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Running vanilla Windows 98 in 2020 and beyond...


Wunderbar98
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Thanks for the additional input @MrMateczko and @jumper.

Issue fixed, yeehaw Windows 98 SE (Server Edition).

Moved all 'C:\My Documents\' content to 'C:\DOCUMENTS\' and just finished another 3 hour data management marathon without an issue or even a hint of slowdown. Hundreds (thousands really) of files unzipped, moved, copied, pasted and deleted. Recycle bin viewed and deleted probably a dozen times. Two Windows Explorer windows open, on/off internet via RetroZilla, SCGT game setup and testing (addons).

Shame on you MSFT for not issuing a fix, afterall 'My Documents' is for documents.

*****

Enjoyed a recent build video. Running Windows 98 on a multi-boot 64-bit system (circa 2003) gets me excited, as my current systems are 32-bit and don't even support SSE2. This should allow running the latest web browsers for a long while via BSD or GNU/Linux while still enjoying Windows 98 for years to come.

Me no hardware expert but specs were basically as outlined below. The only reported issue, don't know if the user got resolved, was some sort of memory error at shutdown.

Biostar K8VGA-M (socket 754)
AMD Athlon 64 3200+
128 GB SD with SD -> IDE adapter
NVIDIA GeForce 6600GT 128 MB
1 GB DDR 400
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  • 2 weeks later...
Finally finished 'In the Beginning was the Command Line' by Neal Stephenson. Good read, dated. Basic concept holds true for me, CLI will always rule. IMHO any system that doesn't readily allow boot to command line only for maintenance or troubleshooting isn't worth using.

Big data project done. System performance was spectacular after moving 'My Documents' content into an alternative directory and configuring [vcache]. The 'My Documents' alternative directory was renamed from C:\DOCUMENTS to C:\DOCS so it lists nicely in DOS (8.3 filename). I will now set up all new systems similarly.

Thanks again @Goodmaneuver for suggesting larger [vcache] settings. Still playing around with same-sized Min/MaxFileCache vs a range. Setting same size has the advantage of negating re-sizing yet a range is more flexible, which to me seems better suited for a multi-use system. Sessions here are sometimes file management intensive and other times large applications, such as games.

Computer Hope recommends a Min/MaxFileCache range of 10 - 25% RAM. This seems reasonable but on my 384 MB RAM system still causes some slowdown when moving > 200 MB of data at a time. It is evident the user should test and decide for themselves what works best based on how much system RAM is present and how the computer is used. For some simply setting a MaxFileCache upper limit may be good enough. This will, at least, prevent the system from attempting to cache more data than available RAM during heavy file management, which can cause severe slowdown and even system freeze.

Microsoft did a good job with Windows Explorer. Adding Favorites makes it a snap to change to frequently used or obscure directories. Clicking 'Up' from root C:\ drive conveniently displays 'My Computer', easy to find other partitions, CD/DVD, Printers and Control Panel. Clicking 'Up' one more time displays Desktop content. Old school brain here, toolbar buttons with text are much easier than playing icon guessing games.

Funny DOS 'copy /?' usage switch information, hopefully all copy commands are 'written correctly' :
/V Verifies that new files are written correctly

It is no longer possible to use GMail's HTML-only email from DOS or RetroZilla, as the login screen now requires allowing a JavaScript domain that these browsers can't handle. Thankfully accessing this forum still works.
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A laggy boot was noticed on my faster (1.8 GHz) Windows 98 system the other day, including a busy hourglass cursor for a few extra seconds at startup and brief hang before Windows Explorer first open. Process Explorer listed an unfamiliar service, C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM\WMIEXE.EXE, described as 'WMI service exe housing'.

The service was related to USB stack software installed several weeks ago when testing USB internet tethering with a cellphone. The boot lag was fixed and the service no longer runs after removing the USB software and disabling USB from System Properties -> Device Manager. On this system USB is not used. The USB software was only installed for testing purposes and i got to lazy or distracted to uninstall the software afterward.

Now Process Explorer indicates 8 core Windows and a system update processes:
DDHELP.EXE
EXPLORER.EXE
KB891711.EXE
KERNEL32.DLL
MMTASK.TSK
MPREXE.EXE
MSGSRV32.EXE
SYSTRAY.EXE

Plus an extra 4 related to optional software:
PERSFW.EXE
AUTOHOTKEY.EXE
TINYRESMETER.EXE
PROCEXP.EXE

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Ddhelp and systray are also optional. The KB should not still be running after installation. The other five I have.

 

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Thanks for the feedback @jumper. On both my systems KB891711.EXE runs after install, every boot. It doesn't show in Ctrl-Alt-Delete 'Close Program' popup but is listed in Process Explorer under MPREXE.EXE service (WIN32 Network Interface Service Process).

Attempting to kill the service during runtime crashes the OS. If i disable the service from booting, how to confirm the patch is effective?

Very interesting. DDHELP.EXE can be renamed to disable within Windows. Upon reboot Start menu -> Help still works, what the..

SYSTRAY.EXE must be renamed to disable from DOS. Upon reboot to Windows the SYStemTRAY still works and appears fully functional, what the..

Don't think above is the most elequoent way to stop a service. No memory testing was performed, any gains are probably negligible.

Thanks again for the feedback, good tips to lean things out, still not sure about KB891711.EXE. Maybe a critical update patch about 20 years later isn't meaningful anyway.
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Okay i'm gonna stop posting when too busy for proper research. DDHELP.EXE is not related to MS Help, it's Microsoft DirectX Helper. Without this most of my games won't run, just tested with Madden 2000, so that won't get disabled. You must not be a gamer @jumper :)
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Ddhelp.exe is the DirectDraw preloader. Don't rename it, disable its preload with Msconfig. It will then load when needed.

Systray.exe is the poorly named Powrprof launcher. Deselect Show on Taskbar in Power Meter.

Mdgx recommends U891711. Search msfn.org for extensive discussion. I haven't tried any of them.

 

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Outstanding @jumper, thanks again. Via MSCONFIG -> Startup tab, disabled 'System Tray' and 'LoadPowerProfile'. Now DDHELP.EXE no longer runs at boot but does load when initiating a DirectX game. I always thought 'LoadPowerProfile' was related to power saving (eg. screen blank, hard drive power down). Well it's not, this feature still works. Now down to the 5 core services @jumper mentioned, plus KB891711.EXE.

From wasted time, KB891711.EXE was probably Windows 98's most controversial update. It left an extra background process. Although labelled critical it was not solely a Windows 9x issue. It was reported to cause system instability, blue screens of death and spontaneous restarts. The update may have caused more problems than it fixed.

There was apparently an official, updated KB891711.EXE that would not run as a service but the discussion around this was convoluted. If the updated patch still required manually modifying the registry, did it really not run as a service, no idea.

For now i'll also uncheck KB891711.EXE via MSCONFIG. Maybe try to find the newest release or uninstall altogether, won't kiss and tell.

---
Official MS:
http://web.archive.org/web/20070113164903/http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/Bulletin/MS05-002.mspx

---
Maybe not a big deal:

Mar 26, 2005
The latest from MS:
"Microsoft has received reports about issues with KB891711 on Windows 98, Windows 98 SE and Windows ME. At this point, we have been able to confirm these reports and are currently working on a resolution.

"Please note that by uninstalling the current update, the machine will return to a ulnerable state. At this point, we are currently not aware of customer's being exploited by way of the vulnerability fixed in MS05-002 on Windows 98, Windows 98 SE and Windows ME.

Gary S. Terhune
MS MVP Shell/User
https://forums.tomshardware.com/threads/whats-the-deal-with-ms05-002-kb891711-exe-and-windows-98.1145386/page-4

---
KB891711.EXE updated:

Apr 12, 2005
I've had KB891711 installed on my machine since it was first offered as an update at WUD. I've never had any problems but followed the discutions about all of the troubles other people have had.

I just updated my computer from WUD and after installing the "new" KB891711 update I no longer have it running in the background. So the update is probaly a new version.

---
KB891711.EXE information:

Yes, they advised all to use the new revised version:
04/12/05
Security Update for Windows 98 (KB891711)
Download size: 149 KB, < 1 minute
https://forums.tomshardware.com/threads/whats-the-deal-with-ms05-002-kb891711-exe-and-windows-98.1145386/page-6

---
Apparently MS even advised uninstalling the patch if problematic:

Installed by the Windows KB891711 critical update, see this security bulletin - this file reportedly needs to continue running in order to patch the vulnerability, at least until a more practical solution is found. There have however been reports of fatal exception errors in systems running Windows 98, and in such a case Microsoft advises to either uninstall the patch (Add/Remove Programs) or prevent it from running at startup.
https://startups.glarysoft.com/KB891711/KB891711.exe/3893/

---
Another unofficial patch from an unknown author, i'll pass:
https://msfn.org/board/topic/58780-q891711-u891711-unofficial-ms07-017-ms05-002-ani-fix/

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Ahh yes, the infamous 2005 KB891711.EXE update: Vulnerability in cursor and icon format handling could allow remote code execution.

All unofficial fixes are vastly superior to Microsoft's own solution, but if you want to keep things vanilla, using the updated (v2) KB891711.EXE should be fine:

http://download.windowsupdate.com/msdownload/update/v3-19990518/cabpool/Windows98-KB891711-v2-ENU_27519b9f8157c1e9a52e443b0208e0e.EXE

(the original link STILL works!)

Personally, I don't bother with "vulnerability" updates, Win9x is more likely to corrupt itself sooner than it could get infected from internet :D

Win9x is one giant hax at the end of the day that barely works and somehow made an inpact all around the world...and in my heart.

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Thanks @MrMateczko. Unfortunately v2 also runs as a process here despite

preparations: original KB891711.EXE and registry references removed, reboot.

So the new version is installed but disabled via MSCONFIG.



Windows 9x may be the biggest hack every monetized, or is it? Hmm, well

there's Windows XP -> 7 -> 11 progression. Isn't Windows 10+ free, now

MS needs to give it away to maintain market dominance.



Recent troubleshooting research for slow My Documents and Min/MaxFileCache,

there were lots of hits for slow Windows 10 Explorer, that sort of thing.

If anything we seem to have created more complex software and problems.



Windows 98 SE captured my heart too. I have used and trialed many OS over

the years, nothing as fun.



DOS web browsers like Links automagically connect to DHCP provided the packet

driver is working. It then creates a W32DHCP.TMP file in C:\WINDOWS\TEMP.

Unless expired or deleted the file gets re-used for the next session. It

can be modified before next browser reboot to experiment with network

settings, like DNS provider (eg OpenDNS) or modifying TTL.



Preferred changes can be made permanent by creating a custom WATTCP.CFG file

in the web browser directory.



Default TTL in the Windows 9x era was 32 (up to Windows 98 First Edition)

to 128. For DOS networking i am currently experimenting with lower TTL

values, presently around 54. DOS packet drivers never seem fast and running

via a router connected to a USB phone tether has it's limitations.



Default TTL (Time To Live) Values of Different OS - Subin's Blog

https://subinsb.com/default-device-ttl-values/



Forgive format errors, researched and posted from DOS.



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---
Breaking headline:
Internet Explorer is officially retired after 27 years - CNN
---

What were they on, version 100. Haven't used it since the beginning of time. It was, however, the first browser used here when i built my Windows 98 computer in 1999 (just like MS wanted). It wasn't long before i switched to other browsers but yes i did use it for a while and have fond memories. Same with Outlook Express, patiently synchronizing emails over 56k dial-up.

The Internet Explorer v5.00.2614.3500 installed here doesn't appear to do 'tabs'. From About Internet Explorer 5 (1999) below.

---
Based on NCSA Mosaic. NCSA Mosaic(TM); was developed at the National Center for supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Distributed under a licensing agreement with Spyglass, Inc.

Contains security software licensed from RSA Data Security Inc.

Portions of this software are based in part on the work of the Independent JPEG Group.

Contains SOCKS client software licensed from Hummingbird Communications Ltd.

Contains ASN.1 software licensed from Open Systems Solutions, Inc.

Multimedia software components, including Indeo(R); video, Indeo(R) audio, and Web Design Effects are provided by Intel Corp.

Unix version contains software licensed from Mainsoft Corporation.

Copyright (c) 1998-1999 Mainsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

Mainsoft is a trademark of Mainsoft Corporation.

Warning: This computer program is protected by copyright law and international treaties. Unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this program, or any portion of it, may result in severe civil and criminal penalties, and will be prosecuted to the maximum extent possible under the law.
---

MS has been benefiting from the work of others forever, then making it their own. Just ask Tim Paterson, 86-DOS creator (known internally as QDOS - Quick and Dirty Operating System). Dirty was later changed to Disk, obviously it sounded more professional.

Interesting old The Register article. Every programmer had to start somewhere. Thank-you Bill Gates for your contributions.
https://www.theregister.com/2000/06/29/bill_gates_roots/

---
Bill Gates' roots in the trashcans of history
Garbage in, garbage out, stick your hands in, rummage about...
Gates said: "I'd skip out on athletics and go down to this computer center. We were moving ahead very rapidly: Basic, FORTRAN, LISP, PDP-10 machine language, digging out the operating system listings from the trash and studying those."
---
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On 6/15/2022 at 6:15 PM, Wunderbar98 said:

Internet Explorer is officially retired after 27 years - CNN
---

What were they on, version 100.

11. MSFN renders all wrong on it!

On 6/15/2022 at 6:15 PM, Wunderbar98 said:

Haven't used it since the beginning of time. It was, however, the first browser used here when i built my Windows 98 computer in 1999 (just like MS wanted). It wasn't long before i switched to other browsers but yes i did use it for a while and have fond memories.

My first was version 4.0 on school computers. Later when we got the internet connection at home, 6.0 was used for I don't remember how long. Computer was infested pretty quickly with crapware as soon as we got the internet! Who knows what we were clicking.

On 6/15/2022 at 6:15 PM, Wunderbar98 said:

The Internet Explorer v5.00.2614.3500 installed here doesn't appear to do 'tabs'.

That came with IE7. Who knew, MSN has a minimal retro version that loads in IE5. NetCaptor was also a thing. Never knew it existed until today.

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