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Install Win9x on (MS-DOS + XP/2K/NT) system

Last reviewed: March 2004

Multi-Boot any Windows 9x on a Windows XP, 2000, or NT system that's already dual-booted with MS-DOS. No third-party boot utility is used.

You can install any Windows 9x on a system with MS-DOS and a Windows XP/2K/NT already installed (dual-booted) so you can select either Windows during boot up.

This is reliable and safe, easy and painless. No loss of data occurs. It's even suggested by Microsoft!

Dual-boot to MS-DOS. Install the Windows9x, and reboot.
Windows 9x will boot if you select MS-DOS in the Boot Loader menu. You can also select the Win XP/2000/NT, and can still boot to MS-DOS via the Windows 9x bootup.

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


It's usually very simple to setup this multi-boot configuration.

You currently have [Win XP or 2000 or NT] and MS-DOS installed (dual-booted).
You want to add a Win9x/Me (read below for information on WinMe).

You boot to MS-DOS, and install the Win9x/Me. Basically, it's that easy!

The Win9x should be installed from a dual-boot DOS session (and not from the more usual true DOS achieved by booting with a DOS/Win9x boot disk).

Your C: drive already uses FAT, and is the PC system partition. This DOS (FAT) boot sector has already been recorded by Win XP/2000/NT whose Boot Loader menu already contains a MS-DOS boot option.

Installing Win9x/Me, when in the dual-booted MS-DOS, installs the Win9x in the standard (F8) multi-boot manner. The existing boot sector is not altered, nor is the Win XP/2000/NT affected in any way - the Boot Loader menu is unaltered, and need not be altered.

The boot options of Win XP/2000/NT and MS-DOS will still appear in the Boot Loader menu.

Selecting Win XP/2000/NT from the Boot Loader will still boot Win XP/2000/NT.

Selecting MS-DOS from the Boot Loader will now boot the Win9x/Me.

Or, you can select MS-DOS, and then press F8 in the standard Win9x manner to boot to MS-DOS.

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One possible difficulty is that you should have two partitions (or hard disks).

Ignore Microsoft's suggestion (Q217210) to install Win9x on the same partition as XP/2K/NT.

WinXP/2000/NT and a Win9x/Me should not be installed on the same partition. Installing different Windows on a single partition may cause problems running those OSs. At a minimum the items in Program Files, including those 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, but it should be partitioned to at least C: and D:.

Win9x's files can be installed elsewhere provided it's a FAT partition not containing XP/2K/NT. However, remember the caution that the FAT of the C: drive must never be altered. The Win9x partition must be Formatted prior to the Win9x installation if not installing Win9x on C:.

If you have a single Hard Disk with a single partition (a C: drive, but no D: except for a CD or DVD drive), it's recommended that you Fdisk, Repartition, and Format (with total loss of data!). A third partition is useful for shared data if readable by all Windows (all Wins use FAT).

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

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 (not verified).
Some users may find a freeware utility like Partition Manager (165KB) difficult to use.

If you must repartition (and reinstall the Windows) then do it! You can use this opportunity to take a long-term view of your partitioning needs.

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EXAMPLES: Install Win9x on MS-DOS+XP/2K/NT

Examples of Partitions & File System types that can be used in this Dual-Boot.

Example 1:
Disk 0  C:  MS-DOS   FAT  Primary (PC system partition;  1.7GB max) 
Disk 0  C:  XP/2K/NT FAT  SAME (all Windows can read all drives) 
Disk 0  D:  Win9x    FAT  Logical (all Windows can read all drives) 
Example 2:
Disk 0  C:  MS-DOS   FAT  Primary (PC system partition;  1.7GB max) 
Disk 0  C:  Win9x    FAT  SAME (all Windows can read all drives) 
Disk 0  D:  XP/2K/NT FAT  Logical (all Windows can read all drives) 
Example 3:
Disk 0  C:  MS-DOS   FAT  Primary (PC system partition;  1.7GB max) 
Disk 0  C:  Win9x    FAT  SAME (Win9x/DOS can read only C:) 
Disk 0  D:  XP/2K/NT NTFS Logical (XP/2K/NT can read all drives) 
Example 4:
Disk 0  C:  MS-DOS   FAT  Primary (PC system partition;  1.7GB max) 
Disk 0  E:  XP/2K/NT NTFS Logical (XP/2K/NT can read all drives) 
Disk 1  D:  Win9x    FAT  Primary (Win9x/DOS can read only C: and D:) 

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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Remember, you will need to repartition or add a hard disk:
  • if you have only one partition (only a C: drive).

OEM Windows 95B & 95C (OSR 2.x) starting errors with some 'fast' processors.
If you wish to install OEM Win95B or OEM Win95C on a system with one of the following processors, then you must read this first for a recognized software fix that is required.
  • AMD K6-2 (350MHz or faster)   • Pentium III (1GHz, or faster)   • Pentium 4 (any)
This does not apply to Win98, 98SE, or Me which come already fixed.
The fix does not correct the problem for the retail version of Windows 95.

Does not work with Win Me.
WinMe does not support the F4/F8 boot option to use a "Previous version of MS-DOS". Therefore if you install WinMe in this manner, you will not be able to boot to the older DOS again. Only WinMe or XP/2K/NT will boot from the Boot Loader menu.

Uninstalling Win 9x.
Never 'Uninstall' Win Me from a dual-boot. You should edit Win Me out of Boot.ini, and manually delete all Me's folders and files. Win Me's Uninstall.exe restores a backup copy of the Me partition information (stored in c:Suhdlog.dat) even if the partition information has changed.
Uninstalling Win 98 Upgraded from Win95 in a Dual-Boot. Uninstalling the Win98 upgrade may delete boot.ini. Recreate it. Also, the uninstall deletes the Bootsect.dos file (save it first).

"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.

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Prepare to add any Win 9x/Me to a [Win XP/2000/NT with MS-DOS] system:
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 you have at least two partitions (or two hard disks).
    FAT32 must not be used. Win9x must use FAT. XP/2K/NT can use FAT or NTFS.
    You need another Logical FAT partition if XP/2K/NT is installed on C:.
    Use a utility like PartitionMagic to create new partitions.
    or add another hard disk, or Fdisk and repartition (total data loss- create image).
3. Create a new folder, Win9cabs, on the root of C:
4. Copy the Win9x installation files/Cabs from its CD to C:\Win9cabs.
5. Create WinXP/2K/NT's ERD (run Rdisk.exe /s), and boot disks - ESSENTIAL
    WINNT32 and MAKEBT32 (\Boot disk folder on CD) are used to create boot disks.
Update NT with its SP 5(+) to use a large NTFS drive.

1. [Window XP or 2000 or NT] and MS-DOS ver 5.2+ already installed!
2. A FAT partition not used by XP/2K/NT. A second hard disk is fine.
3. The Win9x files/Cabs copied from installation CD to C:\Win9cabs.
4. Full installation CD for the Win 9x - obviously.
5. Installation CD for Win XP/2K/NT and/or its Setup boot disks, and its ERD.
    or floppies to make Win XP/2000/NT (3-6) Setup disks and ERD (1) - ESSENTIAL.
6. Floppy - to make a new Win9x Startup Disk (that contains SYS.COM) - ESSENTIAL.
7. Read and download THPC's page Repair a Dual-Boot BEFORE you start.
8. Install the Recovery Console.
You are not restricted to just two/three OSs if reinstalling.
Multiple OSs can be installed, but ALWAYS install the oldest OS FIRST.

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How to Install Win9x/Me on a [Win XP/2000/NT and MS-DOS] Multi-Boot Configuration

Already Installed: MS-DOS and [Win XP or Win 2000 or NT].
Add Windows: WinMe, or Win98SE, or Win98, or Win95

Installation Procedure:
1. Prepare (above), and switch OFF anti-viral software (& check in BIOS/CMOS also).
2. Boot your computer normally, and
3. Choose MS-DOS from the menu on the boot loader screen.
4. Fully install Win9x (from C:\Win9cabs) on a FAT partition (not used by XP/2K/NT).
      At the A: prompt type C:\Win9cabs:\WinZZ\Setup.exe /is
      where WinZZ is Win95, or Win98, or Win9x (for Me).
      DO NOT Enable large disk support.
      Select Other directory to install it on the FAT partition of your choice.
5. Create a Win9x Startup disk (containing
Reboot when finished.
Selecting MS-DOS from the Boot Loader menu will boot Win9x/Me.
Read Start MS-DOS below to learn how to boot MS-DOS.
6. Delete C:\Win9cabs when finished with it.
7. Finally, always create a new Rescue Boot Disk when a new dual-boot is successful!

If there is ever any problem with the Boot Loader, then you must Repair a Dual-Boot.
In an emergency any Win9x Startup Disk (with CD support) can be used for running a XP/... CD (boot up with it and run WINNT.EXE from the I386 folder on XP/... CD).

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

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To start MS-DOS from a Windows 9x multi-boot with Windows XP/2000/NT:

Remember that Win Me does not allow booting to a 'Previous version of MS-DOS' !

1   Choose MS-DOS from the menu on boot loader screen, and press ENTER.
2a To start MS-DOS directly: press F4 just as Win9x starts to load
2b To display Windows 9x Startup menu, press F8.
     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
should be in the [Options] section of the Win9x 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)
  Now add the line
  to the [Options] section.
  Save, and Exit.
Now type in

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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/2000/NT.

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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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,, 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
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 (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.

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