Can Windows 98SE run on an Intel I7 with SATA gard drives?
mark at markesystems.com
mark at markesystems.com
Thu Jan 28 14:11:15 CST 2016
> Date: Thu, 28 Jan 2016 11:44:44 -0500
> From: "Jerome H. Fine" <jhfinedp3k at compsys.to>
> Subject: Can Windows 98SE run on an Intel I7 with SATA gard drives?
> I run Windows 98SE on a 14 year old Pentium III. I have
> replaced the power supply twice and all three hard disk drives.
> Aside from the daylight savings time changing 3 weeks too late
> in the spring and a week early in the fall, I really like the system
> and I would like to use it for another 20 years. Since I am
> 77 years old now, I figure that will be just about satisfactory.
Win-98 SE was definitely one of the higher points of the Windows lineage.
For most of what I did (and do, for that matter), it worked very well; it
would have been nice if it recognized USB storage devices natively.
> The Pentium III hardware is more than a bit of a concern. I would
> be very pleased to upgrade to 64-bit Windows 10, but the DOS
> variant of Ersatz-11 is not supported and I really would prefer to
> keep using Netscape 7.2 since I have over 100,000 e-mails
> and posts to newsgroups that it is important to be able to keep.
The hardware is worth worrying about. Replacement power supplies will
probably continue to be available, but those disks are likely to be
unobtanium, and are practically guaranteed to fail at some point. My
personal "sweet spot" for operating systems was Windows XP, and it was with
with quite a bit of trepidation that I eventually moved on to Win7-32.
Eventually, I needed a new laptop, and moved to Win8.1-64, which took a
great deal of massaging to make comfortable (the "Classic Shell" product is
very nicely-done, and free, and went a long way towards making things
usable). However, there were still a lot of problems:
- 64 bits absolutely breaks any 16-bit code, whether it be a DOS program or
a Windows 3.1 application. Unfortunately, I have a large industrial
application that I've maintained for the last 20 years (things last a long
time in industry), written in Visual Basic 3. Maintaining it under XP was
easy, because XP would just magically fire up ntvdm (NT Virtual DOS
Machine), then run a Windows compatibility layer (wowexec) on top of that;
this all made everything work just fine, and with almost complete
transparency. For DOS programs, it would capture any physical I/O calls
(for example, to the com port addresses) and do a fantastic job of emulating
them - again, completely transparent to the application program. Win7
(Vista, actually, but nobody cares about that) broke all of that.
- I have an application that I like and use a lot (CircuitMaker-2000) which
runs fine on every version of Windows from 98SE on up to at least Win8.1-64
bit, and presumably Win10, though I haven't tried it. However, printing has
been broken on everything since Win98SE.
- The versions of Office and QuickBooks I was using started exhibiting
numerous problems; Word continued to work "OK", sort of, but QB was
completely unstable, and I depend upon it to run my business.
- The security implementation of pretty much everything, starting with Win7,
makes a lot of things difficult; registry writes are now tightly controlled,
registering DLLs and OCXs requires elevated privileges, network firewall
functions are highly complex, convoluted, and depending upon the version
(Premium, Pro, Ultimate, etc.) the tools may not even be provided to
completely manage all of this.
My solution to most of this (except some of the network issues) has been to
use VirtualBox. It's free, and does a great job of handling XP as a guest
operating system. With XP, mouse movements, virtual disks, networking, and
even the clipboard are all nicely integrated into the host operating system,
so my XP machine is always just a keyboard shortcut away.
I also have a virtual Win98SE machine, to handle the printing issues with
CircuitMaker. This is less well integrated, in that the mouse capture is
clumsy, and the file system integration features aren't there, but that was
easy enough to get around by just creating shared folders on the host, and
setting them up as network drives on the Win98 VM.
It took a solid week of tinkering to get everything set up to my
satisfaction (I have a lot of disparate interests, and their associated
applications), but now I have a setup that I'm very happy with. (I broke
down and advanced a single version - to 2003 - for both Office and
Quickbooks, so those both run happily in native mode now.)
> QUESTION: Is it even possible to run Win98SE on a current
> Intel I7 CPU with SATA hard disk drives? I realize that it might
> be possible under a virtual machine, but I really want all of the
> advantages that Win98SE provides. One problem, of course,
Almost certainly not, at least practically. Even if you can get it to boot
and install, it will have no idea how to handle any of the modern
peripherals, and drivers certainly won't be available. So sound won't work,
the screen will be limited to VGA-16, and I'm not sure about the keyboard
and mouse (there's a reasonable chance that the BIOS will emulate the legacy
PS-2 devices, just as it's abstracting the details of the SATA disks).
I really think that your best solution would be to go the virtual route.
Get a huge monitor (mine's 28" 2560 x 1440 - I would have preferred an even
larger curved 4k unit, but HDMI wouldn't support it at full resolution, and
that's all my laptop has) - or even a dual monitor setup, a terabyte or two
of hard disk, and plan to spend that week tinkering.
As much as you like Win98SE (and I completely understand why!), you might
find that XP will still run everything you're interested in, and VirtualBox
handles that very well. There's every reason to expect that the virtual
machine will continue to be stable and supported for the foreseeable future
(like 20+ years), regardless what the host Microsoft operating system
evolves to be. Of course there's no reason not to have both XP and Win98SE
VMs, as I do - I even have a Win3.1 machine, just for the fun of it.
For backup, I stubbornly store everything in two large directory trees:
C:\Library and C:\Data (actually, I have a C:\Music as well). The C:\Data
tree has absolutely everything that I've ever worked on: source, designs,
correspondence, pictures, taxes, email store, and the VM disks. It takes a
bit of persuading for the modern versions of Windows to accept C:\Data as
the "My Documents" folder, but it can be done.
The C:\Library tree has all kinds of documentation (PDFs of manuals and data
sheets, and lots of just plain reading material), as well as a large
sub-tree called Distrib that has the installation sources for all my
software applications. In some cases, this is in the form of ISO CD-ROM
images, but mostly it's sub-directories with the contents of all those.
Everything is there: all the Visual Basic/Studio versions, all the Office
versions, compilers, Adobe, Photoshop, PLC and other development systems,
SolidWorks and AutoCAD, and even the installation media (in both ISO and
file formats) of the Microsoft OSes as well (DOS through Win-7).
All of this fits comfortably on the single terabyte drive that came with the
laptop, and backing up is a simple matter of either just copying the two
(three) large trees, or using some difference software (I use a free program
called TreeComp, but there are many others too) to sync everything to an
external USB (3.0 strongly preferred) drive, which I keep in the fire safe.
Moving to a new computer is simply (if time-consumingly) a matter of copying
those trees to the new machine, then installing the software directly from
the \Library tree - no other CDs required.
> Alternatively, does it seem reasonable to attempt to keep a
> system with a Pentium III CPU and associated hardware
> running for another 20 years?
It's probably possible (although the weak link would probably be the disks),
but if it were me, I'd treat that more as a hobby project than as a machine
I depended upon. So far, I've successfully avoided giving up the
applications and "way of doing things" that I like and am comfortable with,
while still migrating to current hardware and software. I have to admit,
effectively unlimited speed and space are quite nice...
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