This week the Internet Archive added more than 1,000 Windows 3.1 programs to its free collection of browser-emulated software.
It's a bit of a treasure trove for video game history buffs, because while it encompasses a variety of software, Windows 3.1 shareware games make up the lion's share of the collection.
You can, for example, play a copy of early roguelike Castle of the Winds, published by Epic Games (then Epic MegaGames) in 1993, or the shareware version of Will Wright's SimCity follow-up SimEarth (pictured, and embedded below.)
In the above-linked blog post, archivist Jason Scott notes this was made possible by a significant number of volunteers and that the software is being emulated on a browser-capable version of DOSBOX, which also underpins the Internet Archive's significant browser-emulated MS-DOS software library.
While most (if not all) of the software in the Archive's new Windows 3.1 collection appears to be shareware, it's yet unclear whether making it all freely available is, strictly speaking, legal.
The Archive has a history of conducting unauthorized archival of software and other creative works which it perceives to be for the public good, something Scott has publicly advocated for in the past -- including in a GDC 2015 talk in which he called on developers to "steal from work" in the name of preserving game history.
For a deeper look the Internet Archive's software libraries and its perspective on software preservation, check out its site.