I'm a coder that doesn't know much about hardware, but I have a question that's been bugging me for a long, long time.

If I took a pretty new and fast machine (and I'm mostly interested in laptops) such as a recent XP or Win 7 and tried to put an older operating system on it such as Win 2000 or Win 98, what chance is there that I could get a decent display resolution other then the 640 X 480 or whatever it is you get from an OEM install without the specific display driver? Likely the manufacturer's download page wouldn't have drivers for anything other than what they put on the machine, so how generic or specific are these drivers. I really don't have any feel for this. I don't fool with these sorts of things much.

Would this work easier for desktops?

well support for older os (2000 and 98) is going to be drastically less than current.. i mean, you are talking about 10+ years of technology enhancements.

however.. i slightly remember having 1200 x 700 on an old 98 system. but don't take that in stone, it could have been xp. i would stick with xp or newer if i was you.

As an idea you could install Linux on the system and then put the old os in a virtual application (Oracle VirtualBox works well) and there are several emulators like dosbox for Linux that give you a virtual system with simulated Floppy disk drives etc.


The Oracle VirtualBox supports the following per their documentation:

Windows NT 4.0
All versions, editions and service packs are fully supported; however, there are some issues with older service packs. We recommend to install service pack 6a. Guest Additions are available with a limited feature set.

Windows 2000 / XP / Server 2003 / Vista / Server 2008 / Windows 7
All versions, editions and service packs are fully supported (including 64-bit versions, under the preconditions listed below). Guest Additions are available.

DOS / Windows 3.x / 95 / 98 / ME
Limited testing has been performed. Use beyond legacy installation mechanisms not recommended. No Guest Additions available.

rch - your post was filled with great information, im notknocking it

however, he had said he doesnt have any feel for these sort of things and doesnt mess with them much. installing linux and setting up virtual boxs might prove difficult - and not really worth it to him..

just my thought

But the poster referred to running this on a laptop and unless you move up to something like ESXi from VMware (which is a Linux based OS) I am not aware of another method to allow you to run some of the older OS's that he mentioned. I run Fedora Core 14 which is primarily designed for Laptops and their various wireless adapters. The installation of the OS from the distribution DVD is easy and has drivers for almost everything built in. I have even removed the SATA laptop drive from my AMD 1.9GHz Athlon x2 based laptop and plugged it into my Intel P4 - 3.6GHZ Desktop and booted the system without any errors or prompts for drivers. Then moved it back without any hitches either.

The virtual OS's run just a hair slower than the real thing on the laptop and having more than one running at a time would not be a great idea. If you would like to give it a try and have any questions I have set this u a couple times for some of our developers and would be happy to assist.

Jlego - Unless you have another idea of a method to accomplish this based on the parameters he supplied then I think this is his best bet. Installing Linux is easier than installing Windows, runs faster, crashes less, has the OS versions he needs available virtually and has practically no Viruses plus it is FREE. Don't knock it till you've tried it.

The original poster has returned!

Thanks for the additional feedback rich1231 and jlego! Makes me glad its not just me interested in such retrogressive things!

I've never played around with the virtual machine stuff yet. I frequently however set up my machines as dual boot with Linux and Windows. Seems like I never really get a chance to work with Linux much. I work in pretty much a Windows world.

The basis for my question though is as follows. A number of years ago I screwed up the MBR of one of my good laptops, and all I could figure out to fix it was to FDisk it with some DOS 6.2 OS disks I had. Out of curiousity I put Win 98 back on it after getting it straightened out instead of the Win 2000 it came with. It was a pretty top end Win 2000 machine with an at the time fast processor. Well, what a surprise I got!!! Instead of the usual 2 or 3 minutes one usually waits for a machine to boot up, the darn thing came on almost like turning on a light switch! At that point it really dawned on me the extent to which code bloat is out pacing hardware development.

I'm basically a low level coder and tend to not create bloated solutions for the work I do. And I also don't need the latest and greatest bleeding edge type stuff. Old hardware suits me fine. Like I said, I'm more into algorithms and such; not hardware. That's really the basis of my question. It would be a way of getting a really lean, fast and mean machine to put one of these older OSs on some new fast hardware. As I mentioned though, my biggest concern was whether it would be possible to get modern display drivers to work with the older operating systems. I couldn't settle for a 480 X 640 resolution I don't think. Maybe its not an issue. I guess that's why I was asking. I save the info you provided, and will look into it.

Since the first intel dual-core processors came out, there is no more MS-Dos compatibility (windows 98 and below). If I remember correctly ;)

I believe your best chance to run a win98 today, is in an emulator - although I can't see why you would miss the 32 GB hdd limit, and the 640 Kb base RAM :D

If you run an XP with minimal GUI, it is pretty fast on today's hardware.