VOGONS


First post, by Babasha

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Hi!
There is Nec PC-9821 V200 on my sight. Have some questions:
1) Are there some localized (english) versions of Windows 9x or NT4/2000 for PC-98 architecture? Or additional translation/patch?
2) As i understand BIOS (firmware) japanese only without changes to other languages?
3) Does it work with COM or PS/2 mices and what about keyboard compatibility?

PS. Yep, I know there are tons of info in japanese))) Google translate helps… sometime)))

Need help? Begin with photo and model of your hardware! 😉

Reply 1 of 15, by Jo22

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Yes and no, there are/were Japanese versions of Windows 3.1x with English text, at least.
But I only know about the PC/AT (DOS /V) platform versions.
Not sure if the same existed on PC-98.. And Windows 9x.

"Time, it seems, doesn't flow. For some it's fast, for some it's slow.
In what to one race is no time at all, another race can rise and fall..." - The Minstrel

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Reply 2 of 15, by bakemono

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The keyboard is not compatible with PC keyboards, and it uses MS bus mouse, but you can install English Windows on a PC-98. Win 2000 was the last one with PC-98 support; it was dropped in Win XP.

Last edited by bakemono on 2022-04-29, 09:34. Edited 1 time in total.

new retro game on itch: https://90soft90.itch.io/glamorous-zombie-flakes

Reply 3 of 15, by LSS10999

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bakemono wrote on 2022-04-25, 00:14:

The keyboard is not compatible with PC keyboards, and it uses MS bus mouse, but you can install English Windows on a PC-98. Win 2000 was the last one with PC-98 support; it was dropped in Win XP.

AFAIK PC98 family is not entirely the same as standard x86. Some Japanese Win2K discs appear to have a specialized NEC98 variant in addition to the generic I386 one.

Most of the PC98 software I came by were natively in Japanese. I never heard of any NEC98 English DOS/Windows versions. Do they really exist?

Reply 4 of 15, by Jo22

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I wonder the same and hope so.

The rival of the PC-98, FM Towns, had special platform-specific editions of Windows 3.0/3.1/95, too.
https://vintagecpu.wordpress.com/fujitsu-fm-t … wnsii-fresh-et/

Edit: Here's a better introduction to that platform.
Windows 3.1 apparently was supported before DOS/V compatibility mode was a thing.
https://www.giantbomb.com/fm-towns/3045-108/

And from what I found out online, there was at least one English version of Windows 95.
https://nfggames.com/forum2/index.php?topic=6411.0

So maybe PC-98 had one, as well?

Anyway, I'm just a layman here.

"Time, it seems, doesn't flow. For some it's fast, for some it's slow.
In what to one race is no time at all, another race can rise and fall..." - The Minstrel

//My video channel//

Reply 5 of 15, by bakemono

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LSS10999 wrote on 2022-04-26, 03:14:

AFAIK PC98 family is not entirely the same as standard x86.

What do you mean by standard x86? (NEC) PC-98 is certainly not the same as (IBM) PC-AT. But x86 is common to both.

I never heard of any NEC98 English DOS/Windows versions. Do they really exist?

I thought I saw PC-98 as an official platform option when installing some version of Windows, but maybe I remembered incorrectly. Even if it was only a JA release that has the PC-98 files, I think you could mix and match files with an EN release as needed.

I've rarely had problems running EN software on JA Windows, where text would overflow beyond the edge of a window because the font was larger than the developers anticipated. And I've seen one JA game that has missing text on EN Windows even after switching to JA code page, and installing additional fonts and font registry settings. 98% of the time there is no problem though.

new retro game on itch: https://90soft90.itch.io/glamorous-zombie-flakes

Reply 6 of 15, by SuperDeadite

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PC-98 and FM Towns require their own unique versions of DOS/Windows. They use x86 cpus, but the graphics architecture and i/o are unique. Personally I don't mess with 98 systems myself. I do have multiple Towns systems, but I stick to TownsOS, as all games run on this anyway.

Modules: CM-64, CM-500, SC-55MkII, SC-88 Pro, SY22, TG100, MU2000EX, PLG100-SG, PLG150-DR, PLG150-AN, SG01k, NS5R, GZ-50M, SN-U110-07, SN-U110-10, Pocket Studio 5, DreamBlaster S2, X2, McFly, E-Wave, QWave, CrystalBlaster C2

Reply 7 of 15, by LSS10999

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bakemono wrote on 2022-04-26, 23:38:

What do you mean by standard x86? (NEC) PC-98 is certainly not the same as (IBM) PC-AT. But x86 is common to both.

Yeah, PC-98 use x86 CPUs like others, but the system architecture is very different that you can't just run I386 software as-is, and NEC98 software won't run as-is on standard I386 PCs, either.

bakemono wrote on 2022-04-26, 23:38:

I've rarely had problems running EN software on JA Windows, where text would overflow beyond the edge of a window because the font was larger than the developers anticipated. And I've seen one JA game that has missing text on EN Windows even after switching to JA code page, and installing additional fonts and font registry settings. 98% of the time there is no problem though.

Running I386 EN software on I386 JA Windows on a standard I386 PC is always fine. The font size problem is trivial to work around in the settings, but on JA operating systems, backslashes are yen symbols.

It's just I hardly encountered any EN software, namely DOS/Windows, designed for NEC98. Should not be confused with DOS/V (and related products) which are meant for providing Japanese support on (EN) I386 systems.

Reply 8 of 15, by Jo22

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There's some exception, though.

DOS programs that use the MS-DOS ABI exclusively,
such as text-mode utilities (compilers, pkunzip, etc) will run on all MS-DOS platforms with a sufficient ABI level.

That's why 'DOS compatibles' existed in first place during the early-/mid 80s.

So it's worth trying obscure Japanese DOS utilities from time to time. 😉

"Time, it seems, doesn't flow. For some it's fast, for some it's slow.
In what to one race is no time at all, another race can rise and fall..." - The Minstrel

//My video channel//

Reply 9 of 15, by bakemono

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LSS10999 wrote on 2022-04-27, 00:39:

Yeah, PC-98 use x86 CPUs like others, but the system architecture is very different that you can't just run I386 software as-is, and NEC98 software won't run as-is on standard I386 PCs, either.

Windows has a hardware abstraction layer. Hence there is an enormous category of software for which the underlying architecture does not matter.

new retro game on itch: https://90soft90.itch.io/glamorous-zombie-flakes

Reply 10 of 15, by Jo22

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The one possible problem that perhaps comes to mind is the size of the code pages.
Japanese, Asian, Chinese chars etc, if encoded through ANSI/Windows code pages, use more bytes perhaps.

That's why traditional Latin versions of Windows 9x maybe have their issues with Japanese software.
Windows 9x doesn't internally use Unicode, but uses ASCII (ANSI) natively.
Sure, there's unicows.dll - but it's for API compatibility mainly (there are separate Win32 file open/file close API calls for ASCII/ANSI and Unicode).
To make programs run that formally use UTF-8 etc, but really use the ASCII subsets only.
It essentially maps Unicode to Windows Codepages, at best.
It doesn't add magically any kind of new character set.

For that, the Japanese IME for Windows Explorer 5.x/6 can be installed.
It will make IE/Windows Explorer display certain Japanese characters in HTML files etc.
However, it won't make in-game text readable.

Windows NT, by comparison, always transparently translates to Unicode internally.
So it's no issue if characters with larger byte number are "coming in".

Edit: Sorry for being slightly off-topic.
I just thought it would be helpful to know about such possible problems.

Edit: The IME for IE/Win9x is on the web archive. It can be found here: *link*

Last edited by Jo22 on 2022-04-28, 13:25. Edited 1 time in total.

"Time, it seems, doesn't flow. For some it's fast, for some it's slow.
In what to one race is no time at all, another race can rise and fall..." - The Minstrel

//My video channel//

Reply 11 of 15, by LSS10999

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bakemono wrote on 2022-04-27, 20:51:

Windows has a hardware abstraction layer. Hence there is an enormous category of software for which the underlying architecture does not matter.

From what I know NEC98 (PC-98) is not binary compatible with I386 despite using similar CPUs.

I think HAL is to generalize APIs meant to access low-level hardware functionalities. HAL matters more to developers than to end users and is not about binary compatibility.

Jo22 wrote on 2022-04-28, 04:30:
The one possible problem that perhaps comes to mind is the size of the code pages. Japanese, Asian, Chinese chars etc, if encode […]
Show full quote

The one possible problem that perhaps comes to mind is the size of the code pages.
Japanese, Asian, Chinese chars etc, if encoded through ANSI/Windows code pages, use more bytes perhaps.

That's why traditional Latin versions of Windows 9x maybe have their issues with Japanese software.
Windows 9x doesn't internally use Unicode, but uses ASCII (ANSI) natively.
Sure, there's unicows.dll - but it's for API compatibility mainly (there are separate Win32 file open/file close API calls for ASCII/ANSI and Unicode).
To make programs run that formally use UTF-8 etc, but really use the ASCII subsets only.
It essentially maps Unicode to Windows Codepages, at best.
It doesn't add magically any kind of new character set.

For that, the Japanese IME for Windows Explorer 5.x/6 can be installed.
It will make IE/Windows Explorer display certain Japanese characters in HTML files etc.
However, it won't make in-game text readable.

Windows NT, by comparison, always transparently translates to Unicode internally.
So it's no issue if characters with larger byte number are "coming in".

Edit: Sorry for being slightly off-topic.
I just thought it would be helpful to know about such possible problems.

Since NT4 there are support files to allow English I386 Windows to properly display East Asian characters, as well as setting system non-Unicode code page to CJK ones so apps can display correctly.

For NT 3.51 and 9x third party tools such as NJStar, UnionWay, are needed for this purpose.

Reply 12 of 15, by Jo22

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+1

Similar products exited for Windows 3.x, too, I think. Like "Win/V", which is a pun on DOS/V. Demo here.

Anyway, that's likely not what the OP wants to know.
Rather, the reverse -> An English version of Windows that runs on PC98, but also can display Kanji etc.

The closest thing that comes to mind is a such version of Windows 3.1.
It's listed at WinWorldPC, I think. It's called "Windows 3.1 [English w. Japanese Support]".
Can't provide a link, unfortunately. Also it's not for PC98 - merely for bog standard PC/ATs (called DOS/V PCs in Japan).
However: The fact that such a version exists, at all, makes it possible that PC98 had gotten, at some point, such a version, too. Albeit being very rare/obscure.
Maybe it was especially made for foreigners working in Japan on PC-98 machines. Ambassadors, US american co-workers in big companies or researchers etc. Who knows ?

Also interesting, perhaps:

"NEC PC-98 computers run MS-DOS. This is not the same MS-DOS as on American computers;
this version of DOS only works with PC-98. Various versions of MS-DOS exist for PC-98,
but when buying a PC-98, MS-DOS 3, 5, and 6.2 are the options you will likely be choosing from.

Old PC-9801 games usually have issues with anything newer than MS-DOS 3.3.
Many early PC-t98 games do not need DOS; they “self boot” similar to the IBM “PC-Booter” games.

Generally, unless you are buying a PC-9801, you probably should go after MS-DOS 5.0 or MS-DOS 6.2.
These two OS work with nearly all PC-98 DOS games, and are usually already installed on the HDD,
if the computer includes one. MS-DOS 5 and 6.2 are available on 3 1/2 floppy disks.

Windows also exists on PC-98, but unless it is Windows 3.1 (which includes DOS 5),
AVOID WINDOWS AT ALL COSTS. NEC Windows 95 and NEC Windows 98 have issues running many PC-98 DOS games,
and often have driver-related issues. Windows 2000 on PC-98, the last version of Windows available on PC-98,
will not run PC-98 games at all (NT Kernel issues).

All PC-9821 and some PC-9801 have the PC-8801‘s Operating System, N88-BASIC, built-in.
This OS is practically useless for DOS games, but it has a variety of other functions.

FreeDOS(98), FreeBSD(98), and Linux for PC-9821 all exist for the PC-98. FreeDOS(98) has been confirmed
to run Corpse Party and Lotus Land Story by me, 98digger, but for unknown reasons (that are probably specific to my setup)
I am having issues running anything else. Please check the “Projects” section on the r/pc98 wiki for more information."

Source: https://www.reddit.com/r/pc98/wiki/guides/buy … uideby98digger/

"Time, it seems, doesn't flow. For some it's fast, for some it's slow.
In what to one race is no time at all, another race can rise and fall..." - The Minstrel

//My video channel//

Reply 13 of 15, by hyoenmadan

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Babasha wrote on 2022-04-24, 10:28:

1) Are there some localized (english) versions of Windows 9x or NT4/2000 for PC-98 architecture?

Simple answer: No. All Windows NEC-PC98 editions are Japanese-only, at least on the retail/enterprise channel.

PC98 Windows editions have support for the PC98 chipset/bus (NEC C-BUS, don't confuse it with Corollary C-BUS) and graphics subsystem. On win9x, you also get enhanced DBCS and NEC BIOS support (IPL and Disk IO boot support depends on this). None of this is available on English versions of Windows.

On Win9x, due the dependency of the base DOS system on NEC CBIOS and firmware DBCS support, would be impossible patch an English win9x version to work on the PC98. On NT, theoretically would be possible given you can somehow extract the loader (PC98 NTLDR), the HAL files, the bus driver files (CBUS) and the Framebuffer FSVGA drivers from a PC98 edition, and slipstream a MUI English edition of Win2k with them (the last supported edition for PC98). Traditionally, NEC would just have offered these as OEM HAL disks for Windows 2000 as other vendors, like SGI, Compaq, HP and IBM did for their special x86 systems... But for some reason (most probably the lack of an english market for their systems) they didn't.

ReactOS guys have a level of PC98 support while keeping on English language. HAL and Loader support working with some degree of success.

Reply 15 of 15, by Jo22

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Babasha wrote on 2022-04-28, 18:56:

Tnx! This is all i should know. Don’t have time and interest in homebrew Windows or making it.

This one isn't essential perhaps, but also worth knowing. 😉

"Back when Epson made their PC-9801 compatibles, NEC decided to add a copy protection in their MS-DOS and some applications to prevent them from running in non-NEC PC-98 systems.
This was called "Epson Protect" or "Epson Check" by PC-98 users as Epson was the only manufacturer of PC-98 compatibles.
Non-modified NEC MS-DOS 3.3 and 5.0 series all had this, but removed in MS-DOS 6.2.
According to https://hayabusa8.5ch.net/test/read.cgi/news/1488133362/ , NEC edition of Windows 2.11 and 3.0 also had such check built in.

Many HDIs distributed contain modified IO.SYS to be compatible with Anex86 (Anex86 emulates those Epson compatibles instead of a genuine NEC PC-98),
but original MS-DOS 3.3 and MS-DOS 5.0 disks won't boot in Anex86 and Dosbox-X for this reason.

Neko Project II had a solution of this in xnp2/bios.c. It's about some certain values in certain memory locations. "

Source: https://github.com/joncampbell123/dosbox-x/issues/682

Makes me wonder if Epson had shipped OEM versions of Windows for its clones at some point.
Anyway, that's another story likely.

"Time, it seems, doesn't flow. For some it's fast, for some it's slow.
In what to one race is no time at all, another race can rise and fall..." - The Minstrel

//My video channel//