Boot Windows 98SE Via USB - Works

January 15, 2006 at 07:36:58
Specs: Windows 98SE, Pentium 1666MMX/40MB RAM
Aside from the typical pc forums I wasn't sure where to post my progress etc. What I have actually managed to do is get my NEC Versa 6060 to boot from a floppy then switch the boot proces to a USB Storage Device. The Versa has a BIOS that is quite old, so even though it has onboard USB, it can't boot directly from USB.

There have been threads on these forums by folks wanting to know if they could somehow install Windows 98SE on a USB drive and boot it from there. So here goes....

Disclaimer: This may or may not work. I managed to get my Versa to run, but it still has alot of glitches so don't rely on it for anything important.

Because of limitations of the USB drivers you will be using, you cannot install Windows 98SE directly onto the USB Storage Device. Even if your system has a hard drive you can install Windows 98SE on, don't. The reason behind this is Windows 98 will at some point setup your USB device and will crash because it will try to use a device that already has a driver running. For those familiar with PCMCIA you will see a similiarity, Windows 95/98 can't use PCMCIA cards unless the real-mode drivers are disabled. Same thing with USB.

Be sure to disable virtual memory and reboot at least once before going any further. It saves space and any problems.

I used Virtual PC to setup the fresh Windows 98SE install. I then used WinRAR while Windows 98 was running to archive it. (Windows 98SE only has about 5 or so files that are in-use while running, most of them system logs or Internet Cache files, nothing important)

I also has to unhide MSDOS.SYS and copy that to my workstation since that is required for the boot floppy.

The reason for installing Windows 98SE on another machine was because if 98SE had installed on the laptop right away, it would crash during boot since it was have a conflict with the dos USB driver and it's own. This way, when it loads on a new machine, it's forced to install hardware and you can sorta controll which hardware is installed and what isn't.

Copy all your Windows files (Programs Files, My Documents and Windows) to your flash drive. I used a PNY Attache 512MB. Using the Windows 98SE installer I selected no additional features, and the install is 170MB. So your minimal flash card should be 256MB if you have a CD-ROM drive to let Windows use the Windows CD to install drivers. If you don't have a CD drive you will need 512MB since Windows 98SE installer files are 130MB.

Create or download a Windows 98SE boot disk. The standard emergency rescue disk that's around works great. You will need to load finished floppy into WinImage and delete MSDOS.SYS. You will then insert the MSDOS.SYS saved from your fresh install of Windows to the WinImage window along with the other files in your floppy. Also download these two files:


A Google search will provide links. Searching here on will provide results as well. The USBASPI.SYS is a driver from Panasonic that works great with USB 1.x devices.

Once you obtain those files, insert them into the WinImage window as well. Then, using a text editor, create two files, autoexec.bat and config.sys.


set COMSPEC=c:\Windows


device=himem.sys /testmem:off
device=USBASPI.SYS /v /slow

If you have a CD drive also add in a line for your CD drive. Make sure your CD driver loads after ASPIDISK.SYS and that you specify a drive letter like E or F.

Now you can test your setup. Insert your boot disk in your PC, insert the flash drive and tur everything on. If everything works correctly, it should load to a certian point and complain about some hardware issue or protection error.

If it didn't work, reboot and hit esc while the logo is displaying and you will se the USB driver load. Check to see if it sees your USB devices. If it doesn't, iether that driver doesn't support your USB chipset/flash device or you may need a hub connected to your USB port then your flash drive to the hub.

Once you get that sorted out (if possible) reboot, and hit F8 as soon as the boot starts. Select step by step confirmation. Basically say yes to everything. Once it sks if you want to load a mouse VXD driver, say yes. Wait a bit and listen to your floppy drive go crazy. This is one of the tricky parts. It will keep accessing the floppy and get nowhere. At some point, you need to eject the floppy. If it complains and says insert disk, put it back in. If not it will sputter about for a bit then it will load Windows 98SE from the flash drive.

Windows 98SE will now install all the new hardware.

Tip: For this section of the guide, change the name of the folder of Windows 98SE's setup files or remove the CD when indicated below to help with USB issues.

Basically do as it says, give it the files it needs. (You will have to insert the cd or specify the new location/name of the setup files)Once it gets to the point of installing a USB driver it will freeze. Reboot. If you have a Windows 98SE CD, remove it from the drive. USB will most likely be the first item to be installed. When it asks for the Windows 98SE CD, cancell the request. Leave USB uninstaled.

From this point on it's trial and eror. Sometimes it will boot, sometimes it won't. Installing programs and drivers can be a hassle, but can be done. You no doubt will get lots of memory or random errors. But it's a starting point.

See More: Boot Windows 98SE Via USB - Works

Report •

January 15, 2006 at 10:19:36
I've managed to install linux onto a PCMCIA card and a flash drive.

u can buy a flash drive with linux allready installed called "Computer-on-a-stick"

(do a google search for more info)

anyways cool info

Report •
Related Solutions

Ask Question