Due to requirements of software I want to install on my win98 SE VM (I grabbed the VirtualBox image from archive.org), i.e. I'd like to install .NET 2.0 framework, I need to install the Windows Installer 2.0.

So I again searched a bit on archive.org, to find MSDN CD images from back in the day, e.g. the "VS2003 prerequisites" one. One can't install that itself, but it has a folder with Windows Installer 2, and the instmsiA.exe that does start in Win98.

But it claims the service was already installed. As Windows said it was using the files, I booted into DOS mode of Win98 and xcopy'd the unpacked files from inside that exe over the ones in Windows/system, where I found msi related files. (after backing up the system folder) But I guess there are registry entries or whatever it may be that's missing. The .NET 2.0 redistributable installer still does not agree that installer 2.0 is installed.

How can I get it installed properly, so I can continue to install & the software that requires it accept the fact it's on the system?

  • The last version of VS that will wok on W98 is VS6. VS2002, VS2003 and .net framework won't work on W98. If you look at the requirements, it says 2K, XP etc. Doesn't mention 95, 98 or ME.
    – cup
    Sep 7, 2020 at 7:49
  • Yes, I do not want to run VS > 6 on win98se, I want to run .NET 2.0 framework without the tools of the time, and there are several references on microsofts site where it claims this works, and 1 or 2 posts on this network of sites where this was also claimed. And the installer does start, but then complains about the missing windows installer 2.0. That, so far, seems to be the only hindrance. The only reason I looked for a VS2002 etc CD was to get hold of a windows-installer 2 redistributable that starts on win98, which is not available on the MS site anymore. Sep 7, 2020 at 17:42

1 Answer 1


Ok, I found no way to manually get Installer 2.0 on my virtual box win98 SE installation.

But I found this: Unofficial Windows 98 SE service pack 2.1e

After installing that, I was able to install .NET 2.0 redístributable without problems. Which means that the prerequisite of Installer 2.0 being on the system is fulfilled after installation of that pack.

Edit: good news, see further below - Unfortunately, the English versions of that pack are not available anymore (the site I linked links to wayback machine snapshots which don't have the binaries). The site I linked has the German and Polish language versions. I guess it could create some problems when mixing those with an English base installation of Windows 98. Take it for what it's worth.

Edit: Knol made me aware of the English "unofficial SP 2.1" being available at this location. Installing the correct language versions for such things seems to be important for more reasons than not understanding some dialogs - see my "experiment" description below. I proceeded to install it on my mentioned Win98se English VirtualBox image from archive.org - and it worked there.

The German pack would allow me to, after allowing me to install .NET 2.0 redistributable, run .NET 2.0 console apps, but a WinForms app with a bunch of controls slapped onto a form crashed - it runs now with the correct language SP 2.1. Same goes for my Pentium II that I dug out of the basement, which actually does have a German Win98se base installation and now the German "SP 2.1" on it plus .NET2.0 redistributable - that machine now also runs .NET 2.0 console as well as (so far simple) GUI apps. So it's not like the German pack was broken itself.

[Off Topic side note] To any (retro enthusiast) one wondering about the purpose (besides being able to install more programs that would still run under Win98 but need Installer 2.0): This will now make my endeavours of doing retro stuff on Win98 much easier, writing little tools here in a bearable version of C# (compared to .NET 1.1, which e.g. does not have generics and hence makes you use 'object' a lot, source of bugs) that actually run on Win98, in a way much less time consuming than mucking with old Win32 API / Winsock stuff, with an old C++ compiler that may not even properly support C++98. Add unpleasant to time consuming - not everything retro is fun ;).

  • While it may not seem an elegant way to do it, my own answer does provide a way of getting Installer 2.0 into Windows 98 SE. Could the person downvoting explain the reasoning behind that? Sep 12, 2020 at 17:53
  • 1
    I believe this page contains English versions of the Unofficial Windows 98 SE service pack 2.1 and 3 philscomputerlab.com/windows-service-packs.html
    – knol
    Sep 12, 2020 at 18:40
  • Cool! That did work on the english win98se image available at archive.org, and now I was able to run a .NET 2.0 WinForms app, which was crashing before when I tried to use the German "unofficial service pack" on the English Win98se base installation - when I then found that the German service pack did work on my old dug out Win98 computer with a German installation. So this does seem important. Sep 12, 2020 at 21:15

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