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Installing (Dual Booting) Windows XP and Win9x Together In One Hard Disk
Version 0.611

Windows XP is a cool new operating system. But, old programs that are not designed for this cool new operating system will either refuse to work or work improperly.

DISCLAIMER: Proceed at your own risk! The information here is accurate to the best of my knowledge. I will not be held responsible if this document causes your computer to explode or burst into flames. In real serious terms, if any corruption of data, hardware damage or any other kind of damage/losses/etc. arises from the use of this document, I will not be responsible for it. If you don't like this, please don't read any further. I am also glad to say that this guide has helped lots of people, with a few people facing rare problems. Thanks for the emails!

This document outlines the steps of how to install Windows 9x and Windows XP together in one computer. In a bird's eye view, you create two partitions, one for Windows 9x, one for Windows XP. Install Windows 9x in the partition created for it, and install XP in the partition created for it. XP will take care of the boot menu.


Windows XP, the latest OS is a complete 32-bit operating system. I've read that there are still 16-bit DLL's being loaded in Windows XP, not sure about this. Old programs especially games may not work properly in this new OS at all.

Take for example, my favourite classic games: Magic: The Gathering, Duke Nukem 3D, Shadow Warrior, Terminal Velocity, Sango Fighter, Ultima Underworlds, Raptor: Call of the Shadows, and it keeps going..

All the mentioned games either refused to work, or were very weird in the running. Some had problems with sound. Some sound problems were solved using VDMS, but even then, the performance was still unsatisfactory.

UPDATE: You might want to try DOSBox - a DOS emulator in Windows for playing those old DOS games and applications! More info here! It won't work for Windows games though.

The solution? Trash the games and step up to the 3d age games, or a more wiser choice: install a compatible OS such as Windows 98!

If you have been able to complete this guide, congrats. However, if not, please post your problem in the Windows XP Discussion Forum. This will help future beginners and users of this guide!

Take note however, before you follow the steps,

  • The hard disk MUST BE empty. ALL files in the drive WILL be deleted. If you want to avoid this, get software that does partitioning without erasing the data such as Partition Magic. I suggest you move the important files to a network drive, ZIP disk or CD-R's.
  • Decide on the space Windows 9x and Windows XP needs. For me, I set Windows XP to 19GB and Windows 9x to 1GB, storing all my DOS games in the Windows XP drive. However, in cases like installing Windows games like Planescape: Torment, Magic: The Gathering, where it requires files to be copied to the Program Files folder of the Win9x drive, the Win9x drive should be set large enough to contain all these games.
  • You need to create a bootable floppy (or CD-ROM) that contains the following files
    • FDISK.EXE (For partitioning)
    • FORMAT.COM (For formatting the drives after partitioning)
    • SMARTDRV.EXE (For speeding up XP installation and deletion of files, can be found in Win9x installation CD)
    • Drivers to access your CD-ROM drive (For installation of XP and 9x)
  • The above files will be automatically included if you create a boot disk from Windows Millennium Edition. should have a utility to allow you to create such disks if you don't have this OS. The guide assumes you use a Win ME bootup disk.
  • You MUST use FAT32 in Windows XP in order for Windows 9x to be able to read from the Windows XP drive as it cannot read NTFS drives.

Quick Directs

  1. Backup
  2. Partition & Format
  3. Installing Window 9x
  4. Installing WIndows XP (In Bootup) (In DOS)

1) Backup

  1. Keep in mind that you CANNOT back up files to another folder in your hard drive.
  2. BACKUP important files to another hard disk (or a zip disk, CD-R, etc.). Basic installation guideline for hard disks:
    1. Set the hard disk jumpers to Slave mode (refer to the sticker(or manual) on the HD).
    2. Connect IDE cable (the wide white cable) of any device to the hard disk. Do NOT disconnect the cable from your current hard disk, just connect the black connector at the end or centre to the backup hard disk and a spare power cable.
    3. Start computer, go to BIOS (Usually some key (or combo) needs to be pressed in setup), Auto-Detect IDE Drives, save and restart.
    4. If the hard disk cannot be found, check connections and power. The position of the black connector also matters.
  3. Backup the important program files (popular programs, if you have ways for other popular programs contact me)
    1. Kazaa downloaded and pending downloads (go to Shared Folder of Kazaa, copy the folder contents, this will also copy downloads that hasn't been completed too!)
    2. Mp3s (your mp3 folder, or the My Music folder in My Documents folder)
    3. Favourites (go to the Favourites folder of Internet Explorer and copy the files, for Netscape, I believe there's a Save As feature in the bookmark editing program. There's another way of saving Favourites in IE, click on File, Import and Export and save the Favourites (and cookies if you want) to the backup folder.)
    4. My Documents folder (not that necessary, as it is outside of the Windows folder)
    5. Game save games (usually saves are located in a special folder in the game folder in the Program Files folder, copy those)
    6. Icq contact lists (Just copy the 2000b (or 2000a) folder in ICQ. Note: latest version of 2000b stores the contact list in the icq server, but this way, you still save the history and chat files.)
    7. Outlook Express messages (search for files with DBX extensions or try looking for them here, click the folders inside. It should be located within one folder (Outlook Express))
    8. WebShots photos. (copy the contents of this folder, or go to the Collections folder in the Webshots folder.
    9. Password files such as your website passwords, etc. For WS_FTP Limited Edition, just copy the WS_FTP.INI file from here.

2) Partitioning and Formatting

  1. Boot from the floppy (or CD-ROM) that has the above-mentioned files.
  2. For Win ME bootup disks, choose CD-ROM support if asked in the booting process.
  3. Ensure that there are no error messages in the bootup and a CD-ROM drive letter has been assigned. If there are error messages, do not proceed unless you are sure.
  4. Start Fdisk
    1. Go to the temporary Ram Disk by typing <RAM DRIVE>: and hitting Enter. The drive will be specified after bootup is completed. So, for example, if your Ram Drive is E, you will type E: and hit Enter.
    2. Type FDISK and hit enter. A window should ask whether you want to enable 32-bit support. Press Y and Enter.
  5. The steps next will wipe out your entire hard drive of all files and data. Be very sure that you have backed up all important data.
  6. Press 3 and hit Enter to delete all partitions.
  7. Delete all the partitions that you see in the list. Keep repeating until no partitions exist on the drive.
  8. Create the required partitions. The prompts should be easy to follow.
    1. Create a DOS partition. This will be your XP drive. Set it to the size you want for XP. Note that the XP drive has to be C and Win9x drive D.
    2. Create a Extended partition. This will be your Win9x drive. Set it to the size you want for Win9x.
    3. Create a Logical DOS Drive in the Extended partition you created in the previous step. Make full use of the space in the Extended partition (i.e.. 100%).
  9. Set the active partition as C.
  10. Press Esc to exit Fdisk. Fdisk will inform you to restart your PC for the changes to take effect. Go ahead, with the boot disk still in the drive.
  11. After restarting with CD-ROM support, there should be two drives created for you. C and D.
  12. Format both the drives by issuing the following commands at the prompt
    1. FORMAT C: (Formats your C drive, press Y to the warning message that appears)
    2. FORMAT D: (Formats your D drive, press Y to the warning message that appears)
  13. At this point, you've basically create two new drives with nothing(no data) in them.
  14. You're done formatting and partitioning your hard disk!

3) Installing Windows 9x

  1. Proceed to install Windows 9x from your CD-ROM drive. Insert the CD into the drive and enter the following commands
    1. E: (Changes to your CD-ROM Drive, substitute E for the drive if it is something else)
    2. CD\SETUP (Change to your Windows 9x Setup folder, ignore if the SETUP.EXE is in the root folder. Substitute SETUP with the folder name of Win9x if SETUP.EXE exists on a different folder)
    3. SETUP (Starts the Win9x installation program)
    4. Make sure you choose Custom Install and specify the installation folder as D:\WINDOWS (assuming D is your 2nd partition). Follow the normal installation routine.
  2. Windowx 9x installation done.

4a) Installing Windows XP (In Bootup)

  1. Insert the Windows XP Cd in the drive. Do NOT install Windows XP from within Windows 9x.
  2. Restart your computer. If you know how to set up the BIOS such that it boots from the CD, set it up now. If not just go to the next step.
  3. You should see a prompt "Press any key to boot from CD.." asking to you press a key to enter Setup. Do so. If the prompt does not come, it means the system failed to boot from CD. Skip to Step 4b if that happens .
  4. Perform the installation with the following in mind
    1. When asked to choose the partition to install to, select the C drive.
    2. When asked about the file system choose "Leave the current file system intact (no changes)"
  5. Follow instructions and you're on your way to getting the Windows eXPerience. Happy installing! Do not go to Step 4b.

4b) Installing Windows XP (In DOS)

  1. Restart the system with the floppy/CD in the drive and enabled CD-ROM support.
  2. If you've not done Step 2.7 where it involves loading SmartDrive, load it by:
    1. C: (Changes to your C Drive, replace substitute C with the drive where it contains the SmartDrive utility if your drive is different)
    2. CD\ (Changes to your root folder, append the folder name where you copied the SMARTDRV utility, an example would be CD\UTILITIES, which means you stored Smartdrive in the Utilities folder)
    3. SMARTDRV (Loads SmartDrive to memory installing Windows XP. On successfully loading, it will just display a blank line. You can type SMARTDRV again and it should show you the status.)
  3. Assuming you're installing from the CD-ROM, enter the following commands highlighted in BLUE, after each line, hit Enter.
    1. E: (Changes to your CD-ROM Drive, substitute E for the drive if it is something else)
    2. CD\I386 (Changes to your Windows XP Setup folder)
    3. CHECK: The prompt should now look like this: E:\I386>
    4. WINNT (Starts the DOS Installation program.)
  4. At this point, Windows XP Setup may complain if you don't have SmartDrive loaded. The CD files will be copied to your hard disk and your computer restarted to the main setup program. Follow instructions and you're on your way to getting the Windows eXPerience. Happy installing!


  1. Microsoft has released a file that creates Boot Disk Floppies for installing Windows XP. There is a special version for Home Edition and for the Professional Edition. I didn't attempt this as it required 6 floppy disks, installing from the CD (or hard drive) is better. However, this (and booting from CD) gives more options in the Setup program, such as formatting your C Drive with NTFS or FAT32 or converting the drive to NTFS.
  2. The SmartDrive utility can be found in your Windows 95/98/ME installation CD.
  3. If you're facing problems after installation of Windows XP, check out my Windows XP Frequently Asked Questions.


  1. 22 April 2006 - Version 0.61
    • Minor corrections
  2. 02 April 2004 - Version 0.6
    • Added a faster way of installing from the CD Bootup
  3. 28 August 2002 - Version 0.5
    • First Release to the public in Bootstrike.Com

Errors? Omissions? Need Help? Know something? Post your queries in the Windows XP Discussion Forum.

You may be interested in our other Windows XP guides. including a comprehensive FAQ, installing XP from DOS and how to dual boot with Windows 98.

This document is Copyright(©) 2001-2004 by G.Ganesh.

6 comments RSS of last 10 posts

new post [ expand all ]

Unregistered Anonymous After I install Windows 95, when it tries to boot, I get the following error: "While initializing device IOS: Windows Protection Error. You need to restart your computer." I've tried restarting, maybe 10 or more times. Please advise.
posted 26 Nov 2013 - Reply - Permanent Link
Unregistered Anonymous in dual booting, can it be both win xp? if yes, how? if no why?
posted 17 Aug 2009 - show 1 replies - Reply - Permanent Link
Admin Administrator Admin yes, just install XP to two separate partitions.. preferably C first, then D.
posted 17 Aug 2009 - Reply - Permanent Link
imastudent Unregistered Anonymous Dude, great tutorial.

Does this also work with Windows Vista that can dual-boot Windows XP, depending on the drivers needed for the system itself?
posted 20 Jun 2008 - show 1 replies - Reply - Permanent Link
Admin Administrator Admin Not sure, this guide is not meant for Vista sorry. I heard Vista uses a different booting mechanism so it will probably not work.
posted 20 Jun 2008 - Reply - Permanent Link
namehere Unregistered Anonymous man thx to your mans I could save my computer
posted 26 Mar 2007 - Reply - Permanent Link

new post [ expand all ]

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