Solved How to multiboot from Win 98SE and Win XP HDDs in one tower?

October 25, 2014 at 09:31:55
Specs: Windows XP
Hi. I have 2 old PCs, one running XP & one on 98SE, both of which I use occasionally due to having some useful old software which will not run on newer OSs. 2 towers = too much desk space! As I never want to use both PCs at the same time, can I install the 98SE drive into the tower with the XP drive, & boot from whichever one I want to use? I assume the motherboard in the XP machine will be able to run the 98SE drive.

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October 25, 2014 at 11:53:45
"can I install the 98SE drive into the tower with the XP drive, & boot from whichever one I want to use?"

Simply put, no. Unless you have identical machines, the first thing that would be an issue is moving the drive to the different machine and having it balk about the differences in hardware. Second would be the issue of selecting which drive to boot to (which may be fixable with either some type of software or editing your configuration files---you don't mention the specs on either machine). It may be more practical to install Win98 on the WinXP machine using some type of VM:

"Channeling the spirit of jboy..."

message edited by T-R-A

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October 25, 2014 at 12:22:12
✔ Best Answer
A '98 drive will transfer OK from system to another... I used to do it often... XP on the other hand will not (easily).

You "could" use a system of swappable drive caddies/bays; using whichever caddy holds the drive you want to use at any time.

There are a few ways to be able to have both drives in one computer, and boot from whichever.

A basic add-in boot-manager utility would do the job nicely; and they're still around. It would be installed into XP - which would remain the current "Master" drive to '98 "Slaved".

If you were to put XP as Slave to 98 as Master it may not work without a little more work; been so long since I dun it that way (boot-manager utility) can't remember all the details.

If you were to set '98 drive as Master..., you could set the whole system up using the XP boot-loader.

But one must remember that the core requirement for a dos based OS to dual/multi-boot with any member of the NT family (NT/W2K/XP etc...) - "without using an add-in boot-manager utility" - is that the bootable primary "must" be fat16. That is where (once all set up correctly) the XP boot-laoder will finally reside, allowing a choice of either '98 or XP via the XP boot-menu.

Windows up to and including ME was dos-based... If you have that condition (a fat16 primary) on the '98 drive then it's no hardship to make it into a dual-boot scenario. However the chances are your '98 drive is actually fat32 - which would mean a boot-manager utility at least...

Without going into all in depth at this stage... post back with the status of your '98 drive. Is it's primary fat32 or fat16?

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October 25, 2014 at 13:16:07
I'm a bit confused by
"If you were to put XP as Slave to 98 as Master ... If you were to set '98 drive as Master..."
cos aren't they the same thing?!
Having said that, I think I have my answer: the XP drive is NTFS & the 98 drive is FAT32, so I'm guessing it's a no to linking them. Ah well, I guess I just need a bigger desk ;)

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October 25, 2014 at 13:17:57
Thanks T-R-A. I was hoping to avoid the VPC, tried it before & it was glitchy.

message edited by GillyJ

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October 25, 2014 at 13:39:30
mmm I did put it a little konphusingly...

If '98 was the Master drive and XP slaved to it... then if '98 Primary was fat16... one could set up a dual-boot that way - and that would use the XP boot-loader/menu to allow choice of OS (and thus drive) to use...

If XP was Master to '98 set as Slave (regardless of whether or not '98 was fat16 or fat32) then one could use a boot-manager utility.

There are various boot-manger add-in utils out there; some I think are freebies? Might be worth having a look-see - Google trawl - to find one and give it a go (after carefully reading the how to use it info; and also perhaps comments from those who have used it)?

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October 25, 2014 at 22:30:28
For all the hardware to run in 98 it would need 98 drivers. That's often a problem when putting 98 on a newer system. You might want to check driver availability before commiting yourself to the swap.

One way to alternate between booting XP or 98 would be to simply set the drive you DON'T want to boot from to NONE in cmos/bios setup. The only problem with that is you wouldn't be able to access the other drive during a windows session. But if the XP drive is NTFS--which it probably is--98 wouldn't be able to see it anyway.

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October 26, 2014 at 01:54:58
Good point re' XP and ntfs... Although there add-in utilities (these days many freebies) which allow '9x to access ntfs.

I think the XP "box" (if isn't too new relative to '98), then very likely it would handle a '98 drive ok.

The bios switching routine is of course a very viable option; especially if not needing to use it too often... Otherwise it may become a little tedious...?

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October 26, 2014 at 06:18:59
No system specs were provided but finding Win98 drivers could be an issue & so could the amount of RAM. And of course, Win98 (FAT32) will not be able to see XP (NTFS), that may or may not be an issue. Try using GAG boot manager.

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October 26, 2014 at 06:30:48
mmm The RAM issue might well be the main problem; although I seem to recall there was a workaround for that - but it has been a while...?

These are a couple of discussions around the topic:

and this one is linked from the above:

And this one from an earlier (quite a bit earlier) discussion here at CN:

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October 26, 2014 at 22:08:28
Yeah modifying system.ini can usually get around the greater-than-512-meg problem.

I was thinking more about disabling the non-booting drive in bios setup. Both were booting in different systems so they have active partitions. If you have the XP drive as primary master and the 98 drive as primary slave then it would normally boot to XP and be able to access the 98 drive. If you want to boot from 98 you disable the XP drive in bios setup allowing the 98 drive to boot up. You wouldn't have access to the XP drive then but wouldn't anyway if it was NTFS.

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