How To Play DOS Games Under Windows XP

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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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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