Windows 98 on a new computer, ok?

By tepeco
Jul 30, 2008
  1. I want to load Windows 98 SE onto a brand new computer as the one and only OS. A special program purchased and used since the mid 90's, is not replaceable and cannot work on XP or Vista. This program is custom built and nothing can be purchased to replace it in function. Right now, I'm using a 9 year old machine with the original hard drive. I'm afraid this is going to fail soon as machines don't go on forever. The new machine would be dedicated to this one program.

    I know new computers come with a lot of proprietary drivers and are geared for current, state of the art computing. I don't want to make the purchase and find it doesn't work. I don't need another machine. Anyone feel this is a doable thing?
  2. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,689   +395

    I wouldn't do it. It may be possible with some hardware but its going to suck.

    I would suggest XP or Vista on it and Virtual PC
  3. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,423   +77

    As Sngx1275 says, 98SE on a new PC may be possible, and I have done so several times, but it can be a real pain to do. Mostly some one or more peripherals (e.g. sound or network) will not work. This may or may not matter to you, but the essence is, a longish shot. If you want to try, better to build your own very limited machine - 256k memory, 40Gb hard drive sort of thing.

    I would explore several other options.

    (1) The existing PC may go on for a long time, but I would lay by spares for the hard drive, which I would image the existing drive onto, and prove it still works. Also source a spare power supply.

    (2) I would look for a somewhat younger PC (boot sales, discarded PC from business etc) dating from about 2003/4 for which the Win98 drivers are still available and set up a duplicate machine.

    (3) I would explore the possibility of running on XP. In spite of your fears, XP is very customisable for compatibilty mode working. Look at the compatibility tab on the property panel of any desktop icon. There is actually more than that available. Examples are limiting the available memory to less than 348Mb, setting the Dos sub-system to use '', instead of 'cmd.exe' which was only set as default to make life difficult, to disable EMS and XMS memory, disallow use of HMA and restrict DPMI memory to a sensible limit for old programs like 8Mb.

    I would put a good bet on being able to get any old program running with a bit of expert tinkering, and the alternative of running in a virtual machine is possibly just as much a question of suck-it-and-see, although you may get more advanced help on using a virtual PC, as that's becoming flavour of the month just now.
  4. tepeco

    tepeco TS Member Topic Starter Posts: 65

    Thanks guys, I was hoping for better news. This program will not work on XP and it won't work using Virtual PC. It is a graphics program that needs to use Coreldraw version 8 and an early version of MS Acess database. A lot of crossover scripting is involved with both Corel and Acess and it seems that nothing works but Windows 98. It is the scripting that trips everything up and it's all proprietary and locked. The program's author, although he abandoned it in 2003, won't help. The program was originally written for Windows 95.

    I do have a source for power supplies and have replaced it twice and perhaps the HD could be replaced with a new one and making a small fat partition might work, but if the motherboard goes, I'm kind of screwed. Yes, buying older used machines might work but then, I'll be guessing on the life of those also.... and from day one. Already, I've had more motherboards go out than I have hard drives among the other 6 machines I work with.

    This sounds like it's going to have a bad ending.
  5. Rage_3K_Moiz

    Rage_3K_Moiz Sith Lord Posts: 5,431   +28

    You could try with older parts such as a Socket 939\478 motherboard and CPU. They sell for pretty cheap now, usually in bundles, and will work decently with Windows 98. Try to get an AGP-based motherboard if you can, since you may have problems with Windows 98 and PCI-Express. Throw in a decent AGP card for your program and some RAM, and you won't have much compatibility issues to worry about. Try these parts on for size:

    Good luck and I hope I helped. :)
  6. tepeco

    tepeco TS Member Topic Starter Posts: 65

    Rage, That looks like a challenging task. I like it and it's easy on the pocketbook too! Never put a computer together from scratch but it can't be that hard these days. Thanks for the suggestions and the shopping list. I assume these components are relatively easy to find online?
  7. nickc

    nickc TechSpot Paladin Posts: 923   +11

    if u click on the name, all are links and u go to where they are.
  8. surfersaiyan

    surfersaiyan TS Enthusiast Posts: 100

    isnt this like trying to use a square wheel when the round one has already been invented?

    we all have to be dragged sometime, kicking, screaming or otherwise into the now.

    this is 2008.
  9. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,423   +77

    The poster is in touch with the original author of this bespoke software, and the author will not help. Probably right to say the application should be re-written in a modern idiom, but who is going to pay the inevitable charge for system design, development, testing and implementaion? A minimum figure for any bespoke system however trivial starts at $7,000, and from his hints as to what the system does, this one is far from trivial. Then you go through the whole thing again every ten years.....

    BTW, the build specs you have advised about, I would not go above 512Mb memory for Win98, and even then, you need to set something in the systems properties to avoid instability (forget what, it's something like maxSysMem?)
  10. Rage_3K_Moiz

    Rage_3K_Moiz Sith Lord Posts: 5,431   +28

    Yes, that is true. I'm sorry I didn't remember about that. A Microsoft Knowledgebase article outlines the issue, as well as possible solutions, here.
  11. tepeco

    tepeco TS Member Topic Starter Posts: 65

    Gbhall, thanks for the backup. Yes, Surfersayian, you have a point, however sometimes, no alternative exists and we have to work with what we have. Right now, there is no software available to take the place of this or even come close.

    I've spent over $2000 with "experts" trying to make this stuff work on a modern system with no positive results. It almost works and actually did work with XP once, however, apparently, somewhere back there in time, an update or something changed things and the program simply stopped operating with XP. I tried going back to a fresh reload of original software and avoiding the updates to XP, thinking I could get back the workability but for what ever reason, that did not work. So it might be something else other than the XP that interferes with the special crossover scripting. I don't know and neither did the 'experts' I hired. And like Gbhall, each had no thinking for 'going backwards', keeping Win98 alive on a modern machine and all 4 of them simply told me they didn't think it was doable.

    It would be easy to make it work if someone could crack the proprietary code and change the scripting, however that would require an illegal act and I'm not infringing on anyone's copyright in order to satisfy my needs.

    Also, memory is not a problem as 512 is more than adequate.
  12. Rage_3K_Moiz

    Rage_3K_Moiz Sith Lord Posts: 5,431   +28

    So what have you decided on doing?
  13. KingDingDong

    KingDingDong TS Rookie Posts: 16

    Emulate it, or dual boot it that way you have the best of both worlds.
  14. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,689   +395

    He said VirtualPC wouldn't work. And dual booting gives you the IDENTICAL problem that he has of trying to get 98 to run on modern hardware.
  15. KingDingDong

    KingDingDong TS Rookie Posts: 16

    yea duh, sorry i missed that from above. i skimmed to fast. your right.
  16. tepeco

    tepeco TS Member Topic Starter Posts: 65

    I am going to give the custom build a try, using the suggested components above. That will be a good project and it looks promising.

    Thanks for the help and support!
  17. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,423   +77

    Just to check, you do have the original media to install that version of Access, and Corel...err..Draw is it? And the cross-scripting, that is VBA, perhaps? There is no propriety code, is there, no special generator driven by Access exports or ODBC, that then formulates a Corel import script or whatever?

    You know, this gets more interesting by the day !! I would guess the original expertise lies in VBA code which has been locked in Adminstrator mode, and cracking that would really be almost childs play. I cannot sympathise with a developer who refuses to help a previous customer, as no doubt you offered a fee? Surely all he need do is give you the unlock key to the code, for a fee, and get written agreement to absolve you of any problems or further advice while you take over full responsibility for onward revisions, plus an agreement preventing any derivative gains by yourself.....maybe even a cut of any ongoing profit, if that makes it more attractive...

    And building yourself - it's pretty easy if you take is steady and use anti-static precautions - there are loads of good sites describing 'build your own PC' if you google. Almost forgot, get a full bomb-proof backup of that stuff right away, if you haven't already....

    Do keep us up with your efforts, it's almost like archeology, and certainly a pleasant change from trying to sort out people who just can't be bothered to learn the simplest things about their PC for themselves....far too much of the 'oh I cant be bothered, someone will sort it out for me'.
  18. tepeco

    tepeco TS Member Topic Starter Posts: 65

    The Access is part of the program and is not a full version or usable outside of the program. I have a newer version of Access and it will open files and allow me to see the design and parts of the program it controls, however anything having to do with design is locked by the creator!

    Coreldraw is a program I use daily and the program is not intertwined with the program as it is used to design the art that is used within the program. Version 8 also doesn't like Vista or XP. The Producer program (the program that needs Win98) reaches out to Corel for the design files, uses the Access database for the text fields that script adds to the design being prepared for printing and drops jpeg images into and behind the text fields to end up with a printable finished graphic, personalized for the customer. Magazine covers, sports trader cards, photo buttons, etc.
    Yes, cracking the administrator's code is probably easy for those that have that knack or desire. I cannot do that and it is not my nature to infringe on the rights of the developer, regardless of my desire to tar and feather him.
    This is impossible. The developer is not willing to do anything except remind me that the program is his and not for sale. He told me he doesn't want to mess with it for anything less than what it would take to pay a more reasonable software engineer to design a new program from scratch. I was left frustrated, however I have a been able to perfect the program to do things it was never designed to do, the caveat is that it must perform in Windows 98 SE.
    Yes, this is going to be fun. Although I've never done my own build, I see nothing too difficult in sight. Backups are plentiful around here and done daily.

    I'll keep you informed.Can't get on it this week or probably next, I'm doing 15 hour days right now with present workload. Time is premium in July-August in the photography business.
  19. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,423   +77

    Quick tip - whatever motherboard you choose, before you buy, visit the manufacturers website where you will find more specifications than you could ever want to know, but crucially - what O.S. chipset drivers are available, exactly which model processors are supported, and a list of compatible and tested memory chip types.
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