ReactOS: An Open Source Windows 95

10th June 2016 by in category IT Support Blog, Microsoft Windows tagged as , , , , , , with 0 and 6

A look at the Windows 95 style operating system


It’s Windows 95, Bill, but not as we know it: the ReactOS desktop is very similar to Windows 95. Its specifications are just as modest and the coding under the hood is totally different to MS Windows versions from 1995 to 2001.

There have been previous attempts to replicate the Microsoft Windows experience for open source software users. In the not-so-distant past, there was Lindows. Later known as Linspire after a court case, it tried to improve compatibility with Windows programs. This went against the spirit of open source software, though Linspire used the KDE X Window system and supported open source file formats as well. Today, ReactOS has very similar looks to Windows 95 and Windows compatibility too.

From FreeWin95 to ReactOS

ReactOS has been in development for 20 years. 1998 saw the first version of ReactOS. 0.41 is its latest version, launched last month as an Alpha release candidate. Though ReactOS is an open source operating system under the GNU Public License, it is not a Linux distro. It is an open source version of Windows though with original C and C++ code. It is compatible with some of your favourite older Windows software, yet has the looks of Windows 95.

The name, ReactOS, was coined by founder Jeff Knox, as a reaction to Microsoft’s then burgeoning monopoly. Recent reviews have likened it to the glory days of Windows 2000. It has been approved as an alternative operating system to Microsoft Windows by the Russian government and tested by Vladimir Putin.

As well as its looks, the specifications are indisputably ‘old school’. ReactOS takes up 500MB of hard drive space and has a minimum memory requirement of 96MB of RAM. Which was pretty hefty in 1999. There are smartphone apps which take up 500MB of space; MS Office took up a similar amount of space in 1997.

If you go to ReactOS’ Wiki, there is details of compatible software – games and productivity packages. You can also download Sim City 3000 for the open source Windows 95 clone as well as Libre Office. If you have an ancient Windows PC knocking about, why not give it a whirl?

ReactOS is available to download as a Live CD, or as a Bootable CD. As a Live CD, it is a useful diagnostic tool if there are problems with your Windows machine. As a Bootable CD, you could extend the life of your older machines.

Tabard IT, 10 June 2016

Image Credit:

By Pi User5 – a screenshot of ReactOS 0.4, GFDL,

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