Win 9x - Dual boot Windows 98 with Windows 2000 when Windows 98 is situated on the Primary partition

It has been touted as Microsoft's best OS ever, and has excellent networking and user management features. On the other hand, will it play all of your favourite games or run all of your necessary applications, like your faithful Windows 98? Provided your system configuration meets the recommended requirements of both operating systems, the solution may be to keep your existing operating system and configure it to dual boot with the new system. A dual-boot machine simply means that it has the ability to boot into either of two operating systems (multi-boot machines are those with more than two operating systems) that reside on your hard drive(s).

Dual booting usually involves partitioning and formatting your hard drive(s), so, as you approach this task, the first thing you will need to do is back up all of your important data files. For this exercise, it is assumed that you are familiar with MS Fdisk, Windows 98 installation and Windows 2000 installation. We will be starting fresh on a Peripherals Plus AMD Athlon system running at 600MHz, with 128MB of SDRAM, a 10GB hard drive and a TNT2 M64 graphics adapter. We will be using the Fdisk utility, which is simple and readily available, to partition the disk. If you don't want to trash your hard disk then you can use a third party disk utility such as Powerquest's Partition Magic or V Communications System Commander 2000 to create partitions on your hard disk without losing any data. For those happy to start from scratch, you will need to follow these steps.

Insert your Windows 98 boot disk into your floppy drive and boot up your system. If you don't already have a boot diskette, you can create one by going to the add/remove section of the Control Panel, clicking on the Start-up disk tab, and then clicking on Create disk. Make sure that you also copy the command from your Windows\Command directory to your boot disk so that you can format your drive. Unlike Windows 95 boot disks, Windows 98 boot disks include the CD-ROM drivers when created, so there is no need to copy these over.

When the computer starts you need to use the Fdisk command to partition the hard drive into two drives (the size you choose depends on the size of your hard drive and which operating system will have the most applications installed). Type Fdisk at the a:> prompt. When the Fdisk menu appears you will need to first delete any existing partitions on your drive. Next, create a new Primary partition, but do not use all of the available space. In our case, we simply divided our disk into two parts, so our Primary partition was set to 5GB of the 10GB. We then made the Primary partition active and, using the remaining space on the drive, proceeded to create an Extended partition with one logical drive in it.

After all changes are completed, the system must be restarted using the boot disk. When the machine boots, you need to format the c: drive in order to install Windows 98. Type format c: at the a:> prompt - and be prepared to wait a good 10-15 minutes for it to finish. Now you must install Windows 98.

Once installation is complete, let the system restart and insert the Windows 2000 setup disk. The autostart feature should kick in, at which point you should select the Clean installation option from the presented menu. On the next screen, click on the Advanced button to make sure Windows asks you on which partition you want to install. Follow the on-screen prompts until the computer is restarted and the setup program progresses to the screen showing you the available partitions on your disk. Select the second partition (this will show up as unformatted or damaged space) and format the partition using either the FAT32 or NTFS file system. The NTFS file system should be used if you want to take full advantage of Windows 2000's features. After formatting, the rest of the installation should be virtually automatic.

It is important to note that we did not use a third party boot manager in this exercise - instead, we used Windows 2000's start-up menu to allow us to boot into either operating system. This is why you must install Windows 2000 after you have installed Windows 98.

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Elias Plastiras
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