Mobile Designer Hacks Apple Watch To Run Windows 95 For Wrist-Mounted Retro Goodness

Are you nostalgic for the days of POGs, Beanie Babies, and Surge? Are you the type of person who constantly pounds out in all caps, “ONLY 90S KIDS WILL REMEMBER THIS”? Then Windows 95 must be the smartwatch operating system for you.

apple watch running windows 95
It lives! (Credit: Nick Lee)

Developer Nick Lee managed to get Windows 95 working on his Apple Watch. And Apple Watch definitely has the specs (check our full review). The watch packs in a 520 MHz processor, 512 MB of RAM, and 8GB of internal storage. Compared with Nick's original $3,000, 300 MHz Pentium II powered PC with 256MB of RAM, the Apple Watch is practically the Computeress from Dexter's Laboratory. There were quite a few hurdles to overcome, however, before Windows 95 was up and running.

First, Apple does not provide a direct way to install new operating systems. Apple’s WatchKit SDK also does not allow one to access user touch locations directly. Lee therefore patched files within WatchKit and loaded his own application code.

Second, Apple Watch typically hibernates when not in use. To fix this issue, Lee created a motorized tube that constantly turns the Watch's crown and prevents the watch from falling asleep.

Third, Windows 95 is controlled through a mouse, while Apple Watch is controlled by swiping. Lee altered the Watch's software to let Windows 95 track a single fingertip. The mouse can now be moved by tapping on the screen.

If you are willing to wait at least an hour for installation, Windows 95 will work on the Apple Watch. Windows 95 is emulated, not virtualized. Emulation allows software to behave like hardware while virtualization interacts independently of hardware. Emulation lets a person run an operating system meant for other hardware, run software meant for a different operating system, or run legacy software after its comparable hardware is no longer available. This is how software intended for a PC, such as Windows 95, with a little tweaking, will work on Mac hardware.

If you are interested in trying this out for yourself, you can check out Lee’s step-by-step directions here.

Would you install Windows 95 on a smartwatch? What do you miss most about the 90’s? Let us know below.