This FAQ covers questions that are specific to running GNU Emacs on Windows. In this version of the FAQ, information that was out of date, covered in the manuals or not specific to Windows has been removed. See Further information.
It is not our goal to “help Windows users” by making text editing on Windows more convenient. We aim to replace proprietary software, not to enhance it. So why support GNU Emacs on Windows?
We hope that the experience of using GNU Emacs on Windows will give programmers a taste of freedom, and that this will later inspire them to move to a free operating system such as GNU/Linux. That is the main valid reason to support free applications on nonfree operating systems.
Emacs 23.3 is known to run on all versions of Windows from Windows 95 and Windows NT 4.0 through to Vista. The Windows port is built using the Win32 API and supports most features of the X version, including variable width fonts, images and tooltips.
Eli Zaretskii maintains the port of GNU Emacs for DOS and 16 bit Windows. When run on Windows 95, 98 and ME, it will support long file names, and uses the Windows clipboard on all versions of Windows. The latest pre-compiled version at ftp.delorie.com seems to be 20.5, but more recent versions can be built from source using DJGPP.
Hisashi Miyashita created Meadow the early days of Emacs 20, when the Windows port was far behind in supporting the new multilingual functionality. Meadow continues to be developed along with Emacs due to some extra functionality that it offers, particularly for Japanese users. Information in English is available from the Meadow Wiki.
Lennart Borgman maintains some patches which he calls EmacsW32. His patches aim to provide closer integration with Windows, and make things easier for Windows refugees to begin the transition to Emacs. Lennart is active in Emacs development, so some of his patches are likely to be included in future versions of Emacs. In addition to the patches themselves, Lennart also offers installers for development versions of Emacs from CVS, both with and without his patches.
XEmacs has also been ported to Windows. See the XEmacs FAQ.
There are a number of others who distribute Windows binaries of Emacs, either bundled with some extra lisp libraries for a particular purpose, or development code from CVS packaged as an installer. Because these come and go (mostly during long development cycles without an official release), they are not listed here.