Windows 95 On An Apple Watch

What happens if the slick user interface and tight iOS integration of your Apple Watch leave you wanting more? A real operating system, from the days when men were men and computers were big grey boxes!

[Nick Lee] solved this unexpected problem with his Watch by getting a working copy of Windows 95 to run on it. On paper it shouldn’t be at all difficult, with a 520 MHz ARM, 512 MB of RAM, and 8GB of storage you might think that it would eclipse the quick 486s and low-end Pentiums we ran ’95 on back in the day with ease. But of course, the ability to run aged Redmond operating systems on a Watch was probably not at the top of the Apple dev team’s feature list, so [Nick] had to jump through quite a few hoops to achieve it.

As you might expect, the ’95 installation isn’t running directly on the Watch. In the absence of an x86 processor his complex dev process involved getting the Bochs x86 emulator to compile for the Watch, and then giving that a ’95 image to boot. The result is comically slow, with a 1-hour boot time and a little motor attached to the Watch to vibrate it and stop it going to sleep. It’s not in any way a useful exercise, after all who’d really want to use ’95 on a Watch? Internet Explorer 3 and The Microsoft Network, how handy! But it’s one of those “because you can” exercises, and we applaud [Nick] for making it happen. If you want to give it a try, his Bochs-forWatchOS code is on Github.

The video below the break shows the process of booting the ’95 Watch, opening the Start Menu, and running one of the card games. One can almost feel the lengthening shadows outside as it goes.

There seems to be a curious attraction in our community to getting Windows 95 to run on unexpected devices. We remember seeing people doing it on the then-just-launched Raspberry Pi back in 2012, and here at Hackaday we’ve featured it running on Nokia N-series Symbian phones and a GP2X games console. Some people will do anything to hear the Windows Sound.

26 thoughts on “Windows 95 On An Apple Watch

  1. “from the days when men were men and computers were big grey boxes!”
    er.. back then we knew exactly what was happening under the hood and on the network, win boxes nowadays are grey boxes as no one has a clue what all the traffic to US servers is about.

          1. In my day, we didn’t have these cash machines that would give you money when you needed it. There was only one bank in each state — it was open only one hour a year. And you’d get in line, seventeen miles long, and the line became an angry mob of people — fornicators and thieves, mutant children and circus freaks — and you waited for years and by the time you got to the teller, you were senile and arthritic and you couldn’t remember your own name. You were born, got in line, and ya died! And that’s the way it was and we liked it!

  2. QEMU might be a bit quicker than Bochs… since it’s doing effectively JIT compilation of the op codes instead of interpretation.
    1 hour to boot is slow indeed, I seem to recall a 386DX 33MHz with 8MB RAM taking about a minute to boot, and even that was considered slow.

      1. That used to be a “benchmark” of mine, because they didn’t bother to change the delay loop from the days of Windows 3.0… each new computer upgrade, you’d watch those cards fall faster and faster.
        My father’s dual Pentium PRO 200MHz with Windows NT 4, blink and you missed it.

        Then he got a Dual PIII 1GHz with Windows 2000, we try again: Except Microsoft finally got around to fixing that delay loop, so imagine my disappointment when I watched the cards just drop slowly like a stately 286.

    1. It was not useless at all! Some games had their mainloop stuck running at a specified speed. This means that you had to switch on/off the turbo to match the game specs.. Unless of course you enjoyed playing the game twice or half the speed :)

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