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Initial release 2006 (2006)
Last release 5.5 / June 4, 2008 (2008-06-04)
Development status Discontinued
Operating system Linux
Type Hypervisor
License Proprietary

Win4Lin was a proprietary software application for Linux which allowed users to run a copy of Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows Me, Windows 2000 or Windows XP applications on their Linux desktop.[1] Win4Lin was based on Merge software, a product which changed owners several times until it was bought by Win4Lin Inc. Citing changes in the desktop virtualization industry, the software's publisher, Virtual Bridges, has discontinued Win4Lin Pro.[2]


  • Products and technology 1
  • History 2
  • Reception 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Products and technology

In 2006, Win4Lin came in three different versions, depending on the virtualization requirements of the user.[3]

  • Win4Lin 9x allowed the user to run a full copy of Windows 98 or Windows Me inside a virtual machine.[3]
  • Win4Lin Home allowed users to only emulate applications.[3]
  • Win4Lin Pro offered users the ability to install a fully virtualized Windows 2000 or Windows XP.[3]

Win4Lin Pro used "full" virtualization, whereas Win4Lin 9x was an example of paravirtualization.

The Win4Lin 9x/Pro (henceforth the only technology discussed in this section) operates by running Windows applications in a virtual machine.[1] Unlike CrossOver Office or Wine which are emulation-based, virtualization-based software such as VMware or Win4Lin require users to have a Windows license in order to run applications since they must install a full copy of Windows within the virtual machine.[4]

Unlike VMware, however, Win4Lin provides the virtual guest operating system with access to the native Linux filesystem, and allows the Linux host to access the guest's files even when the virtual machine is not running.[1][4] In addition to the convenience this offers, Computerworld found in their 2002 review that Win4Lin gained significant performance over VMware by using the native Linux filesystem, but also noted that this approach (unlike VMware's) limited the installation of only one version of Windows on a Win4Lin machine.[4]

When the Win4Lin application starts it displays a window on the Linux desktop which contains the Windows desktop environment.[5] Users can then install or run applications as they normally would from within Windows.[5] Win4Lin supports Linux printers, internet connections, and Windows networking, but as of 2000, does not support DirectX and by extension most Windows games.[5]

They also offered Win4BSD for FreeBSD.[6]


Win4Lin was initially based on Merge software originally developed at Locus Computing Corporation, and which changed hands several times until it ended in the assets of NeTraverse, which were purchased in 2005 by Win4Lin Inc., which introduced Win4Lin Pro Desktop.[7] This was based on a 'tuned' version of QEMU and KQEMU, and it hosted [Windows NT]-versions of Windows.

In June 2006, Win4Lin released Win4VDI for Linux based on the same code base. Win4VDI for Linux served Microsoft Windows desktops to thin clients from a Linux server.

Virtual Bridges discontinued support for Win4Lin 9x in 2007. The Win4Lin Pro Desktop product ceased to be supported in March 2010.


Many users reported that the 9x version ran windows software at near-native speed, even on quite low-powered machines, such as Pentium-IIs.

Nicholas Petereley, praised Win4Lin in two of his columns in the year 2000, for its significantly faster performance than its competitor VMware.[5][8]

See also


  1. ^ a b c Hsiao, Aron (July 7, 2005). Sams teach yourself Red Hat Fedora 4 Linux: all in one.  
  2. ^ "Win4Lin Pro". Virtual Bridges. Archived from the original on Nov 14, 2012. Retrieved Nov 14, 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c d McCallister, Michael (2006). Suse Linux 10: Unleashed.  
  4. ^ a b c Bushong, Charles (April 4, 2002). "Windows Emulators for Linux: VMware, Win4Lin Face Off".  
  5. ^ a b c d Petreley, Nicholas (Nov 20, 2000). "Get Win4Lin and Windows users won't feel disenfranchised under Linux".  
  6. ^
  7. ^ So You Want To Run Windows 2000 and Windows XP Apps On Linux? Win4Lin Out From Under Windows 98 Bondage, 2005
  8. ^ Petreley, Nicholas. "Am I the only one who doesn't know why to use VMware?".  

External links

  • Win4Lin 5.0 makes big improvements,, 2008
  • Win4Lin Pro Desktop 4.0 lags behind free alternatives,, 2007
  • Break the Hardware Upgrade Cycle with Win4Lin Windows Virtual Desktop Server, Linux Journal, 2007
  • Run Windows On Linux: Win4Lin Revisited [Win4Lin Pro 3.0 review], Tom's Hardware, 2006
  • INQUIRER helps debug Win4Lin Pro [2.7], The Inquirer, 2006
  • Product Review — Running Windows on Linux, Win4Lin 2.7 vs. VMware Workstation 5.5.1., Open Source Magazine, 2006
  • Review: Win4Lin Pro [2.0],, 2005
  • A Look at Win4Lin 5.1, OSNews, 2004
  • Review of Win4Lin 4.0, OSNews, 2002
  • VMware Express 2.0 and Win4Lin 2.0: A Comparison Review, Linux Journal, 2001
  • TreLOS's Win4Lin (2000)
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