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Install Win 95, 95a on XP/2K (FAT16)

Last reviewed: March 2004

Dual-Boot Windows 95 on a Windows XP or 2000 system if C: uses FAT16.

You can install Win95 or 95a on a FAT system that has Windows XP, or 2000, already installed on it. You can then select either Windows during boot up. No third-party boot utility is used here.

C: must be the PC system partition. C: must be using FAT because both OSs use C: during the initial boot process and Win95 can't read a FAT32 or NTFS partition.
If C: uses NTFS, go to read Any 9x on NTFS (XP/2K/NT).

You have two options:
#1 Repair
You can install Win95 on a different FAT partition. Then repair the XP/2K OS Boot Sector with its CD or Setup Disks (no data loss).
#2 Reinstall
Fdisk, repartition, format, and install the Win95 first. Then reinstall Win XP/2K (data loss occurs but you can first create an image of XP/2K and restore it later).

Please read Dual-Boot Win9x/XP/2K/NT (read first) for an overview of Windows dual-booting.

OPTIONS FOR INSTALLING A Win95 ON A XP/2000 SYSTEM

You can use #1 Repair or #2 Reinstall methods, or use a utility.

Win XP/2K will have control of the boot up and allow booting to Win95 or XP/2K on boot up.

Win95a can use only the FAT file system. If C: is an NTFS or FAT32 partition, you must convert C: to FAT with loss of data and use the #2 Reinstall method, or else use a third-party boot utility.

#1 Repair:
Installing Win95 on a Win XP/2K system will normally make XP/2K unbootable. In this situation the XP/2K OS Boot Sector is overwritten by the Win95 OS Boot Sector. The XP/2K is still intact, but can not boot! Fortunately its OS Boot Sector can be repaired and a dual-boot created.

Install the Win95, optionally save the Win95 OS Boot Sector, and then repair the Win XP/2K OS Boot Sector. This requires extra user participation, but no data lost occurs. It needs C: to be FAT, not FAT32 or NTFS. If there's only one partition then add a hard disk or use a partition utility.

#2 Reinstall:
Installing Win XP/2K on a Win95 system does not affect the Win95's ability to boot. Win XP/2K detects the presence of the existing OS (Win95) during the XP/2K installation and makes the appropriate adjustments. XP/2K are designed to cope with this situation and create dual-boot boot up options.

Start from new. Fdisk, Repartition, and Format C: as a FAT partition. Install Win95 as the first OS (on C:), and then reinstall Win XP/2K elsewhere as NTFS or FAT. This option is more reliable, but all data is loss and it takes more time.

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PARTITIONS

One possible difficulty is that you need at least two partitions (or hard disks).
Both Windows will boot from the one and only PC system partition (nearly always C:).
However, Win XP/2K and Win95 directory/files should not be on on the same partition. Installing different OSs on a single partition may cause problems running those OSs.

At a minimum the items in Program Files, including Common/Shared components, will cause conflicts. IE and Outlook Express are likely to break, and other applications are also at risk. A single hard disk is fine if it's partitioned to at least C: & D: with only one OS per drive. A third partition is very useful for shared data if both Wins use the same file system.

Click HERE to learn how to install another hard disk without changing current drive letters.

Win95 partition requirements:
1. PC system partition (C:) must use FAT16.
2. Win95 boot partition (if not C:) must use FAT16.
3. Win95 boot partition must start below the 2 GB boundary.
4. Win95 must be installed on a pre-formatted Primary partition.
5. Win95 must see only one Primary per hard disk (but it can not see NTFS!).
XP/2K can format its own partition during its installation, can install on a Primary or Logical partition, and can handle multiple Primaries on one hard disk.

Freeware!:
A third-party partition utility will allow you create/resize partition(s) without loss of data.
PartitionMagic 5.01 was FREE with PC Magazine CD, June 2002 (PM is now ver. 8).
PartitionMagic 4.0 appears to be FREE at user-friendly.net (not verified).
Some users may find a freeware utility like Partition Manager (165KB) difficult to use.

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YOU NEED A FAT FOR THE SYSTEM DRIVE

It's worthwhile emphasizing the importance of File System types with a Win95.

Windows 95 can not boot from a FAT32 or NTFS partition.

There are four important ingredients to a Win95 installation:
1. PC system partition type (C: must always use FAT)
2. Win95 boot files (always on C:)
3. Win95 boot partition (usually C: but can be elsewhere using FAT).
4. Win95 boot partition must begin before 2 GB (Win95,a) from physical start of disk.

Therefore, in this dual-boot:

• If XP/2K is installed on C: and uses FAT, then you just need a second FAT partition.
• If XP/2K is not on C: and uses FAT elsewhere, then install Win95 on C:.
• If XP/2K is not on C: and uses NTFS or FAT32 elsewhere, then C: may be FAT.
• If XP/2K is on C: and uses NTFS or FAT32, then you must use #2 Reinstall (here),
   or use a method described in Any 9x on NTFS (XP/2K/NT), or use a boot utility.

• If you have only one partition then you must:
     start fresh using the #2 Reinstall method (data is lost when you repartition),
     or add a second hard disk (no loss of data),
     or use third-party partition utility to create more partitions (no loss of data).

Adding a disk will alter drive letter allocations if current disk has more than one partition!

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EXAMPLES: Install Win95,a on XP or 2000 (FAT)

Examples of Partitions & File System types that can be used in this Dual-Boot.
A second hard disk (Disk 1) is helpful, but it is partitions and file system types that count most.

Example 1:
Disk 0  C:  Win95  FAT  Primary (PC system partition;  2GB max.) 
Disk 0  D:  XP/2K  FAT  Logical (both Windows can read both drives) 
Example 2:
Disk 0  C:  Win95  FAT  Primary (PC system partition;  2GB max.) 
Disk 0  D:  XP/2K  NTFS Logical (XP/2K can read both. Win95 can't read D:) 
Example 3:
Disk 0  C:  XP/2K  FAT  Primary (PC system partition;  2GB max.) 
Disk 0  D:  No Win FAT  Logical (data shared by both Wins)
Disk 0  E:  Win95  FAT  Logical (both Windows can read all drives) 
Example 4:
Disk 0  C:  No Win FAT  Primary (PC system partition;  2GB max.) 
Disk 0  E:  XP/2K  NTFS Logical (XP/2K can read all drives) 
Disk 1  D:  Win95  FAT  Primary (Win95 can read only C: & D:) 
Disk 1  F:  No Win NTFS Logical (XP/2K data) 

When C: is not the OS Boot Partition:
The OS boot partition must begin before a certain distance from the start of the hard disk to be bootable. The OS boot partition for DOS, FAT, NT must begin before 2 GB from the start of the hard disk. The boot partition for other Windows must begin before 8 GB from start of disk. If your PC supports INT13 Extensions, then 98+, XP, 2000 can boot from beyond 7.8 GB.

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KNOWN ISSUES - Installing Win 95 (a) on XP or 2K

Remember, you will need to repartition or add a hard disk:
  • if you have only one partition (only a C: drive).
Remember, you will need to format your C: drive:
  • if that PC system partition is not a FAT partition.
Note: PartitionMagic 5.0 was freeware with PC Magazine in June 2002. Get a copy!

Fast CPUs
You can check with your mainboard manufacturer to see if a Windows 95 or 95A will install without error on fast systems if you have a very fast CPU - just in case Win95 will install but not run!

"Do you wish to enable large disk support (Y/N)?"
When Fdisk asks you this, it wants to know if you wish to use the FAT32 file system.
The C: drive, and the Win95 PC system partition (if different), can not use FAT32 in this dual-boot.

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#1 PREPARE TO REPAIR WINDOWS XP/2K

Prepare to Install Win95 & then REPAIR the Win XP/2K OS Boot Sector (no loss of data expected).
Already Installed: XP/2K . You want to add : Win 95 or 95a.

Preparation:

1. Hardware drivers compatible with next Windows (mainboard, hard disk, video, ..)
    For those in Windows, check list shown in \Drivers\ on its CD.
2. Check that C: uses FAT (it must be the only Primary partition).
    Check that you have at least two partitions (or two hard disks).
    You need another Logical FAT partition if XP/2K is installed on C: and uses FAT.
    You need to use the #2 Reinstall method if C: uses NTFS.
3. Read, & save, the Repair a Dual-Boot page.
4. Get a boot disk/Startup Disk, with CD support, for a Win9x or DOS 5+ - ESSENTIAL.
5. Download Btsect25.zip (6 KB) from THPC (you must read about Bootsect.DOS).
    Extract all three files (17.5 KB) from Btsect25.zip to the Win9x boot disk
    Boot disk must contain the MS-DOS files Debug, Choice, Attrib, Sys (same ver).
6. Create XP/2K's ERD (run Rdisk.exe /s), and boot disks - ESSENTIAL
    WINNT32 and MAKEBT32 (\Boot disk folder on CD) are used to create boot disks.
7. Install the Recovery Console.

It's helpful to install the Support Tools from the XP/2K CD (\Support\Tools\Setup.exe).

#1 CHECKLIST FOR REPAIR OPTION

Installing Win95 on a Win XP/2K system and then REPAIRING Win XP/2K.

The C: drive must not be an NTFS or FAT32 partition.

1. At least two partitions - two hard disks will also do fine.
2. C: (PC system partition) must use a FAT file system.
3. A FAT partition not used by XP/2K. A second hard disk is fine.

4. Win XP/2K already installed.
5. Win XP/2K CD and/or Setup floppies, & ERD (Rdisk.exe /s) - ESSENTIAL.

6. Boot disk / Startup Disk for a Win9x or DOS 5+ (with CD support) - ESSENTIAL.
7. Btsect25.zip downloaded from THPC, and unzipped to that Win9x boot disk.
8. A full Win95 CD, or copy the installation files to a FAT partition.

9. Read, and save, the Repair a Dual-Boot page BEFORE you start.
10. Read the Bootsect.DOS page.

Note: In an emergency any Win9x Startup Disk (with CD support) can be used for running a XP/2K CD. Boot up with it and run WINNT.EXE from the I386 folder of your XP/2K CD.

Note: Btsect25.zip contains Btsect.bat (and Bootread.scr) which is used to copy an image of the Win9x OS Boot Sector in C:\Bootsect.DOS. The ONLY time a valid Bootsect.DOS can be created is when C: is a Win9x OS Boot Sector. It's sensible to image the Win9x OS Boot Sector while it exists, and before the XP/2K repair replaces it with its own sector. Let's avoid any possibility of later receiving a "Bootsect.dos is missing ..."!

#1 REPAIR WIN XP/2K

Install Win95 & then REPAIR the Win XP/2K OS Boot Sector (no loss of data).
Already Installed: XP or 2000 . You want to add : Win 95 or 95A.

Repair Procedure:

1. Prepare (above), and switch OFF anti-viral software (& check in BIOS/CMOS also).
2. Boot up to true DOS with DOS/Win9x boot disk. At the A: prompt type
     x:\Win95\Setup.exe /is (where x: is your CD-ROM drive letter).
      Select Other directory and install it on the FAT partition of your choice.
      Fully install Win95 on a FAT partition not used by XP/2K:
3. Install all required drivers and ensure the installation is satisfactory. Do this now!
4. Boot up the prepared DOS/Win9x boot disk to true DOS and
    run A:\Btsect.bat (this creates Bootsect.DOS).
5. Create a new Startup Disk for the new Win95 (must contain Sys.com).

6. Boot up with the Win XP/2K CD or Setup boot disk 1.
      Select R to repair installation, and execute a repair of the OS Boot Sector
      [type FIXBOOT at the prompt - if needed, use FIXMBR to repair the MBR)

When your computer restarts, the Windows XP/2K boot loader screen appears, and you can choose between "Microsoft Windows 95" and Win XP/2K. If not, read Repair a Dual-Boot.

7. Finally, always create a new Rescue Boot Disk when a new dual-boot is successful!

Note: If rebooting for hardware installation, be sure you select the correct OS!

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#2 PREPARE FOR A REINSTALL

Prepare to Install Win95 and then REINSTALLING Win XP/2K
All hard disk data will be lost.
1. Hardware drivers compatible with next Windows (mainboard, hard disk, video, ..)
    For those in Windows, check list shown in Drivers on its CD.
2. Backup important data/settings/passwords/e-mails/etc.
    Optional: Save an image of XP/2K (for restoration later).
3. Boot up with a boot disk for a Win9x (with CD support).
4. A:\Fdisk & repartition the hard disk. Create two(+) partitions.
    If faced with NTFS on C: then use A:\FDISK /MBR from Win9x boot disk,
    or use XP/2K Setup disks and remove the NTFS partition (exit without installing).
    DO NOT Enable large disk support (Win95 can not use FAT32).
    Make C: the only Primary partition on that hard disk, and mark it as Active
    Format C: and any other Win95 partition(s) using FAT16 ("FAT").
    Let XP/2K format its own partition during its installation later (using NTFS or FAT).
Checklist
1. DOS or Win9x boot disk that supports your CD drive and has Fdisk & Format.
2. At least two partitions. C: must be the system, only Primary, partition and use FAT.
3. A full Win95 CD or its floppies - obviously!
4. Win XP/2K CD - obviously!
5. Floppy - for a new Win95 Startup Disk (that contains SYS.COM) - ESSENTIAL.
6. Floppies - for Win XP/2K Setup disk set, and ERD - ESSENTIAL.
7. Backup of important data, settings, passwords, e-mails, everything you need!
8. Optional image of XP/2K (for restoration, later, on same directory & partition).
9. Read and download THPC's Repair a Dual-Boot page BEFORE you start.
You are not restricted to just two OSs if reinstalling.
Multiple OSs can be installed, but install the oldest OS first while you have the choice to do so.

#2 REINSTALL WINDOWS XP OR 2000

Fdisk. Install Win95 & then REINSTALL Win XP/2K on different logical partition.
This is simple, safe, and reliable. Its also time-consuming, and data loss will occur.
If you want to use MS-DOS (FAT), install it FIRST, then Win95, finally Win NT.

Reinstall Procedure:
1. Boot up with DOS5+ or Win9x boot disk, and Install Win95 on C:,
    or on another partition that uses same FAT type as C:.
2. Create a new Win95 Startup Disk (that contains SYS.COM) - ESSENTIAL.
3. Reboot. Install all required drivers, and ensure a good installation. Do this now!
4. Boot up to Win9x and install Win XP/2K on a different partition - use Advanced.
      Make sure it installs as a new installation - not as an upgrade.
      Make sure the installation drive letter is not the Win95 drive.
      Make sure the directory name is not the Win95 name.
      Let XP/2K format its partition and select FAT for the target drive,
      or select NTFS (and lose access to all NTFS data when in Win95).
      Do not alter the FAT type of C:.
5. Create XP/2K's ERD (run Rdisk.exe /s), and boot disks - ESSENTIAL
    WINNT32 and MAKEBT32 (\Boot disk folder on CD) are used to create boot disks.

When your computer restarts, the Windows XP/2K boot loader screen appears, and you can choose between "Microsoft Windows 95" and Win XP/2K. If not, read Repair a Dual-Boot.
6. Optional: Restore your image of XP/2K if same directory & partition were used for new XP/2K.
7. Install the Recovery Console.
8. Finally, always create a new Rescue Boot Disk when a new dual-boot is successful!

Note: If rebooting for hardware installation, be sure you select the correct OS!

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START MS-DOS

To start MS-DOS from a Windows 95 multi-boot with Windows XP/2K:

This, obviously, applies only if MS-DOS was installed before Win95.

1   Choose MS-DOS from the menu on boot loader screen, and press ENTER.
2a To start MS-DOS directly: press F4 just before the Win95 starts to load.
2b To display the Windows 95 Startup menu, press F8 instead
     and, then to start MS-DOS, choose the Previous version of MS-DOS option.

But check this first:
For the MS-DOS option, the line
BootMulti=1
should be in the [Options] section of the Win95 Msdos.sys file.

To add BootMulti=1 to Msdos.sys:
Open a MS-DOS Prompt, and type in (assuming C: is the PC system partition)
ATTRIB -R -S -H C:\MSDOS.SYS
EDIT C:\MSDOS.SYS
  Now add the line
  BootMulti=1
  to the [Options] section.
  Save, and Exit.
Finish by typing in (and then press Enter)
ATTRIB +R +S +H C:\MSDOS.SYS

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DEFAULT BOOT AND BOOT DELAY

Specifying the Default OS to Boot, and the Boot Menu delay (the Timeout)

When you have established Dual-Booting, you will want to set which OS boots by default.

You can set the default OS (and the timeout) that you want via Control Panel.

1. Boot to the Win XP/2K.

2. Go to Start > Control Panel > System > Advanced tab (or Properties)

3. Under Startup and Recovery, click Settings (or look for these settings).

4. Under System startup, in the Default operating system list, click the OS that you want to start when you turn on, or restart, your computer.

5. Also select the Display list of operating systems for check box, and then type the number of seconds for which you want the list displayed before the default OS starts automatically.

You can also edit the boot options file (click Edit). Be careful of typing errors if modifying the boot options file (Boot.ini), because doing so may make your computer unusable.

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BOOT DISKS & YOUR OWN RESCUE BOOT DISK

NEVER dual-boot without your personal safety net - a BOOT DISK for XP/2K/NT.
If stuck, use a Win9x Startup Disk (CD support), and run WINNT.EXE from I386 folder on CD.

RESCUE BOOT DISK for when XP, 2K, NT will not boot - ESSENTIAL, 1 floppy
   Create a bootable floppy to get XP/2K/NT running even if the boot record,
   or boot files, are ever a problem. Write-protect and keep it safe.
      Format a floppy with that XP, 2K, or NT. It must be a full XP/2K/NT format.
      Alter file Attributes (Attrib -r -s -h) of these files in root of C: (PC system partition)
      Boot.ini, NTLDR, Ntdetect.com, and Bootsect.dos & Ntbootdd.sys (if present)
      (plus Arcldr.exe & Arcsetup.exe - for Windows 2K) and copy them to the floppy.
      Write-protect the floppy. Then restore original Attributes to the files on C:.
      Read the Rescue Boot Disk page for fuller details, plus a much improved Rescue disk.
Use the CD: If you have a Bootable installation CD you should check if your BIOS
   supports booting from it. This is hugely convenient, but still make the floppy.
ERD XP, 2K, NT: Emergency Repair Disk - repair key Registry entries and partition geometry
   Use RDISK.EXE /S
2K/NT Setup Boot Disks: (4 floppies for 2K, or 3 for NT)
   Use WINNT32 and MAKEBT32 from 2K/NT (Boot disk folder on CD).
   Use WINNT and MAKEBOOT from a non-2K/NT system (such as Win9x).
XP Setup Boot Disks: (6 floppies)
   Read the Microsoft page How to obtain Windows XP Setup boot disks.
   It provides free downloads that create setup boot floppies for all versions of Windows XP.
   Each download is specific to each XP version (Home/Pro; original/SP1/SP2).
Win9x/Me Startup Disk:
   (95+) From a Windows: Control Panel > Add/Remove Programs > Startup Disk tab.
   (98+) From true MS-DOS: Go to the Command folder in Windows, and type Bootdisk.
   Windows 95 Startup Disks do not have CD support (add your CD-ROM driver).
   You can download free Win9x/Me boot disks from Bootdisk.com (IDE CDrom Drivers Included).

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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