Downgrading OS XP to Win98se

By gbhall · 25 replies
Oct 15, 2004
  1. Why do I want to do that? Real good reason! I support 40+ PC's all running Win98 networked via a Novell server. They all do the job great, but some are getting llllllooonnnggg in the tooth now. Just bought 4 replacements - Dell dimension 2400 at truly amazing price. I knew they would come with XP home and thought to simply install the Win98se from the retiring machines, because that is the best thing to do - don't want to spend more on the OS than the complete PC, don't want the hassle of supporting 2 OS's !

    Dell (and I can't blame them really) say we don't support that, machines tested only on XP.... etc. Fine, so I get what I hope are the correct drivers from Intel for the mobo and video, from Broadcom for the network, but so far, no joy, as there are conflicts between onboard video, 'APCI extender' and the network. All want to share same memory.

    I've not had time to delve into this much yet, and will not be able to until Monday 18th, but in the meantime, if anybody has suggestions - better yet, make that if anybody has DONE THIS BEFORE, just great, please get in touch...

    Thanks guys, David
  2. Phantasm66

    Phantasm66 TS Rookie Posts: 5,734   +8

    Sorry if I am not understanding your post properly, but surely you can just use the Windows XP machines as Novell clients, the same as the Win98 machines? They can still talk to your Novell Server if you install the Windows XP Novell Client on them.
  3. Nodsu

    Nodsu TS Rookie Posts: 5,837   +6

    It would be even better idea to install the Novell Netware Client since the MS one.. Well, it's Microsoft and made to support a competing technology :p

    As for the Dell machines. Try playing around in BIOS with plug and play settings. Also, if possible tell the Dells that you are not using a PnP-aware OS and let BIOS manage all the hardware resources.

    Disable in BIOS all the peripherals you don't use to free up IRQs.
  4. Liquidlen

    Liquidlen TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,094

    Phant... can you join a domain with XP Home by just loading Novell Client ?
  5. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Topic Starter Posts: 2,431   +77

    Thanks for the thoughts about MS or Novell clients. However I tried this a couple of years ago, Novell (at that time) said they will not support XP-home, only XP-pro, and this is because XP-home is deliberately crippled by MS to prevent exactly that. Your home network is restricted to 5 users, and lacks all sorts of software required by a 'standard' network client. Now that was some time ago - if I looked, I might well find some pirate client software, but I don't expect Novell to have changed their mind.

    Your comments about non-PNP OS are promising, however - will try Monday.
  6. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Topic Starter Posts: 2,431   +77

    continuing progress report....

    In case anyone follows this thread, I'm reporting some progress. No way would the onboard video of a Dell 2400 work properly in Win98se - it always reports conflicting memory usage with 'extended APIC...' on the motherboard. There seems to be no clear way to dumb-down the bios which works, so getting beyond VGA is not possible, although all the chipset drivers, Lan driver, US drivers and so on are fine. By the way, the post directing me to an unofficial Win98 service pack is great!

    I did look into using Novell client on WinXP-home, and as expected, you are advised this does not work; although you probably could get some sort of connection with Netware 6 and above, it might not be stable.

    To get the thing going in Win98, I found the solution is...install PCI video card (in this case two for dual-monitor working) and ignore the onboard video, which can be left with a VGA driver - strangely it cannot be disabled entirely. Remember this is a business machine, video performance is totally unimportant.

    Now I have started re-installing all the users applications - what a bind. I like the fact that this is an Intel chipset, and using the Intel chipset drivers causes the hardware layer to ALL be re-evaluated. So I'm going to try re-attaching the old hard drive into the new machine, forcing a re-install with this new driver set, and based on previous experience, I might be able to get the old hard drive up and running with new motherboard drivers. I can then simply image the old drive onto the new. Some may say this is ridiculous, but I've had it work before, and hey, does it save some time if it works!
  7. skeller555

    skeller555 TS Rookie

    Dell 2400 and win98

    Great!!! someone else is having the same problem as I. I too have an old Novell Server and run Dos Apps that prevent me from using XP. I bought the 4 Dells not realized what a pain it was to try to install Win98. For God sake, it is a basic Intel board. It shouldn't be a problem.

    Anyhow, I loaded all the drivers except the Video. Everything works fine except for that video.

    What video cards did you fine to replace it with. I tried an S3 but wasn't very successful. If you have futher notes on this I would appreciate it if you would post.

  8. jstillion

    jstillion TS Rookie Posts: 91

    At our college we using windows xp and novel very well but I do understand having apples to apples systems, much easier to support.
  9. jstillion

    jstillion TS Rookie Posts: 91

    Here's another trick if your going to move the HD to another system.

    This will force windows 98 to re-detect everything from scratch:

    I've had some success but would usually loss one device that the driver will not install at all. At work it was the on-board audio (IBM - Intel boards) would not take the correct driver nor would the sound work no matter what I did, other than that I've been able to get it to work for all other devices.
  10. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Topic Starter Posts: 2,431   +77


    The video cards I found worked fine are PCI cards, ATI wonder and such-like, about 4 years old, and very slow by todays standards, but in a business environment thats no problem whatever. You will know that Dell omitted the AGP slot, so only ISA cards can be added, and no way will the onboard AGP video work with any added cards, but I have twin monitors working fine.
  11. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Topic Starter Posts: 2,431   +77

    Forcing re-detection

    That URL could be a god-send !!! I will definitely study it and try various options. Would recommend that you first take a drive image onto the new machine twice - once to work with and the second to overwrite a failed attempt and try again. BTW I suspect your problem with not being able to get sound working is because there simply is not a correct driver available for Win98. Sound chips seem to be something independant of motherboard, and for instance Dell / IBM put what they like on an otherwise standard Intel board. I'll bet you any money if you installed Win98se from scratch you still would not be able to get sound working.....
  12. Goalie

    Goalie TS Booster Posts: 616

    For the record, you can trick XP Home into thinking it's logged into a NT domain, and trick the domain into the same.

    However, it is not a full login and many services will not be available. What you have to do is get a tweak program and set the domain for autologin through that.

    When you go to access domain net shares, they will auto-authenticate as if you're logged into the domain. Roaming profiles, domain controlled setup, etc will not be available, and if I recall correctly there are some conditions in which the net share won't be available. This trick is particularly handy for those XP Home laptops that use Outlook.. you can get them to log in automatically, saving you a bit of time (I highly recommend Outlook 2003 for its cached exchange mode, btw, it cuts down much of the startup time because outlook doesn't freeze waiting for the login.)

    As far as the novell client goes.. MS's Novell client is indeed a pain, and I've heard words about it that a moderator wouldn't allow me to use. It does, however, log in. It can parse scirpts too, but I'd recommend uising Novell's client if at all possible. I'm just not all that familiar with either client- I've used them, but only one or two times a long long time ago.

    Since no one else has any manners here- a belated Welcome to Techspot gbhall! :wave:
  13. hmsrolst

    hmsrolst TS Rookie

    Hi, I'm having the same problem--conflicts with ACPI BIOS Extensions, and I've tried two PCI video cards--an ATI Rage XL and an Matrox Milleniium II--and they also have the same conflicts. If you could be more specific about which PCI cards you've had success with (and if there are any that haven't worked), I'd very much appreciate it.

    Thanks, Howard
  14. luvr

    luvr TS Enthusiast Posts: 59

    Care to elaborate on this? Specifically, where can I find it?
    I'm trying to set up a multiboot system (Win98SE, Win2K, Linux), and enabling APIC extensions in BIOS consistently crashes Win98SE. Could that unofficial service pack help me in any way?
  15. hmsrolst

    hmsrolst TS Rookie

    I finally managed to get the onboard video to work in 98SE. I killed everything in the BIOS that I didn't need, e.g., serial ports, parallel port and sound (couldn't find drivers for the latter anyway, so I used a sound card) and then kept repeatedly manually configuring it until one time it finally didn't conflict. For the most part I didn't have crashes, just resource conflicts.

    I don't think you should have a problem with W2K--although I didn't try it, it looks like drivers for it are on the Dell site.

    Good luck.
  16. luvr

    luvr TS Enthusiast Posts: 59

    Never mind... I found it - Googling for "win98 unofficial service pack" turned it up (must have made a typo the first time I tried it).
    Anyway, I tried the service pack, but it doesn't do any good for me: I still have to set the physical memory limit to 768MB (plus tweak max vcache size, or something of that style) - just as I had to do before I installed the pack.
  17. Charles Hammond

    Charles Hammond TS Rookie Posts: 59

    Why order computers from someone who can not guarantee they will work with Win98? If that is what you want, just tell Dell you will take your business elsewhere. Dell is not that great of a supplier. If it takes hours and hours to make something work, did you really save any money?
  18. Phantasm66

    Phantasm66 TS Rookie Posts: 5,734   +8

    Well, as regards Windows XP Pro....

    You can join a Novell one by doing that, yes. But as Nodsu said you can get the proper Novell Netware Client and install that, which will do the trick much better.

    You can of course join Windows 2000 or 2003 domains using XP's internal, built in technology. But if you want to join a Novell network then you can use either the bundled Novell client or the one from Novell's site, which is better. You certainly don't need to downgrade your Windows 2000 or XP to 98 just to use Novell - that's insane.

    Windows XP Home might not support the Novell Client - I dunno. XP home is just professional with some of the features turned off, so as long as it does not reject Home for some reason then it should be fine. I don't believe that XP Home can join a Windows 2000 or XP domain, though. I would upgrade XP Home to professional in this case, not 98. 98 is old technology now, and should not be used if at all possible because of the vast number of unfixed security problems.
  19. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Topic Starter Posts: 2,431   +77

    XP home on Novell network

    You are correct in your surmise - XP home does NOT support a Novell Client - except it's the other way round - Novell do not support XP home. There are many important bits of standard networking protocol missing, and although a genuine Novell client does supply all these for Win98, 2000 and XP pro, Novell by fiat from Microsoft, will not do so for XP home....

    As to the insanity of using Win98se instead, think about this - (a) XP pro would be needed, extra cost per PC £75 or so.... (b) some vital company software used by the accountants is a DOS-based program. Under Win2K and Win XP the colours are incorrectly rendered, the mouse does not work in a window, only full screen, plus keyboard and screen response is slow and jerky. This applies to all the different models of PC I have ever tried it on. In short, 2K and XP have been IMHO deliberately crippled by M$ so they work poorly or not at all..... (c) if I want to, I can build my own PCs from bits and use a perfectly-adequate client I have already paid for once, thanks a bunch Bill....

  20. HoopaJoop

    HoopaJoop TS Rookie Posts: 90


    I wouldn't expect dell to support a product that the manufacturer no longer supports.

    It doesn't. Not normally anyway. There may be a way as Goalie said.

    I'm not saying that microsoft's policies are good or nice. They are a quite harsh in their quest for higher fortunes. However, we need a bit of realism here. I hate to be the Devil's advocate, some would say literally, but:

    You have to remember that there are some radical changes to the OSs and filesystems between windows 98 and current tech.
    Windows, from 2000 on, is a native 32bit app. Windows 98 is a native 16 bit app still running on a DOS platform. The primary core of the 98 OS is still DOS. There was also a fundamental change in the filesystem. Of course you can run them with FAT32, but they are designed for NTFS. While NTFS has been around a while, NT5 saw some radical changes. LDAP, which Novell has been doing for some time now, is new to NT5 for windows if i'm not mistaken.

    They tried, albeit weakly, to help with compatibility in XP with application compatibility mode. I know it only sometimes works, but it is something. Something they didn't do in the transition to 2000.

    Yes you can build your own machines, but for most even small networks manageability is vitally important. If I have 100 machines and I need to roll out an image to them it is much easier to roll out to 100 identical machines. Also, when some of my clients break down, they are dells so they do, I can get warrantee work on it while I'm maintaining my servers and network. My time is better spent not tracing down hardware problems. If you're talking about the xp registration guff that isn't a problem with open license copies. Also, I know it's a pain, but if you can't activate your copy due to hardware changes you can call them to fix it. The activations don't stay in the database very long either. Something like 120 says. Sorry if I mistook your statement.

    The bottom line is that Microsoft is a profit driven company. They messed up with 95 by not embracing networking and the internet. They are now trying to recover from that mistake. I don't think they intentionally crippled it to work poorly with legacy apps. They just don't care enough. They have to constantly move forward or they stand the chance of becoming, or losing to, companies like Novell.

    Sorry for the long post.
  21. luvr

    luvr TS Enthusiast Posts: 59

    To be honest, I don't really expect anyone to guarantee that a computer will run Win98 any longer.
    Furthermore, I can still run Win98 on my newly assembled PC, provided that I disable APIC extensions in BIOS. The very latest and greatest motherboards apparently don't even provide that option - and these are clearly incompatible with Win98 (as some suppliers - e.g., MSI - explicitly state on their web sites).
    Probably true.
    But I don't care about Dell - I buy my components separately, and assemble my PC myself.
  22. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Topic Starter Posts: 2,431   +77

    Take your point about the enhanced features in XP, but don't really have any use for them (at least at the moment, everything we do works just fine in Win98, and as for DOS apps, as I pointed out, Win98 is the ONLY place it works well.

    As to build-my-own, I dont really mean that, I was making the point that I can replace the hardware peicemeal or wholesale with anything, without a change of client. The reality is our company cannot afford a wholesale change of hardware, so imaging one and rolling out to many is something desirable but unabtainable.

    So the best we could do is standardise on one supplier, but as you will well know, the hardware changes from one year to another make this perfectly pointless as well.

    I dont have a happy solution; all I have learned so far is : (a) image each different model of PC (b) Intel chipsets are much harder than AMI and via combinations to keep running under Win98.

    Thanks everyone for the posts - I'm rather surprised at the amount of interest it has generated, but thinking about it, most IT managers are facing this problem of upgrades all the time.
  23. Corwin of Amber

    Corwin of Amber TS Rookie

    Win 98 for better Personal Security

    The evolution of 98SE to XPpro is wonderful in terms of stability of power, but really a tad frightening in terms of personal security.

    There is an awful lot going on in XP that is inaccessable. I prefer to retain as much control over my machine as possible. Win 98 provides that control. I keep my XP partition formated for FAT32, and have complete access to all locked files through Win 98. For this reason alone, Win 98 will remain an integral part of my system for as long as I can make it work.

    It is a drag to hear that Win 98 and Dell motherboards wont play nice with each other; I have been trying for months to find a configuration of drivers and chip sets that would enable proper display in Win 98.

    Thanks for all the tips; anything else on tweaking newer Dells for win 98 would be most appreciated.

  24. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Topic Starter Posts: 2,431   +77

    a number of users have (to my surprise and pleasure) all contributed to this ongoing question. Clearly it is quite important to a lot of people. The contributions went 'private' after a while, and the main finding has been that ACPI being taken out of the Win98 equation answers all known problems. The most useful recent post directly to me is enclosed. Apologies to John is he is unwilling to see this in print, but personally I am deeply grateful to him.

    Hello. I saw your original post about doing the above on a Dell
    Dimension 2400 and the thread that followed. It helped me out quite a
    lot, and along the way, I figured out how to get a good install
    without too much fuss and without having to add a PCI video card (I
    also ran into the ACPI troubles initially). Even though it's been a
    month since you posted, I wanted to return the help that your post
    gave me.

    1. install 98SE with the command "setup /p i". This will force setup
    to install without ACPI. The on-board video will now work (as a
    generic PCI video card) without memory conflicts.
    2. install the chipset software installation utility, integrated
    graphics driver, and USB 2.0 driver that can be found by going to -> support & downloads -> downloads -> entering
    3. Install the Broadcom 4401 drivers from to get the
    network card to work.
    4. Sound driver. It's an ADI 198x integrated audio. To get driver,
    go to, do a search for "r49606.exe". It will say that
    nothing was found in software & peripherals, but click on the
    "technical support faq" tab in the same page. This driver can't be
    installed by simply running setup, since it was written for other
    Dimension models. You'll have to "update driver" in the device
    manager and click to proceed when Windows 98SE complains that it
    wasn't written for the hardware.

  25. luvr

    luvr TS Enthusiast Posts: 59

    True - Windows XP runs a whole list of services of which the typical end user is not aware. However, Black Viper compiled a list of the services, and explains that many of them can be disabled without any problem; that eliminates much of these concerns.
    Also, I'm looking into the possibility of simply removing all of these useless services from my system, instead of leaving them sitting there, disabled.

    Me, I installed multiple Windows XP systems, each in their own partition. They're formatted as NTFS, but I can access their files from any of the other Windows XP installations.
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