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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Virtualizing 1998 (Hyper-V and Windows 98 SE)

I continue to experiment with Microsoft's Hyper-V, the newer virtualization software that comes with Windows 2008 Server. As part of the testing, I have starting building images of several different Operating Systems. Mainly just for fun, but in several cases so I can leverage the operating systems for things I blog about -- like the Motorola RAZR phone.

With several of the recent operating systems already installed, I was reviewing the various operating systems I own and came across my old Windows 98SE OEM license. Given the 10th year anniversary of the operating system, I decided -- what the heck, let's see if we can install Windows 98 SE (Second Edition) on the Hyper-V virtualization software.

It's really important not to ask the "why" question here -- if you're looking for the answer, let's just call it "curiosity" for now. That and the fact that I sometime (unbelievably) get a couple of questions that reference Windows 98.

The first problem for me is that my Windows 98 SE software that I had was not in a bootable format. And I do not have either the "boot diskettes" nor a 3.5" floppy disk drive in my new server. Where exactly would I find a Windows 98 SE boot disk that I could port over to the Windows environment?

After a few minutes of fruitless Google searching, I came across what I now recognize to be a great resource, The best part is that they have boot disks available for DOS versions 4.01, 5.0, 6.0, 6.21, 6.22, Windows 95A, Windows 95B, Windows 98, Windows 98 SE, and Windows ME. For posterity's sake, I downloaded all of the boot disks for safe keeping before firing up the Virtual Machine, booting off the Windows 98 SE boot disk ISO image.

Wow, did the boot disk bring back some memories I had long since forgotten. Himem.sys, MSCDEX.exe, etc. -- what a walk down memory lane. After booting into A: with the boot disk, it was time to prepare install the operating system. I tried to load the Windows 98 SE setup, only to remember that there was no disk management utilities in the Windows 98 SE that we are accustomed to now. So, I exited back to DOS.

I found my way back to the A:\ drive and went through the FDISK process. Again, many memories as I stumbled my way through the menus. After finishing the partition of 20GB -- which would have been absolutely gigantic in 1998 -- I then formatted the drive in DOS.

Now it was time to go back to setup. Before entering the setup, I remembered the age old memory problems that occur ed in these old operating systems. I crossed my fingers and hoped for luck. After typing in the "setup.exe" command with the /ie and /ic switches (to avoid scandisk at the beginning), setup began to load.

Installing a Windows 98 SE virtual machine on Microsoft Windows 2008 Hyper-V

It was quite a relief to actually start entering setup. But unfortunately, that joy was pretty short lived. As soon as the license agreement screen came up -- I realized that Hyper-V was not able to emulate a keyboard or mouse on the Virtual Environment for the Windows 98 setup. Without any sort of mouse or keyboard support, it was impossible to make it through a GUI based installation. (Does an unattended installation for Windows 98 SE even exist? Better yet, it probably shouldn't if it did)

Very quickly, due to this problem I realized that I could not directly implement Windows 98 SE on Hyper-V. Actually, this is the second problem I have run into with "older" operating systems. Just the other evening on Windows 2000, when I attempted to install the Hyper-V Integration Services -- the installation tools came back as unsupported on this version of the Microsoft Operating System. Disappointing, even though these are "unsupported" operating systems from Microsoft.

Still, I have not completely given up. Over the next couple of days, I am going to attempt to get a Windows 98 SE virtual machine running on Hyper-V. How, you ask? First, I plan to install it first in Virtual PC 2007 and then try a convert over to Hyper-V.

Crazy you think? I wonder what my chances are. What do you think? Have you had any luck with Windows 98 SE (or Windows 98 or Windows 95) on Hyper-V?


Anonymous said...

Hi Ken,

The last couple days i performed a reinstall of Hyper-V machine which runs in W2k8Core. I virtualized w2k8 as a DC and another w2k8 with TMG and so on.

Everthing works very fine, so I wondered if I could nring up a dos 6.22 machine. Anf that worked. So now I want to virtualize al lot of different Operating Systems, win95 and 98 included. Why, you ask? Only because it is fun. If they are working I probably never will use them, I juist like the idea of it.

Where you succesfull with virtualizing w95/w98?

Kind regards,
Jan Schouls

Anonymous said...

I'm guessing no one has had any joy with this....its something I'm intersted to see if it can be done.

Gidion Weber said...

i See that this is old post.
I've tried it my selve with Hyper-V on Windows 10 and 2012 Server but i run into the same problem. The mouse and Keyboard are not working.
Have you found a work-around? I am also intrestes to install older windows versions (have disks voor 1.01, 2.0 (beta) etc etc upto windows 10) and just becuase i can i want to make them virtual and working.

I would love to hear is you have a work-around and how you did it because... It should be possible.

With regards,