating Systems to Test from Windows without Installing

However, there is life beyond virtualization software. And a very clear proof of this are the following retro operating systems that we can use on any PC without installing anything, both by themselves and from our browser.

macintosh.js: a portable Mac OS 8


macintosh.js is an open source project that seeks to resurrect one of Apple‘s most iconic operating systems, Mac OS 8 , used on the Macintosh Quadra in 1991. To do this, it uses an Electron engine with JavaScript that allows us to virtualize and emulate this PowerPC architecture operating system.

Within it we will find a series of pre-installed programs, such as Photoshop 3, Premiere 4, Illustrator 5.5, StuffIt Expander, Apple Web Page Construction Kit, and more. In addition, we will also be able to run a series of installed games and demos, such as Oregon Trail, Duke Nukem 3D, Civilization II, Alley 19 Bowling, Damage Incorporated and Dungeons & Dragons. If we have old games, we can pass them from Windows to this Mac OS 8, and vice versa, in case we want to copy files to the PC. We can even watch videos and listen to music in this portable operating system.

The main limitation of this software is that we will not be able to connect to the Internet with it, something obvious on the other hand. But, for nostalgic people, it is certainly a most interesting project, and totally free.

We can download this project from its repository on GitHub .

DOSBox: MS-DOS on your PC

DOSBox emulador

Although today we are all used to using a graphical environment desktop, MS-DOS is still a very present operating system in the memory of many. And even essential to play retro games again. Today it would be very difficult (and impractical) to install MS-DOS (or its alternative, FreeDOS) on a PC. But there are alternatives to be able to use this operating system again. For example, resort to DOSBox.

DOSBox is a free and open source MS-DOS emulator that will help us relive the old days. This emulator emulates old CPUs (286/386) and all kinds of hardware (graphics and sound) and file directories so that we can run any program, or game, designed for this operating system. It is even possible to install operating systems on it, such as Windows 1.0 to 3.11.

We can download this emulator completely free of charge from the following link . In addition, we can run it on any operating system, and from any type of hardware.

MS-DOS running in 10 seconds


If DOSBox does not adapt to our needs, there are other alternatives that will allow us to start an original instance of MS-DOS . Simply entering here from our web browser we will be able to have an MS-DOS system working in less than 10 seconds. This system will be fully functional, and it will also have the extended memory modules loaded.

We will be able to run MS-DOS programs and games by loading them in the browser, and everything we do, when we close the browser, will be destroyed.

Linux in the browser

Linux desde navegador

In addition to the two previous operating systems, of course, we will also be able to run different retro versions of the Linux operating system from the browser. Especially in graphic mode. In this link we are going to find two specific versions of this free operating system: Linux 2.6 and Linux 3.18 . We can also run other much more specific distros, such as Arch Linux.

Although we will not have a graphical interface (from terminal, in true Linux style) we will be able to run all kinds of programs and tools directly from the browser.

The oldest Windows in the browser

We will also be able to find several retro Windows operating systems that we can run without problems from our browser for free.

Windows 1.0, the first version of Windows

Windows 1.0 navegador

Before Windows was an operating system, it was an application for MS-DOS. This was installed through floppy disks and had to be run with a command to load the program and start using it. Although one of the most mythical versions of Windows was 3.11, before it we could use this operating system as “a list of programs”. This is Windows 1.0 .

We can load floppy disks and programs from our PC directly from the web. And we can start using this operating system completely free of charge from the following link .

Windows 95 with programs and “floppies”

Windows 95 en el navegador

And what about older operating systems like Windows 95 ? The best way to enjoy them again is from a virtual machine that we can create, for example, with VMware or VirtualBox. However, if we do not want to complicate ourselves, there are projects that allow us to use this operating system again without depending on anything other than the browser.

In this link we are going to find a virtual machine that runs within the web browser itself that will allow us to control an instance with Windows 95. We can load our own files (even mount floppy drives), as well as select a list of software (also on diskettes) and games to install them and be able to use them from the virtual machine itself.

And Windows 98 also from the browser

Windows 98 con oveja

And we will also be able to recall the mythical Windows 98 from our web browser without having to install any additional software or virtual machines. This simple web emulator for Windows 98 will bring us a very precise experience that the Microsoft operating system installed on a PC or virtual machine would offer us. We can find as standard, in addition to all the default Microsoft programs, some curious tools like Sheep that allow us to have a virtual sheep on our PC.

We can access this Windows 98 emulator from this link .