No, you haven’t forgotten a whole version of Windows. Officially, there is no such thing as Windows96.
Except, there is.
Yes, this is a fairly good imitation of Windows95, running in a browser. If you want to look at it in a larger window, click here. It even has DOSBOX emulation so you can play older games on it.
Who did this unholy thing?
The actual developers’ names are shrouded in secrecy. They’ve all adopted screen names which allow them to stay safely anonymous. Of course a little bit of searching will tell you who the web site belongs to, and you can go from there. But I am not sure that “who” is the question.
I think the question is …
Are there those people who truly miss Windows95? So much so that they have to code a near-perfect version from scratch? Yes, as an operating system it hung around for long time. I’ll tell you that Windows95, by today’s standards, was compact, speedy, and efficient. It lacked a lot of the security protocols we have today, but then remember that it was barely internet-capable in its early days.
Is it the design aesthetic? I’ll admit it’s pleasingly minimal and charmingly bitmappy. But let’s remember that Windows, in its early days, wasn’t designed to be artistic. It was designed to look good on fairly small screens with really big dots. You could run Windows on a 1-color, 720×348 screen. That’s about 1/4 the resolution of most phones. That made for a very restrictive design environment, and not always a good one.
Try it for yourself
If you go to https://windows96.net/ you’ll have the opportunity to run your very own version of this extremely odd little experiment. The web site has a fairly reasonable complement of apps and games, and just poking around the menus will give you at least a nostalgic twinge. But I guarantee you’ll want to go back to something much more modern. I know I did.
By the way, other web sites have claimed it’s possible to run a full copy of Windows95 INSIDE Windows96. I don’t know who would do this thing but hey, you do you.