How to Install Windows 95 in a Virtual Machine?
Windows 95 was a significant improvement over Windows 3.1. It was the first Windows release to include the Start menu, taskbar, and the standard Windows desktop interface that we still use today. Although Windows 95 will not run on modern PC hardware, you can run it in a virtual environment to relive the golden days.
This may be beneficial if you wish to play an old game that doesn’t run in Windows 10’s compatibility mode, while Windows 98 may be better for games from the Windows 9x era. You might even do it merely for the sake of nostalgia. We can’t say we blame you.
What You’ll Require
For this, you’ll need two things: A Windows 95 boot disc image and an ISO file for Windows 95. The Windows 95 installation disc is not bootable, unlike current operating systems. To begin the installation, you must first boot into an MS-DOS environment from a Windows 95 boot disc, which would have been a floppy disc at the time.
If you have an old Windows 95 CD laying around, you can use it to produce an ISO file by inserting it into your computer. While Windows 95 ISO files are available online, keep in mind that the operating system is still protected by Microsoft copyright and cannot be legally downloaded. So go through your old drawers and see what you can find.
You can get a boot diskette image from AllBootDisks once you have your Windows 95 ISO file. You’ll most likely only need to get the “Windows95a.img” file. Because Windows 95b (also known as Windows 95 OSR2) was only available to OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers), any Windows 95 disc you have will be either the original Windows 95 release (also known as Windows 95 RTM) or the Windows 95a release (also known as Windows 95 OSR1), which included Service Pack 1.
Step 1: Create your virtual machine
We’ll accomplish this with VirtualBox, which is free to download and use on Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. Other virtual machine programmes, such as VMware, can be used, but the procedure of configuring the virtual machine software will be different.
To build a new virtual machine, click the “New” button once VirtualBox is installed.
Choose “Windows 95” from the Version box and give it any name you like. VirtualBox will automatically select the correct Windows version if you name it “Windows 95.”
Choose how much RAM your virtual computer will have access to. VirtualBox recommends 64 MB, whereas The Old New Thing, an official Microsoft blog, asserts that Windows 95 won’t boot if it has more than 480 MB of RAM. You could divide the difference and utilise 256 MB, which would be plenty for old Windows 95 apps.
Follow the wizard’s instructions until you’re invited to construct your virtual hard disc. VirtualBox will suggest 2.0 GB by default, and you don’t want to go beyond that. Retail versions of Windows 95 only support the FAT16 file system, which implies drives larger than 2 GB are not supported.
FAT32 is supported by Windows 95b (called OSR2), which was only released to device manufacturers and never sold at retail. As a result, if you were using Windows 95 at the time, you could theoretically use up to 32 GB of space.
After you’ve completed making the machine, don’t start it up straight away. You’ll need to make a few adjustments first. Select “Settings” from the context menu of your Windows 95 virtual system.
Uncheck “Enable VT-x/AMD-V” hardware virtualization in the “System” category, then click the “Acceleration” tab.
If you leave this option enabled, you will be able to install Windows 95, but it will only boot up to a black screen.
Then, under the Floppy controller, pick the virtual drive under the “Storage” category. To select a virtual floppy disc file, click the floppy disc icon to the right of Floppy Drive and select “Choose Virtual Floppy Disk File” from the menu. Select the boot disk.img file from the list.
Finally, under the IDE controller, select the Empty disc drive, then the disc symbol to the right of Optical Drive, and then “Choose Virtual Optical DIsk File.” Select your Windows 95 ISO file from the list.
When you’re finished, click “OK” to preserve your changes.
Step 2: Get Your Virtual C: Drive Ready
To start the Windows 95 virtual machine, simply double-click it in your library. It’ll start up with a DOS prompt.
Note that once you click within the virtual machine, it will capture your keyboard and mouse, but you can press the host key—by default, the right Ctrl key on your keyboard—to liberate your input and use your PC’s desktop normally. The key is shown in the virtual machine window’s bottom right corner.
To begin, partition the virtual drive you just created. At the prompt, type the following command and hit Enter:
This is a relatively straightforward procedure. Because you’ll be starting with a blank disc, all you need to do is create a DOS partition. That is the “1” option, which is the default. To complete the fdisk process, simply accept the default parameters.
After running fdisk, simply press “Enter” three times to create a DOS partition, a primary partition, and agree to use the drive’s maximum size and make the partition active.
Before continuing, you’ll be told that you need to restart your virtual machine. In VirtualBox, go to Input > Keyboard > Insert Ctrl-Alt-Del to do so. If necessary, press the right Ctrl key to liberate your mouse.
You’ll now need to format your new partition, which will appear as the C: disc on the virtual system. To format it, type the following command and hit Enter at the A:> prompt:
When prompted, type Y and press Enter to accept the format process. After that, you’ll be asked to provide a label for the drive. You are free to enter anything you like, or nothing at all. After that, press “Enter” to complete the process.
Step 3: Run the Windows 95 Setup program
The files from the Windows 95 ISO file must now be copied to your C: drive. To install Windows 95, you should theoretically be able to launch the Setup application directly from the disc drive. The disc drive isn’t mounted after the installer reboots, and the installer isn’t able to find the driver files it requires, resulting in problems. Instead, we found that copying the files to the C: disc and running the installer from there was considerably easier.
Determine which drive letter your disc drive was mounted with first. When your virtual machine starts up, this appears. It’s the R: drive on our virtual machine. If you forget and can’t find it on your screen, you can always restart your virtual machine with the Ctrl+Alt+Delete option from the keyboard menu to see it.
Replace R: with whatever drive letter corresponds to your virtual disc drive and run the following command to copy the files from the Windows 95 CD to your C: drive.
xcopy R:\ C:\INSTALL\ /S
After the process is finished, go to your C: drive and run the setup software from the INSTALL programme, as follows:
When prompted, press Enter once more to continue.
The Windows 95 setup program will display in a graphical format. You can perform anything graphically from now on instead of using the DOS prompt.
The installation procedure is straightforward. You can accept the default selections on most screens to expedite the process. However, before the installation procedure is complete, you will be asked to enter your Windows 95 product key. Different editions of Windows 95 require different product keys, so double-check that you’ve got the right one.
Check the “Network Adapter” and “Sound, MIDI, or Video Capture Card” choices when you reach the Analyzing Your Computer screen to confirm that all of the virtual machine’s hardware is appropriately recognised and configured.
When prompted if you want to build a Startup Disk, click “No, I don’t want a startup disc” to proceed. After all, this isn’t 1995, and you’re not putting it on an actual computer.
On current hardware, even in a virtual machine, the installation process will be lightning fast.
Windows will prompt you to reboot and tell you to remove the floppy disc from your computer at the end of the setup process. Click Devices > Floppy Drive > Remove Disk From Virtual Drive to accomplish this. To reboot your computer, select “OK” and then “Continue.”
Your hardware will be set up as part of the setup procedure. To proceed, you’ll be asked to supply a workgroup name, but you can enter whatever you want here.
Finally, you’ll be asked to set up a printer and give your time zone. To avoid configuring a printer when it appears, simply click “Cancel” in the Add Printer Wizard window.
Finally, your computer will reboot, prompting you to set a password. The Windows 95 desktop will appear after that. You’ve completed the process and now have a virtual machine running Windows 95.
To truly transport yourself back to the 1990s, open Windows Explorer from the Start menu in Windows 95 and navigate to the C:InstallFunstuffVideos folder. On the Windows 95 DVD, you’ll find music videos for Weezer’s Buddy Holly (“Weezer”) and Edie Brickell’s Good Times (“Goodtime”). A movie trailer for the 1995 film Rob Roy is also included.