6 Replies Latest reply on Dec 2, 2013 9:30 AM by Gork

    Win98SE guest in WS v10.0.1; can't upgrade virtual hardware

    Gork Enthusiast

      I just upgraded VMware WS v9.x to v10.0.1 and, as for all past WS upgrades I upgraded the virtual hardware to version 10.  All with one exception, that is.  My Win98SE guest won't accept the virtual hardware upgrade from v9 to v10.  I receive an error:  "This virtual machine is not running the latest verison of VMWare Tools.  You need to update VMware Tools before you can upgrade the virtual machine.  For details on upgrading, see 'http://vmware.com/info?id=98'".  I am running WS on a Win8.1 Pro host.


      First off, I've never had to upgrade VMware Tools before upgrading the hardware.  I've always upgraded the virtual hardware THEN upgraded VMware Tools.  In fact, I just did it this way for my WinXP, Win7 and Ubunutu Linux VMs.


      Second, there appears to be no new version of VMware Tools for Win98SE anyway.  When I boot to the OS I get no automatic indication I should upgrade.  When I go to the VM option in WS while the VM is running I only get the option to "Reinstall VMware Tools."  And when I manually attach the winPre2k.iso to the virtual CD ROM and run setup I only get the options to repair/uninstall/reinstall.  Reinstalling VMware Tools meets with the same original problem.


      I recall something vaguely similar in the past where VMware released an upgrade which was problematic because they didn't release a new VMware Tools for Windows Pre2k guest operating systems and didn't bother to even update the version number in the winPre2k.iso file so it would work properly with the newest virtual hardware.  I'm guessing something like this may have happened again.  Either that or there's some kind of a bug.  I'm remiss to contact VMware directly to report a bug through their support mechanism; the last time I did so it turned into a 6+ month long fiasco laden with many emails back and forth, conference calls to California and India, allowing remote control of my computer etc.


      When I tried creating a new Win98SE VM, WS chose hardware version 10 which indicates to me Win98SE is supposed to run on this latest virtual hardware version.


      So, recap:  WS v10.x wants the latest Tools installed in the Win98SE VM guest in order to update the virtual hardware to v10 but doesn't accept that there IS NO new version of Tools.  I marked this post as a question in case someone can offer insight toward a solution which I have missed.  It is maddening to constantly run across problems like this in such a professional and expensive piece of software.

        • 1. Re: Win98SE guest in WS v10.0.1; can't upgrade virtual hardware
          WoodyZ Guru

          First of all just because a given OS appears in the New Virtual Machine Wizard does not means it's officially supported and official support for Windows 98 was depreciated in VMware Workstation 9 and is not officially supported in VMware Workstation 10.  Also Windows 98 cannot take full advantage of the virtual hardware version in VMware Workstation 10 as one aspect requires in box drivers that are not included in Windows 98 and are not available elsewhere.


          That said, it would be a bit unrealistic to expect that an OS that is no longer supported in any way whatsoever by its manufacture that it will continue to be supported in a virtual environment or that drivers would be available for the latest hardware, physical or virtual.


          Just keep in mind that just because a given OS appears in the New Virtual Machine Wizard whether officially supported or not will always work flawlessly without any issues, just like the virtualization software itself as it too has know issues and a bug or two and there's probably some design flaws and maybe something missing as well.  It's just the way it is!

          • 2. Re: Win98SE guest in WS v10.0.1; can't upgrade virtual hardware
            Gork Enthusiast

            While this is true, it does not preclude the fact that WS should not choose hardware v10 for a default Win98 install if it is not compatible with the OS which leads me to believe the folks at VMware figure the virtual hardware IS compatible with Win98.


            And we're not talking about a deprecated OS not being compatible with a newer WS release here, we're talking about what appears to be an oversight with regard to basic functionality.  If WS does indeed require updated Tools to be installed before upgrading a Win98 VM and new versions of Tools are no longer released then Tools should have received a "fake" version upgrade number to allow WS to properly interact with its install.  Or if a new version of Tools really isn't required, WS shouldn't be conducting that check and created a seemingly impossible-to-hurdle endless loop.


            Yup, every piece of software we use today has (at least) a bug or two and, sadly, the consumer not only accepts that but has been taught to expect it.  While I perhaps let off a little steam with regard to issues I've had with prior bugs which took near a miracle for me to have addressed, that was not the true point of my original post.  I'm truly hoping for a solution to the problem I described.

            • 3. Re: Win98SE guest in WS v10.0.1; can't upgrade virtual hardware
              WoodyZ Guru

              Sorry you have an issue however...


              Fact 1: Windows 98 is no longer an officially supported OS by VMware for VMware Workstation 10 (or Microsoft for that matter) even though it can be chosen in the Wizard.


              Fact 2: Just because a given virtual hardware version can be chosen doesn't mean all features will be compatible with all OSes or any given OS.


              Fact 3:  VMware products, just like many other manufactures, have issues that need to be workaround at times.


              So...  If it appear there is an issue attempting to change the hardware compatibility via the UI then manually edit the .vmx configuration file to make the necessary and appropriate changes!


              If I were to create a Windows 98 VM choosing "Hardware compatibility:" with Workstation 9.0 and one with Workstation 10.0, while accepting all defaults, the only difference in the .vmx configuration file is virtualHW.version = "9" vs. virtualHW.version = "10".  So a simple manual edit of the .vmx configuration file will upgrade it to version 10!

              • 4. Re: Win98SE guest in WS v10.0.1; can't upgrade virtual hardware
                Gork Enthusiast

                Fact 4:  Skirting the issue that WS is asking for an updated Tools install which is nonexistent does not properly address the issue.


                So, with regard to this change you brought up, are you suggesting that if I make the change in the .vmx file it will actually change the virtual hardware in the machine as if the upgrade actually worked properly through the appropriate GUI method?  Or would it just THINK the hardware was v10 when in actuality it was still using the same old v9 hardware?


                My guess is VMware isn't bothering to write new drivers for Win98/SE to cover the updated hardware in WS v10.  In this case changing the variable wouldn't really solve the problem.  Also, there would be no solution to the issue at hand.  HOWEVER, instead of providing an "endless loop error" WS should properly notify the user that the virtual hardware will not work properly with pre 2k Windows operating systems.


                I've just learned that even trying to DOWNGRADE to a previous virtual hardware version meets with the same unsurmountable error.  Though I'd love a warning before doing so, I really should be able to upgrade the virtual hardware to whatever I want and deal with the consequences as I see fit, yes?  It seems buggy and unprofessional to be met with this error loop, whether Win98 is supported as a guest OS or not.  Unless there's something I don't properly understand this totally seems like an oversight to me.


                A big part of why I (and I assume many others) use virtualization is to keep old OS installs which won't work on updated hardware running for whatever the reason may be.  It seems the next step in this progression is one toward a WS wherein the user can't even choose to use the old virtual hardware to perform this task.

                • 5. Re: Win98SE guest in WS v10.0.1; can't upgrade virtual hardware
                  WoodyZ Guru

                  I'm not trying to skirt the issue as it's already plainly obvious something in not right with the product and that's where Fact 3: comes in!  So if you want your Windows 98 VM to be the same as if it was created in VMware Workstation 10 then you've been given the workaround for the .vmx configuration file however I forgot to mention that ddb.virtualHWVersion = "9" needs to the changed to ddb.virtualHWVersion = "10" in the Disk DescriptorFile of the .vmdk virtual hard disk.  This is easily done if using a split disk however if using a monolithic disk then the Disk DescriptorFile needs to be extracted, edited and then injected back.  All of this has been covered more then enough times that searching the forum or Google will yield posts that cover this.  (I know because I've posted many myself along with a.p.and continuum.)


                  So it's your choice... leave everything as is or if you what Windows 98 to be as if created under VMware Workstation 10 then make the edits or wait until what's not working properly in the UI to be fixed and do it then!

                  1 person found this helpful
                  • 6. Re: Win98SE guest in WS v10.0.1; can't upgrade virtual hardware
                    Gork Enthusiast

                    Ok, followed your instructions.  Oddly my original VM had the following listed:

                    ddb.virtualHWVersion = "8" in the Disk Descriptor File (after extraction)

                    virtualHW.version = "9"


                    I use the term "odd" because I'd have figured they'd both be the same.  I've only ever updated previous hardware version through the GUI...


                    Beyond that, there seemed to be no difference in the VM after updating to the new hardware.  I'm assuming that's because the changes in the hardware aren't anything Win98 would know anything about.  But is there a way to somehow check to ensure the changes were made as opposed to just the numbers being changed and the GUI simply showing that change?


                    I can see that updated hardware isn't going to do much for Win98 anymore - I get that, but moreso after your guidance.  I don't mean to come across negatively with regard to the software bugginess issue, it's just that I've been down this type of road with VMware a handful of times in the past and it's always a mess to try to get through to someone who can understand the problem and be in a position to start working on a fix.  And after spending a lot of my own personal (and hard to come by) money on VMware products and upgrades over the years I am very disheartened when I run across these types of issues.


                    I really hope I'm wrong and VMware continues to allow users to use old virtual hardware in newer versions of the WS software indefinitely.  While I have other things I use virtualization for, I really like to be able to boot up the old Win98SE system from time to time.  I guess at some point I at least need to just stop updating the virtual hardware this install is running on anyway or it'll start causing problems with the virtual OS install.


                    Thank you for spending your precious time helping out - I am aware you do a LOT of this.  More than anything else, your comment that there is something obviously wrong with the software brought me down to earth.  Upon rereading your posts I can see this isn't the case, but I felt kind of like you were kind of telling me I was an idiot and there is nothing wrong with the software at all.  I still don't like the bug, and last time a somewhat similar issue with regard to Tools cropped up it took EONS before the bug was squashed.  But I feel much better understanding a workaround - makes me feel like I'm back in control, yes?