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Things you should never do, but might find yourself doing: Win98 on the web


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By request, here is a nice graphical how-to on how to do something you should never do.

Namely, getting an old windows 98 system up and talking on the internet.


(Because it looks awful to use 16 color VGA, I have installed a generic VESA based display driver for use with this VirtualBox VM. If you are interested in it, it is an old project called VBEMP, and you can find it here:)


(It is for people who either have a card that has a Vesa Bios but no windows (9x) drivers, or for situations where you need a universal display driver that does more than 16 colors. It could conceivably be paired with the free Scitech Display Doctor. It does not do windows accelleration, has no 3D support whatsoever, and its only claim to fame is that it will give you high color modes on generic SVGA hardware, using the VESA bios in the card/TSR.)



Straight from a fresh install, aside from the above (and pushed to 32bit color!), we have our lovely Windows98 second edition desktop.



Straight away, it looks like the installer successfully found the emulated AMD PCNet family ethernet card, and installed TCP/IP and pals, automagically.



Since TCP networking is already configured and working (I used my NAS to get the VBE driver into the vm! :P ) Let's just focus on the needful to get this thing sorta half-assed on the internet.  First things first, we install IE 6 service pack 1.

You can get it from Oldversion.com (because Microsoft does not have it available anymore) here:



This is the last "Officially supported" version of internet explorer for win9x. Before we even try touching the internet, we really kinda need this.

While I question the validity of the user agreement in this modern age, you must agree to it to proceed regardless.




Since this is the "Full, offline installer" package, you really should do an "Install minimal or custom" type install, because IE will **NOT** be able to pull the missing features later, should you encounter a situation where it is needed.

It's better to just have them all installed right now.



Then go through the laborious process of enabling all the components for installation...



This is a Post-Flash world now, please, PLEASE, PLEASE, DO NOT INSTALL FLASH PLAYER. You HAVE been warned, Thank you.

Things you SHOULD install are DHTML binding, Additional web fonts, Media Player and its codecs, etc...


The rest of the setup process is pretty straight forward, and when done, will ask you to reboot.






When we first start IE after installation, we will be greeted with Microsoft's Ill-Fated attempts at being an ISP... We have to placate it a little, before we can proceed...



If you did not install Outlook Express during windows setup, it will now force you to install it, because *YAY VERTICAL INTEGRATION!*-- Who doesn't want the most insecure email client ever installed on their vintage computer? Well-- Microsoft doesn't give you a choice here. If you already have it installed, you get asked what kind of modem you intend to use. Yes, I know what you are thinking--- "Wierd, this is madness, I don't intend to use a modem at all!" well, yes, we are getting to that. First though, Microsoft is REAL INSISTENT on being your ISP, and they thought you would be using a dialup modem, and you will jump through the hoops like a good user. :)

Pick "Dont detect, I will select my modem."  It profits nobody to search for a modem that does not exist.



For now, we have to nod our heads and say "Uh Huh." to the setup wizard, before we can get to the options to work with a LAN.  Since we are just trying to get past the "Join MSN Online! Wow! Best Internet! You'll See!!" aggressive marketing,

we have to just roll with it for now, and pretend to be a rube, ready and waiting to end up being billed monthly by Redmond..
We do that by saying we have a totally fictitious modem on com1. We will remove it immediately after we get past the forced attempt to get us to set up their unholy internet service.



After it sets up a driver for our totally fictitious modem, we **FINALLY** get the option to go "Hey, Microsoft-- Stop the BS, I use a LAN!"



Now that we have it, we click the button.

LIKE MAGIC, the "USE OUR INTERNET SERVICE, PLZ PLZ PLZ!!" garbage just goes away, and you get a much less abusive setup process. 



It might be kind of confusing, to have to tell the setup process that you have a modem, and pretend to set up MSN Online just to get to this point, but hey, there is a REASON Microsoft was subjected to antitrust investigation in the 90s.... Moving on.

Unless you TRULY want to live like it is 1998 all over again, you do not need to mess with *ANY* proxy server crap. Just click next.



And just like that, we are all done!



Now, we should remove that stupid fictitious modem driver....



ahhh.... Much better!


Now, let's see if it actually works...



Looks like it does-- but wait--- what's that? No HTTPS in the URL bar!?  Well... I wonder what happens if I...



Oh NOEZ!  Well, we dont really want to use IE6 to go on the internet anyway---- We want something a little bit newer. And for that, we will need a totally nonstandard, buggy, system destabilizing, and generally not a good thing to do modification for windows 98, called...





Last updated in 2011, it's a mere 11 years old, instead of 30 years old. YAY!



Let's install it, and hope it doesn't crash our VM in spectacular, new, fun, and amazing ways!



After being greeted by a very familiar looking install wizard landing screen and clicking next, we get the GPL license window. Finally, a License I can agree with! (and actually mean it!)



then we get told that our version of windows doesn't have unicode support. Why? Because 1998 was a simpler time, when classic computers still roamed wild and free, that's why!

we DEFINITELY need Unicode support to use basically any modern browser, so when it asks, YES, We do in fact want to install that missing support. (you can install it yourself if you hunt down the unicows update for win98)




Since that file is no longer on microsoft's servers, we can't have the installer pull it for us. We have to bail, and install the unicows.exe update ourselves first. Because who wants to support old OSes that only old neckbeards in basements want to use?

Thankfully, for us-- Archive.org has our backs. So, let's bail on the installer, then install unicows update.







There, that should make KernelEX's installer happy...



YAY!!!  Yes, we do want it to work for all applications... so we click next...



and then we reboot... and hope it doesn't bluescreen...

AND, we have our first problem with KernelEX...  Apparently, it DOES NOT like the universal generic vesa driver!

what a lovely black screen!



Some prodding in safemode to remove the driver and go back to ugly 16 color mode, and we are off to the races...



Now.. Let's Grab Firefox 8 from Oldversion... and then install it... But OH NOEZ!! WHat haPeN!?



Well, if you read the readme for KernelEX, you will see that they added a compatibility tab in the shell user space, so that you can assign a specific windows version lie, among other things, to help get software meant for.. ahem.. Newer versions of windows... to run.

right click the executable, choose properties... then the KernelEX tab, and then tell it that you want to pretend to be win2k SP4.







YAAAAAAY!!!  But does it actually, you know--- WORK?

After adding an exception (because it cannot verify the modern digital signatures...) It seems to be! Look at that, HTTPS, on a modern, live site, From win98se!



Now, mozilla arent dummies-- they really want you to upgrade that browser... Let's see how far KernelEX will really take us. KernelEX hasn't been updated since 2011 after all... So we shouldn't really push our luck here, but let's try some newer versions...

Looks like we can push it up to firefox 10 ESR. It needs an XP Service Pack 2 lie with KernelEX to install and run.

While not the.... Greatest security level.... We can at least poke around a LITTLE bit on the modern web.  Youtube of course, tells us to go get bent, but whatever. At least we can display the page telling us to go get bent!



The oldest version of firefox that supports TLS1.2 is Firefox 28, and it does not like KernelEX. (rather, MSVCRUN100 is missing necessary exports, and since KernelEX is not getting patched anymore, you wont get it.)


This means this is about as far as you can push your luck with getting an ancient win98 machine onto the web.







Edited by wierd_w
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