Windows 98 — I so don’t miss you!

I was tasked with setting up a virtual hard disk install for Windows 98 today.  Like many software companies, we are finding *great* benefit to having virtualized operating system install images.  In our case, we use Microsoft’s Virtual PC 2007 at the desktop level, and Virtual Server 2005 at the server level.  Both are great products.  I’m also slated to check out VMWare for converting “live PCs” to virtual hard drives.  That’ll be very cool, if it works.

But I digress.

Setting up virtual hard disks is pretty easy, but Windows 98 presented some unique challenges.  For starters, finding an .ISO image of Windows 98 proved more difficult than I thought.  Actually, I ended up having to make my own .ISO image from a Win98 install CD that we had buried several years ago.  I put in the physical CD, and then used ISO Recorder to make an .ISO image out of it.  Easy.  The first real problem arose when it dawned on me that I couldn’t boot from a Windows 98 setup CD.  Hmmmmmmm.  Virtually speaking, I essentially have a completely unused harddrive and a Win98 CD, at this point.  Guess I need to bust out my FDISK and FORMAT skills again!  I downloaded a Win98 ERD “virtual floppy image”, mounted that in my Virtual PC session, and I was off and running.  I used FDISK to create an active, 10gig partition — way more than is necessary for Windows 98 — and after a reboot, performed a FORMAT C: /S, which copies the system files for a DOS-bootable C: drive.

After all that fun, I booted from the Win98 ERD once again — which enables CD-Rom support — changed to the D: drive, found the install directory, and started ‘setup.exe’.  The install itself was relatively pain-less, but the final installed version was quite slow.  No bother — I simply selected the Action menu within Virtual PC and installed the Virtual Machine Additions.  One reboot later, Windows 98 is running much more smoothly.  My custom install takes up slightly less than 250mb on the harddisk.  That’s almost laughable!

Anyhow, having not used Windows 98 is quite some time, I was really reminded how little I miss that operating system.  Don’t get me wrong: back in the day I was most definitely a “Win98” fella, but things have most certainly moved on over the past decade.  The default “sliding” menus, the “web view” folders, Active Desktop (ugh!), and the folders that pertually open new folders, instead of using the existing one.  What a mess!

That said, my task is complete.  I can copy this out to the network for the occasional employee to download and test against.  Otherwise, I think we’ll just be steering clear of the old Windows 98 install.  No “nostalgia” is worth the hassle of having to use that old, rickety OS again….



3 Responses to “Windows 98 — I so don’t miss you!”

  1. 1 kevinleroy June 12, 2008 at 1:34 am

    Hunner, have you ever looked in to Citrix Server? They do essentially the same type of thing as the Virtual PC only much more stable. Fairly easy to manage as well. I’ve used it pretty extensively over the years and loved it. Anyway, I so don’t envy your task of creating a Win98 machine like you did…

  2. 2 yipcanjo June 12, 2008 at 4:10 pm

    To be honest, I didn’t even know that Citrix had a “virtual server” offering! I’d be curious to see a comparison of the Citrix product, VMware’s stuff, and the Microsoft offerings. In our case, we are a Microsoft “partner”, so the software is free for dev use…

    Anyhow, the Microsoft Virtual Server product could definitely be improved upon — UI stuff, mainly — but the Virtual PC product is both “free” for everyone AND very easy to use.

    Thanks, man.

  3. 3 kevinleroy June 13, 2008 at 5:25 pm

    Heh…yeah, you certainly can’t beat free! Citrix is pretty pricey. I used it at one of the Mortgage companies I worked at. Pretty novel idea as our Branches just had a shell computer and then you’d load citrix on it and go to town. All our apps and email were on Citrix. A bit slow though if you’re not at the hub though. I haven’t ever heard of VMware…good?

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