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Install Win Me/98/95b,c on XP/2K (FAT/32)

Last reviewed: March 2004

Dual-Boot Windows Me, SE, 98, 95b/c on a Windows XP or 2000 system that uses FAT or FAT32.

You can install Win9x on a FAT or FAT32 system that has a 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. Win9x will use the same FAT type as XP/2K because both OSs use C: during the initial boot process.
If C: uses NTFS, go to read Any 9x on NTFS (XP/2K/NT).

You have two options:
#1 Repair
You can install Win9x on a different FAT/32 partition. Then repair the XP/2K with its CD or Setup Disks (no data loss).
#2 Reinstall
Fdisk, repartition, format, and install the Win9x first. Then install 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 Win9x 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 Win9x or XP/2K on startup.

#1 Repair:
Installing Win9x on a Win XP/2K system will normally make XP/2K unbootable. In this situation the XP/2K boot sector is overwritten by the Win9x boot sector. The XP/2K is still intact, but can not boot! Fortunately its boot sector can be repaired and a dual-boot created.

Install the Win9x, optionally save the Win9x boot sector, and then repair the Win XP/2K boot sector. This requires extra user participation, but no data lost occurs. It needs C: to be FAT or FAT32, never 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 Win9x system does not affect the Win9x's ability to boot. Win XP/2K detects the presence of the existing OS (Win9x) 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 automatically. Data loss WILL occur.

Start from new. Fdisk and repartition. Format C:, and other partition(s), as FAT or FAT32. Install Win9x as the first OS (on a FAT/32), and then install Win XP/2K elsewhere as NTFS or same FAT type as C:. This option is more reliable, but it takes more time and all data is lost. However, if you first create an image of XP/2K you can restore it after the new XP/2K installation provided XP/2K is reinstalled on its original partition and directory - now there's no data loss!

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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 Win9x 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 Windows use the same file system.
Click HERE to learn how to install another hard disk without changing current drive letters.

Win9x partition requirements:
1. Win9x system partition (C:) must be on the Primary Master (as seen by the BIOS).
    Win9x system partition (C:) must be pre-formatted, Primary, FAT or FAT32.
2. Win9x boot partition can be a Logical partition if it's not also the system partition.
    Win9x boot partition must use FAT32 if the system partition uses FAT32.
    Win98+ boot partition must start below 8 GB boundary if INT13 Extensions not supported.
    Win95(a) partition must not exceed 2 GB in size.
3. Win9x should 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 OR FAT32 FOR THE SYSTEM DRIVE

It's worthwhile emphasizing the importance of FAT types with a Win9x.

Windows 9x can not boot from an NTFS partition.

There are four important ingredients to a Win9x installation:
1. PC system partition type (C: must always use FAT or FAT32)
2. Win9x boot files (always on C:)
3. Win9x boot partition (usually C: but can be elsewhere using FAT or FAT32).
4. Win9x boot partition must begin before 2 GB (Win95,a) or 8 GB from physical start of disk
    - 98/Me can boot from beyond the 8 GB boundary if the system supports INT13 Extensions.

Therefore, in this dual-boot:

In each case C: must be the system partition, and must use FAT or FAT32.
• If XP/2K is installed on C: and uses FAT/32, then you need a second FAT/32 partition.
• If XP/2K is not on C: and uses FAT/32 elsewhere, then install Win9x on C:.
• If XP/2K is not on C: and uses NTFS elsewhere, then C: may be FAT/32.
• If XP/2K is on C: and uses NTFS, 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, but create an image),
     or add a second hard disk (no loss of data),
     or use third-party partition utility to create more partitions (no loss of data).

Read here to avoid changing drive letters when adding a new hard disk.

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EXAMPLES: Install: Me/98/95b,c on XP/2K(FAT/32)

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

Example 1: 
Disk 0  C:  Win9x  FAT32  Primary (PC system partition) 
Disk 0  D:  XP/2K  FAT32  Logical (both Windows can read both drives) 
Example 2:
Disk 0  C:  Win9x  FAT32  Primary (PC system partition) 
Disk 0  D:  XP/2K  NTFS   Logical (XP/2K can read both. Win9x can't read D:) 
Example 3:
Disk 0  C:  XP/2K  FAT32  Primary (PC system partition)
Disk 0  D:  No Win FAT32  Logical (data shared by both Wins)
Disk 0  E:  Win9x  FAT32  Logical (both Windows can read all drives)  
Example 4:
Disk 0  C:  No Win FAT32  Primary (PC system partition) 
Disk 0  E:  XP/2K  NTFS   Logical (XP/2K can read all drives) 
Disk 1  D:  Win9x  FAT32  Primary (Win9x 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

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 formatted correctly (FAT or FAT32).
Note: PartitionMagic 5.0 was freeware with PC Magazine in June 2002. Get a copy!

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.

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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#1 PREPARE TO REPAIR WIN XP/2K

Prepare to Install Win9x & then REPAIR the Win XP/2K boot sector.
Already Installed: XP or 2000 . You want to add : Win Me, or 98/SE, or 95b, c.

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/FAT32 (it must be the only Primary partition).
    Check that you have at least two partitions (or two hard disks).
    You need another Logical FAT/32 partition if XP/2K is installed on C: (FAT/32).
    Use a utility (like PartitionMagic) to create new FAT/32 partitions,
    or add another hard disk.
    Win9x installation requires its partition to be formatted prior to installation.
    If C: uses NTFS, use #2 Reinstall, or Any 9x on NTFS (XP/2K/NT), or use a boot utility.
3. Get a DOS5+/Win9x boot disk - ESSENTIAL. It needs CD support, or else
    copy Win9x installation files to a FAT/32 partition and install from there (from DOS).
4. 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).
5. Create WinXP/2K's ERD (run Rdisk.exe /s), and boot disks - ESSENTIAL
    WINNT32 and MAKEBT32 (\Bootdisk folder on CD) are used to create boot disks.
6. Read, & save, the Repair a Dual-Boot page.
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 Win9x on a Win XP/2K system and then REPAIRING Win XP/2K.

The C: drive must not be an NTFS partition. FAT16 is usually called FAT.

1. At least two partitions - two hard disks will also do fine.
2. C: must be a FAT or FAT32, system partition (same FAT as XP/2K if it uses FAT/32).
3. A pre-formatted FAT/32 partition not used by XP/2K. A second hard disk is fine.

4. Win XP/2K already installed.
5. Win XP/2K Installation CD and/or its Setup floppies - ESSENTIAL.
6. Boot disk / Startup Disk for a Win9x (with CD support) - ESSENTIAL.
7. Btsect25.zip downloaded from THPC, and unzipped to that Win9x boot disk.
    Boot disk must contain the MS-DOS files Debug, Choice, Attrib, Sys (same ver).
8. A full Win9x Installation CD - obviously!

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 boot sector in C:\Bootsect.DOS. The ONLY time a valid Bootsect.DOS can be created is when C: is a Win9x boot sector. It's sensible to image the Win9x 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 Win9x & then REPAIR the Win XP/2K boot sector (no loss of data).
Already Installed: XP or 2000 . You want to add : Win Me, or 98/SE, or 95b, c.

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:\Win98\Setup.exe /is for Win98, or x:\Win95\Setup.exe /is for Win95
      or x:\Win9x\Setup.exe /is for Win Me (where x: is your CD-ROM drive letter).
      Fully install Win9x on a FAT/32 partition not used by XP/NT.
      Select Other directory to install it on the FAT/32 partition of your choice.
3. Install all required drivers and ensure the installation is satisfactory. Do this now!
4. Create a new Startup Disk for the new Win9x (must contain Sys.com).
5. Boot up the prepared DOS/Win9x boot disk to true DOS and
    run A:\Btsect.bat (this creates Bootsect.DOS on C:).

6 Boot up with the XP/2K CD, or Setup boot disk 1.
    (or boot up a 98/Me Startup disk, and run \I386\WINNT.EXE on XP/2K CD).
      Select R for Recovery Console, and execute a repair of the boot sector
      [type fixboot at the prompt - if needed, use fixmbr to repair the MBR)
      [type bootcfg /rebuild if Boot.ini is missing or incorrect)
      Exit without installing XP/2K.
When your computer restarts, the Windows XP/2K boot loader screen appears, and you can choose between "Microsoft Windows 9x" 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 for Installing Win9x 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.
    Make C: the only Primary partition on that hard disk, and mark it as Active
    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).
    Format C: and any other Win9x partition(s) using FAT, or FAT32.
    Let XP/2K format its own partition during its installation (NTFS or same FAT as C:).

Checklist for Installing Win9x and then REINSTALLING Win XP/2K
1. DOS or Win9x boot disk that supports your CD drive and contains Fdisk & Format.
2. Two+ partitions. C: must be active system, and only Primary, partition and use FAT/32.
3. A full Win9x Installation CD - obviously!
4. Win XP/2K Installation CD - obviously!
5. Floppy - for a new Win9x 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: An 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 Win9x & 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 Win9x, finally Win XP/2K.

Reinstall Procedure:
1. Boot up with DOS5+/Win9x boot disk, and Install Win9x on C:,
    or on another partition.
2. Create a new Win9x 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 Win9x drive.
      Make sure the directory name is not the Win9x name.
      Let XP/2K format its partition and select FAT or FAT32,
      or select NTFS (and lose access to all NTFS data when in Win9x).
      Do not alter the FAT/FAT32 type of C:.

When your computer restarts, the Windows XP/2K boot loader screen appears, and you can choose between "Microsoft Windows 9x" and Win XP/2K. If not, read Repair a Dual-Boot.

5. Optional: Restore your image of XP/2K if same directory & partition were used for new XP/2K.
6. Install the Recovery Console.
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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START MS-DOS

To start MS-DOS from a Windows 9x multi-boot with Windows XP/2K:

This, obviously, applies only if MS-DOS was installed before Win9x.
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 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 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)
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