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Realistically, how much longer can Win98 be kept viable?


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Don't get me wrong, I have no desire to see Win98 fade into obscurity. It's the OS I use, and I just ordered a replacement socket-A motherboard for my dying ECS K7S5A board about an hour ago. I love 98, and can't even count the number of times I've gone to AXCEL/MDGx's website and tried different tweaks and such. I guess what prompts my question is seeing how few choices I had available when I ordered my replacement mobo. I'm far from a computer expert, so maybe it's my ignorance that makes me inquire about this, but I guess I'm thinking about future hardware issues.

My current and replacement motherboards both have AGP slots on them, but from what I understand AGP is being phased out in favor of PCI Express. There's a thread in this forum right now - "Best graphics card for 98SE?" where the discussion talks about how some current cards have dropped support for Win98. So let's say a year or two from now someone who wants to run Win95/98/ME needs a new mobo and their only video choice is PCIe. Then what? The PCIe cards available then aren't going to have some legacy Win98 driver, are they? So I guess what I'm asking is, what is the limiting factor in keeping Win98 going?

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You raise some interesting questions. I built a new PC in March this year and before i started I realised that it would probably be a bit tricky to get (1) a modern system with newish hardware and (2) capable of supporting win98SE.

Anyway I succeeded :-)

Lessons learned: MOBO is biggest decision and had to do a fair bit of research. Some manufacturers said "definitely would not support win98", others did. When I made the purchase i found not a reference to win98 but plenty of reference as "designed for XP". However, it works FINE under win98, and i'm very pleased with it. (Foxconn NF3250K8AA)

Graphics card was equally difficult. Also i wanted a totally silent, i.e. fanless, one, so that was another limiting factor. As you rightly obseved, PCI Express seems a no go, but there again PCI Express is over-rated in any case. Equivalent performance AGP 8X is obtainable for all but highest-end specs. I settled for a low/mid priced solution: an XFX manufactured GeForce 6200. It works fine for the games i have, including Flight Sim 2004. Needless to say less demanding apps work ok as well.

Had no problem getting high-speed USB though, and all my peripherals work fine.

Of course, higher specs are also available STILL for win98SE. But time is running out. My recommendation is:

-- if your PC is older than 4 years and you'd like to stay with win98SE a while, consider getting a new PC in the next six months; otherwise you might have real problems.

-- for applications, it's a bit of a pain that next series Firefox apparently won't support win98Se. But I guess some guys here may be able to do something about that.

As for longevity in general of the OS my guess is:

next 3 years: no problem (providing you've got some modern hardware now)

3-5 years: isome problems in application and peripheral support, but not impossible to find solutions

5years+ Ahem!

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:hello: nice post and i agree .now as the neighbourhood pc repair guy round my little country town i fixes alot of pcs mostly older legacy ones 1998-2002 era and of course the owners are aunts grandparents etc who like 98se and refuse to change because their pc can surf get email play online pogo games etc .That said the tweaks apps found in this forum alone have transformed old pc in their eyes into new cosmedical at least.drivers are less a problem because older pcs dont play new ghapic intense games anyway the cpu and ram alone cant do it so they know only a new pc would cure that.As far as drivers go its hard alright but theirs alot of used cards around so do some hunting and if kup ever gets goinning then more xp apps will run on 98se.oddly enuff most people i repair for outhere continue to use apps that are 98 compatabale and rarely opt for lastest msn etc they like the old look,98se 4ever for now. Edited by wizardofwindows
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The PCIe cards available then aren't going to have some legacy Win98 driver, are they? So I guess what I'm asking is, what is the limiting factor in keeping Win98 going?

That is where you'd have to do some research. I know a member on this board (PETR?) runs a PCI-E geforce on his 98 machine with no issues. Just falls down to what you're looking for and who supplies the support. Best way to shop in this case is to pick out some models you're interested in and search around for drivers for them. Rule out the ones you cannot readily get drivers for and then work from there.

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Yes, PETR was a big contributer to that thread I mentioned about the best video card for 98SE. I'm good for now, my question was more geared towards what do you do 2+ years from now when you need a new mobo or video card or what-have-you?

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First off, for Windows 98 support, get a Via-based motherboard! nForce chipsets appear to be lousy in the Windows 98 department. With nForce chipsets, you should use a Windows NT-based OS only!

Not confirmed:

With nForce-based motherboards, using a non Windows NT-based OS is more likely to cause performance issues.

There's possibly gonna be lower 3D Mark 2001 SE performance and SuperPi may always take at least 2 seconds longer!

But I dunno about games.

Confirmed:

nForce-based motherboards are known for stability issues with Windows 98. Windows 98 may lock up after installing the video driver and it may randomly reboot for no apparent reason.

Edited by RJARRRPCGP
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It will depend on manufacturer philosiphy and the rise of alternative OSes.

If manufacturer deem that everybody are or should be using XP that's the end.

Now if they consider that hardware should work on whatever OS you can install (Linux, Mac and old winozes) then they may do more universal drivers that will fit all.

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Don't get me wrong, I have no desire to see Win98 fade into obscurity. It's the OS I use, and I just ordered a replacement socket-A motherboard for my dying ECS K7S5A board about an hour ago. I love 98, and can't even count the number of times I've gone to AXCEL/MDGx's website and tried different tweaks and such. I guess what prompts my question is seeing how few choices I had available when I ordered my replacement mobo. I'm far from a computer expert, so maybe it's my ignorance that makes me inquire about this, but I guess I'm thinking about future hardware issues.

My current and replacement motherboards both have AGP slots on them, but from what I understand AGP is being phased out in favor of PCI Express. There's a thread in this forum right now - "Best graphics card for 98SE?" where the discussion talks about how some current cards have dropped support for Win98. So let's say a year or two from now someone who wants to run Win95/98/ME needs a new mobo and their only video choice is PCIe. Then what? The PCIe cards available then aren't going to have some legacy Win98 driver, are they? So I guess what I'm asking is, what is the limiting factor in keeping Win98 going?

As Much as I love Windows 98 I give it about 3-4 Years Before 100% of Developers and Manufacutrers Stop Supporing Windows 98.There will be compatability issues by then and many people regretiably would have switched to Windows XP Sp1 at least.I forsee a Grim Future for Windows 98 And I don't like it.Unless Microsoft lets Windows 98 Be open source there is no way Windows 98 can live more than 2 Years 5 Years tops.Even With gr8 folks like Gabe and Tihiy Upgrading the OS there is still to many Obsolete Coding that prevents it from going into a new facelift

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I think 98SE's viability depends upon a user accepting slightly less functionality while using 98SE. This reduced functionality is minor right now but will increase as time goes on. An example is QuickTime software not showing newer video's that depend on codec's they're not bothering to make compatible on 9x.

I've found the Epox EP-8KRAIPRO motherboard that newegg still has available to be quite adjustable. Unlike my old Asus A7V880, I can actually turn off the Sata controller so it will boot Vista on its own IDE drive while the Sata drive holds my dual-boot 98SE/XP partitions. Although I installed Vista while hiding the 9x/XP partitions with Partition Magic, Vista would not boot once I turned off my computer (even though it had restarted fine) unless I disabled the whole Sata channel in the Bios. Once I did that, Vista reconfigured it's devices (reinstalled the IDE chain and removed the Sata chain) and I can bootup to it fine. When I want to go back to Sata I hide the Vista partition and reenable the Sata one's with Partition Magic and reenabling Sata in the bios. I also didn't assign a drive letter to the Vista partition within XP so no interference with XP deleting Vista's restore points (although I first formatted it with XP). With the A7V880 the Sata chain has no off switch so I couldn't have set this up.

Earlier, I had the thing set up the Microsoft way with the Vista boot loader handling things. It's no good for me as even using VistaBootPro to temporarily remove the Vista boot loader in order to format the 98SE partition resulted in a screwed up system. FIXBOOT would not restore NTLOADER, my XP administrator password for Recovery Console was somehow changed, and an XP repair install botched up my programs on XP.

I decided to try to keep everything seperate like I used to. Unfortunately, Vista makes this a pain in the neck (needing to do changes with the Bios and Partition Magic's boot floppy). Boot Magic cannot handle this kind of setup.

Anyway, back to 98SE's viability (just wanted to share). I think grabbing the most powerful motherboard and other hardware that still mostly supports 98 now is a good idea.

I say mostly, because there are still 98's problems with ACPI and other things that crop up. On this board, I noticed that a normal install gave ACPI IRQ steering errors (even though everything seemed to be working). So I've taken to using the setup /p i switch to get standard pc instead. Now there are no errors in System Info, but even now PCI Bus shows that IRQ steering has errors and is disabled. Even so, IRQ holders show and run fine and all devices work perfectly. USB 2.0 included.

And, although this doesn't happen with my ATI x850 Pro, my Nvidia Gigabyte 6600GT, whenever the 8198 driver is installed, will not allow shutdown. I've got to hit restart then wait for Windows to turn off and hold down the power button for the 4 seconds. If I use shutdown, then Windows leaves, but the system stays on with a "check display settings" showing on my monitor. So to turn the computer off while in 98 I need to use restart! No problem in XP or Vista. Maybe it's just an NVidia driver issue. I get full AGP 8X speed support and it's working fine. And, without the NVidia driver 98 shuts down fine. Thanks, I'll use the driver and click restart!

I use the latest Hyperion's, but use the AGP folder from the 4.43v's for the AGP driver. I just update the Microsoft PCI to PCI driver to the one in the AGP folder I copy to my root folder. Just the standard one, not the AGP 2.0/3.0 support one. I do this before rebooting after installing the latest Hyperion's without the AGP driver. It's the last driver that offers AGP 8x support on 98. All newer ones turn off AGP and use PCI acceleration.

Another neat thing about the Epox board (besides being able to turn off the Sata) is it supports Non-Maskable Interrupts, so my Audigy 2 ZS works in MS-DOS Mode with the loaded Creative Dos driver and the Audigy12.exe. Most modern boards won't allow this to work. I don't load this in Windows, but use the Exit to Dos.pif to do it. Actually I needed to use this to Restart in MS-DOS Mode anyway as the use current dos configuration gave me the same problem with it just flashing "check display settings." And when restarted it just loaded Windows. But I do it one time so it creates the Exit to Dos pif for me.

I hate that my posts are so long! I hope some folks get something out of my experience though.

I sure hope Symantec updates Partition Magic to be able to keep everything seperate with Vista. This work-around is cumbersome!

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Heck I say switch to firefox,I barley use IE and Would Galdly uninstall it if it wern't for the intigration with Windows Explorer.Firefox Poses a great threat to the IE Legacy and if it werne't for Bill Gates and his Auto-Install of IE with every OS, firefox would be #1.Its my best choice for a browser for windows 98, and with the continued support for firefox 2, it will be around wit Windows98 Users for a while

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I think 98SE's viability depends upon a user accepting slightly less functionality while using 98SE. This reduced functionality is minor right now but will increase as time goes on. An example is QuickTime software not showing newer video's that depend on codec's they're not bothering to make compatible on 9x.

If you're using Firefox might I suggest two things,

MediaPlayerConnectivity Extension

And set it to use VLC for quicktime files. I recommend version 0.8.4a of VLC It will play *most* quicktime media. Newer version tends to be "sluggish".

Edited by Steven W
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