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Redtoast - what Windows 98 should've been...
Redtoast Alpha 3 desktop, System Properties, copying files

Redtoast is the correct way to use Windows 98. No bloated IE shell, no 100MB of extra useless components, just the meat and bones of the improved kernel and expanded Win32 API powered by yesterday's Windows 95 shell.

While Redtoast is generally usable, it is basically a one-man project that is developed on and off, and as such you may run into issues in certain places. You can see the list of known issues with Redtoast here.

Floppy disk Download the latest release of Redtoast (Alpha 4) (via FTP) (110 MB)

Reminder: Please do not sell Redtoast or any other Windows remasters, and do not sell computers bundled with Redtoast to avoid jeopardizing the 9x remastering community.

What's new for Alpha 4?

Redtoast development was reset due to a number of things, including the Internet Explorer implementation being very rocky. It still is, given the Internet Explorer icon goes missing if you use the classic shell; that has yet to be worked out. While Alpha 4 tries to get back up to par with Alpha 3a, it is technically based on a blank slate, and the enhancements from Alpha 3a were just quickly spliced in there.

View full changelog

Latest Developments

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September 05, 2022 at 07:52 AM - As it turns out, one cannot simply throw numerous AC'97 implementations at the same VxD from 2001. It's become pretty clear that stretching Windows 95D Lite's driver coverage to the Pentium 4 era is simply not as feasible as I hoped, and Windows 98 or ME are simply much better suited to much newer hardware.

For a few days, I had been struggling to get the ATI Radeon driver integrated into Windows 95, but that went either one of two ways: either adding the INF by itself outright broke the PnP detection process, or taking chunks of the INF and throwing them in MSDISP.INF caused the device to forcefully reset to 640x480 at 16-bit color every reboot - i.e. it wouldn't remember the last display settings you set. These did not occur when installing the driver manually after Setup, but support for OpenGL and AGP features were still unavailable. A disappointing loss for sure, as adding the driver could've covered a LOT more ground.

Oh well. The last bits of potential for Windows 95D Lite have pretty much been squeezed out by now. To offset this, I've added a driver for some later Chips video cards, and a new theme may be coming in to replace two others of low quality. For those experiencing a disappearing CD-ROM drive on early Intel chipsets (430HX, 430VX and the like), I've taken a measure to fix that as well.

After I finish this other project of mine, I expect to run a round of large-scale testing with 95DL 1.6, but once that's out there, it may very well be the true end of the road for this long Windows 95 endeavor.

August 31, 2022 at 10:54 AM - Hey, so it's been quite a long time since I last touched on this, again. I mainly wanted to bring up here that a new version of Windows 95D Lite is indeed being worked on. Hopefully, this release will be even more accessible for Pentium 4 owners, seeing how ongoing worldwide troubles are pushing prices for plenty of older hardware even higher. I can confirm that the Nvidia FX series already works out of the box on here.

An AC'97 driver also works on my Asus P4B (845-based from 2001), but doesn't seem to work on one tester's laptop, even though the sound chipset is also AC'97 compliant. Is it possible that it just has a different SUBSYS value not listed in the VALCX95.INF file, and the same driver could work with it?

Now, about Redtoast... I can't really say which direction I'd want to take it should I ever return to that project. I'm envisioning that I may redo it yet again, just trying to find some kind of approach to settle on. It could turn out like what the original Windows 95D was going for, or I might consider using Windows ME as a base instead if I can somehow trick it into accepting MS-DOS 7.10 underneath. There's a lot of possibilities.

Of course, a lot of people may very well be fine with Windows 98's webby shell and just want the enhancements. That would very much be doable, it's just that I personally want to have that choice between either shell and not have to worry about breaking anything with the old shell - hence I've heavily favored Windows 95D Lite.

So, will Windows 95D Lite get better support for Pentium 4-era hardware? It depends on how well things go for testing in the days to come. Whether I do get back to work on Redtoast, on the other hand, really depends on the time I'd have for it. In the coming months after 95DL 1.6 is released alongside something else, I'm gonna be HEAVILY occupied with a much more important project, so it's going to be difficult to tend to these other things from here on out.

February 19, 2022 at 05:32 AM - In all seriousness, remastering Windows 9x is not as fun as it used to be. In the case of 95D Lite, the end result was great, since I could now load the best version of Windows on a lot more computers with greater ease, but the journey there was horrific. Absolutely horrific. It felt like it took some monstrous wizardry just to force Windows 95 Setup to not break itself when detecting a network card or something, and even then, it still does that anyway for one of my PRO/100 cards.

Windows 98 looks like it's better at handling so many preloaded drivers, given the way the setup routine was restructured there, but it's not exactly something I'd consider desirable to use given its stubborn insistence on the use of an IE shell. On the surface, getting the old shell back in there is simple enough, but it's as if Windows 98 actively punishes you for trying to pull such a stunt.

Icons not changing as they should, or drivers not loading... even after all the time I've spent reinstalling Windows 9x over and over again trying to make sure things work on multiple platforms, something always manages to go wrong on someone's end. They ask me to fix it, but I didn't program Windows 95. I merely cut it open, stuffed some extras in there, and sealed it back up.

Now that I'm starting to learn to write original programs better, Redtoast is hardly something I'd consider working on again if Windows 98 is going to hate the 95 shell that much. Is there a better way to do things, like give Windows 95 the "kernel extensions" treatment so it can support USB HIDs, SSE instructions, and support for much newer programs? Or is everyone just gonna pretend that the IE shell is perfectly fine... at this rate, I don't care enough to find out. At some point in the distant future I oughta just put up a complete guide on remastering Windows 9x and leave this whole thing behind.

October 26, 2021 at 01:52 AM - I found a rather strange bug in Windows 95's SETUPX.DLL... it turns out that if you specify multiple layout files for an optional component INF like MMOPT.INF, the component menu reports it as taking up zero megabytes. Files will still install nonetheless, and Windows 98 is not affected by this bug. Mouse cursors are pretty small in size, so if you see that the component doesn't report a size, that's why.

October 22, 2021 at 11:50 PM - Don't forget... I very much intend to implement an express setup routine for the Redtoast boot CD when I get back to that.

Check out the development miniblog to see more of the latest advancements in Redtoast's development, and feast on the screenshots to really get an idea of what's coming up next!

What's Next?

While Redtoast is very much usable, it is far from complete. Here is a list of some things that it'll need in the future:

Newer Drivers

Windows 98 comes with a decent set of newer drivers for later hardware by default, but it's still not going to be enough for a lot of builds. You're probably going to be installing a 3dfx Voodoo3, GeForce 256, or something to that degree, and it would be great to be able to have those installed immediately alongside Redtoast. Windows 95D Lite already does this, so it's really a matter of catching up to it.

More Updates

Redtoast has a number of updates integrated already, but may still have yet more to go. Some new optional components are also desirable, including Windows Messaging from Windows 95, Remote Desktop Connection, and maybe KernelEx. There might be more, this is just all I can think of right now.

Help Documentation

As of now, most of the Help documents are gone. They were removed because they rely on the Internet Explorer help engine, so what I want to do much later on is create replacement Help documents in the legacy WinHelp format. This could be a very daunting task and I'm not willing to take it on alone, so I encourage you to experiment with the Microsoft Help Compiler I've mirrored on my site, as well as a decompiler written by several authors over the years. Contact me if you wish to make any contributions.

Internet Explorer?!

Now, this sounds like it would just compromise the whole point of Redtoast, but here's the thing: if you try to install Internet Explorer yourself on here, the components will be available, but you can't actually use the program. Unlike with installing Internet Explorer on Windows 95, the installer assumes certain things that allow it to skip certain parts of file copying that would otherwise be necessary on a Windows 95 installation without Internet Explorer... because Windows 98 ALWAYS has Internet Explorer, right?

As of Alpha 3a, the essential web browsing functions of Internet Explorer 5.5 and the new shell are available. In later builds I plan to add new versions of the other internet components back in, such as NetMeeting and Windows Media Player. Other things forcibly installed by Windows 98 before will also be componentized, such as the Task Scheduler that never really gets used these days.

Download old releases of Redtoast here