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Method #1: Use the same hard disk to install and dual-boot Win9x/Me on a Windows XP or 2000 computer that uses NTFS

Last reviewed: July 2005

You can install Windows Me, 98SE, 98, 95 on a XP, 2K, NT PC that already uses only the NTFS file system. You can then select either Windows from a Boot Menu during boot up. No third-party boot utility is used here.

The method described here (Method #1) uses a single hard disk though you must create a FAT or FAT32 partition after the NTFS partition. You can use free space (if any) at the end of the disk, or convert an unused/unessential NTFS partition. Otherwise you need a third-party partition utility to ceate the FAT/32 partition without loss of data.

If you prefer to use a second hard disk please go to this page (Method #2).

It's important to follow the instructions exactly as stated on this page.

Summary of procedure: (Advanced users)
A XP/2K (NTFS) + Win9x dual-boot must be based on the PC's system partition being a FAT/32 Primary partition (on the Primary Master). A Primary partition should be created after the NTFS partition. The new Primary is Formatted using FAT32 or FAT, and made Active. A Win9x is installed on this Active Primary FAT/32 partition. Then a new Windows XP/2K installation is aborted as soon as it has created a new XP/2K boot sector on that FAT/32 partition (plus placing its boot files, including Bootsect.dos, there). Finally, XP/2K's temporary (installation) Boot.ini on the Win9x partition is corrected to reflect the two fully installed Windows. Finished.

End Result:
When booted to Win9x, the NTFS partition(s) will be ignored. This means the Win9x partition will be the C: drive (as is normal). All Win9x software will function in the normal manner. The XP/2K NTFS partition(s) will not be visible.

When booted to XP/2K, Windows XP will retain the original drive letter (usually C:) for its boot partition. All installed software will continue to run correctly. This is an advantage of creating a FAT/32 partition AFTER the NTFS partition(s). The Win9x partition (FAT/32) will be visible and will be allocated the next available drive letter (sometimes after the CD letter). This is not a problem as Win9x software will not be run from XP/2K.

Failsafe!
If, for some unknown reason, the procedure does not work, boot from the XP/2K installation CD. Press R (and then C for 2K) to enter the Recovery Console. Log on to the XP/2K installation. At the prompt, run fixboot C:, where C is the drive letter allocated to the (first) NTFS partition. Then run bootcfg /rebuild.
You will also have a Rescue Boot Disk that will let you boot XP/2K.

Notes
• For some users the new FAT/32 (Win9x's) boot partition must begin before a certain physical distance from start of hard disk. This is 2 TB for Win98+ if the system fully supports INT13 Extensions (supported by all new PCs for some years). Otherwise, 8 GB for Win98/Me, or 2 GB for Win95.
• On fast PC systems, some versions of Win95 may not install, or may install and then refuse to run. Read Win95b,c on Fast PCs for a possible fix.
• Remember Win9x will not see an NTFS partition, so some drive letters can be different under different OSs. Label all partitions from under XP/2K for positive identification if you have many partitions.
• If repartitioning, you must use a third-party utility or you will lose all data.

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How to create a second Primary partition on an NTFS hard disk:

One NTFS hard disk can be used but you need a FAT or FAT32 partition on that disk.

Win9x/DOS cannot create a second PRIMARY partition (DOS does internally support multiple Primary partitions). However, the XP/2K's Disk Management program (in Administrative Tools > Computer Management) can be used to create the second Primary partition as it does support the creation of multiple primary partitions. Disk Management does not support repartitioning.

Possible Options:
1. Unallocated free space at the end of the disk can be made a FAT/32 Primary using XP/2K's Disk Management.
2. An unnessary NTFS partition can be converted to a FAT/32 Primary using XP/2K's Disk Management.
3. THPC always repartitions with the PartitionMagic floppy disks, version 5.0+.
4. You can try a free partition utility to repartition - read Boot & Disk Utilities
You can also use another hard disk - that's Method #2 - click here read about it.

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Procedure: Install Win9x on XP/2K (NTFS) system (same disk)

  1. Requirements:
    • Installation CD for XP/2K plus its Product Key.
    • Installation CD for Win9x plus its Product Key.
    • Win98/Me boot disk or Startup Disk.
    • A first hard disk that uses only NTFS and contains Windows XP or 2000.
    • Optionally, a blank floppy to create a Rescue Boot Disk for XP or 2000.

    First make your preparations.
  2. Create another Primary partition on the Primary Master hard disk (preferably after the NTFS partition)
    (read "How to create a second Primary ...", above).
  3. Boot XP/2K.
    • Copy the hidden file, Boot.ini, from C: to your Win9x boot disk or USB flash/pen drive (very IMPORTANT).
    • Optionally create a Rescue Boot Disk for XP/2K (advisable).

    Now install Win9x on the new Primary partition
  4. Boot from a Win98/Me boot disk that gives CD access.
    • Format the new Primary using FAT32 or FAT.
    • Type SYS C: at the A:\> prompt, and press [Enter].
    • Type Fdisk and make the (first) FAT/32 Primary partition Active (very IMPORTANT)
      (select Option 2 in Fdisk, then the number associated with C: - probable 2). Exit Fdisk.
  5. Reboot again from the Win9x boot disk (a reboot is ESSENTIAL).
    • Install Win9x/Me on the FAT/32 partition - using [CD]:\win9x\setup /is is best
      (ignore any NTFS warning (Caution SU0015) - it's accepted a FAT/32 cannot access NTFS!)
      • If your Win9x install fails at the first reboot then you probably need to apply a VCache-fix to limit the amount of RAM Win9x will use on large RAM systems (read about LARGE RAM PCs on this page). You can easily edit Win9x's System.ini from DOS to enter the new line MaxPhysPage=30000 in the [386Enh] section of C:\Windows\System.ini, save the file, reboot, and then the installation will continue normally.
    • Reboot after full installation and confirm that Win9x runs satisfactorily.
    • If you are unhappy with Win9x, make the NTFS partition Active again and you'll reboot to XP like previously.

    Then abort a new XP/2K installation, and add the correct Boot.ini file
  6. Insert the XP/2K CD with Win9x still running.
    (if there's no autorun, double-click [CD]:\I386\WINNT32.EXE.
    • Click Install Windows XP - you'll need your Product Key soon.
      In Installation Type, select New Installation (Advanced)
      Skip any Download Updated Setup Files request.
      Allow Copying Installation Files to finish - it's quite slow but stay alert!
    • Press ESC when file copying is finished, exit the CD's menu, and remove the CD
      - you have just 5 seconds to press ESC, so stay alert - setup MUST NOT continue
      (or as the FIRST reboot starts, remove the CD, & select Microsoft Windows from the boot menu).
  7. Win9x is still running or runs on reboot when 'Microsoft Windows' is selected from the new boot menu.
    • Open Windows Explorer, right-click C:\Boot.ini (a hidden file), click Properties, uncheck the Read-only box, click Apply.
    • Insert your Win9x boot disk.
      • Copy A:\Boot.ini to C: (click Yes to replace existing file).
      • Right-click C:\Boot.ini, and click Open.
      • Add the following line to the bottom of the [operating systems] section
        C:\=" Windows 9x "
      • Save Boot.ini back to C: before closing it. Make it Read-only again.
    • Remove the floppy.
  8. Reboot. Finished! Both Windows will now boot from the Boot Menu.
    The PC system partition has been moved from its original (XP/NTFS) partition to the FAT/32 partition.

• Delete the temporary $win_nt$.~ folders on the FAT/32 partition. (they're large and now useless).
• Always create a new Rescue Boot Disk when a new dual-boot is successful!
• If it was previously installed, uninstall the Recovery Console, and then reinstall it (recommended).
• If rebooting for driver installation, be sure to select the correct OS from the Boot Menu!
• Renaming or deleting the XP/2K boot files that still exist on the NTFS partition is optional. Wait until you are sure you wish to continue with your new configuration in the long term. If they are still there, simply making the NTFS partition Active again will return you to a XP/2K-only boot.

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Default Boot and Boot Delay

Specifying the Default Windows to Boot, and the Boot Menu delay (the Timeout):
When you have established a dual-boot, you'll want to set which OS boots by default.
You can set the default OS (and the timeout) via Control Panel.

  1. Boot to Windows 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 manually 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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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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