VOGONS


First post, by Ribbicipp

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Hi all,

I would like to share my experience returning to Win98 after around 25 years away from it.

As a now 38 year old fart, i've realized that the old Windows versions wasn't as glorious as I remember in my head. I remember being able to play almost whatever I wanted on my P3 800Mhz with a TNT2 back in the day without many issues.
Although, coming back to that exact machine 25 years later after a restoration and a fresh Win98SE install, I started diving into the deep djungle of drivers in order to get everything working properly. This was when I started to realize that the old way of doing things wasn't as easy as I remember. That's probably because I mostly relied on my dad to fix things for me whenever an error occured on our PC as a kid.

The next five days I spent many hours switching hardware like graphics cards, sound cards, memory, CD-ROM drive, trying a SD to IDE adapter and installing countless drivers in order to see what worked best. After around four re-installations of Windows I finally started getting to where I wanted the system to be: just a simple Windows 98SE PC without any bloatware or unecessary programs filling up the disk. A Win98SE gaming machine with all the proper drivers needed to play games of that era.

So far the experience with using vintage hardware/software was a mixed bag. Many errors that needed solving or workarounds in order to work properly, wierd crashes coming out of nowhere etc. At the same time it was kinda enjoyable getting something to finally work after many hours of ripping my hair out, even further receding my hairline.

So after all this headache mixed with a wierd masochistic enjoyment I decided to finally try out some games.
As a big box collector I have around 200 big box games on my shelves from around that era of gaming, so I wanted to try some of them out and relive those nostalgic memories from when I was kid.
I quickly realized that there are lots of compability issues with games from this era. First I tried out some proper DOS games like Commander Keen 1-5, all working fine. Blake Stone, working fine, Wolf3D fine, Doom 2 also fine.
Then I moved on to the Windows 95 era. Full Throttle, one of my absolute favorite games of all time ran really slow with super choppy sound no matter if i ran it win Win98 or DOS. Ultimate Doom 95 ran "fine" but didn't detect my mouse for whatever reason. Outcast self-uninstalled itself for god knows why, MDK2 played fine, C&C Tiberian Sun fine.

Was it really this hard getting games to run properly or even run at all during this time? For example, Full Throttle was a Win95 title, but W98 wasn't exactly that big of a difference from 95, right?
Are these issues OS or hardware related or even both? As someone who hasn't used hardware or software this old in over two decades, this is new ground for me.

Any interesting tips, ideas or experiences you guys could share with me that might help me out?

Reply 1 of 39, by leonardo

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As someone who just kind of fell off the upgrade wheel (as it came to desktop PCs), and also kept these older systems more or less available up till today, I will affirm that PCs were always more or less of a nightmare to deal with. It was such a free-for-all with few guard-rails, both on the hardware- and the software-side that you basically had to know exactly what to do and what not to do or it was what I would have called "format c:-time".

Now, this same freedom is what also made PCs as exciting and fun as they were, and when you're young you just have endless enthusiasm (and time) to fiddle and fix stuff to get it to work to your liking. Windows has gotten smarter, but MS never quite got over the "we think we know what you want better than you do and cause a bunch of unnecessary mess for you to undo" kind of behavior which annoys me to no end on these newer systems...

I think if I had to choose, I'd still rather go back to the free-for-all 90's tech mayhem compared to this new style of tech where you have exactly two choices for CPU and GPU, and Windows gets exactly one release of DirectX and then you have to upgrade all your hardware. It's more tightly controlled and less fun, but I guess a little more convenient.

[Install Win95 like you were born in 1985!] on systems like this or this.

Reply 2 of 39, by Ribbicipp

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leonardo wrote on 2024-05-09, 19:42:

As someone who just kind of fell off the upgrade wheel (as it came to desktop PCs), and also kept these older systems more or less available up till today, I will affirm that PCs were always more or less of a nightmare to deal with. It was such a free-for-all with few guard-rails, both on the hardware- and the software-side that you basically had to know exactly what to do and what not to do or it was what I would have called "format c:-time".

Now, this same freedom is what also made PCs as exciting and fun as they were, and when you're young you just have endless enthusiasm (and time) to fiddle and fix stuff to get it to work to your liking. Windows has gotten smarter, but MS never quite got over the "we think we know what you want better than you do and cause a bunch of unnecessary mess for you to undo" kind of behavior which annoys me to no end on these newer systems...

I think if I had to choose, I'd still rather go back to the free-for-all 90's tech mayhem compared to this new style of tech where you have exactly two choices for CPU and GPU, and Windows gets exactly one release of DirectX and then you have to upgrade all your hardware. It's more tightly controlled and less fun, but I guess a little more convenient.

Thanks for sharing leonardo.
Haha i can definitely relate to the "format c:-time" -part. That is one thing i remember from being a kid. Basically having to format and reinstall Windows fresh like once a year in order to keep the system from slowing down.
I do also have a P1 100mhz machine that im thinking of installing Win95 on in order to cover a bit more of those older games that doesn't seem to work well on my P3 machine. Im guessing you will need like around three seperate computers running Win95, 98 and XP in order to cover that whole era of gaming?
Has anyone managed to catalogue what games go well with what OS and/or hardware?

Reply 3 of 39, by Jo22

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Personally, my recent experience with Windows 98SE on a Compaq Armada laptop was like this:
I was surprised how clean, logical and useful the interface was.
- Visually, it felt superior to the Windows 10/11 screenshots that are all over the internet these days.

Windows Explorer showed me the available hard disk storage as a cake chart, it featured a preview of picture files..
Also, the command line window opened with the same path as the active Explorer window had.
All these little things made me joy. It was very friendly, all in all.

Stability is/was another story, of course.
I still remember how glad I was when Windows XP arrived back then. Still do like XP a lot.

Anyway, these are just my two cents. I'm using that laptop for programming stuff occasionally.
VB6 and old microcontroller IDEs (ATMEL AVR-Studio 4 etc)..

PS: It's astonishing how much 98SE and XP have in common, despite different code bases.
With KernelEX, gdiplus.dll and unicows.dll, I got most Windows XP era applications to run, as well, last time I tried.
Thanks to that new Dot-Net framework for 9x, it might be even more in future. It's nice to have good news for a change.

"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 4 of 39, by chinny22

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whenever I get a "new" win98 pc I find it takes a few installs to find the right driver combinations but once you find it you know for next time.
I install as little as possible, drivers, Direct X, Winrar Deamon tools no windows updates. (I also install IE6 and Office but not really needed) I figure less on the machine less to go wrong.
I'd say windows is more stable then back in the day with crappy Adobe, web software and whatever else which all ran in the background as well. but I still wouldn't call 9x stable. I actually prefer using Win2k as my Win9x gaming os because of this.

Win95 era gaming seems to cause the most trouble, I guess because everyone was still learning.
Return Fire does not like it if your desktop is higher then 256 colours.
Dark Reign setup can't detect newer version of DirectX and won't install if you skip. Luckily if you install it once you can just make a copy the game folder and bypass the install on your next clean install of windows with whatever version of DirectX you want.

Infact that's how I like to run most my games. Install them onto a second hard drive or partition, do a clean install of windows then just run the games exe. Means you don't have things like Westwood chat installed in your system as well. Doesn't work for all games but most are fine.

Reply 5 of 39, by Cyberdyne

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With Windows. It is usually the best bet to make all games and not so integrated programs PORTABLE. I usually just install Ulocker Winrar Ultraiso. To my windowses 98SE XP 7. All else is just two directories games, tools.

I am aroused about any X86 motherboard that has full functional ISA slot. I think i have problem. Not really into that original (Turbo) XT,286,386 and CGA/EGA stuff. So just a DOS nut.
PS. If I upload RAR, it is a 16-bit DOS RAR Version 2.50.

Reply 6 of 39, by Ribbicipp

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Jo22 wrote on 2024-05-10, 00:45:
Personally, my recent experience with Windows 98SE on a Compaq Armada laptop was like this: I was surprised how clean, logical a […]
Show full quote

Personally, my recent experience with Windows 98SE on a Compaq Armada laptop was like this:
I was surprised how clean, logical and useful the interface was.
- Visually, it felt superior to the Windows 10/11 screenshots that are all over the internet these days.

Windows Explorer showed me the available hard disk storage as a cake chart, it featured a preview of picture files..
Also, the command line window opened with the same path as the active Explorer window had.
All these little things made me joy. It was very friendly, all in all.

Stability is/was another story, of course.
I still remember how glad I was when Windows XP arrived back then. Still do like XP a lot.

Anyway, these are just my two cents. I'm using that laptop for programming stuff occasionally.
VB6 and old microcontroller IDEs (ATMEL AVR-Studio 4 etc)..

PS: It's astonishing how much 98SE and XP have in common, despite different code bases.
With KernelEX, gdiplus.dll and unicows.dll, I got most Windows XP era applications to run, as well, last time I tried.
Thanks to that new Dot-Net framework for 9x, it might be even more in future. It's nice to have good news for a change.

Thanks for sharing.
I do agree that 98 has a clean look. Im not really a fan of the XP design. Is XP compatible with many of the older games or should i stick with 98 for the most range? Im planning on playing mostly games from around 1990-2003

Reply 7 of 39, by Ribbicipp

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chinny22 wrote on 2024-05-10, 03:44:
whenever I get a "new" win98 pc I find it takes a few installs to find the right driver combinations but once you find it you kn […]
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whenever I get a "new" win98 pc I find it takes a few installs to find the right driver combinations but once you find it you know for next time.
I install as little as possible, drivers, Direct X, Winrar Deamon tools no windows updates. (I also install IE6 and Office but not really needed) I figure less on the machine less to go wrong.
I'd say windows is more stable then back in the day with crappy Adobe, web software and whatever else which all ran in the background as well. but I still wouldn't call 9x stable. I actually prefer using Win2k as my Win9x gaming os because of this.

Win95 era gaming seems to cause the most trouble, I guess because everyone was still learning.
Return Fire does not like it if your desktop is higher then 256 colours.
Dark Reign setup can't detect newer version of DirectX and won't install if you skip. Luckily if you install it once you can just make a copy the game folder and bypass the install on your next clean install of windows with whatever version of DirectX you want.

Infact that's how I like to run most my games. Install them onto a second hard drive or partition, do a clean install of windows then just run the games exe. Means you don't have things like Westwood chat installed in your system as well. Doesn't work for all games but most are fine.

Thanks for the tips. Def gonna give it a try with saving just the clean game directories for the next install.
I did btw, try out W2KPro to see if there was any difference. While it seemed more stable as you say, i also noticed older dos games ran a bit slower for some reason. Tried Commander Keen and Blake Stone, both ran slower. Any fix for this that you know of?

Reply 8 of 39, by Ribbicipp

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Cyberdyne wrote on 2024-05-10, 05:21:

With Windows. It is usually the best bet to make all games and not so integrated programs PORTABLE. I usually just install Ulocker Winrar Ultraiso. To my windowses 98SE XP 7. All else is just two directories games, tools.

Thanks for the tip. Thats the route im gonna take. Just simple installs and keeping it as light as possible.

Reply 9 of 39, by Cyberdyne

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Forgot Winamp 2.666 and X Codec Pack 2.74. And all your music and videos will be accessibe.

I am aroused about any X86 motherboard that has full functional ISA slot. I think i have problem. Not really into that original (Turbo) XT,286,386 and CGA/EGA stuff. So just a DOS nut.
PS. If I upload RAR, it is a 16-bit DOS RAR Version 2.50.

Reply 10 of 39, by Jo22

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Ribbicipp wrote on 2024-05-10, 06:21:
Jo22 wrote on 2024-05-10, 00:45:
Personally, my recent experience with Windows 98SE on a Compaq Armada laptop was like this: I was surprised how clean, logical a […]
Show full quote

Personally, my recent experience with Windows 98SE on a Compaq Armada laptop was like this:
I was surprised how clean, logical and useful the interface was.
- Visually, it felt superior to the Windows 10/11 screenshots that are all over the internet these days.

Windows Explorer showed me the available hard disk storage as a cake chart, it featured a preview of picture files..
Also, the command line window opened with the same path as the active Explorer window had.
All these little things made me joy. It was very friendly, all in all.

Stability is/was another story, of course.
I still remember how glad I was when Windows XP arrived back then. Still do like XP a lot.

Anyway, these are just my two cents. I'm using that laptop for programming stuff occasionally.
VB6 and old microcontroller IDEs (ATMEL AVR-Studio 4 etc)..

PS: It's astonishing how much 98SE and XP have in common, despite different code bases.
With KernelEX, gdiplus.dll and unicows.dll, I got most Windows XP era applications to run, as well, last time I tried.
Thanks to that new Dot-Net framework for 9x, it might be even more in future. It's nice to have good news for a change.

Thanks for sharing.
I do agree that 98 has a clean look. Im not really a fan of the XP design. Is XP compatible with many of the older games or should i stick with 98 for the most range? Im planning on playing mostly games from around 1990-2003

Hi, I don't know what to say, it depends, I guess.
I'm not so much of a gamer, as far as the definition goes (3D FPS; I'm more of a 2D person).

What's good about Windows 98SE is that it apparently can be snappier on same hardware (single core PCs).
That's why some gamers refused to switch to XP back in early 2000s, they sweared that 98SE was quicker somehow.
Things like 3dfx/Glide, Aureal A3D 2.0 and ATI RAGE Fury MAXX cards work better on 98SE.

XP on other hand is more stable, doesn't get "hick ups" nearly as often.
Even if it runs slow, it runs smoothly slow, at least (no erratic behavior).
Networking in XP might be better, too.

As a compromise, Windows 2000 and Me can be used, too.
But Me isn't exactly popular. It has some parts borrowed from Windows 2000, though.
Network stack comes to mind.

"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 39, by gerry

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I like 98se but over time have come to prefer windows XP for its stability and greater scope - obviously less so for DOS applications though!

a successful 9x set up is very much about drivers rather than specs, those experiences with games are very typical, especially in the early 95 days.

Ribbicipp wrote on 2024-05-09, 20:24:

Haha i can definitely relate to the "format c:-time" -part. That is one thing i remember from being a kid. Basically having to format and reinstall Windows fresh like once a year in order to keep the system from slowing down.

i think many of us did that 😀 OSes, but 9x especially, seem to get bogged down just by the act of installing and uninstalling things. over time the computer ends up with all kinds of drivers and applications you never knew you needed (except you really didn't need them) and they clash, crash and generally absorb all resources

Reply 12 of 39, by kaputnik

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Jo22 wrote on 2024-05-10, 00:45:
Personally, my recent experience with Windows 98SE on a Compaq Armada laptop was like this: I was surprised how clean, logical a […]
Show full quote

Personally, my recent experience with Windows 98SE on a Compaq Armada laptop was like this:
I was surprised how clean, logical and useful the interface was.
- Visually, it felt superior to the Windows 10/11 screenshots that are all over the internet these days.

Windows Explorer showed me the available hard disk storage as a cake chart, it featured a preview of picture files..
Also, the command line window opened with the same path as the active Explorer window had.
All these little things made me joy. It was very friendly, all in all.

Stability is/was another story, of course.
I still remember how glad I was when Windows XP arrived back then. Still do like XP a lot.

Anyway, these are just my two cents. I'm using that laptop for programming stuff occasionally.
VB6 and old microcontroller IDEs (ATMEL AVR-Studio 4 etc)..

PS: It's astonishing how much 98SE and XP have in common, despite different code bases.
With KernelEX, gdiplus.dll and unicows.dll, I got most Windows XP era applications to run, as well, last time I tried.
Thanks to that new Dot-Net framework for 9x, it might be even more in future. It's nice to have good news for a change.

Agreeing fully with that. Every time I work with XP, I'm surprised how effective the unskinned interface is. It might be grey and boring, not be as pretty as later iterations, but you find the functions/settings/whatever you need without thought, and the amount of clutter is minimal.

Wish they would go back to that...

Reply 13 of 39, by leonardo

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gerry wrote on 2024-05-10, 09:04:
Ribbicipp wrote on 2024-05-09, 20:24:

Haha i can definitely relate to the "format c:-time" -part. That is one thing i remember from being a kid. Basically having to format and reinstall Windows fresh like once a year in order to keep the system from slowing down.

i think many of us did that 😀 OSes, but 9x especially, seem to get bogged down just by the act of installing and uninstalling things. over time the computer ends up with all kinds of drivers and applications you never knew you needed (except you really didn't need them) and they clash, crash and generally absorb all resources

Very recently I had a brush with a situation like this, which was driving me mad. Explorer was spitting out 'Illegal Operation'-errors randomly and I was beginning to suspect that there was something wrong with my setup. It turned out that a single archive-manager application was to blame. I had to do the 'format c:'-dance quite a few times before I figured out what was wrong... but I have never felt as good about solving a puzzle when I no longer had to resort to that. The irony is that what led to the solution was some guy having the exact same problem, but on Windows 7.

Ribbicipp wrote on 2024-05-09, 20:24:

Thanks for sharing leonardo.
Haha i can definitely relate to the "format c:-time" -part. That is one thing i remember from being a kid. Basically having to format and reinstall Windows fresh like once a year in order to keep the system from slowing down.

You and me both. 😀

Ribbicipp wrote on 2024-05-09, 20:24:

I do also have a P1 100mhz machine that im thinking of installing Win95 on in order to cover a bit more of those older games that doesn't seem to work well on my P3 machine. Im guessing you will need like around three seperate computers running Win95, 98 and XP in order to cover that whole era of gaming?
Has anyone managed to catalogue what games go well with what OS and/or hardware?

It's a bit of a mixed bag. I tried 98/98SE, but Command & Conquer multiplayer keeps crashing on my setup using that OS, whereas it's perfectly happy with Win95. WarCraft III of course won't run on Windows 95 at all because it requires DirectX 8.1 and the highest you can go on Win95 is 8.0a. In the end it comes down to the games that you have and the tweaks and accommodations you can make. Add on top the fact that some people would prefer the authentic experience of running a LucasArts title in real DOS, when the same can be achieved (without the need for any slow-down utilities) using ScummVM even on Win95. Map your retro-SoundBlaster synth into Scumm and you've basically got the same experience on a P3 that's way too fast for the game otherwise.

There's so many ways you can go about things with retro-hardware, which again is what makes it fun. 😀

[Install Win95 like you were born in 1985!] on systems like this or this.

Reply 14 of 39, by DosFreak

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You do know that imaging is a thing for a reason right guys? Unless you like pain. Also dual-boot.

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Reply 15 of 39, by Ribbicipp

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DosFreak wrote on 2024-05-10, 10:27:

You do know that imaging is a thing for a reason right guys? Unless you like pain. Also dual-boot.

How well does imaging work? You basically install a pre-made installation of windows with all the drivers etc needed on a clean drive in order to skip the hassle of having to install each driver by itself and looking for the right ones?

Reply 16 of 39, by elszgensa

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It works well, has so for decades. Definitely a solved problem.

If you like to swap components or are trying different driver versions then I'd recommend imaging a basic installation with as few extra drivers as possible instead. It's a bit of work after restoring but lets you start with a clean slate and still skip most of Windows setup.

Reply 17 of 39, by Aui

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Windows 98SE ... can be snappier on same hardware 

comming from the other direction - to this day nobody seems to notice or miss how incredible snappy DOS was (is). Enter command - BÄNG - executed . And that included its ubiquitous GUI the Northon Commander. Once we had Win9x and anything after that it never came back. To this day if I open any folder or explorer or whatever, there may be a slight (or sometimes longer) delay. and it never seems to matter if you have a single, dual or 32HT core machine.

I recently picked up an old machine with a (probably about 30 year old original) win 95 installation. It was incredible how long it took to boot up and the whole time I though the HDD would explode any moment for its frantic ratteling. And opening any folder took between one and ten seconds. So that installation was well beyond its expiry date...

Reply 18 of 39, by Namrok

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Aui wrote on 2024-05-10, 14:27:

Windows 98SE ... can be snappier on same hardware 

comming from the other direction - to this day nobody seems to notice or miss how incredible snappy DOS was (is). Enter command - BÄNG - executed . And that included its ubiquitous GUI the Northon Commander. Once we had Win9x and anything after that it never came back. To this day if I open any folder or explorer or whatever, there may be a slight (or sometimes longer) delay. and it never seems to matter if you have a single, dual or 32HT core machine.

I recently picked up an old machine with a (probably about 30 year old original) win 95 installation. It was incredible how long it took to boot up and the whole time I though the HDD would explode any moment for its frantic ratteling. And opening any folder took between one and ten seconds. So that installation was well beyond its expiry date...

Definitely agree about DOS. Even on my hot shit brand new PC, hitting ctrl-e to bring up explorer, or double clicking into a folder has a weird noticeable pause. I almost wonder if it's deliberate screen transition effects so that the process is easier on the eyes. Just a few frames to fade a window in?

Of course I can only imagine how long the API pipeline for windows is. Especially compared to DOS which was pretty low level. Also if you didn't like the way DOS did something, you could always do it yourself and talk directly to the hardware.

Win95/DOS 7.1 - P233 MMX (@2.5 x 100 FSB), Diamond Viper V330 AGP, SB16 CT2800
Win98 - K6-2+ 500, GF2 MX, SB AWE 64 CT4500, SBLive CT4780
Win98 - Pentium III 1000, GF2 GTS, SBLive CT4760
WinXP - Athlon 64 3200+, GF 7800 GS, Audigy 2 ZS