How To Play DOS Games Under Windows XP

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Windows XPWindows XP is easily one of the most successful operating systems that Microsoft has ever released, but for those of us who remember the good old days of DOS, using a computer with a graphical point and click interface, seems almost magical – and mundane.

Tell me, where’s the fun in not having to deal with himem.sys and esoteric commands to make the sound blaster mode work ? I’m sure none of us really miss those days. But, for an old timer like me, DOS will always hold a special place in my heart.

I still remember all those fun filled afternoons when I’d come back from school, drop the schoolbag and sit and play Digger on our state-of-the-art IBM PC. Haven’t heard of digger ? How about Invaders ?


When Microsoft released Windows XP in 2001, they effectively ended an era of DOS based games and applications. All Microsoft operating systems before XP, had DOS at their heart and could run DOS applications pretty well, but XP was based on an all new architecture which was supposed to be more secure, faster and free of the legacy of DOS.

DOSBox

Security and a spiffy new architecture is all well and good but if you’re like me and you crave good ol’ games of yore, there is still hope for you. What to know how to play DOS games under Windows XP?  DOSBox is here to the rescue.

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How to Play DOS Games Under Windows XP With DOSBox

DOSBox is an open source DOS emulator. What that means is that it creates and emulates a DOS based environment for your application. To the application, it appears as if it’s running on it’s own under DOS. So, while DOSBox manages the show behind the scenes, the user really doesn’t need to bother about compatibility, memory management and other stuff which only the old timers amongst us would recognise.

DOSBox is also really easy to get started with. All you need to do is download DOSBox and execute the installer. The installer will create a shortcut to DOSBox on the desktop. Double click the shortcut to run DOSBox for the first time.

DOSBox

Does that Z:\> prompt look familiar ? How about C:\>?  Well, DOSBox, by default, does not create a C: drive for you. Instead, it lets the user select a directory on his/her computer and mount that inside the emulator as the C:\. This is the directory which we’ll use to store all our old DOS utilities and time wasters games.

Create a directory named DOSApps under c: on your windows computer. The name of the folder or the drive on which it is created does not matter as long as you can remember it.

DOSBox

Copy all the DOS apps that you want to run under DOSBox to this folder. I’m going to use DOSBox to run Digger, my favorite DOS game.

Now, get back to DOSBox and at the Z:\ prompt, type in the following command:

mount c c:\DOSApps

DOSBox

As you can, DOSBox has mounted Drive C and mapped it to the local directory c:\DOSApps that you created earlier. Now, switch to the c:\ drive and enter the dir command to see a list of all the files in it. You should see a listing of all the DOS applications that you copied to the directory earlier.

DOSBox

That’s all. I’m all set now to play my favorite DOS game of all time. I give the command digger at the prompt and, lo-and-behold, digger it is, in all its (former) glory.

DOSBox

What are your favorite DOS games ? Try running them in DOSBox and let us know how you fare. Do you have your methods to play DOS games under Windows XP? Share them in the comments section below.

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Comments (13)
  • Lauren

    It is still not working. I’m trying to play Chips Challenge. Gahh! Help?

    • Sharninder

      If you can tell what problem you’re facing exactly, someone around here might be able to help you.

      DOS games were pretty notorious for using undocumented hooks and stuff to get things working and if chips challenge is using something like that, there is a big chance that the dosbox guys simply haven’t implemented it.

      You might want to take a look at Virtualbox if you’re looking at real virtualisation and run a full fledged DOS system over your existing windows machine.

    • Troy Holman

      Tried this for MY favorite old-time game: Microprose Redstorm Rising, circa 1988. Works great! Thanks for the help. Only one silly question: I realise it’s called DOSBOX, but is there anyway to maximize the game window? It wants to play in a small window in the cemter of the screen, with the maximize box grayed out, and no ability to drag the sides larger. Would like it full screen, like on old ’95 set. Thanks for the help, again! TH

  • Grundig

    You can laso try some good abandonware site like where you can play games directly.

  • games

    All the animation are just great, it very cool game try it

  • Cheryl

    I’m still running my favorite DOS-based Mahjjong game on XP/SP2 using a PIF file copied from the WIN98 machine. But, there’s no sound involved in the game. Perhaps DOSBox is needed to activate sound.

  • jacksonbms

    By the way, there is a version of Digger for Xp. It’s called Digger XP.

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Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.