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ReactOS – A Windows XP alternative

June 18th, 2006 . by Matt

The main screen of ReactOS – the similarity to Windows is deliberate

These days I have been increasingly using open source software, and shunning commercial software. For example, I do not use Microsoft Office, I use Open Office instead, which has all the functionality that I require. I also use Real Alternative, which is a clean replacement for the evil Real Player, that hijacks the settings of the computer and bombards the screen with endless advertisements. All this makes me interested in this new open source Operating System compatible with Windows XP in development, which has an alpha working version available. This Operating System is called ReactOS.

The ReactOS® project is dedicated to making Free Software available to everyone by providing a ground-up implementation of a Microsoft Windows® XP compatible operating system. ReactOS aims to achieve complete binary compatibility with both applications and device drivers meant for NT and XP operating systems, by using a similar architecture and providing a complete and equivalent public interface.

Although Free Software advocates agree that free software operating systems improve the state of the art by fostering competition, ReactOS has practical benefit for others, too; ReactOS is the most complete working model of a Windows® like operating system available. Consequently, working programmers will learn a great deal by studying ReactOS source code and even participating in ReactOS development.

ReactOS components are growing more and more compatibile with equivalent, closed source alternatives, but ReactOS doesn’t simply stop at an arbitrary line in the sand. ReactOS has and will continue to incorporate new versions of the Win32 API and so will track and sometimes even define the state of the art in operating system technology. Rather than using current technology as a limit on our activities, we are constantly incorporating features from newer versions as well.

In short, ReactOS is aiming to run your applications and use your hardware! Finally, a FOSS operating system for everyone!

I was already considering installing Linux on to my computer, as I mainly use the computer for the internet these days. The only thing I want to use XP for is the increasingly rare occasions that I play games. The screenshots of ReactOS managing games seem promising.

unreal tournament
Unreal Tournament on ReactOS

ReactOS is not a clone of Windows, just a compatible OS, so they should be able to implement advances made in Windows Vista, and in future versions.

ReactOS seems quite far along in its development – I may install ReactOS to my computer when they are ready to release a ‘final’ version.

4 Responses to “ReactOS – A Windows XP alternative”

  1. comment number 1 by: James

    I think I’ll stick with pirated Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office , for now.

  2. comment number 2 by: Newshound

    Open Office is better than Microsoft office on most counts. No point in stealing something when there’s a perfectly good, maybe better, alternative no?

  3. comment number 3 by: Richardson

    Hey, thanks for the info, I’d not heard of that OS. I’ll send the info to my uncle, who held on to OS2 for years, then tried (and got burned by) Lindows.

  4. comment number 4 by: BananaBoi

    Sounds promising, can’t wait for the final version. Just one question, will current viruses and hacks for Windows be compatible to ReactOS as well?