Virtualizing for DOS

Right. I mentioned you can run DOS by virtualization… so… what are you waiting for?  Get cracking!!

This is the point where I need to mention a few programs that can help you visualize.  There are few options depending on what operating system you run now.  Interestingly if you have old computers holding up planks making a table in your garage they may be good enough to run a virtualized DOS.

Lets go back to Windows XP.  Microsoft released a free program for it called Virtual PC 2004 and later Virtual PC 2007.   You can run DOS within that and even Windows 2 and Windows 3x.  I have done this!

Below is Windows XP running Microsoft Virtual PC 2007 running Windows 98 (green background) inside of Windows XP.  In the foreground I have Windows  3.11(which required DOS to be installed first) running at the same time.  You can Google the Virtual PC programs, they are out there!

Old PCs aren’t useless if you want to to retro-geek.

There are newer version of Virtual PC available for Windows 7 and newer however as of this writing I have not tried to run DOS in there. I will try it and update the article then.

You will of course need the operating system disks or files to run in a virtualized environment.  I know the MS DOS and Windows 3.1 files are available on the World Wide entanglement we call the Web (I actually still have my original disks.)  There may be some licensing concerns using Microsoft’s property but there are alternatives for DOS.

There is also a FREE program called DOSBOX you can run within windows whose primary goal is to emulate DOS so you can play old video games from the DOS days. The site also has links for nifty front end menus for DOSBOX that let you scroll through listing of your old games and setup configurations for them so all you have to do is just click what you want anytime after you have configured them!  If  it’s your goal to play the old games then check it out at

Another FREE virtualization software is called VirtualBox by Oracle. Running older version of DOS and Windows can be tricky but it is possible.

Also VMWARE makes VMWARE Workstation Player that can do this with a little work on the configuration.

Later versions of Windows and Windows server Operating Systems contain an updated Virtual PC now called Hpyer-V.

Technically any program we might use to run another operating system within virtually is called a Hypervisor.

There are vast communities for each of these options you can explore for more in depth information.

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