Currently hosting 10 utilities for playing Win9x games!
Utilities for playing Win9x games
Win9x software can be run on any x86 computer, as well as many non-x86 platforms. How this is accomplished depends on what operating system your computer is running.
Windows 9x operating systems include a copy of DOS and run most Win16 programs, so Win9x is a replacement for those operating systems. Any computer running DOS (MS-DOS/PC-DOS/DR-DOS/FreeDOS) or Windows 1.0 through Windows 3.11 that meets the minimum hardware requirements should be able to install a copy of Windows 95/98/Me. If you want to run a real copy of Windows, but don't already own one, there is a free Windows-compatible operating system called ReactOS, which can be found in the operating systems section.
Unix-like operating systems (Linux, Mac OS X) can run many Win9x programs using a native implementation of the Windows API called Wine.
Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7 natively support Win9x software, but Win9x games may crash or have video issues. These issues can often be resolved by setting the program's Compatibility settings, which cause Windows XP and newer to behave like any older version of Windows that you specify. To set Compatibility settings, right-click on the game's icon, click Properties, and select the Compatibility tab. Choose Windows 95, 98, Me, or XP from the drop-down list. For programs that must be run in 256-color mode, check "Run in 256 colors" in the Settings section. If the colors are incorrect in a game that uses DirectDraw, w7ddpatcher will usually resolve this problem.
OS/2 and BeOS don't support Win9x software at all. If you are using one of these operating systems, the only way to run Win9x games is to install a real copy of Windows 95 or newer, or ReactOS, in an emulation or virtualization program. Such programs allow you to run Windows and other operating systems as a "guest" operating system in a window on your "host" operating system.
ReactOS is a free and open source Windows-like operating system with very low system requirements. A Linux implementation of the Windows API, called Wine, already existed when development began. ReactOS takes the concept a step farther by creating an entire operating system with the look and feel of Microsoft Windows, using Wine to implement the Windows API. ReactOS is at least somewhat compatible with most Windows programs, including games that use DirectX. Officially, ReactOS 0.3.x is considered alpha software, and will not be considered beta software until version 0.5. Because an alpha version of any program can potentially have issues with stability, data corruption and data loss, it is recommended that ReactOS only be installed on a testbed computer, or safely run in the protected ("sandbox") environment of an emulator or virtualization suite. ReactOS can also be booted from a LiveCD, which allows the OS to be tested without the overhead of an emulator, and without installing to a hard drive.
ReactOS v0.3.17 Installation CD (92,089,473 bytes)
Bochs emulates a PC with a 32 or 64-bit x86 processor. Like virtualization suites, it allows you to run a real copy of DOS, Windows, Linux, and other PC operating systems. The significant difference is that a virtualization suite simply allows a guest operating system to run on your PC, whereas Bochs emulates a PC, so you can run PC operating systems on non-PC computers. Unlike DOSBox, you will need a copy of DOS to play DOS games, but Bochs was designed to run other operating systems as well, which can be anywhere from difficult to impossible with DOSBox. Written in C++, Bochs can compile on many platforms. Please see the Bochs homepage for other versions.
DOSBox emulates a complete IBM-compatible PC, including almost every significant graphics standard (CGA, EGA, VGA, etc.) and sound card (Sound Blaster, AdLib, Gravis UltraSound, etc.). DOSBox also allows the emulation speed to be decreased to allow very old software to run at a playable speed. What makes DOSBox unique is that it also emulates DOS itself, allowing DOS software to run without installing an actual copy of DOS! DOSBox emulates DOS so well that it is even possible to install Windows 3.1, as well as Windows 95 up to OSR1. It is also possible to install and boot an actual copy of DOS in order to use utilities not included with DOSBox, or just to recreate the authentic DOS experience. In additions to the versions listed below, there are also ports to a number of Linux distributions, so I recommend visiting DOSBox's home page if the version for your operating system isn't listed below.
The Script Creation Utility for Maniac Mansion Virtual Machine is a collection of interpreters that run the data files of many classic graphic adventure games on a number of platforms. There are ports to almost every operating system, console, and handheld computer imaginable, so visit their homepage if the version you want isn't listed here.
Virtual PC allows almost any PC operating system to be run in Windows with virtually no loss of performance. You can run a real copy of DOS, OS/2, or Windows as a "Guest" operating system within your normal version of Windows (the "Host" operating system). Virtual PC is a virtualization environment, not an operating system emulator, so you will have to install your own copy of whatever OS you want to run as a Guest.
Virtual PC 2004 requires at least Windows 2000, and supports DOS, OS/2, and Windows 3.x (unofficially)/NT/9x/2000/XP/Server 2003 as Guests.
Virtual PC 2007 requires at least Windows XP, and adds support for 32-bit Windows Vista/Server 2008 Guests. Official support for DOS and Windows NT/95/98 First Edition/Me Guests was dropped, though they still work just fine.
The newest version, released on 19 September 2009, is called Windows Virtual PC. It requires Windows 7 and only supports Windows XP/Vista/7 Guests, so it is not useful for running any of the games on this site.
Microsoft generously released Virtual PC 2004 as freeware on 12 July 2006. Virtual PC 2007 was originally released under a freeware license.
VirtualBox is an extremely easy to use virtualization package that allows almost any PC operating system to be run in a window on PCs running Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, OS/2, and Solaris, with virtually no loss of performance (as long as you have enough RAM to spare for the guest operating system). You can run a real copy of DOS (with or without Win16) or Win9x, to play games from this site and be able to switch back and forth between the host and guest operating system without rebooting. VirtualBox is a virtualization environment, not an operating system emulator, so you will have to install your own copy of DOS or Windows. VirtualBox emulates a SoundBlaster 16, which is great for DOS and Win16, and it supports 2D and 3D acceleration and has experimental DirectX support, which is great for Win9x and newer operating systems. Shared folders can be created to transfer files to and from the guest operating system. There are ports for Solaris/OpenSolaris and a number of Linux distributions, so I recommend visiting the home page if the version for your operating system isn't listed below.
VirtualBox v5.0.4 for Intel Macs (90,403,064 bytes)
Win32s (Windows 32-bit subset) is a 32-bit runtime environment for Windows 3.1x. The purpose of Win32s was to allow programmers to write 32-bit software that could be made backwards compatible with 16-bit Windows 3.1x, the dominant Windows operating system at the time. Installing Win32s doesn't automatically allow Windows 3.1x to run all Win32 programs because Windows 3.x programs run in an address space that is shared by all running applications, whereas Windows NT/9x programs each have their own private virtual address space, so making a Win32 program work with Win32s requires relocation information. Some Win32s-compatible games included a copy of Win32s. Windows 95 quickly swept Windows 3.1 into history, so developers didn't bother to program for Win32s for very long, making the list of Win32s programs fairly small. Nevertheless, a few regular Win9x programs will run under Win32s, including 3D Pinball: Space Cadet (included with Microsoft Plus! for Windows 95, Windows Me, and Windows XP) and the calculator from Windows 95. Win32s came with a copy of FreeCell to demonstrate a 32-bit Windows game that could run under 16-bit Windows.
Win32s v1.30c [126.96.36.199] with OLE (2,530,739 bytes)
31 January 1996
Win32s v1.30a [188.8.131.52] with OLE (3,039,934 bytes)
Microsoft originally released this program under a freeware license.
DirectX is an API (Application Programming Interface) that allows programmers to create games that use 3D acceleration (using the graphics card to create the images instead of the CPU) and be sure that the game will work on any graphics card that supports DirectX, eliminating the need to include drivers for every graphics card their customers might possibly use. All version of Windows since Windows 95B (OSR 2) have included a copy of DirectX. Windows 95 and OSR 1 didn't include DirectX, and OSR 2 only came with DirectX 2, so it may be necessary to upgrade DirectX in order to play some of the games on this site.
Versions of Windows all the way up to Windows 7 are often unable to take screenshots of games that use DirectX when you press Print Screen. DirectX speeds up games by allowing a game's graphics to be processed by the graphics card – offloading a highly parallelizable task to a processor designed for highly parallel tasks – instead of being processed by the CPU, which is best at linear tasks. This means that the image to be drawn to the screen is stored in the video card's memory instead of system memory. When running a DirectX game, the output buffer in system memory is often just a black screen. This registry patch restores the ability to take screenshots with the Print Screen button in some DirectX games by changing a single setting in the DirectDraw portion of the registry on 32-bit systems, and the WoW64 (Windows 32-bit on Windows 64-bit) portion of the registry on 64-bit systems.
Many early DirectDraw games display colors incorrectly on modern versions of Windows. The effect can be limited to just water, or it can affect pretty much everything on the screen. Select the game's executable file in w7ddpatcher (Windows 7 Direct Draw Patcher) and almost every game instantly becomes playable again. w7ddpatcher may be necessary to play the following games from this site on modern versions of Windows: Age of Empires and Road Rash.