Microsoft Windows 98

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Windows 98 (SE)
Lettering "Windows ®" (bold) with addition "98" (normal print without character spacing), over the first Windows letter the lettering "Microsoft (R)"
Windows 98 SE screen shot
developer Microsoft
License (s) Microsoft EULA ( Closed Source )
First publ. June 25, 1998
Current  version October 4 , 1998 / October 4, 2222 (March 18, 1998 / June 10, 1999)
Kernel MS-DOS
↳ Windows kernel
ancestry Windows 1.0 - Windows 3.x
↳ Windows 9x
timeline Windows 1.0
Windows 2.x
Windows 3.0
Windows 3.1
Windows 95
Windows 98
Windows 98 SE
Windows Me
Others Development discontinued
Support and rework ended on July 11, 2006

Windows 98 ( code name : Memphis ) is an operating system distributed by Microsoft as of June 25, 1998 . Microsoft ended support for Windows 98, Windows 98 SE and Windows ME on July 11, 2006. These operating systems are essentially a continuous further development of Windows 95 (1995).


The beta version "Memphis" went through a total of three beta phases and one pre-beta phase. The pre-beta was released in December 1996 and will no longer run after a certain date. “Microsoft Memphis Developer Release” is displayed as the pre-beta boot logo. It offers no visible innovations, even in the system properties it is still called Windows 95. B. USB support.

Beta 1 appeared later. It contains the following innovations:

  • The main processor is identified in the system properties (this was removed in the final version).
  • Title bars and color gradients can be changed.
  • The control panel displays the item "Scanners and Cameras".

With Beta 2, "Memphis" was renamed to Windows 98. Since a release was originally planned for 1997, the name Windows 97 was planned beforehand. The setup looks like the setup of the final version (apart from a few pictures during the copying process). The boot logo bears the subtitle “ Microsoft Internet Explorer ” under the lettering “Windows 98 ”; the subtitle was removed in the final version. Internet Explorer 4.0 is included and has everything that is included in the final version:

In addition, the "User administration" item is located in the system control. In addition, folders can be opened with one click.

Originally, Windows 98 was supposed to be released in November 1997 - and not a 95 C - but this date was postponed until spring 1998. Microsoft officially announced that this delay was intended to enable an upgrade from Windows 3.1 to Windows 98, in fact Microsoft meanwhile integrated its Internet Explorer 4.01 indelibly deep into the operating system in order to aggressively displace Netscape from the market in the ongoing browser war . It was not until 1999 when Microsoft was sued for damages that unfair details became public.

Technical characteristics

Windows 98, like its predecessor, is a 16-bit / 32-bit hybrid system. Like all operating systems of the Win9x series, it uses a 16-bit MS-DOS operating system to start up and is partly based on it. Windows 98, like its predecessor Windows 95, supports real preemptive multitasking . This means that the operating system exercises strict control over the allocation of CPU time to active programs through fixed time slices. This consequence is only limited by hardware accesses that take longer than the allocated time slice, e.g. B. Timeouts. Consistent memory protection is not guaranteed with Windows 98; it is offered by the Windows NT line (there with the disadvantage of losing backward compatibility with older software that requires direct access to physical addresses). Windows 98 enables the operation of 32-bit Windows programs, 16-bit Windows programs and, with the aid of the supplied MS-DOS 7.1, the operation of DOS programs. Windows 98 is much larger than its predecessor. Windows 98 automatically or manually creates a backup copy of the registry the first time the system starts up successfully. It sold well as an upgrade to Windows 95 from the start.

New features of the first edition compared to Windows 95

Windows 98 is the first DOS -based (mostly) 32-bit operating system that, unlike Windows 95, no longer runs individual background programs in 16-bit mode. But even here, individual utilities are still used in 16-bit mode.

With Windows 98 Microsoft introduced the "Win32 Driver Model" ("WDM"), which was based on the NT device driver model . The model that followed in 2001 was called the Windows Driver Foundation . Other innovations were e.g. B. better AGP and USB support (both already from Windows 95 B, but the USB support is so defective there that most hardware drivers can only be installed from Windows 98), support of ACPI , hard disk partitions larger than 2 GB with FAT32 file system (already from Windows 95 B). Some functions that can be upgraded with Internet Explorer 4.0 in Windows 95 are already integrated in Windows 98. This includes the integration of Internet Explorer in the user interface, the Active Desktop , the improved Windows Explorer (better operation, UNC paths and network computers can be controlled via the address line).

Windows 98 was also the first Microsoft graphical operating system to support multiple monitors .

Second edition

Windows 98 SE (Second Edition) (Build 2222) was released on May 5, 1999. The German version was available on June 10, 1999.

Decisive improvements compared to the first edition include - in addition to further improved USB support - essential enhancements in network support, such as: B. the so-called Internet connection release ( ICS ), which enabled the common use of a single connection to the Internet by several computers. However, this function was problematic, difficult to activate and not always stable. Another new feature was the possibility of an unattended installation.

Other SE functions such as DirectX 6.1, Internet Explorer 5.0, Windows Media Player 6.1, MDAC (database connection), MSI (Microsoft Installer) etc. can be installed in the predecessor.

System requirements

Microsoft specifies the following requirements:

  • 486DX or 486SX (from Windows 98 SE: at least 66 MHz) or higher processor
  • 16 MB working memory ( RAM )
  • Approx. 195 MB free hard disk space is required for the standard installation (between 120 MB and 295 MB, depending on the system configuration and selected installation components)
  • CD-ROM or DVD-ROM drive (bootable, for installation)
  • VGA compatible graphics card
  • Mouse or compatible pointing device

Microsoft calls these system requirements the minimum requirements for installation and (meaningful) operation. In fact, the system can be operated with even less equipment or (especially with the help of another PC) installed in a different way. With the help of a few modifications, it can also be installed via or even on any USB stick ; The requirement is that there is no RAM limit in MS-DOS , which in turn depends on the processor. Installation is always possible with USB sticks that pretend to be USB hard drives, as these are normal hard drives for DOS.

Support and lifecycle

Update and patch support

In 2003, in view of the frequent use of the system worldwide, Microsoft decided to provide support with patches instead of January 2004 to July 11, 2006 as planned. After that, the Windows update functionality was also terminated, which meant that the updates that had already appeared could no longer be obtained via Windows Update.

Hardware support

All chipsets and common hardware that are considered PC- compatible and that were on the market at the time of delivery work with Windows standard drivers. Newer hardware also runs under Windows 98 if such support is provided by the manufacturer. As of mid-2006, motherboard chipsets do not support Windows 9x with adapted drivers.

A special feature of the Second Edition is that it supports both old Windows device drivers and new WDM drivers. Only WDM drivers are supported in Windows Me . SE offers the possibility of combining old hardware for which there are no WDM drivers as well as new hardware with WDM drivers or, depending on the stability, of using the old Windows driver or the newer WDM driver.

Windows 9x can control MBR -formatted hard disks over 128  GB with the standard drivers without 48-bit LBA support, but write access to a file above this limit leads to data loss due to overwriting. The 128 GB apply per hard drive actually present (physical drive) and not per partitioned logical drive. This also applies to externally connected USB and FireWire hard drives. Some manufacturers offer drivers with which the operation of large media is possible without any problems.

In order to be able to operate more than 512 MB RAM, small changes, e.g. B. at the system.ini, necessary. The VCache is limited for this purpose. From 1 to 2 GB, the addressable physical memory MaxPhysPage must be limited in order to maintain the stability of the system.

Application software support

Quite a few software manufacturers continued to support Windows 9x years after Microsoft ended support. The last installable version of Microsoft Office is Office XP, supports Windows 98 up to and including version 2.4.3. Internet Explorer 6 is the last version for Windows 98. Firefox 2 was maintained up to version, Opera up to version 10.5. The last Flash version is 9.262.

Community patches

In 2005 there was unofficial support in the form of service packs created by the Windows 98 user community. The Creopard support page will continue to be kept up to date.

Using the open source patch KernelEx it is possible to use some programs written only for Windows XP under Windows 98 ( e.g. Firefox 3). This is achieved through extensive adjustments to Windows DLL system files, with which missing API functions can be retrofitted. Since KernelEx is an unofficial patch , there is no official support and the user works at their own risk.

Today's execution

A direct installation and execution of Windows 98 on current hardware is only possible to a very limited extent or not at all due to the lack of drivers and incompatible devices, especially with modern PC hardware ( RAM of over 1.5 GB, EFI instead of BIOS, NVMe ).

If the EFI (with a CSM English Compatibility Support Module - a BIOS emulation) equipped, Windows 98 can be operated in circumstances in this mode. Perhaps, however, drivers are missing for chipsets, graphics cards or built- controller chips such as USB - Host Controller , which is a part of the hardware is unusable.

Windows 98 can also be operated in a virtual machine or with an emulator if they support Windows 98.


During the demonstration of the operating system by Bill Gates at CES 1998, the operating system crashed when a scanner was connected via USB with a blue screen of death, which clearly contributed to the amusement of the audience.

Web links

Commons : Microsoft Windows 98  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Microsoft Support Lifecycle. In: Microsoft . June 22, 2015, archived from the original on January 6, 2016 ; accessed on January 6, 2016 .
  2. Windows 98 & 98 SE. In: OS history. Archived from the original on January 29, 2009 ; accessed on August 14, 2019 .
  3. What is Windows 98? ( Memento from May 14, 2008 in the Internet Archive )
  4. Paul Thurrott: The Road to Gold: The development of Windows 2000 Reviewed. December 15, 1999, archived from the original on February 7, 2007 ; Retrieved December 8, 2015 .
  5. Multitasking 16-bit / 32-bit applications in Windows 95., August 27, 2002, archived from the original on February 14, 2009 ; Retrieved April 9, 2010 .
  6. ^ Windows 95 Architecture Components., accessed April 9, 2010 . (English)
  7. Practical tips for dealing with the Windows registry. Retrieved December 13, 2015 .
  8. Microsoft support page about the limitations of the FAT32 file system; therefore u. a. the program ScanDisk is a 16-bit application
  9. 27% of all visitors to Google in October and November 2003 were users of Windows 98
  10. The update website that was no longer accessible was .
  11. Problems with too much memory in Windows., accessed on December 11, 2015 .
  12. Hans-Christian Dirscherl: Not to be killed: Win 98 Service Pack 2.1., November 29, 2005, accessed April 6, 2011 .
  13. Sebastian Kuhbach: Unofficial Win98 SE Service Pack - new version., August 4, 2005, accessed April 6, 2011 .
  14. unofficial service pack for Windows 98 SE - for the German version of Windows 98 Second Edition , security updates, corrections and optimizations (as of 2018)
  15. ^ Neil Turner: Resurrecting a dead OS with KernelEx. In: Neil Turner's blog. May 17, 2010; Archived from the original on January 30, 2013 ; accessed on August 14, 2019 .
  16. KernelEx by xeno86 SourceForge .de (English)
  17. KernelEx - run XP / 2K apps on Win98 and WinME. In: Aaron Tiensivu's blog., April 9, 2009, accessed on April 6, 2011 (English): “ This is a fascinating project from a technical standpoint. They are implementing missing API calls used by newer applications that are missing from Windows 98 and Windows ME. "
  18. Windows 98 SE VM on x86_64 Linux host. Retrieved April 20, 2018 .
  19. Gates breaks Windows 98. BBC, accessed January 18, 2013 (English).