Retro Tech

Running Windows on Anything but a Computer

Just when we thought we've seen everything from Windows 95/98/XP, the retrocomputing community takes old software and old hardware and manages to make something new

Retro Alex

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Here are a few of my favorites:

Windows XP on a tablet

Back in 2003, we started to see the first Windows XP tablets enter the market from OEMs like HP. These devices didn’t run Windows XP but a modified version of the OS called Windows XP Tablet PC edition, which supported handwritten notes and included a notetaking app, a drawing app and its own pen-supported games. Michael MJD demoed one.

The Windows XP tablets were significantly more expensive than similarly spec’d computers at the time, with a starting price of $1,699. That doesn’t stop me from wanting one though. They’re easy to find on eBay for a few hundred dollars.

Windows 98 on the Nintendo Wii

YouTuber HackModNerd used Homebrew and DOSBox to run Windows 95/98 on a Nintendo Wii. Control the cursor with the console’s Wii Remote. Create a masterpiece in Paint. Good luck typing, though.

Windows XP on a OnePlus 8 Pro

Medium user The Odd Inventor developed a creative way to get Windows XP running on their Android device. They used QEMU through Termux to avoid needing to root or jailbreak the device.

Because The Odd Inventor is using QEMU for emulation, it comes with all of the fun QEMU features, like multi-core processing, a shared folder to transfer small files between Windows XP and Android, and internet access.

Windows XP on a 2001 Toyota Corolla

It shouldn’t be surprising that the Windows XP of cars run Windows XP. Cargasm uploaded a photo of their car sporting a custom, 7″ inch computer running Windows XP.

The on-screen keyboard makes me think it’s running Windows XP Tablet PC edition.

Companies like VIC Limited developed aftermarket in-dash systems for around $600 that ran Windows XP, similar to the aftermarket Apple CarPlay head units we see available today. Their specs started at 800Mhz and 128MB of RAM.

Windows 95 on a PSP

Reddit user NewSovietUnion posted their PSP running Windows 95. At first, I was skeptical, thinking it was just a screenshot. Then, I came across the instructions, ISO file and PSP drivers to set it up yourself.

Just like other consoles on this list, it runs DOSBox. Control the cursor with analog stick. And most applications won’t open. But hey, it works.

If you attempt to try this on your own PSP, proceed at your own risk. You probably won’t spend much time using Windows 95 on your PSP anyway.

Windows 98 on an Apple iBook G3

When Reddit user MightyJabba turned on their second-hand iBook for the first time, the machine booted into Mac OS 9 and then launched Virtual PC in full-screen mode. From there, Windows 98 loaded, all automatically at launch.

I would think emulating Windows 98 on a 1999 Mac with a G3 processor would be problematic, but MightyJabba called it surprisingly usable.

Windows 98 on the wrist

Reddit user Lord_of_Bone used a Raspberry Pi A+, a 2.4″ touchscreen from Adafruit and QEMU to create a wearable Windows 98 device.

According to their WordPress blog, they had two goals for the project: 1) Emulate Windows 98 on a Raspberry Pi, and 2) Make it wrist-wearable.

Honestly, I’m surprised an RPi A+ could even emulate Windows 98. The author called it usable but “super slow.”

Closing thoughts

After going through these examples (and literally a dozen more I didn’t publish), I’m really impressed.

If you can get a device to run DOSBox or QEMU, you can have a mostly functional version of Windows 95/98/XP running.

I can’t wait to see what this community does next.