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Game like it's the 90s again with DOSBox on Windows 10!

The sad truth is that some of the really old, classic PC games you enjoyed as a young one just don't work on Windows 10. Some have been "remastered" or launched through stores like Steam. But in some cases, they just don't cut the mustard.

We're talking about old games made for the MS-DOS OS, and thanks to a wonderful program called DOSBox you can relive these classics all over again.

What is DOSBox?

DOSBox

DOSBox is a free and open-source program that emulates the MS-DOS OS on your modern Windows PC, command line and all.

Essentially you just need to install DOSBox on your computer and create a folder that you're going to stash all of your games in. Having all the games in one place in a folder that's easy to find is key to having an easy life inside DOSBox. Especially if you're not exactly familiar with it. Some of us had dads that handled the DOS parts when we were kids!

Download DOSBox for Windows

DOSBox

You may already own a bunch of old games, on CD or disk for example, that you can use DOSBox to play. Likewise, you may have digital versions.

In the case of DOS games, you'll hear the term "abandonware" thrown around a lot. This usually refers to games that have long stopped being supported, with developers having gone out of business or been absorbed by other companies perhaps, and titles where copyright is not actively enforced.

Abandonware isn't legal, as any copyright that exists is still a copyright. But when it comes to games this old, the developers seem to turn a blind eye, and many resources online have been going for a long time now.

There are also many legitimate titles that you can download and play completely 100 percent legally. These have been released under Creative Commons, Freeware, General Public License (GPL), or any other copyright free release.

Setting up and playing games

DOSBox

The image above details the basic steps to get a game booted using DOSBox command line. That one folder mentioned above is important because it's the thing you need to mount as a "drive" inside DOSBox to allow it to find and run your games.

Here are the basic steps to get going:

  1. Open DOSBox.
  2. On the command line type MOUNT C C:\YOURFOLDER HERE.
  3. This mounts your games folder as the C drive.
  4. On the new command line type C:.
  5. Your "C drive" will now be mounted.
  6. Next, type CD YOURGAME referencing the folder of the game you want to play.
  7. Type gamefile.exe substituting "gamefile" for whatever the executable is for that game.

Now, you should be reveling in sweet, sweet nostalgia. For more detailed instructions on setting up and running DOSBox, check out the official wiki. You'll also find some handy tips on alternative ways to run games and to automount the correct folder.

Using a front-end to DOSBox

DOSBox

If you'd like the play those sweet DOS games but would rather not mess around with command lines, you can use a front-end. This adds a more "normal" user interface that's easier to navigate than the command line.

One of the more popular choices is D-Fend Reloaded. It comes bundled with DOSBox integrated so it's a single install on your part. Once up and running all you have to do is drag and drop and it will do the rest.

See more and download D-Fend Reloaded

CD ROMs and DOSBox

If you have an actual physical collection of DOS games on CD-ROM, this is where DOSBox really kicks it up a gear. It allows you to play all those old games you've collected over the years on your modern Windows PC.

You'll have to mount the CD-ROM drive instead of a folder on your PC, with the command you seek being MOUNT D D:\ -t cdrom. The last part of that is case sensitive, so make sure to type it as "cdrom." Obviously, your drive lettering may differ, and in my case a CD-ROM drive is F:\ on my PC, but mounted to D:\ in DOSBox.

The rest of the process is the same as detailed above. Again, more information can be found on the official wiki, including details on how to mount floppy drives.

Your thoughts

DOSBox is a great tool that can be used to relive a golden age, be it games or software, and it's actually pretty easy to get to grips with.

If you have tips, tricks or golden memories to share be sure to drop them into the comments!

Richard Devine is an Editor at Windows Central. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently you'll find him covering all manner of PC hardware and gaming, and you can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

41 Comments
  • Works great with the Xbox One controllers connected to PC.  Allowed me to waste even more time on Alone in the Dark.
  • Google needs your services.
  • Is this available on the Windows Store?
  • I still have dozens if my old DOS games, i guess that's all I need to do now is to figure out how to get Dosbox to emulate my old floppy disk drive. Maybe in 5, German in the DVD drive hard enough, then they will run.
  • Check the Wiki linked in the post. There's some information on floppy drives as well as CDs.
  • Since I don't physically have the hardware to put the discs in any more ...
  • I still have over a dozen of my old boss games will classics like Sam and Max. All that I need to do now is to figure out how to get Dosbox to any late my old 3.5 inch floppy disk.
  • If you need to access physical 3.5" floppy disks in a modern PC, your options are pretty much limited to either an external USB floppy drive (should be easy to find), or installing either an internal (with IDE expansion card) or external LS-120/LS-240 removable storage drive. The latter are backwards compatible with ye olde 3.5" floppy disks.
  • I have a USB floppy drive, Microsoft sent out in a press kit funnily enough with the MS-DOS Mobile April Fools!
  • Good thing I kept my old 486.
  • Steam uses DOSBox for Tomb Raider the original versions. Works fantastic in Windows 10.
  • I've been missing playing M1 Abrams, Falcon and mech warrior, leisure suit Larry kings quest, uhhh I guess if I can dig them out of storage. The good ole days of SoundBlaster and config files
  • Street Rod.
  • Race for pinks.
  • The most stupid nonsense I can ever imagine.. Who would play this crap in 2017 anyway..
    Are you even civilized?
  • The old "1830" and original "Railroad Tycoon" were favorite titles that just weren't surpassed for me by later games. They weren't crap.
  • Railroad tycoon was the greatest.
  • These games are better than half the trash being made today.
  • Almost sounds like a troll comment
  • Great games never stop being great games.
  • Who? People who want good games and not just good visuals.
  • Given up so many people are playing games on their phones The visuals on old games can actually ne better. Anybody remember the original StarCraft or civilisation?
  • Same reason Casablanca is still a great movie even in black and white and without any CGI effects or surround sound.
  • Given that half the population of the country are playing shorter simpler games on their phones with the worst graphics, I would say that playing classic triple A games with dosbox was actually a step up. Clash of clans is fun, for maybe five minutes, but it is nothing compared to a 1990s full fat pc strategy game.
  • DOS games are crap eh? Entire genres were created in DOS. You can think they look terrible and not want to play them. But you should show some respect for some of the largest pioneers of modern gaming.
  • If this is the "most stupid nonsense you can ever imagine", that is because you are stupid.
  • Dosbox to the windows store plz
  • it is imposiobile to come to Microsoft storew. Microsoft bans emulators. 
  • It is already in the store ported for phones
  • oh i thought it came to the windows store
  • yeah me too. too bad this is not on the Windows Store. :(
  • Hope it gets added in the future.. would be good for windows 10 s
  • Ok time to get a copy of wing commander!!!!
  • I still have mine. 2, 3, 4, 5 and Armada and privateer 2.
  • Oh Privateer -- great games. I liked Wing Commander games overall, but Privateer 1 and 2 were the best of the franchise. Like a space combat RPG.
  • Old is gold. It's time to go back to the 90s.
  • is it possible to scale the resolution now? When I first used Dosbox it used it's resolution, like VGA or less but wouldn't scale... Horrendous on high resolution monitors.
  • Kudos for the screenshot from The Chaos Engine. That was great on the Amiga.
  • duke nukem plays fine without dosbox, got em all
  • I think some of my favorite old games (Ultima 7 and later, except Ultima IX, which I think ran under Windows) won't run in DOSbox or any virtualized environment. To be fair, I've not tried them, but I'm pretty sure those need exclusive control over the CPU hardware running in Real Mode (Origin used their own VooDoo engine, but I think a few others also used various forms of VCPI, see https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/rec.games.computer.ultima.dragon...) and are not compatibale with running in a virtualized environment. Fortunately, there's not many of those games -- most should work fine with DOSbox.
  • I actually use DOSBox at work to run some old software that's required for some old machines.