When Ubuntu 12.04 LTS was first released, it was already compatible with a wide range of hardware and software applications, largely because Canonical Ltd and various third-party developers had been working together to ensure the widest possible customer uptake of the OS.
You should generally stay away from old software, but there’s a limit to even what Windows can do. Some hardware may have depended on ancient drivers that are no longer included in Windows or Linux.
When used as a machine emulator, QEMU can run OSes and programs made for one machine (e.g. an ARM board) on your own PC. VirtualBox is also a powerful x86 and AMD64/Intel64 virtualization product for enterprise as well as home use.