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Running Windows 98 in 2020 and beyond...


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The RAM on my 800 MHz Windows 98 SE (Surplus-RAM Edition) was recently upgraded from 384 MB PC100 to 512 MB PC133 to 640 MB PC133. Unfortunately my extra 256 and 512 MB modules were not compatible so the last bump was only 128 MB.

Out of curiousity the system was booted without adding a 'MaxPhysPage' entry, like below, to limit RAM to 512 MB:


But the system already had [vcache] entries:


To wonderful surprise Windows 98 has been running great. If errors are encountered a MaxPhysPage entry or R. Loew's memory patch may be used. The system is booted daily and below tests fine.

Pure DOS:
- Command line commands, 'MEM /C /P' recognizes the RAM
- Graphics, sound, packet driver
- Gopherus
- Links web browser
- Games like Mechwarrior 2

Safe Mode:
- Safe Mode boots and runs fine
- System properties recognizes the RAM (639 MB reported)

Regular graphic boot:
- System properties recognizes the RAM (639 MB reported)
- All software tested thus far good, no memory errors or glitches

Short discussion and i'm sure lots archived here on MSFN too:
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The 640 MB RAM currently used is exactly 10x my original Windows 98 SE build in September 1999. Back then RAM was expensive so my system started with 64 MB and IIRC was upgraded to 128 or 256 MB a year later.


Disabling Virtual Memory backfired. Some software (eg. EarthSiege) won't run, even if adequate RAM is available.


Reflecting, i've been computing for 40 years. Some productive, lots of fun, many wasted CPU cycles. Random memories.

Commodore Vic-20 1980s: BASIC, tape drive, Radar Ratrace, creative, joy of programming, preference for computers over humans. When i was busy programing about age 12, my best friend was so bored he stuck a screwdriver into a port and shorted the system. The computer was fine, lost my code before creating Tape ARchive (TAR file).

1990s corporate: Lotus Notes, Word Perfect, word processing macros, IBM token ring network, floppy backups, old Windows 95 system relegated to storage, first NT delivery needed warranty motherboard replacement, no computer authority - call help desk for everything, small game executables that don't need install, laptop docking station, IBM ThinkPad TrackPoint, lead computer tech played Dungeon Keeper, database programmer had a good contract for years because no one knew his code, Prince of Persia looks great, wished my field was systems not healthcare but then it would be 'work'.

Late 1990s Windows 98 SE: first 'modern' home system, fun, lean, versatile, blue screens, not so stable, dial-up, frankenstein builds, so tweakable, so many games, so much freeware, shifted to mostly open source software, appreciate and enjoy the OS even more today.

Early 2000s, Windows 2000 Pro: nice, stable, smooth, professional, no clutter, won't play all my games, no true DOS, less impressive long term hardware and software support, wish i could have used it forever.

Mid 2000s, Windows XP: too much eyecandy, services, bells and whistles, why so complicated, overall nice, reasonably lean, stable, activation crap, minimize hardware changes to avoid re-activation trigger, good long term hardware and software support.

2021/2022, first (yes) fresh Windows 7 install: OMG everything throbs and glows, delete-delete-delete, disabled dozens of services, horsepower waste, don't panic use only if necessary, occasionally booted only to ensure it still runs, maybe it will help run future tax software once a year.
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15 hours ago, Wunderbar98 said:

Disabling Virtual Memory backfired. Some software (eg. EarthSiege) won't run, even if adequate RAM is available.

I've also ran into that a few times. Once for an audio/music application. So, far they have request at least 16Mb. I've debated if it would be worth creating a ram disk, with a swap file in it. Either create the drive and copy the file over, before Windows loads. Or just have Grub4Dos load a saved disk image, with the file already on it.

But its not hard just to enable, from time to time.

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When it comes to RAM amount and 98SE, if you have between 512MB and 1152MB, the stability varies from PC to PC with no clear pointers to check if the system will work fine.

On some systems it will work fine, on others there might be some minor or even major errors.

If you have more than 1152MB of RAM, 98SE will throw an error at startup, and R. Loew's RAM Patch is then required...I can't find a reason not to install it anyways.

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Thanks for all feedback and suggestions. The memory patch will be used if necessary. For now i've just created a flexible Virtual Memory of 16 - 128 MB that allows playing the problematic game without issue.

Since my system now has lots of RAM and doesn't need the Virtual Memory, it's stayed a nice little 16 MB C:\WIN386.SWP file. This is good as the previous 128 MB swap file wasted time when creating full OS backups onto USB. VoptXP confirms there is no fragmentation (yet) of this small swap file.

If a flexible-sized swap file gets stretched with use during a session, will it automatically revert to it's smallest size upon next boot, inquiring minds want to know.


Windows 98 has decent built-in registry maintenance tools, from a DOS boot:


Apologies to a forum member here, long time ago i indicated a new registry backup is created at every boot. Wrong, he was correct it's once daily without manual intervention, as evidenced by the C:\WINDOWS\SYSBCKUP\RB*.CAB files, even on days with many reboots.

Mentioned before i usually increase 'MaxBackupCopies' to 10 in C:\WINDOWS\SCANREG.INI. If you're curious how frequently you boot into Windows 98 just check the date stamps on these backup files.

By default the C:\WINDOWS\SCANREG.INI file also specifies automatic registry backup and automatic optimization.


If you're still diligently using these old systems for so many years then to me it's not retro-computing, just good old computing. Searching used computers again, asking prices for this old hardware keeps going up.

Life keeps getting in the way but i still boot Windows 98 almost every evening for at least half an hour to read the evening news, a little MSN and YT video, some coding and configuring, mostly just having fun and taking a break from RL.


An implementation of Star Trek for DOS was briefly tested. Not sure exactly which version or release was run. Based on link below this classic computer game started already in the 1970s. Not really my thing but it's apparent how it may have been popular back then.

Played Hangman via Gopherus i believe from the developer's gopherspace, pretty neat.
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Windows 98 SE (Security-lax Edition). Maybe a Tweak UI glitch, encountered before, auto-logon option is activated. On rare occasion the login prompt fails to auto-populate at boot, leaving empty user name and password fields, then pauses. Simply pressing the Escape key, without entering credentials, allows bypassing the login pause. The system then boots and works as normal, no new PWL file created in C:\WINDOWS\.

Watched a 2.5 minute YT video titled 'USA MICROSOFT LAUNCH WINDOWS 98'. A California retailer opening it's doors at midnight in June of 1998 to accommodate anxious Windows 98 customers running for purchases. One customer proudly mentions 'FAT 32' to the camera. Guess that was a thing back then. He may have been better off getting a decent night's sleep to stave off dementia, Windows 98 wasn't exactly a limited edition release.

Watched another ~2 minute YT video titled 'Downgrading Windows 98 to 95!'. Though VMware, looks like it would work on real hardware. Interesting Microsoft provided the ability to remove Windows 98 using Add/Remove programs following a Windows 95 'upgrade'. Maybe a nice touch for those hesitant to upgrade or if catastrophic hardware or software issues were encountered. Seems much more respectful than a forced upgrade in the background approach.
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A used HP brand PS2 keyboard had a couple sticky keys causing occasional mis-types. Fortunately these old keyboards are simple to maintain. Pop off key and use a cotton tip with alcohol to remove debris and old grease from the male key and female keyboard components. Pop keys back on, smooth, good as new. I don't add new grease, the keyboard will outlive me.
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Off-topic of course, but I'm still using a Microsoft 'Natural Keyboard' which must be around 20 years old!
It's been dismantled, cleaned, and re-assembled at least four times during its life, and it's still working perfectly.
The only sign of wear is a slight fading of the label on the'E' key, the most used of course (in English).
It's built like a battleship, nothing like the cheap rubbish you usually get now, which falls apart in no time!

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I've got a keyboard from Vista era, Logitech Internet 350 Keyboard with a PS/2 connector. I used Logitech Media 600 Keyboard before (USB connector, also Vista era), the only issue was that its volume knob broke after some time. I bought another 600 then, which is actually still unsealed and unused (I didn't want to use it so I wouldn't break the knob, but I liked it otherwise, guess my thinking back then was to save it for another time or something), switched to 350, which was also still unused at the time, this one must have been bought as spare.

No idea what I'd buy if I had to buy a keyboard today. None of those extra buttons work on Win9x AFAIK, but if my memory is correct, I remember reading in Windows SDK files that with mice, button 4 and 5 became a thing in Win98 time.

That era was really short, first computer at home had a 133 MHz Pentium and 16 MB of RAM, it ran Windows 95. Only few years later, a new computer was bought and the difference was radical, CPU speed measured in GHz rather than MHz, Windows XP. I remember a very short manual included with XP and not understanding a thing ("What the heck is a domain?"). Win95 manual was longer and understandable. Was a kid back then, didn't know much technical gizmos.

Never saw Win98 manual as everything between Win95 and WinXP was skipped, at least on the home computer. There was a business computer for my father's company at home (there was a car workshop in the same house), this one ran Win98, it came with that OS, but no CD, it had WIN98 folder from the OS' CD on its second disk, so that could be used to install the OS. It was used for several years after WinXP was well established. That computer didn't do anything else but ran an accounting application, who knows what I would've found if I used it for stuff I normally did. It was never connected to the internet and if I'm not mistaken, it didn't even have a sound card. Its CPU was 233 MHz Pentium, it had 128 MB of RAM.

Back then, we also had to wait for things to load, so not much has changed since, huh? I remember HOVER! game from Win95 CD, you could actually sit for a while and watch the progress bar before it loaded completely. I probably didn't know it could be copied to disk, but not sure if the speed up would be that significant. Wasn't it also a thing with slower computers at the time that you could watch graphical applications' interface redrawing at slower pace?

My current computer's motherboard has some classic technology (COM ports, floppy connector), but from what I've found, completely unsuitable for running Win98 natively. Vista was bound to lead us into the future and XP support was left there for the old grumpies while Win9x have been designated as irrelevant old dinosaurs. :lol:

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On 8/31/2022 at 2:23 AM, Drugwash said:

Thank you for thinking of me. I already knew about that attempt as well as about Keysharp, AutohotkeyX and others. See this comment in AHK forums for details. :hello:

In a world where options are slowly (or quickly) being taken away from us I think we should refrain from second-guessing other people's choices as at some point they may even become our own choices. ;) Don't forget: allergies are treatable with close to 100% success. :cool:

Be well! :worship:


Wishing you well. As best as can be.


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  • 1 month later...
On 9/23/2017 at 12:22 AM, Wunderbar98 said:

Edit 1: Thread started in 2017 but going strong for now. Note this thread pertains to running vanilla Windows 98 SE. Please do not post misleading information that may not work in a vanilla Windows 98 SE installation, such as kernel mods, DLL swaps from other OS, custom re-compiles, higher software versions that may not run in vanilla Windows 98, etc. Thank-you and enjoy.

Please decide what vanilla OS this thread should focus on: 98 or 98 se. After three years, you seem to have changed you mind.:dubbio:

Once you decide, please update the title and top post.


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Sorry been busy.

@Dave-H. Yes i remember the natural keyboards, query very early 2000s. Some of my coworkers liked them, supposed to keep better wrist alignment. I worked in healthcare back then when RSDs (repetitive strain disorders) were trending. Personally i type well when needed but cross over fingers too much when gaming, never got used to the split layout. Good quality keyboard.

@UCyborg. Thanks for your computer history and experiences. Since i use Windows 9x, 2000 and XP it can be confirmed that i resemble that (grumpy old dinosaur). Why not, there's lots to be grumpy about. Anyone who used good old hardware and software back in the day can see where things have led. Not to pick on you personally, Windows 10, for example, is not much more than an advertising and closed source spyware platform that happens to run hardware, requiring a multitude of additional CPU cycles to perform essentially the same tasks.

@XPerceniol. Thanks for posting, i wish you well on your journey, thanks for supporting @Drugwash, we all need support these days. I read some of your posts and see how you struggle, you are not alone.

@marco_a. Thank-you for taking the time to post a picture of your keyboard. Very nice, i've never seen one labelled specifically for Windows 98.

@jumper. Dig up a 5 year old post and request a thread title change. My Windows 98 SE test systems are part of the Windows 98 family and i can't know what Windows 98 releases other contributors are running, the thread title is accurate. Safe to say 99% of the software versions and OS tweaks discussed also apply to Windows 98 FE. To make the thread title Windows 98 SE specific is equally misleading, sure enough the next poster will indicate 'hey software versions abc and xyz work on my Windows 98 FE too'. Impossible to keep everyone happy, as recent forum drama can attest.

@Kiriko Takemura. Your posts have been moved by admin to it's own project page. Seems to have been well liked, all the best with your project.

My rendition of the "Browservice" project

@Tommy. Thanks for creating a project thread for @Kiriko Takemura. The post indicates it may work with Windows 2000 too, if that matters for project page placement. To me a project that requires external hardware, OS, web browser and software to spoonfeed Windows 9x is not vanilla.

@Tommy. Kindly restore my SpellForce post (about 2-3 weeks ago), query inadvertently deleted when you created the project page for @Kiriko Takemura. If not accidental deletion, please clarify rational for removal.
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