Dual-booting all versions of Windows and Linux
Install Dual-Boot of Windows Vista + 98/Me on Windows Vista computer (Vista installed first)
Last reviewed: July 2011
This guide shows how to correctly and safely create a natural dual-boot of Windows Vista and Windows Millennium or 98 on a computer with Windows Vista already installed. You can then run either of those Windows by selecting one from a Windows menu during bootup. No data loss will occur and a third-party boot utility is not used.
In this procedure you need to shrink the Windows Vista drive to make room for a Primary partition for Win98/Me on the first hard disk. Using a second disk for Win98/Me is not an option.
32 and 64-bit versions of Windows Vista were used in testing The computers used were (1) a 32-bit Dell Optiplex with Pentium 4 (2.26GHz), 2.0 GB RAM, 160 GB ATA hard disk, and (2) AMD Athlon 64-bit (2.4GHz), 2.0 GB RAM, 1 TB SATA hard disk.
Following these instructions correctly should always succeed. However, any change to your computer should not even be considered unless your have a rescue plan. This guide also contains that rescue plan - just in case!
This procedure is suitable for moderately experienced computer users.
Users with 64-bit computer systems should note that they are unlikely to get 64-bit hardware drivers that work with Win98/Me. However, since all the x64 cpu's support x86 as well, you can dual-boot Win98/Me on a 64-bit computer provided you use the computer's On/Off button to execute a few extra cold boots while the Win98/Me installation tries for driver compatibility - it finds some, but not much. Some users will still find it worthwhile.
Important Installation Notes
EasyBCD. This is a free editing utility that allows any user to easily edit the Windows 8, 7 or Vista boot menu.
Hidden Active Partition. Many Windows 7 users will have a small Primary disk partition(s) that's marked active and is hidden (but is visible under Disk Management in Windows 7). This must be counted if you want to create a new Primary.
127 GB Partition Limitation in Windows 9x/Me. Windows 9x/Me must be installed on a Primary partition that starts before 127 GB from the beginning of the first hard disk. We can have just 4 Primaries per disk or 3 plus one Extended partition (containing many Logical partitions). This physical limitation cannot be avoided.
Formatting. All partitions should be created before you start installing any operating system (OS). The partition should be Formatted when installing that OS to ensure compatible file system versions. Avoid formatting Windows partitions with GParted or any other third-party partitioning utility.
Compression. You cannot use disk compression with Windows 9x in this situation.
Make a Partition Active
The Win98/Me FAT32 Primary partition is automatically marked as Active when Win98/Me is installed. After Win98/Me installation, the originally Active NTFS partition must be made Active again. And Fdisk may prove difficult!
It's very important you know how to do this BEFORE you install Win9x/Me. If you need help with this, read this page now and select the method that best suits your situation. You must be prepared for this in advance.
Detail: Install Windows 98/Me when Windows Vista is installed first
Installing other operating systems on your Windows Vista computer may invalidate your warrantee.
It's important to follow the instructions exactly as stated and you should start with a properly working Windows.
Make your preparations
Make free space and create new partitions
This part is best completed BEFORE you start installing any other operating system.
The single 160 GB disk usually used in testing initially had: System Reserved (100 MB, Primary, Hidden, NTFS), Windows Vista (150 GB, Primary, NTFS). The Windows Vista drive was shrunk leaving about 40 GB Unallocated space at the end of the disk (to the right). After repartitioning it had: System Reserved (100 MB, Primary, Hidden, NTFS), Vista (120 GB, Primary, NTFS), Win98/Me (4 GB, Primary, FAT32), Data (23 GB, Logical, NTFS).
When a single disk was less than 127 GB in size, the Win98/Me Primary partition was put at the end of the disk. Win98/Me must still be on the first disk even if you have a second hard disk.
Always note the size of each partition and also label each (this guide uses vsta and w_Me).
Use the free GParted Live CD to gain adequate disk space only if you absolutely must - read the page Use GParted to Resize the Windows Vista or Vista Partition to learn how, and read Repair Windows Vista Startup (below) before you use GParted.
Next Install Windows 98/Me in this Windows Vista Dual-Boot
The link below shows how to install Windows 9x/Me in this dual-boot and how to use EasyBCD 2.1 with it.
The Windows Vista boot menu will then boot Windows Vista or Windows 98/Me when selected.
Repair Windows Vista Startup
You will not have any problem if you follow the instructions as stated above. However you might encounter some freak occurrence like a power failure during an installation. Windows Vista will boot again if you execute the following procedure.
If still stuck for a solution, boot again from the installation DVD, select Repair your computer, highlight Windows Vista, get to a Command Prompt, use DIR command (DIR C: or DIR D: etc.) to identify drive letter allocations (sizes and Labels will help), and type in:
Please remember that you alone are responsible for the consequences of any changes you make to your computer hardware or software.
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