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sbirdsill

Best Hypervisor for Windows 98

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Has anyone had any luck finding a modern hypervisor that can run Windows 98 applications and games pretty well? I used to run Virtual PC 2007 back in the day and it ran great but it doesn't appear to work with Windows 10. I've tried VirtualBox, Hyper-V, and VMWare Player but none of those come with Windows 98 drivers. Additionally, they don't seem to capture my mouse too well in full screen applications. Any solutions that wouldn't require me to drag an old Pentium III box out of storage would be greatly appreciated. ;)

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PCem is what I was looking for! I followed this guide to get it set up: https://olistutorials.wordpress.com/2017/02/25/setting-up-pcem-for-windows-95-games/

It's not as straightforward as setting up Virtual PC, the sound is pretty choppy and there's no network support but it does play most Win9x games pretty well, albeit with some framerate drops on later 9x games. In addition to installing the Voodoo2 driver, I also had to install this driver to replace the standard VGA driver: http://www.vogonsdrivers.com/getfile.php?fileid=589&menustate=0

That way, the visuals look more appealing in the OS. Thanks for the suggestion, I'll continue to tweak it as time permits to see what works best for later 9x games. This is awesome!

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I recommend VMware Player. It runs almost as well as Virtual PC, and has guest additions so you get 32-bit color, resolution switching, and mouse integration.

I haven't heard of PCem. I'll give it a try.

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Why not VirtualBox 

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44 minutes ago, Dibya said:

Why not VirtualBox 

Why not reading posts before replying? :dubbio:

On 12/11/2017 at 8:35 AM, sbirdsill said:

Has anyone had any luck finding a modern hypervisor that can run Windows 98 applications and games pretty well? I used to run Virtual PC 2007 back in the day and it ran great but it doesn't appear to work with Windows 10. I've tried VirtualBox, Hyper-V, and VMWare Player but none of those come with Windows 98 drivers. Additionally, they don't seem to capture my mouse too well in full screen applications. Any solutions that wouldn't require me to drag an old Pentium III box out of storage would be greatly appreciated. ;)

jaclaz

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On 12. 11. 2017 at 8:35 AM, sbirdsill said:

Any solutions that wouldn't require me to drag an old Pentium III box out of storage would be greatly appreciated. ;)

You should consider running your games on Windows 10 with the help of dgVoodoo2. The package contains wrappers for the old graphics APIs (DirectDraw/DIrect3D 1 - 8 and Glide 1 - 3). It's an easy workaround for quirks that may happen when running old DIrectDraw/Direct3D games on modern Windows versions with modern drivers and for games offering rendering via Glide API. It's not unusual that the Glide mode offers the best graphics fidelity for the games that have it. Another interesting feature is resolution scaling. Read its documentation for the rest of goodies. You can also ask for help on VOGONS forums if particular game hasn't been covered. There may be issues with getting some games to install, possible workarounds include either getting a newer version of InstallShield setup binary, copying game files from CD, installing on a virtual machine with an older OS and copying game files from it, etc. It depends.

Though reading Virtual PC 2007 had you covered, your games must be pretty simple or you had no idea you could run them with enhanced graphics. If I remember correctly, Virtual PC 2007 only has the S3 graphics card that doesn't have any 3D acceleration whatsoever. PCem can indeed emulate Voodoo 2 graphics card, but, because it's an emulator, it wastes tons of CPU cycles emulating some slow-a** PC from the nineties, choppy audio is another possible side effect. When you have a game that's sensitive to speed, there are tools for limiting frame-rate. NVIDIA drivers even come with their own frame-limiter, accessible using NVIDIA Profile Inspector. I have no idea what AMD folks use, I just use DxTory on non-NVIDIA GPUs if I need a general frame limiter. Not really a frame limiter, it's a software for recording games and taking screenshots, but can be used as a frame limiter and seems to work across a wide range of games and even supports pre-Direct3D 8 APIs, though the latter is not a concern if you go dgVoodoo way.

It's also worth noting, there are still people out there that try to run their games without applying a single patch first and then they wonder why their game isn't working as it should (or at all). So definitely search for patches that may have been made for a particular game. There are unofficial, community-developed patches for some games that may enable them to run on a modern system without a single workaround.

There's another special case, Windows 3.1 era games. 64-bit Windows systems don't support old 16-bit executables. Win3mu is in development, so maybe in the future these games could be run seamlessly along with other Windows applications, rather than having to run them in a virtual machine/emulator.

Edited by UCyborg
Minor addition regarding Glide

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A PIII isn't going to run windows 10 in a VM.  So what if it could and you could waste a lot of time to prove me wrong.  It still wouldn't run games acceptably, and just staring at the desktop doing nothing would be like watching a slide show.

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I didn't quote the whole OP's post because I find over-quoting everything pointless and a waste of space. The OP was looking for a way to run Win98 era games on his Win10 PC by using some sort of hypervisor. Someone suggested PCem, which is an emulator and consequently requires a lot of horse power. OP apparently already experienced that his CPU isn't powerful enough for the task (choppy audio), so I suggested alternative approach. Some people also tend to believe the only way to run old games properly is on a PC or at least the approximation of the PC of the era. At least games written for Win9x are easier in a way that you don't have to deal with certain details that are required with DOS games since those access hardware directly. Well, DOSBox covers the DOS for the most part unless eg. you're trying to run some newer more demanding game and you find out your CPU can't handle the emulation overhead. :D

Anyway, back on topic, AFAIK, a true hypervisor with full-blown Win9x support doesn't exist. VMware Workstation probably comes closest, at least I can confirm for the versions 12.5.7 and below (haven't upgraded to the latest version yet) that they come with additions compatible with Win98 guests, which gives mouse integration and a basic graphics card driver for better resolutions and 32-bit color. But it seems to crap out even with basic DirectDraw stuff. I managed to make it to menus in Half-Life, I had to change resolution in Display settings, the native resolution 1920x1080 that was automatically set by the driver did not work. Then, the resolution list for software mode was empty. When I tried to play, I ended up with garbled mess.

Another thing about VMware, you need this driver for working sound. Well, there is an option to emulate Sound Blaster 16, but the one emulated by default is functionally superior (uses ES1371 chip). It also supports EAX (the very first 1.0). Too bad there's no graphics card to go with it, I'm not aware of any other software that would do anything beyond Sound Blaster 16/AWE32 in the sound department. I found some software OpenGL rendering library (cosmord11.dll, comes with Cosmo Player 2.1) and managed to run Half-Life with it at maybe 5 FPS, the mouse didn't move exactly where I moved it physically, but the sound was nice, EAX and all, though perhaps not as clear as natively on my Windows 8.1 with Creative ALchemy.

I did play with VirtualBox in the past, this one let me play DOS game Terminator: SkyNET in SVGA mode on Windows 98 at nice speed, something I couldn't do on VMware as SVGA mode resulted in black screen. Apparently someone recently made a patch to fix some crashing bugs, which were the reason I didn't bother to finish it at the time. Again, you need to find the right drivers for graphics and sound. While you can always go with Sound Blaster 16, AC97 card offers some basic MIDI support and SB16 compatibility. For graphics, I went with VBE9x drivers. Mouse was choppy though and I haven't tried any Windows based game. Maybe simpler things that don't need 3D acceleration would work.

Long time ago, back when Windows XP was popular, I did play Interstate '76 on Virtual PC 2004 because the game hung when clicking anything in menus on Windows XP. Few years later, I figured this was probably compatibility issue with sound card acceleration. Virtual PC must have also helped with the game speed since at that time, I was pretty clueless and had no idea what the term FPS means and that some games' physics are tied to game speed.

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QEMU has some audio options: (per official documentation)

- Creative SoundBlaster 16 sound card

- ENSONIQ AudioPCI ES1370 sound card

- Intel 82801AA AC97 Audio compatible sound card

- Intel HD Audio Controller and HDA codec

- Adlib (OPL2) - Yamaha YM3812 compatible chip

- Gravis Ultrasound GF1 sound card

- CS4231A compatible sound card

It emulates these VGA cards:

-Cirrus Logic GD5446 (good for DOS, useless for 3D, maybe good for 2D Win95 games)

-Standard VGA card with Bochs VBE extension (probably like VirtualBox)

-VMWare SVGA-II (weird, right? :) )

Do you really need Windows 98, or would Windows 95 be sufficient for your games?

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Thanks for the responses. I don't see how my CPU would be an issue, when I was playing a game I did notice it was using about 30% of the host processor, which seems a bit high for an eight core CPU (AMD FX-8350 :/) but it wasn't capping it at 100. Even PCem itself reported about 70-80% CPU and I was still having choppy audio. Maybe I'm not understanding something correctly.

The reason modern hypervisors don't work is because of the experiences UCyborg mentioned. Sometimes, menus wouldn't display, my mouse wouldn't interact with the game properly, etc. I'm still interested in looking around further, but I'd like to stay away from bloating my computer with extra utilities to get things to run. I may try it sometime, but first I'd like to exhaust all possibilities. 

Windows 95 should be good enough. AKAIK it's not much different than 98. I was referring to Starsiege: Tribes as being playful albeit a bit slow and choppy. I will report further as I discover more feasible options.

Ultimately, it doesn't look like PC Emulation is anywhere near where WinUAE is with Amiga emulation.

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I tried PCem, but it ran way too slow to even be close to usable. Even VMware without 3D hardware acceleration is faster than this. It's a shame they don't take advantage of VT-x hardware support for virtualization, which would make this actually usable on most hardware.

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@MrMateczko
Good to know about QEMU's audio options. My knowledge is not fully up-to date. Wikipedia says ES1370 supports EAX 1.0 as well. I was referring to features that are interesting for old games when I said that thing about going beyond Sound Blaster 16/AWE32. ;)

@CamTron
My AMD Phenom II X4 920 clocked at 3,00 GHz can only emulate 75 MHz Pentium at full speed with PCem. Quake III ran at about 5 FPS against one bot. That was with Pentium 100/50, it still worked without going below 100%, and bumped up graphics settings. Lowering those got me about 15 min FPS. The minimum spec for this game is 233 MHz.

Virtualization would help a lot. I realize there are technical reasons for this, but it's still funny when you can run the new DOOM at around 60 FPS, but struggle with certain ancient games. From my limited experience, it seems emulating PlayStation 2 can be easier on the CPU, though it depends on the game.

19 hours ago, sbirdsill said:

I don't see how my CPU would be an issue, when I was playing a game I did notice it was using about 30% of the host processor, which seems a bit high for an eight core CPU (AMD FX-8350 :/) but it wasn't capping it at 100. Even PCem itself reported about 70-80% CPU and I was still having choppy audio. Maybe I'm not understanding something correctly.

Emulating CPU itself can only be done on the single thread AFAIK and since your computer's CPU has 8 cores, this means only maximum of about 12% will be utilized for emulating CPU. Voodoo 2 emulation runs 2 rendering threads (if used) according to configuration options and then there are some threads that are created by the system rather than explicitly by PCem that may consume CPU cycles. I'm not 100% sure about this, but for audio, things can work somehow like this: you have 1 thread that fills the buffer with audio data and another one that plays it.

PCem CPU percentage as shown in its title bar must remain at around 100% at all times. It shows how fast the emulated CPU runs. You can't go much below 100% before you hear audio going bad. You can try going to Settings->Configure... and select a slower CPU. If you manage to make it run at 100%, audio should be OK then, but it won't do anything good for the frame rate, it will just run more correctly like the real PC would. You can just sit on the desktop while adjusting it to see which emulated CPU your real CPU can handle. Since you have no ACPI in the emulated PC, Windows will keep the CPU fully occupied running the idle loop.

Edited by UCyborg
Quake III additions

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Did you try PCem-X? 86Box?

Edited by MrMateczko
thx UCyborg, my mistake

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