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Running vanilla Windows 98 in 2020 and beyond...


Wunderbar98
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Don't blame you for exploring MIDI tweaks @UCyborg, there's some bad sounding MIDI files. Not sure if you brought up 'Terminator: SkyNET' before but i remember watching a gameplay video, looks good.

Hi @D.Draker, no problem, pretty sure it's the graphic drivers. So far i'm very happy with the gameplay and visuals, building my first encampment to prepare for Orc battle. I tweak but no longer overclock to preserve this old hardware as long as possible. My 19" ViewSonic CRT was briefly disconnected yesterday for solder repair. A newer LCD was trialed with same graphic glitches. In case you missed it, same glitches in Madden 2000 with same hardware and OS, not SpellForce specific.

Hi @Mr.Scienceman2000, yes all in the name of security, sharing some files with your old Windows 98, sheeesh.

Big thanks again to @MrMateczko. When testing NVIDIA drivers on my faster Windows 98 system it was noted that older drivers provided more Direct3D and OpenGL settings. So i trialed different drivers on my slower 800 MHz Windows 98 with NVIDIA GeForce2 MX 100/200 (32 MB). Low and behold the older v8.05 drivers (2001) allow Madden 2000 in Direct3D. Beautiful, huge upgrade from forced non-accelerated mode (software rendering)!

NVIDIA Geforce2 MX 100/200 drivers, Madden 2000 Direct3D:
- v08.05 Perfect, beautiful players, full shadows, more detail
- v71.84 Players don't render fully, blue football field
- v81.98 Complete Windows 98 crash requiring hard reset

Windows 98 actually makes it pretty easy to upgrade or 'downgrade' drivers. Just be careful what's selected when prompted to keep existing files, etc. Windows seems to assume the most recent driver is always best.

My beloved 15+ year old PS2/VGA equipped KVM switch was given to someone with greater need. I didn't want to use a software alternative and have a spacious workspace. So my faster Windows 98 system still uses the same 19" ViewSonic CRT monitor and my slower Windows 98 system now uses a 15" Samsung CRT. This small Samsung has amazing clarity, brightness and colour. My adventures with this new-used monitor started last year, link below.
https://msfn.org/board/topic/177106-running-vanilla-windows-98-in-2020-and-beyond/page/39/#comment-1197910

This 15" CRT maxes out at 1024 x 768, appropriate for the smaller screen size. My eyes must still be okay as it hasn't been an issue, the monitor's less than 3 feet from my face, how spoiled we've become. Only thing, every pixel is precious. In Windows 98 it's not an issue as most non-JavaScript browsing renders webpage data in-line. Dual booting with GNU/Linux not a big issue either, most browsing on this system is with Dillo and Links2, my system monitor (conky) was reconfigured appropriately.

Don't anyone be jealous, now my desk has two functional CRTs side by side (15" and 19"), beyond retro-cool.
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15 hours ago, Wunderbar98 said:

Not sure if you brought up 'Terminator: SkyNET' before but i remember watching a gameplay video, looks good.

Apparently I did in Best Hypervisor for Windows 98 thread in 2017.

15 hours ago, Wunderbar98 said:

Windows seems to assume the most recent driver is always best.

https://devblogs.microsoft.com/oldnewthing/20170208-00/?p=95395

Maybe Windows 12 will have AI to tell if it's really the best. :lol:

Edited by UCyborg
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Hi @UCyborg. The Old New thing from Raymond Chen is quite a blog, since 2003. Some good old stuff there. Blog quote regarding the ubiquitous Windows 95 Start menu.
https://devblogs.microsoft.com/oldnewthing/20030722-00/?p=43083

---
Why do you have to click the Start button to shut down?

July 22nd, 2003

Short answer: The same reason you turn the ignition key to shut off your car.

Long answer: Back in the early days, the taskbar didn’t have a Start button. (In a future history column, you’ll learn that back in the early days, the taskbar wasn’t called the taskbar.)

Instead of the Start button, there were three buttons in the lower left corner. One was the 'System' button (icon: the Windows flag), one was the 'Find' button (icon: an eyeball), and the third was the 'Help' button (icon: a question mark). 'Find' and 'Help' are self-explanatory. The 'System' button gave you this menu:
- Run
- Task List
- Arrange Desktop Icons
- Arrange Windows
- Shutdown Windows

('Arrange Windows' gave you options like 'Cascade', 'Tile Horizontally', that sort of thing.)

Of course, over time, the 'Find' and 'Help' buttons eventually joined the 'System' button menu and the System button menu itself gradually turned into the Windows 95 Start menu.

But one thing kept getting kicked up by usability tests: People booted up the computer and just sat there, unsure what to do next.

That’s when we decided to label the System button 'Start'.

It says, 'You dummy. Click here.' And it sent our usability numbers through the roof, because all of a sudden, people knew what to click when they wanted to do something.

So why is 'Shut down' on the Start menu?

When we asked people to shut down their computers, they clicked the Start button.

Because, after all, when you want to shut down, you have to start somewhere.

(Besides, if we also had a 'Shut down' button next to the Start button, everybody would be demanding that we get rid of it to save valuable screen real estate.)
---
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John Madden passed away last month (Dec 2021, age 85). As a casual American football fan i still managed to purchase three of his games (92 Sega Genesis, 2000 PC, 2002 GBA). With so many annual releases it wasn't hard to find them cheap.

Spent an enjoyable evening re-exploring the game and i'm no better at Madden 30 years later! BTW Pat Summerall provides most of the gameplay commentary, he passed away already too. My PC release is 'EA SPORTS Madden NFL 2000 Classic' with cumulative Patch 3.

This old Madden looks and plays okay. For it's time decent graphics but this is mostly what dates the game. Newer releases look much better and also appear to have better gameplay and player control. HOT TIP: If you're going to play old Madden, avoid exposure to recent releases so you don't get spoiled.

What strikes me most is how feature rich computer games were already by the early 2000s. Graphically this old Madden already had player sizing, skin tone, eye black, named and numbered jerseys, custom uniforms and stadiums, player portraits, first down line (cable television style), day/night games, weather effects, on field referee, sideline activity (chain crew, cheerleaders, player bench, banners), play celebrations, etc.

EA Sports' old motto 'If it's in the Game, it's in the Game' was always accurate to me. Of course the game covered all major NFL rules and plays with franchise support and licensing.

So many features to add realism: coin toss, receiver in motion, audibles, crowd control, fakes, hurry up offence, substitutions, trade deadlines, salary cap, scouting report, injuries, bullet pass, throw the ball away, spike the ball, take a knee, time outs, commentary, detailed stats.

So many play modes: tutorial, practice, arcade, exhibition, season, tournament, coach, franchise (player drafts, up to 30 seasons), great games (classics), Madden Challenge.

So many customizations: artificial intelligence, rosters and trades, play editor, camera view, coach's cam (route marking), instant replay, controller config, player (gamer) profile, penalty level, difficulty level, custom teams.

Madden 2000 screens in Direct3D, 1024 x 768 due to my small monitor:

https://i.postimg.cc/J0HKktZX/01-cointoss.png

https://i.postimg.cc/dQCx3SBx/02-play-select.png

https://i.postimg.cc/9f4BSrgn/03-line-of-scrimmage.png

https://i.postimg.cc/T3BbKQQt/04-play-action.png

https://i.postimg.cc/FKgKhx6d/05-running-play1.png

https://i.postimg.cc/LhKdqcYH/06-running-play2.png

https://i.postimg.cc/LswMKg9Y/07-replay.png
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14 hours ago, Wunderbar98 said:

nitpick. I run my 17" Diamondtron at 800x600 to get 100hz refresh rate and it is just fine :buehehe:.

Though what I find great on CRT is that it can view almost any resolution and any resolution looks sharp. That is beneficial to me since I prefer high refresh rate over high resolution. I know some who can watch CRT at 60hz without eye strain but for me only 100hz or more does not cause it.

Also I finally solved my video playback issue on 98. H264 codec feels like mess on older hw. Sometimes even if file been encoded settings it should work on Pentium 3 it wont. I ended up using XVID codec with Libxvid on FFMPEG. Bitrate was 800kbps and resolution 640x480 max. I did encoding on my Ryzen PC since I built it originally for video encoding and cpu intensive stuff. I can say that my room was warm during that day.

Videos looks sharp mostly though price of compression is slight pixelating here and there but I am happy could make them run without lags or being blurry. I mostly got older TV recordings from 1970s and up and older TV shows and older Music Videos. All of that is taking up near 60gb from Windows 98 pc :crazy:

Also I found some MPEG videos from Bomfunk MC in stereo special edition CD. That codec is not most space efficient but it can run on slower hw. Back in day some included videos on Audio CD and that is one example. I am collecting those old MPEG and AVI videos for the future

 

Edited by Mr.Scienceman2000
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On 12/21/2021 at 8:34 PM, Wunderbar98 said:

Thank-you for the SpellForce tips @Dixel

I can pass you my rights for the Addon serial and for the "Free game campaign" (the third option , very interesting) so you could complete the SpellForce series !

I have two editions of the same game anyways , that's right . I have an ordinary UK GOLD set and the 3-disk Limited Austrian Edition with the soundtrack CD. 

The patch will work with them both ! You will get a new menu with three options campaigns and free campaign mode with (50+ maps), instead of just one.

Also , there should be a handy map editor available , I think links aren't dead yet.

Proof with photos , if necesary .

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Hi @Mr.Scienceman2000. Remember when 1024x768 was an upgrade. Having spent the better part of the day going back and forth between VGA and LCD, to me VGA is much crisper, even with Windows 98's old fonts. No eye fatigue here even with 60 MHz but yes higher frequency is easier on the eyes. Glad to see your video project is progressing.

Hi @RainyShadow. Thanks for the link, READTHIS.TXT was funny, pasted below. I wasn't in Windows 98 at the time so this post was read with Dillo, written in 'vi' and posted via old SeaMonkey - hope that counts as someone who prefers command line and basic tools.

---
! The fact that you are reading this in the first place demonstrates that
! you are a "hard-core" super-power-user who believes that fancy GUI help
! files are for "namby-pamby" mouse-addicted beginners who think you need
! exact change to get onto a PCI bus. Plain ASCII text files, that's what
! real hackers use for documentation.
---

Thanks for the generous offer @Dixel. A similar offer was received from @D.Draker already too but i will graciously decline since i already have dozens of unfinished games here at home. Enjoying SpellForce: Order of Dawn, getting more familiar with the game. Just finished the first tutorial mission vs Orcs, now running my own avatar and prepping for the big Goblin battle, lots of fun. Thanks again.
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I got one driver advice that could save someone nerves. I got ess solo 1 sound card on my Windows 98 pc that uses common ES1938 chipset that is great for sound blaster and midi support. Few days ago I tried record few clips using Microphone input but could hear nothing on audacity or at Windows native recorder. I was thinking port is busted but on Linux there was not issues. That is where having live bootable cd comes in handy.

Issue was that drivers solo1_drv_w9x_4.12.01.1165.zip  that is easiest to find on internet does not work proper on Windows 98 SE resulting Microphone only work if uses passtrough and even then it will be poor

Drivers that work with 98SE are Windows ME WDM driver which can be found here:

http://www.opendrivers.com/download/driver-11053.html

pick 'ES1938_1946_Me3047.zip'  from backup download link and use that for specific sound card. I put sha256 hash below if link dies and need try find the file.

SHA 256: 6A2C810F06B6C8078F9F30E60966E6DCC5222435F6614E70CA174978F5BFCF03

That driver been in use for two days now and not a single crash. I got all expect NIC on WDM drivers after that.

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Thanks for the information @Mr.Scienceman2000. Just curious since it's a Windows Me driver, did it install normally into Windows 98 or require modification?

Since my slower dual-boot Windows 98 now has a small monitor (max 1024x768), the AGP graphic card will likely be switched from NVIDIA GeForce2 MX 100/200 to an ATI. Reason being, the legacy ATI driver in GNU/Linux is poor with no resolution above 1024 x 768. Since this is no longer relevant on this system, may as well get some life out of my old ATI hardware.

A 32 MB ATI card previously worked well in Windows 98 so i'm looking forward to the swap. This is what's in storage here for ATI, probably use the 32 MB card again.
- ATI 3D Rage (1998, Rage IIC ATI 3D chip, 4 MB)
- ATI Rage 128 Pro (2000, query 8 MB, query 'All in Wonder', TV outs, Rage Theatre chip)
- ATI Rage 128 (1998, query 16 MB)
- ATI Xpert 2000 Pro 32 MB (no date)

For whatever reason, my original 3dfx Voodoo Banshee AGP 16 MB died within three years of purchase.

Someone gave me a 6600-DV128 (query 128 MB) graphic card a long time ago. It's never been tested. From what i can tell it uses a PCI Express slot. Don't think i have a motherboard that supports this interface or whether they work in Windows 98, will eventually investigate further.

Still tweaking and learning. Came across this ShellIconCache article, relates to newer Windows too. Probably won't make much difference unless the system has icon issues or churns a lot of software.
https://www.computing.net/howtos/show/icon-cache-how-it-works-and-fixing-it/822.html

Make your Windows 98 super-snappy-fast with Tweak UI -> Mouse tab -> Menu Speed to fast. Now Start button sub-menus and dropdown menus from Windows Explorer, for example, open instantaneously when hovered.
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6 hours ago, Wunderbar98 said:

Make your Windows 98 super-snappy-fast with Tweak UI -> Mouse tab -> Menu Speed to fast. Now Start button sub-menus and dropdown menus from Windows Explorer, for example, open instantaneously when hovered.

This presumably changes HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop\MenuShowDelay. Old setting still relevant today. I used to have it at 100 (milliseconds), but even that proved to be a pain for certain deep menus. Some set it to 0. Will see if I can work with 200. Default is 400.

Raymond Chen - Why is there a menu show delay, anyway?

Edited by UCyborg
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8 hours ago, Wunderbar98 said:

Thanks for the information @Mr.Scienceman2000. Just curious since it's a Windows Me driver, did it install normally into Windows 98 or require modification?
 

You might need q242937 update for it to work. It updates WDM. Windows ME and 98 WDM were close to each others so generally ME drivers work on ME. But other way it usually resulted crash. When Windows 98SE came out Microsoft updated their driver development kit, but when Windows ME came Microsoft did not ship new version DDK fast enough and most vendors just used  Windows 98SE WDM drivers for ME which was main reason for ME poor stability. I got Windows ME on my Compaq Presario 5000 and it is relatively stable when using proper drivers. But I personally keep Windows 98 SE as king of Windows 9x series. It is classic looking, it got dos mode, it got usb and fat32 support (well Windows 95b did too but was not so good) and with 98lite can make it look like 98 or 95 which is great-

8 hours ago, Wunderbar98 said:


Since my slower dual-boot Windows 98 now has a small monitor (max 1024x768), the AGP graphic card will likely be switched from NVIDIA GeForce2 MX 100/200 to an ATI. Reason being, the legacy ATI driver in GNU/Linux is poor with no resolution above 1024 x 768. Since this is no longer relevant on this system, may as well get some life out of my old ATI hardware.

A 32 MB ATI card previously worked well in Windows 98 so i'm looking forward to the swap. This is what's in storage here for ATI, probably use the 32 MB card again.
- ATI 3D Rage (1998, Rage IIC ATI 3D chip, 4 MB)
- ATI Rage 128 Pro (2000, query 8 MB, query 'All in Wonder', TV outs, Rage Theatre chip)
- ATI Rage 128 (1998, query 16 MB)
- ATI Xpert 2000 Pro 32 MB (no date)
 

Ati Xpert was similar to quadro series (workstation card) as far as I know but it can run games. I used to have POMI MatkaMaxi notebook with 700mhz Pentium 3 and ATI XPERT98 and it could run half-life and viper racing. Sadly that notebook died for unknown reason and was unable revive it.

8 hours ago, Wunderbar98 said:

Someone gave me a 6600-DV128 (query 128 MB) graphic card a long time ago. It's never been tested. From what i can tell it uses a PCI Express slot. Don't think i have a motherboard that supports this interface or whether they work in Windows 98, will eventually investigate further.

I did not have that card but I had NVIDIA 6200TC 128mb which works without issues on 98. You need unofficial Nvidia drivers and unofficial shutdown hang fix. Also I recommend 915 series chipset max from intel for Windows 9x, since that had unoffical chipset driver. For AMD cant say for sure.

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That's the correct registry key @UCyborg, thanks for clarifying. I keep meaning to seek 'registry diff' software, this would be handy for software installs and tweaks.

My systems are set to 0 (zero), works well. Here my deepest sub-menu is VLC quick settings, four levels deeper than main Start menu, still doesn't span monitor width. The blog post was good, default needs to be set somewhere.

Thanks for all the information @Mr.Scienceman2000. Feared missing out but it's already hoarded and installed here as 'q269601_WindowsDriverModelAudioUpdateForWindows98SE_kb242937.exe' (renamed by me):
https://msfn.org/board/topic/177106-running-vanilla-windows-98-in-2020-and-beyond/#comment-1145149

This update can help with several audio issues:
https://www.betaarchive.com/wiki/index.php?title=Microsoft_KB_Archive/242937

Control Panel keyboard shortcut:
- Open My Computer
- Right-click and drag Control Panel to desktop, select 'Create shortcut here'
- Right-click on new shortcut -> Properties
- Left-click into 'Shortcut key' -> None field
- Press Ctrl-Alt-C (for example)
- Click Apply, reboot seems needed

Unfortunately for me the keyboard shortcut fails if it's dragged or created directly in the Quick Launch toolbar, no idea why, and keeping this shortcut on the desktop creates clutter. Discovered the Control Panel executable is C:\WINDOWS\CONTROL.EXE.

AutoHotkey, discussed earlier, made light work of creating a keyboard shortcut (# is Windows key). Windows+c is already used here to close the CD/DVD tray, so Control Panel opens with Windows+p. My current config:
#Up::SoundSet +1
#Down::SoundSet -1
#Left::SoundSet, +1, , mute
#Right::Soundplay, %A_WinDir%\Media\notify.wav
#o::Drive, Eject
#c::Drive, Eject,, 1
#p::Run C:\WINDOWS\CONTROL.EXE
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Local ad here, someone seeking specific AGP cards to get his father's 'old computer' running games. The ATI cards listed start at 256 MB graphic memory - oh kids. Another ad is selling an old ATI Wonder TV Tuner card for $20, free giveaways a couple years ago. Recently someone selling a US Robotics 56k external modem for $20. I purchased the same model used more than 15 years ago for $10 and ran it all day (office hours), every day for years as a fax server, bulletproof hardware.

Haven't even used this OS for 25 years, new discovery. Hold Ctrl key, select multiple applications from the taskbar, right-click and close them all at once (or minimize/maximize). This i knew before but never found it practical, when more than one application is open, right-click on the taskbar to cascade or tile all open windows (horizontally or vertically). With two Windows Explorer windows open, seems a reasonable 'dual-pane' file manager. To me it never worked that well, maybe with a larger monitor. The cascade feature overlaps windows as a cascaded stack starting at the top left. To me this isn't practical since the stacked windows hide content underneath. Instead of cascade a nice option would have been to warp two open windows to opposite corners of the monitor or, as with Openbox, open new windows directly under mouse pointer.
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