I got shown a working demo of ReactOS running on an old Dell GX1 at work today and I have to say I was impressed. The idea of ReactOS is that it is a FOSS implementation of Win32 so the environment it provides to apps is indistinguishable from Win32. ATM ReactOS supports WinNT4.0 apps and WinXP apps but it will continue to develop as Win32 develops. To find out more have a look at www.reactos.org. What I found particularly interesting was the screenshots section showing MS Office, PhotoShop, PSP and even Unreal Tournament! And yes, it does run Solitaire!

What is really surprising is how small the ISO is, the one I saw installed was only 16MB! It also booted in literally a few seconds where even Windows98 takes painfully long to boot on the same hardware. Despite still being officially Alpha software it seems stable and quite nippy to me.

I also noticed some KDE stuff well merged into the Windows GUI. The most obvious example being multiple desktops, which can be neatly controlled from the Start menu.

Apart from just running Windows apps the other great things is that you can use Windows device drivers with it too so any hardware that works with Windows should also work with ReactOS. This is a big deal for gamers and may remove the need for people who enjoy playing games to rely on a Windows Partition. Instead you can have just ReactOS or, Linux & ReactOS but either way all your opperating systems are FOSS so you can run them for free without breaking the law, which is nice!

I’m actually going to give this a go on a crappy old machine I have lying around just to see how it behaves (when I get some free time) so hopefully I’ll be able to follow this up with a detailed review in about 6 months or so.