Windows 98SE on VirtualBox (with video and audio drivers) (updated March 2019)

Screen Shot 2015-12-04 at 1.00.52 AM

Why do this?

If you feel nostalgic for a bit of Windows 9x action, or you just want to play some old games that are between DOS and Windows XP, you can either build a retro PC gaming rig, or you can test the water with VirtualBox.

Once it’s all done, you too can see how pointless it all is. 🙂

Update March 2019: Due to popularity of this post, I’ve run through this again on OSX with Virtualbox 6. I’ve also added some new content and will continue to do so.

What you will need:

Create the VM and Install Windows 98 SE

  1. Create new VM on Virtualbox Screen Shot 2015-12-03 at 10.50.03 PM
    • Type: Microsoft Windows
    • Version: Windows 98
    • RAM: 512MB
    • Create new fixed size HDD – 2GB (VDI is fine)
    • Edit the settings of the VM:
      • Display -> Video Memory ->
        • 128MB
        • Enable 2D Acceleration – Yes
        • Enable 3D Acceleration – Yes
  2. Install Windows 98SE
    1. Boot with your 98SE ISO mounted (you’ll have to find this yourself)
    2. Boot with option 2 – Start computer with CD-ROM support Screen Shot 2015-12-03 at 10.53.04 PM
    3. Run fdisk and accept all the defaults to create an 8GB partition on your virtual drive.
    4. Restart the virtual machine
    5. Boot with option 2 – Start computer with CD-ROM support
    6. Format the virtual drive using format on the Windows CD
      • D:\win98\format c:
    7. Run: D:\setup.exe /ie /im /is /nr
      • /ie Disables create a boot disk (causes crashing on VBox and 98SE installer)
      • /im Disables checking conventional RAM
      • /is Disables scandisk
      • /iv Don’t disable billboards
      • /nr Disable registry check
    8. Run through the Windows installer with all the defaults Screen Shot 2015-12-03 at 11.01.46 PM
    9. After reboot – Boot from Hard Disk
    10. Enter your name and the CD key for Win98SE (DMWRC-T9XP4-GJ2P8-26G66-V9WBB); install will continue.
    11. If everything went well, you should see Windows 98 desktop and hear some tragic music. 🙂
    12. I recommend that you take a snapshot of the VM and call it “BASE INSTALL”

Install Video Driver

  1. Shutdown Windows (and the VM)
  2. Edit Settings of the VM -> Storage -> Add another device to the IDE controller (click the CD with the green plus) and mount the scitech-display-doctor-7.iso file you downloaded earlier. Screen Shot 2015-12-03 at 11.13.20 PM
  3. You should see a CD drive with Sdd7 – double click that then run the scitech-display-doctor-win-7.0 installer – Express installation is fine. Screen Shot 2015-12-03 at 11.14.52 PM
    • Register the Sci-Tech Display driver with either the name/serial in the text file on the mounted ISO, or use:
      • Name: CSCKnight
      • Serial: 0B5E-12B4-A8A4-0B
  4. OS will restart, when it returns, SciTech Display Doctor will load. Either register it or start the 21 day trial.
  5. On the HOME page, underneath Current Configuration, there is a section called Active Features. Click ‘Disabled’ next to SciTech Display Driver then select SciTech Nucleus Driver and apply. Screen Shot 2015-12-03 at 11.19.00 PM
  6. OS will reboot again (remember how annoying this used to be?)
  7. SciTech reloads and you’ll see that VESA VBE 2.0 Oracle VM VirtualBox VBE Adapter is now selected. Screen Shot 2015-12-03 at 11.25.29 PM
  8. Once the SciTech window returns; click the ‘Monitor not selected!’ link and choose SuperVGA 1600×1200, then reboot Windows.Screen Shot 2019-03-14 at 06.38.18.png
  9. Once back into Windows after the reboot; right click Desktop then Properties then Settings
    • Here you should see Default Monitor on SciTech Display Doctor 7.0
  10. Click the monitor model, and select Super VGA 1600×1200.
    (Strangely, I wasn’t able to pick anything higher than 1024×768, so select that, it’ll make you reboot. Once you return, go back into the settings, and you’ll now see 1600×1200 32bit)

    • I’ve had issues trying to change resolution at the same time.
    • I’ve also had issues when the restart didn’t work – if so, restart the VM yourself – no need to go into safe mode, it should boot the second time OK.
  11. Right click Desktop -> Properties -> Settings; now you can select 1600×1200 32bit True Color no problem.
  12. Reboot one more time to be sure.
  13. Hello accelerated Windows desktop!
  14. Take another VM snapshot and call it something like “Display Driver Installed”

Configure for basic Internet access (NAT)

This will allow you to access the Internet, albeit in a basic and broken way.

  1. Start -> Settings -> Control Panel -> Internet Options -> Connections -> Setup
    1. I want to set up my Internet connection manually … or local area network (LAN).
    2. I connect through a local area network (LAN).
    3. Accept everything except for setting up a mail account.
    4. Internet Explorer 5 will load. I recommend that you download Opera 9.64 (Opera 10 and above doesn’t support Windows 9x) – http://www.oldversion.com/windows/opera-9-64
    5. It will download it as a IFHDIH.PHP file that’s about 5MB – don’t worry. Just rename this to opera.exe and it *will* run.Screen Shot 2019-03-14 at 06.44.22.png
    6. It will complain that Msimg32.dll is missing or too old. Don’t worry, it’ll still work and we’ll come back to fix this later.

Install Mouse Driver

  1. Not strictly necessary, but I find that the mouse works better with this driver/software installed.
    Screen Shot 2019-03-14 at 10.23.20.png
  2. Download and run Belkin PS2 Mouse Driver 1.0 from http://files.platesteel.net/win98se/F8E850_SW_v1.exe
  3. Select PS/2 connection type. It will make you reboot again.
  4. Driver installed will look like:
    Screen Shot 2019-03-14 at 10.25.39.png

Install some Essential Applications and Tools

  1. Install 7zip – http://files.platesteel.net/win98se/7z920.exe
  2. Download, unzip and install TweakUI – http://files.platesteel.net/win98se/7z920.exe
    1. Right click the inf file then install; it will ask you for a disk. Just browse to the directory that it was decompressed in, and select the catalog file.

Install Internet Explorer 6

  1. Not a strict necessity, but it’s better than having IE5.
  2. Probably a good idea to snapshot here – “Pre-IE6”Screen Shot 2019-03-14 at 10.35.59.png
  3. Download, unzip, and install from – http://files.platesteel.net/win98se/ie60sp1.7z

Customizations

  1. In Explorer/Folder window -> View -> Folder Options -> View
    1. Show all files
    2. Display the full path in title bar
    3. Don’t hide file extensions for known file types
    4. Show window contents while dragging
    5. Smooth edges of screen fonts
  2. Click Apply then Like Current Folder

Install AC97 soundcard

The default VM setting is SoundBlaster 16 compatible. You can use the Windows Midi Synth, but I’ve seen some issues with games. In turn, we can use 9x drivers for AC97. Warning: lots of these drivers don’t work, so use mine.

  1. Download my Win 95 AC97 driver from http://files.platesteel.net/win98se/0001-VXD_A406.exe but do *NOT* run it.. simply right click and use 7zip to extract it to a directory.
  2. Shutdown the VM and go into Settings -> Audio, and change the audio hardware to ICH AC97, then boot up the machine.
    Screen Shot 2019-03-14 at 11.24.22.png
  3. It will complain about no driver, select find driver and point it at the 0001-VXD_A406\Win95 directory. It will find and install the driver for you without crashing/or no audio, possibly after a reboot. You will also see it installing Realtek SB Emulation.
    Screen Shot 2019-03-14 at 11.51.24.png
    Screen Shot 2015-12-04 at 12.28.45 AM
  4. Should have audio and wavetable MIDI when it returns.
  5. You can test this by running C:\windows\system\dxdiag.exe again.

Screen Shot 2015-12-04 at 12.45.49 AM

Install Unofficial Windows 98SE Update Roll Up Pack (pseudo SP3)

  1. Download Windows 98SE SP3from http://files.platesteel.net/win98se/
  2. Instructions aren’t very good, it will pop up a Windows Help file. You can close this, then it’ll show you the install menu.
    Screen Shot 2019-03-14 at 10.42.24.png
  3. Install DirectX 9.0c by itself, it will require a reboot after, then run installer again.
  4. Install Main Updates/System Core Files by itself. When complete, it will return with “Installation is now complete” and reboot, then run installer again (remember close the help window each time).
  5. At this point, I install (all at the same time) (with a reboot at the end):
    1. Adaptec ASPI Layer
    2. Animated Boot Up and Shutdown Logos
    3. DMA for all hard disks
    4. Microsoft Pain Graphic Filters
    5. Microsoft Word 97 SR-2
    6. Performance Tweaks
    7. Remote Desktop Connection
    8. Time Zone Update
    9. TrueType Fonts
    10. Universal Plug-n-PLay
    11. WinTop
  6. Snapshot! Call this “Windows 98SE Updated All Drivers and Clean”

Optional: Install 98SE2ME

  1. 98SE2ME will update over 700 of the system files with the newer versions from Windows ME. I don’t personally install it, at this time, but you can read more about it from the installer. http://www.mdgx.com/9s2m/read1st.php
  2. You will need a Windows ME ISO to use this.

Optional: Install KernelEx

  1. KernelEx adds an open source compatibility layer to Windows 98 that will let you run more modern software (like later versions of Opera, Firefox, etc).
    I don’t personally have it installed, at this time, but you can read more about it here: http://kernelex.sourceforge.net/

Optional: Install Revolution Pack 9

  1. Revolution Pack makes the 98SE installation look more like XP/Vista. I don’t personally install it, but you can read more about it here: http://rp9.win98.nl/

Info: Resizing Windows 98SE Partition

If you get into a situation where you don’t have enough disk space. You can solve it by extending the virtual disk within VirtualBox, then grow the fat32 partition with gparted live ISO. The only caveat is that you need to remove all snapshots first.

To resize the VDI:

/Applications/VirtualBox.app/Contents/Resources/VirtualBoxVM.app/Contents/MacOS/VboxManage modifyhd –resize <MEGABYTES> <PATH TO VDI>

Then, boot from the gparted ISO.. you should see the total disk size and utilized. Right click the partition and hit resize, then apply. Once it’s complete, Windows 98 should have the extra space available. I would run scandisk just to be sure everything is OK, too.Screen Shot 2019-03-14 at 13.56.56.png

 

Software

Games

The biggest problem with VirtualBox and Windows 9x is the lack of Guest Additions. This prevents any hardware emulation for Direct3D.

N – Does not work
Y – Does work
P – Works, with issues.

  • N – C&C Gold 95
  • Y – Civilization 2 Ultimate Collection – works perfect (dx5 game)
  • N – Star Trek: Birth of the Federation 1.0.2 Software Emulation (video)

Applications

  • Y – Visual Studio 6 Enterprise
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