Install Windows 2000 on XP system, or on (XP + XP/2K/NT/Win9x/DOS)
Last reviewed: June 2005
How to dual-boot, or multi-boot, Windows 2000 (2K) when Windows XP is already installed on your PC. The procedure is identical if XP is already dual-booted with a Win9x/DOS, or with any combination of XP/2K/NT.
No third-party boot utility is used here.
This is reliable and safe, easy and usually painless. It causes no loss of data, and even Microsoft should not object!
The core principle of this dual-boot is that a couple of 2K boot files will not boot a later version of Windows (XP). However, the XP version of these boot files will boot any earlier version of Windows (2K or NT). Therefore, we can backup the two XP files, then install 2K (overwriting the XP boot files), and finally restore the XP files (overwriting the 2K boot files). All Windows will now boot from the Boot Loader Menu.
It's as simple as that! However, there are a few items users need to consider before starting.
The C: drive (first partition, first hard disk) is always the system partition in a natural Windows installation, and nearly always in a natural dual-boot. With XP installed, look in the root of C: for NTLDR and Ntdetect.com (Hidden files). If found, then C: is the system partition. This page will assume that your C: drive contains the XP boot files, thus making C: the system partition.
You need to install 2K on a partition that does not have an OS already installed on it. Sharing a partition with another OS will lead to problems and can never be recommended. MS-DOS is the only exception to this.
The partition should be 0.6 - 1.5 GB in size for the 2K installation. Allow plenty of extra space for your own needs.
You can also install 2K on a second hard disk. If adding a second disk, and if you have multiple partitions on the first hard disk, you should read Add a new Hard Disk without changing drive letters.
If you have a single hard disk with a single partition (a C: drive, but no D: except for a CD or DVD drive), you will have to:
1. Create a new partition on unallocated space on the disk (if there's any free).
2. Add another hard disk (and then return here).
3. Use a third-party partition utility to create a new partition without loss of data (and then return here)
4. Use Fdisk & Format (with total loss of all data!), create an extra partition. Now install 2K first, and then install XP as a new installation. This order of installation creates the dual-boot automatically (without any user effort).
If you currently use only FAT32 on your system, then there's no problem. Just install 2K on an appropriate FAT32 partition that does not contain any OS. Or you can convert a FAT32 partition to NTFS for 2K, but try to make it the final partition (so drive letters will not change under FAT32).
If your current system partition (C:) uses NTFS, then you must install 2K on an NTFS partition.
[top of page]