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:

Step 3 - Virtual Machine preparation

After launching Virtual Box program, you can setup the new virtual machine as illustrated in the video tutorial:

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:

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.

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:

Still need help?

If you are stuck somewhere in the process or you need further explaination you can use our community in facebook, twitter or youtube. Write us there we'll be glad to help!

Related guides

How to run DOS games
How to run Windows XP games