The brilliance and relative simplicity of modern DOSBox masks just what a pain in the arse actual MS-DOS could be when it came to gaming. Reacting to different titles’ demands for more conventional memory, EMS or XMS, or problems with graphics and sound cards, most PC gamers were forced to spend many a happy hour farting about with autoexec.bat and config.sys files.

Still, it was what you used for gaming, and through those many hours becoming better acquainted with its inner workings, you did begin to form something of an attachment to it: DOS seemed leaner, more nerdy and less gimmicky than Windows.

Every OS release has hiccups, to a greater or lesser extent, but I can’t personally recall anything quite as disruptive to PC gaming as the transition to Windows 95. My own recollection of the buildup was that it was long on hype and short on concrete information, and nefarious rumours abounded, as summarised neatly by PC Zone’s Charlie Brooker:

When it arrived, the promise of combining the best of both DOS and Windows worlds wasn’t exactly realised. Some DOS games worked, but others refused unless you were prepared to indulge in a bit of messing around: I recall our solution was a hard drive partition allowing the PC to boot into DOS or Windows at startup. (Which wasn’t too complicated I guess, although I did manage to screw up my friend Peter’s Win 95 machine by attempting to recreate this arrangement for him).

Even by mid-late 1997, new games designed for DOS were being released, with some kind of Win 95 installer included as an acknowledgement of the new OS. But for gamers with significant DOS back catalogues, it seemed like a giant “f**k you” from Microsoft.

Or at least that’s the way it felt to me at the time. Certainly the ludicrous fanfare that accompanied the launch (I don’t remember the Matthew Perry and Jennifer Aniston promo, but the TV spots featuring The Rolling Stones and a heavy emphasis on the magical “Start” button seemed to be everywhere) didn’t help, and the teenage me was sufficiently exercised to to create a weird mock-up of the OS in a presentation program called Illuminatus, in which everything you tried to do, except click on “Start”, didn’t work. Take that, Bill Gates!

Of course, such pain gave us modern Windows, which most people now grudgingly accept as part of PC ownership. Still, I’ve retained a level of suspicion towards new versions. Unless it’s needed for something I want, and I can be sure it won’t make anything else break, I hold out until the last possible moment. And it’s all Windows 95’s fault.