Windows 95, Duke Nukem 3D are strange bedfellows on the Xbox One console

Now this is interesting. Not too long ago we saw Microsoft’s retired Windows 95 platform running inside a browser, on the Nintendo 3DS handheld, and on an Apple iWatch. Now it seems that someone managed to get the decrepit operating system up and running on an Xbox One. How? By porting the virtual machine app DOSBox to Microsoft’s console. And if that’s not enough, the individual responsible for the port, Vcfan, managed to get the classic shooter Duke Nukem 3D built for the DOS environment running on the console as well.

“It’s slow for now because it’s only using the CPU interpreter,” Vcfan said in a YouTube post. “The dynarec still needs work since it produces crashes on 64-bit, but it flies with it.”

The big catch here is that Vcfan is using a developer edition of the Xbox One console. However, that should be good news for anyone wanting to do something similar given that Microsoft is adding a developer mode to all Xbox One consoles when Anniversary Update arrives this July. However, what’s unknown at this point is whether Microsoft will throw in restrictions regarding what can and cannot be run on its console.

As shown in a provided video, DOSBox first sets up the sound card’s required environment and mounts a virtual Drive C. Vcfan then takes over and accesses Drive C, mounts the Windows 95 image onto a virtual Drive A, and boots that image. Windows 95 loads onto the Xbox One after that, which takes a few moments as it pauses to scan the local disk.

Once Windows 95 is fired up and presented on the screen, Vcfan shows that the Start Menu is fully active but a little slow in the UI rendering process. Everything seems to be intact, as Vcfan moves from Programs to Accessories with ease and highlights listed apps like Calculator, Character Map, Dial-Up Networking, and so on. At the bottom-right corner of the screen, the clock ticks away and the networking icon shows that the platform is connected to the Internet.

What would have been neat to see is Vcfan using the MS-DOS Prompt within the emulated Windows 95 environment, or playing a game of Solitaire to see how DOSBox renders the cards. Based on the brief sample, the operating system is capable of running on the console, but at this time, it won’t provide an optimal experience compared to installing Windows 95 directly onto a desktop or laptop. But that’s OK … just the idea of Windows 95 on a console is fascinating enough in itself.

That said, Vcfan closes DOSBox and then launches another DOSBox instance, mounts Drive C, mounts an Xbox image on virtual Drive D, and then loads up the shareware version of Duke Nukem 3D. As with Windows 95, the rendering seems a little slow in the video until Duke Nukem is dropped onto the building rooftop and reveals that the game’s framerate is simply horrible at this stage.

After exiting Duke Nukem 3D, Vcfan stays in this instance of DOSBox and loads up a Super Nintendo emulator. The individual doesn’t load up any ROMs for obvious reasons, but instead closes the demonstration, leaving us wanting more on how Windows 95 performs on the console.

This version of DOSBox was ported to Microsoft’s universal app platform for Windows (UWP), which means this port should work on all devices based on Windows 10. Vcfan said that the source code for the port, aka xDosbox, will be posted on GitHub once the code and overall project is organized. A link will be provided on the YouTube video’s page or on another YouTube video Vcfan plans to upload in the near future.

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