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I installed Windows 95 on my Apple Watch (medium.com)
287 points by coloneltcb on Apr 30, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 51 comments

Impressive! I remember upgrading to Windows 95 back in the day so I could play Diablo. My PC struggled at the time. It's amazing the kind of portable computing power we have now.

Also it's fortunate that he didn't install ME, which might have destroyed the universe.

Next up, BeOS, please!

I think it's the plain blue background of Window 95 that made me jump to that idea. Windows95 base look holds up really nicely vs versions that came between 95-10.

Windows 98 holds up better in modern terms, and there you had things like USB support build right in.

Was 98 the first one with gradients in the window bar?

I remember being quite disappointed when the toolbar buttons went all flat, as I felt that was offering a consistent UI (button -> 3D look) on the altar of design. But I think that came with one of the Office versions first. (QA was horrible back then, if you had a Windows applications, you had to cross-check it with every ofice/OS permutation, as both wreaked havoc on your UI dlls).

95 didn't support title bar gradients natively, but it was trivially easily to add support for it into your application manually. If I recall correctly, it was only one win32 API.

I used to love hacking about with the Win32 Apis in the old days. I wrote all sorts of neat tricks like turning the start button into a paddle for a weird desktop-based game of Breakout.

turning the start button into a paddle for a weird desktop-based game of Breakout.

I've done a bit of fun "repurposing" of the Win32 controls too, and that is something I'd definitely love to see --- probably along with quite a few others on HN.

Sadly I don't think I have the source for it any more - I've been running Linux since XP was released and this was long before then. The core logic was quite easy though; just grab the hWnd of the start button and use the usual Win32 APIs to move the thing about. What took longer to write was the ball and blocks you needed to smash.

The game wasn't pretty though. But it was thrown together when I was at college and should have been writing course work. In fact, I'd be surprised if it would even still play on modern Windows.

It exists in a hundred different uploads on Planet Source Code's VB6 section. Go nuts.


I was an obsessive VB6er.

Oh wow. That's a blast from the past. I don't think I've been on that site since the 90s.

I still have an unclaimed prize ticket for winning best submission one month.

It's a pity the owner never gave the UI more love as that site had the member base long before StackExchange et al but it just failed to compete. Even now, it still looks like a 90s site and that's not even the same design it had in the 90s.

USB, AGP and P6 support were in 95 OSR 2.5. For my money, 95 OSR 2.5 was better than 98 (until 98SE came out).

Edit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_95#Editions

IE4 brought a shell upgrade to Win95 (new desktop, taskbar and explorer) for free, then it is looks and behaves like Win98 (except for the default USB support, only Win98 SE was better than Win95 of all Win9x releases).

You ported Bochs to Apple Watch (complete x86 computer emulator, not a just a virtual machine) and run Win95 (because it consumes little resources and already took hours too boot). You could also run Rhapsody/NeXTSTEP (the precursor of Mac OS X/iOS/WatchOS) or even a stripped down WinXP on Apple Watch which has 512MB RAM (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple_Watch ). Anyway great job, and I am waiting for someone to run Rhapsody (or early Mac OS X version using PearPC) on Apple Watch, that would be so meta ;)

Impressive you can run an x86 emulator on there at all, even more so it holds out for the hour+ long boot time and actually runs it without crashing.

As an aside from this: what would actually be neat is having DOSBox on there, or some old console emulators + a layer for translating the sensors/inputs to controller buttons.

Cool hack! And the comparison of the watch specs with a pc of that time shows, how far computer hardware has developed in those years. Without the emulation overhead, it would be completely feasible to run Windows 95 on a todays watch. This of course raises the questions, could you install a linux natively compiled for the watch on it an run it at a reasonable speed? Might be actually usable.

Beautiful madness.

I'm surprised Win95 could handle the (very) odd resolution, even smaller than desktops would have at the time, or is it standard VGA downscaled?

I had the same question, looked up the resolution, it's 312x390, about half VGA. Guess that's why it looked pretty sharp still.

By the way "Optional: hot glue a motor to the watch’s crown to keep it from falling asleep." - that made my day!

Given that it runs in an emulator, it could be that Win95 sees a higher resolution and the emulator scales it to fit it's screen size.

I used to run Windows 95 with an EGA card (640x350), that's all I had.

Edit: it looks like even Windows 98 can use EGA: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ZljVxwIzTM

This story is a good hacker litmus test. If you can appreciate why installing Windows 95 on an Apple Watch is awesome, you're probably a hacker; if not, definitely not.

Very cool. Looks really slow, though.

That's because Win95 is running on top of Bochs. Bochs simulates every x86 instruction in software. Getting Bochs to run on Apple Watch is itself impressive!

It's unfortunate that qemu probably can't run on iOS due to its JIT code generation. qemu (without KVM acceleration) doesn't run nearly as fast as native, but it runs orders of magnitude faster than Bochs.

It's possible to statically JIT the hotspots, then statically link that code into the app. You'd probably have to rewrite lots of qemu code though..

That would also make that build of qemu app-specific, and for that matter not distributable if it included code derived from Windows.

tcg (the qemu code generator) does have an interpreter - you could probably run qemu on iOS with that - though it would obviously be a lot slower than the jit.

The entire OS is slow so whilst it is emulated some responsibility lies with Apple.

It's a pretty poor effort on Apple's part to have an ARMv7 CPU at 520Mhz with a PowerVR GPU be completely incapable of rendering basic animations without dropping frames, minute long startup times for some apps and general sluggishness.

What frame rate do you get on your version?

Great totally unpractical exercise. What about taking one step back and taking two steps forward in the practical range, using dosbox to get win3.11 to run with bluetooth keyboard and mouse. It will get you faster bootup for sure, and perhaps with win32s some win9x programs will run. Or better yet, get a bluetooth supported minimal linux with ssh server and mobile gui running... something like Tizen... o wait

I was intrigued by the 386 comparison in the opening paragraph so I decided to double check on Wikipedia - turns out that it was indeed possible (and officially supported) to run Windows 95 on a 386! Can't imagine it was a fun experience, though.

Given enough memory it should be pretty usable I think (> 16 MB). Though I prefered to stick with Win3.11 on my 386 4 MB toshiba greyscale laptop(which ran pretty damn fast)...

Hmmm... I wonder if you could install ReactOS on that watch?

Because he used Bochs, any x86 operating system will run. All you would need to do is bundle a ReactOS image instead of a Win 95 one. However, if it took an hour to boot Win 95, imagine how long it would take to boot a modern OS!

ReactOS is pretty tiny, and consumes just little more memory than Win95. It's one of the less bloated NT series OS, only comparable with NT 3.x series in the memory foot print.

Ah, still remember the school nights spent on getting Win95 to run on my Nokia 5800. After finally getting it to run, I, of course, realized that it had no practical value to me. Luckily, my friend was a HOMM2 fan, so that DOSBOX install found it's use. I only wish we payed more attention to French class...

I was a bit surprised over the slow speed given the reasonable specs of the Apple Watch. Then I realized it was running on top a software emulator, and the disappointment turned into amazement.

Aww, it's such a tiny Windows 95 :3

Almost makes me forget the pain and misery of Windows 95.

Incredibly awesome!!! I hope one can also install windows apps. That would also be cool.

I wanted to say I accidentally flagged this. I have a small phone and fat fingers. Sorry.

If you accidentally flag an article, you can click the "unflag" link to reverse the action.

Thanks. I didn't see that. Unflagged.

Good thing you weren't trying to browse the web on your watch. I'm lucky if I can hit a button that takes up 25% of my Apple Watch's screen.

Huh? I doubt it has an x86 CPU in there not to mention floppy disk or CDROM drives to read from the media.

> iOS port of the Bochs x86 emulator

Oh. Boo.

We've asked you before to stop posting snarky dismissals of other people's work to HN. Such comments go against both the guidelines and spirit of this site. You clearly have a lot of knowledge to share, which is great, but we need you to actually share it—by teaching the reader something new—and to eliminate the bits that just put others down.

I have no idea what J_Darnley has written previously, but in this case you are being unfair. J_Darnley’s “snarky dismissal” may in this case be terse, but it is entirely deserved here – they didn’t “install Windows 95”, they ran it in an emulator. A standard, commonly used, x86 processor and PC platform emulator. The title is misleading.

From the article, it seems that to even get the emulator running on the Apple Watch was a serious problem, and I can see that. And if the article title would have reflected this, like “I got a PC emulator running on my Apple Watch and ran Windows 95 in it”, then I would have had no problem with it. As it is, it’s misleading clickbait.

It's a beautiful hack, not clickbait. Your expectations for it remind me of that Far Side cartoon where the dog is pushing a lawn mower randomly around the lawn, and his owner says, "You call that mowin' the lawn? Bad dog!"

How else could he have gotten Windows 95 running on an Apple Watch? Recompile Windows? Swap out a processor?

The fact remains that this article describes something novel and technically difficult. If you have a better suggestion of how a Real Hacker would run Windows 95 on a watch, please tell us about it. That would be interesting.

It is the very fact that it is, at first glance, impossible which makes the headline interesting. The fact that it is impossible (and the article describes something similar but different) does not excuse the headline from the charge of inaccuracy and clickbait.

The article does describe something novel, interesting and difficult. But not what was promised by the headline.

I'm sorry, but that's ridiculous. He installed Windows 95 on the x86 emulator Bochs on a wristwatch running iOS!

What is not amazing about that? So what if it's emulated? It definitely installed and ran - on his wrist!!!

I'm not normally impressed, but this is amazing!

they didn’t “install Windows 95”, they ran it in an emulator.

Lots of apps in the early days of x86 Mac OSX depended on Rosetta since they were built for PPC, did that mean they weren't installed? What about Teamviewer for Linux, which depends on Wine (a Win32 API emulator)?

Teamviewer for Linux is quite the hack indeed. I honestly couldn't believe it worked.

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