Windows 98 installation in Virtual Box
Step 1 - When do you need Windows 98
Windows 98 is needed for some games that are not running through dosbox or with modern Windows machines (Win7,8, Vista, ...). Between such games we can name: Civilization 2, Road Rash, Outlaws, Grand Prix Manager, Adventures of Lomax and many more... If you download such games and try to run them, you will have following error:
"The version of this file is not compatible with the version of Windows you're running. Check your computer's system information to see whether you need an x86 (32-bit) or X64 (64-bit) version of the program, and then contact the software publisher"
The easiest way to make those games work is to install a Windows 98 emulation with Virtual Box. It must be said that once you'll have the machine, you will be able to use for DOS games as well, since Win98 is based on DOS system. So, if you find problem with Dosbox, this can be a good alternative.
Step 2 - Software you'll need
First of all you need to install OracleVM program. It's free and easy to use. Later on you will need to procure a Windows 98 installation disc (within license key) and a video driver - you can download from the links below:
- Oracle VM installation
- Windows 98 bootable disc: you can find an ISO or create an ISO from your original disc.
- Scitech Video driver.
- A win 98 game (or a dos one), useful to test the installation.
Step 3 - Virtual Machine preparation
After launching Virtual Box program, you can setup the new virtual machine as illustrated in the video tutorial:
- Assign a name and a type (windows platform, windows 98 - or 95 or Me)
- Memory resource (128 MB or 256 MB to run all games)
- Disk space (2GB should be fine)
Step 4 - Virtual CD ISO setting
Now you have the machine ready. You need to "insert the installation CD" by creating a virtual drive with Virtual Box. Go in settings select the drive and create a new CD/DVD drive assigning the ISO file related to the Win 98 installation CD. Once you've done so, you can run the virtual machine. Make sure you boot from CD the first time.
Step 5 - Windows 98 setup
The process can last several minutes since it will format the hard drive and configure. Once it's finished you'll need to reboot. From now on you can always boot from Hard Disk since the OS has been installed. Keep the CD mounted since it will be useful later.
Step 6 - Basic Windows 98 settings
At first boot, the system will ask you various information, included the license key. After it completes it will restart. It may takes a couple of restarts before finishing. If the system stuck during a restart, no worry, just shutdown the machine and start it again (normal boot if it prompts a boot choice).
Step 7 - Scitech driver installation
Unfortunately Virtual Box does not provide "guest additions" for Windows based systems. You will notice the system very slow and you won't be able to change video appearence settings (size and resolution). To do so you'll have to install and configure Scitech driver:
- Turn off Windows 98
- Select virtual machine settings and then select "storage"
- Create a new drive (don't replace the installation CD, just create a new one) and assign scitech driver ISO
- Turn Windows 98 on
- Go in control panel and select the new CD mounted (Scitech). Run Scitech setup.
- System will ask for a restart, go ahead (if stuck, turn it off and start up from Virtual Box).
- Turn Windows 98 on, the Scitech should appear. Select properties and change driver to Scitech Nucleus. Apply and restart.
- At restart, go in screen settings (right click on desktop) and change to 16bit and screen resolution (800x600 or higher). Again, restart.
- Once it's been restarted you should have a bigger screen and a smoother experience.
- The driver expires within 21 days, you cannot buy since the software house no longer exists but you should be able to find registration keys around...
Step 8 - How to finally play Win 98 games
By default, Virtual Box provide your virtual machine with a NAT network adapter that allow accessing internet. However, browsing experience with Win 98 is not good on today standards. Best thing to do is to create a new network adapter to communicate with the host (your machine) and share files. In this way you can download any games as you're used to do and then move those games to the Windows 98 and play from there.
- Turn off Windows 98
- Select virtual machine settings and then select "network"
- Select tab "Adapter 2" and there enable with the property "bridge adapter"
- Turn Windows 98 on
- A plug and play procedure will start and you will be asked to select driver: just select all reccomended and finalize.
- Now your Windows 98 is a node of the network
- Before you can share a folder, go in Computer>Control Panel>Network and there enable "File and Printer Sharing": just enable files.
- You will need to restart
- At restart, you can share your folder. Create one directory on desktop (or wherever you prefer)
- Then right click on the directory and select file sharing. Assign a sharing name and the priviledges (full control since you will write from your host)
- In order to know which is the machine address you can open a dos prompt and type "ipconfig"
- The "bridge" adapter will give you the address (tipically 192.168.0.x)
- Go in your host machine (your operating system) and run the following command \\192.168.0.x (or any value coming from win 98) - Don't turn Win98 off, just keep it running background
- You should be able to see the shared directory and copy your games there
- Once you've finished to copy, go in Win98, enter the shared directory and you'll be able to run your game!
Annex 1 - Audio configuration
In general default audio controller (Sound Blaster 16) is going to be fine with most of the games you're going to play on the new virtual platform. However you may face some issue when it comes to run games with midi bases (such as Maid Story). A final solution to this is to change the audio controller and to install properly the drivers on your guest Win 98:
- Download the AC97 drivers from your host OS (like you're doing for any game)
- Accept the disclaimer and choose the "Windows 95 for Driver only" codec. Download the Win 95 only, altough there is a driver for Win98 to your local machine.
- You'll get a file named "VXD_A406". Don't run it on your host, use an extractor to extract the content of the installer (with Winrar for instance, right click and "extract to") to a directory
- While Windows 98 is on, move this directory to the shared folder (as done in step 8)
- Make sure the directory has been copied to Win 98 and turn it off
- From Virtual Box manager, select virtual machine settings and then select "audio"
- Switch the audio controller to "ICH AC97"
- Turn Windows 98 on
- A plug and play procedure will start and you will be asked to select driver: you need to browse on the directory where the "VXD_A406" installer is and select the "Win 95" subdirectory.
- The guest OS will install the new drivers and you should be able to run all kind of sounds (midi included)
- If still the sounds is not working, try to restart
- If after restart it's not yet working, check the device manager (My Computer >> Control Panel >> System >> Device Manager) under the "Sound, Audio Controllers". Select the "Realtek AC97", Properties >> Driver >> Update driver. Again it will be asked the installation path, so again go to the "VXD_A406" directory and try reinstalling.