ChromeOS 74.0.L337.0 Rolling out to the Dev Channel – Enables MS-DOS Mode with Full CGI Graphic Stack

Google is currently rolling our ChromeOS 74.0.L337.0 to users on the Dev Channel that brings several major changes to your Chromebook. Users who upgrade to this build will immediately notice a few visual improvements as ChromeOS begins embracing the new “squircle” icons that is being used on Android. Even more interesting is that Google has actually brought support for MS-DOS with full CGI color emulation to supported Chromebooks (specifically the Pixelbook, Pixel Slate and HP Chromebook X2). Here are the steps to activate it

We will first need to enable a flag, enter the following in a new tab of the Chrome Browser

chrome://flags#April_Fools_DOS_Mode

Once you have enabled the flag, you can activate MS-DOS emulation by opening a ChromeOS shell (ALT+CTRL+T) and typing “dos”. You will be prompted to download the image and after a few hours, you will be welcomed by a familiar c: prompt.

Once you have MS DOS running, you can get to work by installing your favorite retro software. The ChromeOS team even went as far as adding full Floppy Disk support to automatically pass control of your Chromebook’s Floppy Disk Drive or a USB Floppy Disk Drive if your machine does not have one over to the MS-DOS container. This allows you to simply insert a floppy disk into your Pixelbook‘s floppy disk drive and open it with a “cd a:”.

There are a few limitations with the way Google implemented MS-DOS support:

  • MS-DOS needs a valid license key that can be obtained from Microsoft
  • MS-DOS applications are limited to 1 MB of RAM in total
  • No GPU acceleration
  • No USB Support
  • No Internet Connectivity
  • You will need to disable the ChromeOS Turbo mode by pressing the Turbo Button on the back or many games will not play properly.
  • Limited Mouse Support (only supports a serial mouse)
  • Limited Sound Support (Without editing the autoexec.bat)
  • No CD-ROM support

It is in theory possible to install Windows 3.1 however I was not able to test this as I misplaced disk 7 of 8 of my installation floppy disks. I have ordered a replacement on Amazon and will test as soon as they arrive. Gaming on this is indeed possible, Games like Commander Keen run perfectly at a whopping 1 million FPS.

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