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Windows 98 Update Problem
Monday, July 9, 2007

(The following was done/tested with Windows 98/SE. It may or may not apply to other versions)

I don't use Windows 98 all that much any more, and am aware that it is no longer being updated by Microsoft. Even then, I expected to be able to apply the updates that have been released since the Win/98 CD was released about 8 years ago.

The problem

Earlier today I reinstalled Windows/98 SE (Second Edition) on an older PC where the hard drive had failed and been replaced. By and large the install went smoothly, with the only problem being the install of the network driver for the SMC 8216T card. This is not discussed here, but involved setting the configuration jumper on the SMC NIC to the "Soft" position, installing the SMC 8216T driver, noting the I/O address, IRQ and Memory address picked by Windows, then running the EZSTART.EXE utility from SMC to set the I/O parameters to match those picked by Windows.

Once the network card was working, the next problem was in using Internet Explorer. When started, it launched an MSN connection wizard that wanted to install a modem driver and sign me up for MSN service. The Internet Connection Wizard on the desktop led to the same dead end. After about 10 minutes of puzzlement the problem was solved by going to Start -> Programs -> Accessories -> Communications -> Internet Connection Wizard. This presents a different wizard, where you can specify that the LAN connection (i.e. ethernet) be used instead of the modem.

I launched Internet Explorer and went to the MS Windows Update web site (via Tools -> Windows Update). The site appeared as expected (see fig. 1 below) and there was a note that there were no updates after July 11, 2006, due to Windows 98 no longer being a supported system.

Fig. 1 - Win/98 Update site

Figure 1 - Windows 98 Update web page

This was as expected so far, and I clicked on "Scan for Updates". This is where the problem showed up. Within a few seconds the following page appeared (see fig. 2)

Fig. 2 - Uh, oh!

Figure 2 - Windows 98 Update problem

There was apparently a "Windows Update Error", and the cryptic reason provided (0x80072F89) was not going to help much. The Microsoft web page that lists common errors during the update process did not include this particular one (see ref. 1).

The solution

Luckily, one of the very first things I tried also turned out to be the solution to the problem. I noticed that the clean install of Win/98/SE was running v5.x of Internet Explorer. I happened to have the installer for v6.0 of Internet Explorer lying around on another computer, so I went ahead and upgraded IE from v5.x to x6.0.2800.1106 (see fig. 3).

Fig. 3 - Upgraded IE

Figure 3 - Internet Explorer version after upgrade

Note that IE v7 does not work with Windows 98. If you need IE v6 you can download it from here. Also see Ref. 2 below.

The upgrade of IE from v5 to v6 went smoothly, and after a reboot, I tried the Windows Update with the new IE v6. This time things went much better. After clicking on "Scan for Updates", there was a brief pause while Windows checked for updates, and then the following:

Fig. 4 - Looking better

Figure 4 - Update list is now visible with IE v6

Clearly, things were working better, so I clicked on "Review and install updates" and proceeded to install all the "critical" updates. Everything worked as expected from there on, and soon the updates were all applied (see fig. 5).

Fig. 5 - All updates applied

Figure 5 - All updates applied successfully.

To conclude, if you're having problems with Windows Update with Win/98, try upgarding IE to v6 first.

Discussion

A web posting (ref. 3) suggests that the problem is not with IE v5, but rather with the Root Certificates included with IE v5, which have expired. I have not verified this, but it seems reasonable.

References

  1. You may receive an error message when you search for available updates on the Windows Update Web site or on the Microsoft Update Web site http://support.microsoft.com/kb/883821.
  2. Internet Explorer v6 download page.
  3. Comments on: windows 98 update error 080072F89 (or 0800C0005) http://www.computer-aid.com.au/blog/.../feed/.

Comments
(in order from older to newest)

"...I had the same situation 10 days later and I would not have thought of the solution in a million years. I was about to give up, then I came across your page. Congratulations and thank you..."

July 20, 2007, 5:47 PM by Marco M.

"This was a life saver, thanks."

Aug. 14, 2007, 7:44 PM by Jay.

"Had the same problem, thanks for the solution :)"

Sep. 2, 2007, 10:36 PM by Martin.

"Just bought a fujfilm finepix F480 and it needs windows 98se. As i only have windows 98 i will try your download and see. Thanks in anticipation."

Nov. 2, 2007, 9:42 AM by Dick.

"I doubt if this article will help in that case. You should contact Fuji tech support to see if they have a driver for Win/98, or else consider upgrading to a newer version of Windows. Another possible workaround is to get a memory card reader that works with Win/98, and use that to download your pictures."

Nov. 3, 2007, 6:34 PM by rk.

"I had the same problem, thank you for the quick fix."

Nov. 13, 2007, 6:46 AM by Computer Support Melbourne.

"I'm trying to refurbish an ancient laptop and came across exactly this problem. You saved me hours and saved my kids a lot of language they shouldn't be hearing."

Jan. 29, 2008, 6:62 PM by Laura G.

"Thank you very much. Your comments are really clear."

June 30, 2008, 2:44 PM by ffmorant.

"Thanks a lot, this info was dead easy to understand and has helped me enormously. Thanks again."

July 8, 2008, 2:44 PM by Tony R.

"Thank you so much, I had lost all hopes and decided to sell or throw away my win 98 system , its IE, updates, images everything was a mess, I was not even able to check my mails properly now everything is perfect, I first upgraded my IE from 5 to 6, then ran updates."

Nov. 8, 2008, 2:26 AM by Minish M.

"Excellent fix that is still valid."

Nov. 14, 2008, 9:49 AM by Sparky

"I just used this 'fix' for reinstalling Win98 and wanted to thank you for taking your valuable time to put this resource and solution on the internet. I don't use windoze myself but others use it on their old boxes. I use Puppy Linux(100mb) or Damn Small Linux(50mb).

Thanks again!"

Dec. 11, 2008, 6:14 PM by John G.

"Thanks, I had the exact same problem!"

Mar. 30, 2009, 2:12 PM by saint1997

"Had the same problem, thanks."

Apr. 21, 2009, 2:38 PM by radyo d.

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