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“It’s not necessary to build a separate computer to run all of your old applications. I’ve always been a DOS nut and try to get it working wherever I can. My laptop is currently setup to quad-boot MSDOS 7.1, win95c, win98se, and winXP.” (Brandon, the quote function does not seem to work in Firefox or IE for me)

It’s not that simple. At one time muti-boot was good solution, but increasingly it is becoming less so. There are many reasons to have older hardware. Many older games have speed bugs and slowdown utilities aren’t very good on a lot of new hardware, especially with the new dual core CPUs, which may before long be the only CPUs that you can get. Modern motherboards have no ISA slots, which rules out the use of some cards that you might want to use, such as some of the Roland sound cards.

Then there some of the earlier 3D games that used add in 3D cards that can only be paired with older PCI graphics cards. Mask of Eternity can’t be run at higher than 640×480 resolution on modern AGP cards (now being replaced by PCIe.) The only way around this with a “Glide Wrapper,” but these are imperfect and you will take a big performance hit using them.

If you don’t want to set up an old machine, emulation, such as with DOSBox, is a better route for most, and does not require you to find install disks for the older OSs, and if you are fortunate enough to have the install disks for Windows 3x, the next version of DOSBox will let you install it. you will be able to run the old 16 bit Windows games on XP that don’t work natively (think of the Windows version of KQ6) under XP and the new 64 bit Windows will not run any 16 bit code.

And lastly, you can no longer find DOS and Win9x drivers for a lot of the newer hardware, so you might be stuck with 640×480, 16 colors for your graphics card in Win9x, or have no audio.