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Remove Windows 9x/Me from Dual-Boot with Windows XP or 2000

Last reviewed: February 2009

On this page:

Each Windows on its own Drive

Both Windows on Same Drive

This page describes how to remove Windows 95, 98, 98SE, or Millennium from a dual-boot with Windows XP, or 2000. This will result will in a single Windows (XP/2K) system that boots normally without a boot menu. The hard disk space currently allocated to the Windows 9x/Me will then be available for use under the retained Windows XP/2K.

Do not use these instructions if you use a third-party boot utility like BootMagic. The instructions presume you have a natural dual-boot - in this situation, the boot files for the two Windows are all on the first FAT or FAT32 partition and the Windows boot loader (NTLDR) controls the boot menu. This first FAT/32 partition is also the Active drive and has a boot sector for Windows XP or 2000.

The procedures below were successfully tested many times when Win9x/Me was installed first (XP/2K installed last) and when Windows XP/2K was installed first (Win9x/Me installed last).

Note: In Methods #1 and #2, the Windows XP/2K installation should remain on its present partition/drive. If you have a partition utility like PartitionMagic, you can later resize the original Win9x drive to about 300-500 MB, but the current Win9x partition should remain. Method #3 totally removes the Win9x/Me partition but is not suitable for all users. In all three methods the drive letter currently allocated to Windows XP/2K will remain unaltered and this is considered essential.

Each Windows on its own Drive

Method #1: Remove Win9x/Me & Keep XP/2000 (with no Format of Win9x partition)

Make Windows XP/2K the Default OS to boot. Then edit Boot.ini to remove the Win 9x line.
Windows XP/2K will then boot directly without any boot menu. The Win9x directory can now be deleted.

Do not use System or Msconfig to disable the Win9x - that's unsatisfactory.

Example: Uninstall Windows 9x from a Dual-Boot with XP: (2K is similar)

Tip: Uninstall any Win9x-only software.
Tip: Create a temporary Rescue Boot Disk for your current situation (1 floppy disk).

  1. Bootup to Windows XP.
    • Backup the hidden file, Boot.ini, in root of the Win9x drive.
    • Go to Control Panel > System > Advanced tab.
      In Startup and Recovery, click Settings.
      In Default operating system:, select Microsoft Windows XP (or 2000).
      Click the Edit button to edit the startup options file (Boot.ini) manually, and
      delete the Win9x line [C:\="Microsoft Windows"].
      Click File, and then Save.
      Close Boot.ini and press OK to exit Startup and Recovery.
  2. Reboot. Only Windows XP/2K will boot from now on.
    Delete the Win9x installation directory (usually C:\Windows) and any non-essential Win9x data.
    Delete the Win9x boot files on C: - Io.sys & Msdos.sys (hidden files) & Command.com.

When all is satisfactory, create a new Rescue Boot Disk to reflect your new situation.

Warning: Do not Format the Win9x/Me partition (it contains the Windows XP/2K boot files).

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Each Windows on its own Drive

Method #2: Remove Win9x/Me & Keep XP/2000 (with Format of Win9x partition)

Caution: This method deletes all data on the Win9x partition (C:) so backup any vital data from there first!
Caution: Use Methods #1 or #3 if the first partition uses the NTFS file system.

  1. Make sure you can boot from a bootable CD (read How to Boot from a bootable CD).
    You need a floppy drive, an empty formatted floppy, any Win98 boot disk, and any Windows XP/2000 CD that gives access to the Recovery Console on bootup.
  2. Bootup to XP/2K.
    • Backup the Boot.ini that's on the Win9x drive.
    • Go to Control Panel > System > Advanced tab.
      In Startup and Recovery, click Settings.
      In Default operating system:, select Microsoft Windows XP (or 2000) if not already selected.
      Now click the Edit button to edit the startup options file (Boot.ini) manually, and
      delete the Win9x line [C:\="Microsoft Windows 9x"].
      Click File, and then Save. Close Boot.ini and press OK to exit Startup and Recovery.
    • Copy the hidden XP/2K boot files from root of Win9x drive to a blank formatted floppy or USB flash/pen drive.
      These files are Boot.ini, NTLDR, Ntdetect.com, and also Ntbootdd.sys if it's present
      (you must also copy Arcldr.exe and Arcsetup.exe if using Windows 2000).
    • Remove the Attributes of those files on 'that' floppy by typing in
      ATTRIB -r -s -h A:\*.* from a Command Prompt (Start > Programs > Accessories >).
      Remove 'that' floppy.
  3. Bootup from a Win98/Me boot disk.
    • Type in (and then press [Enter])
      FORMAT C: /Q
      When Format is finished, replace the boot disk with 'that' floppy.
      Copy the saved boot files from 'that' floppy back to the C: drive, using
      Reinsert your Win9x boot disk, and type
      ATTRIB +r +s +h C:\*.*
  4. Bootup from your XP/2K CD, and press R (and then C for 2K) to open the Recovery Console.
    • Log onto your installed Windows XP/2K (press Enter for Password unless you have one).
    • Type in:   (press [Enter] after each)
      MAP
      and identify the drive letter allocated to the Win9x partition.
      FIXBOOT C:
      (where C: is the letter just identified).
      Press Y and [Enter] to confirm.
      EXIT
  5. Reboot. You will boot directly into Windows XP or 2000 without any boot menu.
  6. When all is satisfactory, create a new Rescue Boot Disk to reflect your new situation

Never delete those boot files on the FAT/32 partition.

You can delete the Win9x installation directory if it was not on the first FAT/32 partition.

If you wish to execute a fresh install of Win9x/Me, follow the instructions at:
Install Win9x/Me on a Windows XP/2K/NT system that uses NTFS
or
Install Win Me/98/95b,c on XP/2K (FAT/32)

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Each Windows on its own Drive

Method #3: Remove Win9x/Me & Keep XP/2000 (with Removal of Win9x partition)

Caution: This method removes the Windows 9x/Me partition permanently so backup any vital data from there first!
Caution: These instructions assume Windows XP/2000 is on the first NTFS partition of the first hard disk.

This method works well but is recommended only if your Windows XP currently uses C: as its drive letter. Read Warning below.

The Windows XP partition will be made Active, given the boot files, and resized (larger) to include all of the Windows 9x/Me partition. The drive letter currently allocated to the Windows XP partition will remain unchanged.

Note: If your Windows XP/2000 was installed after your Win9x/Me installation, then XP/2K should not have C: as its installation drive/partition. Otherwise both operating systems may use C: when booted. To avoid possible confusion, these instructions will use W9x and Wxp to identify which drive is being referred to. A drive's size is also an important identification factor.

  1. Bootup to Windows XP
    • Label the Win9x drive W9x, and label the Windows XP drive Wxp - you can use right-click in Windows Explorer to label.
    • Backup the hidden Boot.ini file that is on W9x now.
    • Go to Control Panel > System > Advanced tab.
      In Startup and Recovery, click Settings.
      In Default operating system:, select Microsoft Windows XP (or 2000) if not already selected.
      Press OK to exit Startup and Recovery.
    • Copy all the hidden XP/2K boot files from root of W9x drive to root of Wxp
      These files are Boot.ini, NTLDR, Ntdetect.com, and also Ntbootdd.sys if it's present
      (you must also copy Arcldr.exe and Arcsetup.exe if using Windows 2000).
    • Right-click Wxp():\Boot.ini and click Open to edit the Boot.ini that's now on Wxp
        Delete the line C:\="Microsoft Windows" (it's the line that calls Win9x/Me).
        Look for partition(?) in two lines in Boot,ini. If the number used between the brackets is not 1, then in both lines carefully change the number between the brackets to the number 1, like:
        partition(1)
        Do not alter any other part of those two lines - that number one represents the first Primary partition.
        Check your typing and Save this Boot.ini back to Wxp
    • Open Disk Management (Control Panel > Administrative Tools > Computer Management)
      Skip the next step if Wxp is a Primary partition and 'Mark Partition as Active' is an option when Wxp is right-clicked.
  2. Bootup to PartitionMagic or to your own partition management utility that converts Logical to Primary.
    • Convert Wxp(): from Logical to Primary partition and click Apply.
    • Reboot back to Windows XP and go back to Disk Management.
  3. With Windows XP booted and in Disk Management:
    • Right-click Wxp, select Mark partition as Active, and click Yes.
    • Right-click W9x, select Delete partition, and click Yes
      (click OK for 'The partition number ... has changed ...').
  4. Bootup to PartitionMagic.
    • Resize the NTFS partition to include all the disk space that was used by W9x. Click Apply.
  5. Bootup to Windows XP.
    • Reboot again when requested ('Windows has finished installing new devices ...') - it's adjusting to changed disk geometry.

Windows XP/2000, plus installed software, will function exactly as previously.
Your retained Windows will retain its original drive letter.

You will not need to run FIXBOOT from the Recovery Console unless unknown factors are involved.


Method #3 Warning:

The following warning does not apply if your Windows XP currently uses C: as its drive letter.

Many tests using Method #3 were always successful. The end state even survived a later test Repair installation of Windows XP, i.e. if XP had been on drive E:, it remained on E: after a Repair install and everything continued to function normally.

However, further testing showed that if you removed a partition that preceded the XP partition and at a later time have to repair the MBR (using FIXMBR or FDISK /MBR), then the drive letter allocated to Windows XP will be changed to C:. You would then be forced to execute a Repair installation to get XP booting again and also to use PartitionMagic's Drive Mapper (or a similar utility) to change the drive letter of your installed software to C: - and you'll probably need to re-register XP, reinstall SPs and updates, and maybe reinstall some software.

Most users will never need to repair the MBR but you should be aware of this issue. THPC recommends you use Methods #3 only if your Windows XP or 2000 currently uses the C drive letter and you wish to eliminate the Win9x/Me drive. You should use Method #2 if your Windows XP/2K does not already use C.
 

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Both Windows on Same Drive

Remove Win9x/Me & Keep XP/2000 when Both Windows Share the Same Partition

You just need to uninstall all the Win9x-only software, delete the Win9x/Me installation folder/directory, and edit the Win9x line out of the hidden boot file, C:\Boot.ini. However you must exercise great care in identifying the correct Windows folder to delete. If you incorrectly delete the Windows XP/2K folder then you will have to do a clean install of Windows XP/2K with loss of everything!

The Program Files folder contains many Win9x/Me files but, in the situation, it is shared with Windows XP/2K and therefore must not be removed. The best you can do is to uninstall as much Win9x/Me items as possibly before you remove Win9x/Me.

The following procedure may appear over cautious to some readers but is designed to ensure users do not make a fatal mistake!

  1. Optionally first create, and test, a Rescue Boot Disk for your current situation (1 floppy disk).
    Skip the next section if you cannot boot to the Win9x/Me.
  2. Bootup to Win9x/Me.
    • Uninstall any software/applications that are specific to Win9x/Me
      (you can use Add/Remove Programs and the Uninstall supplied by some software/applications).
    • Go to Start and click Run.... Type in (and then press OK).
      CMD
      Type in, and then press [Enter]
      %windir%
      In the Address Bar, read the name of the Win9x/Me folder you are using and you wish to REMOVE
      (if it's not visible, click View, highlight Toolbars, and select Address Bar).
      Note that name and then exit that window.
  3. Bootup to Windows XP/2K.
    • Backup the hidden file, C:\Boot.ini, to C:
    • Go to Control Panel > System > Advanced tab.
      In Startup and Recovery, click Settings.
      In Default operating system:, select Microsoft Windows XP (or 2000) if not already selected.
      Now edit the startup options file (Boot.ini) manually, and
      delete the Win9x line [C:\="Microsoft Windows" or C:\ or similar].
      Click File, and then Save.
      Close Boot.ini and press OK to exit Startup and Recovery.
      (you must manually edit the hidden C:\Boot.ini if using Windows 2000)
    • Repeat the above %windir% procedure to identify the Windows folder you wish to KEEP
      Note that name and then exit the Command Prompt.
  4. Reboot to Windows XP/2K.
    If that XP/2K does not boot restore your backup of Boot.ini and start at step 3 again.
  5. In Windows XP/2K, use Windows Explorer to identify the Windows folder you wish to REMOVE
    and then RENAME the Windows folder you wish to REMOVE
    (right-click on the correct folder/directory and click Rename, and then rename it).
    Test all the software and applications you wished to keep.
    If you are not happy with the situation, return the original name to the renamed folder and also restore the original Boot.ini, and then start at step 3 again.
  6. Reboot to Windows XP/2K.
    If all is satisfactory, DELETE the RENAMED Windows folder - that's the Win9x/Me folder to be removed.
    You should empty Recycled sometime soon.
    Finished.

Caution: DO NOT delete ANY boot files.
Caution: DO NOT interfere with the 'Program Files', or 'Documents and Settings', or any other folders except the Win9x/Me folder to be removed.

Advise: You can now recreate the Rescue Boot Disk to reflect your new situation.

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How to Show Hidden Files and Folders in Windows XP or 2000 or 2003

  • Open Windows Explorer
  • Click on the Tools menu, click Folder Options..., and then click the View tab.
  • Click to enable Display the contents of system folders (not Windows 2000)
  • Under the Hidden files and folders section, click to enable Show hidden files and folders
  • Clear to disable Hide extensions for known file types
  • Clear to disable Hide protected operating system files (Recommended) if you want to see system files
    (click Yes if a warning dialog box appears)
  • Click the Apply button, and then click OK.

Click here for a full list of how to show hidden files in all versions of Windows.

Click here to learn how to edit Boot.ini in all versions of Windows.

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Please remember that you alone are responsible for the consequences of any changes you make to your computer hardware or software.

Copyright © LarryM 1998-2015 thpc@mail.com