ReactOS is an open source operating system designed to be compatible with Windows 2000 (and later) apps. It’s been in development for nearly two decades (it actually predates Windows 2000 and grew out of a project called FreeWin95) and it’s still very much a work in progress.

But the developers unveiled two interesting milestones this week. First, ReactOS can now read files from NTFS volumes on a hard drive. Second, ReactOS 0.3.17 was released with an early build of NTVDM, a tool that adds support for 16-bit Windows apps for folks that want to run legacy software.


ReactOS should look familiar to anyone who’s used older versions of Microsoft Windows. It has a desktop, start menu, and taskbar as well as a Windows-like file explorer. It even comes with Solitaire and Minesweeper pre-installed.

But unlike Windows, ReactOS is an open source project that uses Wine and other tools to enable support for Windows apps.

Despite decades in development, ReactOS is still considered alpha software that’s recommended for testing and evaluation purposes. You probably won’t want to replace your primary operating system with ReactOS anytime soon.

With the launch of Windows 10 around the corner, the idea of a project designed to be compatible with Windows NT and to look like Windows 2000 might also seem a bit strange. But fans of open source software, not to mention fans of the classic Windows experience who have been less-than-thrilled with the direction Microsoft has taken in recent years might want to keep an eye on this project.

via Phoronix

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35 replies on “ReactOS inches closer to becoming true Windows 2000 clone”

  1. This project has been horribly promoted. So, People don’t seem to understand its value – no pirated windows needed, NO windows needed! Run a free and win compatible OS virtually or as dual boot! …at least when it’s mature enough. They need devs and money! We need this!

    1. it’s not just that the side affect its pushing the boundaries and helping developers learn a whole lot more about writing windows code, there really is no other way for them to get so close to the kernel but for working at microsoft.

  2. This OS is a hope. I think old 90’s will be back.. These days we have windows 7,8, 8.1 or maybe 10 but The real feel we had on 98 is missing.. I think ReactOS will be a larger than life project… Bring 0.4 asap…

  3. I tried the Windows 10 Technical Preview. Meh… at least it doesn’t suck as bad as Windows 8.

  4. I was not aware something like this even existed. I always assumed, Microsoft’s lawyers would eat your family, if you even came close to developing something like this.
    By the by … if they have such competent and dedicated programing resources, why not compile a desktop environment like this, for ARM processors ? Being able to run, even a limited selection of Windows applications, on a older tablet that came with android or something. That would be… fantastic.

      1. Very limited, unfortunately. I just saw a YouTube video of it, on a Samsung Galaxy S3, but it was virtualized and very sluggish. It seems promising tho, I looked at a couple of forums, where they managed to get Max Payne to run on it, in OpenGL x86.

    1. I’m assuming you’ve never seen Windows 8.1, right? WIndows 8.1 works on 16GB system with plenty of space left over.

      There’s always MS-Dos… just don’t add Windows 3.1.

      Or Linux… just don’t add the bloated XWindows.

      1. Xorg for Linux is getting a replacement though. Not gonna miss Xorg.

      2. i use windows 8.1, its an 8gig iso to install. reactos is at max, 83mb. yet fully functioning.

  5. This article is WRONG ReactOS is designed to run software compatible with Windows XP, 2003, Vista and 7.

    1. i watched a cast of one of the main developers talking to folks at google. thats not true. its a clone of WIndows server 2003, any programs that come after that that make function calls that don’t exist in NT for server 2003, the program will crash. they are thinking of adding compatability for windows 7 tho. but its not there.

      1. I’ve talked to the devs themselves, they plan to support all APIs, it’s just very slow going.

  6. React OS (their logo should be a dog chasing its tail)…enough already and get on with your lives React OS team.

  7. Can this run Windows XP software? My retail copies of Windows XP are now completely useless (due to lack of support from Microsoft), even though I would still like to run XP on some old hardware.

    1. I’m curious. It’s not like Windows XP just stopped working. You’re just not getting patches for exploits or updates from Microsoft. I mean that in itself sucks I agree, but it’s not like XP is completely useless suddenly. It still boots. It still runs the same old software as it did before (just probably not recent software). I have an XP machine running an old scanner and an old vinyl plotter…it all still works. I just don’t use the XP machine for browsing the Internet but you could still. I mean, if you get a decent firewall (learn how to use it properly) and also lock down your router properly too. These two things go a long way to improving security. Now finding a decent web browser that still in development is another challenge…but hey, XP is still functioning.

      1. I’m still using XP on one of my laptops. I haven’t had any problems. The latest versions of Firefox and AVG are supported. All of the other software I use has current versions still supported on XP. Microsoft has stopped giving patches, but most software vendors are still supporting it (for now). Actually, Microsoft said that they were going to continue doing the monthly malware updates for XP until April 2015. The sun has set on Windows XP, but it hasn’t got dark yet. It’s still a very useful OS, and I expect to stay that way at least for another year or two. I wouldn’t recommend doing your taxes or doing online banking on a XP machine, but XP is still fine for regular, everyday stuff.

        Now getting an XP machine fully updated from a fresh install is pain right now (unless you have an install disk with Service Pack 3). The Update website won’t work with Service Pack 2 or earlier anymore (or at least I couldn’t get it to work — just gives an error message and the automatic update never triggers). You have to manually download the Service Pack 3 Network Installation Package, install it, and then do all the other updates from the MS Update website. To make matters worse, if you’re starting from Service Pack 1 or earlier, you can’t download Service Pack 3 (you have to download it from another machine, move it over and then install it). The website to download SP3 won’t work with IE 6 (it glitches and crashes), and you have to have SP2 to use the latest version of Firefox (and Microsoft has removed all download links to IE 8 — you can only get it through the MS Update website — which like I said, won’t work with IE 6 until you have SP3 installed). You have to have Service Pack 1a or Service Pack 1 installed to install SP3 (you can skip SP2 if you want). I don’t know Microsoft is making fresh installations of XP a headache on purpose, or if it just worked out that way. Even if it was accidental, I’m betting they’re not going to fix it. I realize Microsoft wants to forget about Windows XP, but I don’t think allowing easy access to updates already made available is expecting too much.

        1. I paid for three service pack CD’s shipped from Microsoft back in the XP days because I hated doing updates piece meal. One for SP1, one for SP2 and one SP3. I have them on pressed CD. I’d rip them and torrent them if needed complete with hash strings (use hash calc to check things match) to keep things legit. You could also probably slipstream your own CD still. But what I’d also strongly consider doing is to download Macrium Reflect Free and image the machines so you don’t need to keep updating after fresh installs. Just redo your image in a few minutes. Just checked MajorGeeks and they have SP3 to download. I trust them.

          1. Thanks for the information. I’ve downloaded all the service packs from Microsoft and I’m going to keep them on an external drive if I ever need them. I’ll keep MajorGeeks in mind though if I ever need a download I can’t find. It looks like they have a download for IE 8 ( which is good to know. Next time I restore an XP machine, I’ll try installing IE 8 first and see if will work before installing the Service Pack 3 (just for curiosity’s sake).

  8. I’m impressed by the ReactOS devs. It’s the project that refuses to die. I wonder how they find new people to help with development.

    I usually check up on them once or twice every year to see what the progress’ like.

    Thanks for posting this Brad!

    1. Meh, this OS is kinda pointless, why bother when you can get a decent Tablet for a hundred bucks these days.

      Two options come to mind:
      1) If you’re on a budget u can get an Android Tablet cheap.
      2) If you have an Old computer u can install Xubuntu or Lubuntu.

      Maybe back in 2010 this OS was still worth a try but in 2014 not so much.
      That’s my humble opinion.

      1. This OS might one day be better for home users, but for businesses, running a legacy OS just because you’ve got a program that won’t run on Win7/8 is a massive security risk. Hell, my work has a Win98 machine in the back room that runs an accounting software designed for DOS. Why? Because the NT kernel can’t handle the program properly and it will work on XP and up but be unstable as fuck, often crashing systems.
        That’s usually where this comes in. It would act as a Windows replacement, allowing us to run legacy apps without having separate machines just to do so.

        1. ReactOS is not a “legacy OS”.
          It is perhaps the only hope for a future with a sane, up-to-date operating system compatible with the enormous number of Windows NT programs from the past 21 years, and if the Virtual DOS Machine mentioned in this article comes further, then hopefully support will extend to DOS programs from the past 35 years just as well as programs today!

      2. but by the same token, if Linus thought the same thing about his os project, why bother continuing making this? when there is a perfectly good windows, Unix and AppleMac, Solaris OS2 operating systems already out there. we wouldnt have Linux, XUbuntu etc today, or Android, aswell as all old phones like the Nokia brick would have been using something else.

        the project is great, and one of the main guys making it has given guidance to apple and Microsoft kernel developers, about how their own kernels work. the project is in good hands, and i think it will realy go places.

      3. Hercules, you missed the point as in free as in open source not just free. We can torrent windows for that if we are broke.

        It would be nice if I could run some old Win32 stuff on an OS that wasn’t Microsoft and even better, open source.

  9. This seems like awesome news for… for uh…umm…
    Who is this aimed toward again?

    1. I think the point of this is to allow companies who are still using old software a way to upgrade their hardware while still being able to keep their software. You might be surprised how many companies are still using custom software that was written 15 years ago to control things like production lines. Software that may not be compatible with newer versions of Windows. In theory, you could run older versions of Windows inside an emulator, but that doesn’t always work in practice. Often, the drivers don’t work the the connected peripherals correctly through the emulator. When these old computers that are running these lines have a hardware failure, finding parts or a new computer that’s still compatible with that old version of Windows isn’t easy. Good luck finding Windows 2000 drivers for a 2014 PC. ReactOS strives to be compatible with software and drivers. In theory, you should be able to build a new PC out of new parts, install ReactOS, and your old drivers and software. It should be a drop in replacement for the old PC and interface with all the peripherals correctly. Does it work that easily in practice? I don’t know, I’ve never tried it, but I think that’s one of the purposes of ReactOS.

      1. Where I work we have software that runs on Windows NT, that was wrote by some one who is long gone from the company, so we have no choice to keep using it to keep using the Multi-Million Dollar Machine that it interfaces with. Something like this could be very useful in enabling us to upgrade the hardware.

      2. one would be astonished to know how many companies still are running even dos applications, all not supported under modern windows versions. industrial productivity and consumer bling bling are two completely different world with different rules. also the reason why the business world still can buy win xp support from ms.

        its the world of blind consumer sheep that is forced to follow the dictate of system vendors. if one has only 2 pairs of clicky, tappy, touching fingers one will not have much choice. else one would have to go back some 30 years and learn to program again.

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