Installing more than one operating system on your computer

You can install more than one operating system on your computer and choose which operating system you want to use every time you start your computer. This is often called a dual-boot or multiple-boot configuration. Windows XP supports multiple booting with MS-DOS, Windows 3.1, Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows NT 3.51, Windows NT 4.0, and Windows 2000.

Disk volumes and disk format

Each operating system must be installed on a separate volume on your computer. In addition, you must ensure that the boot volume is formatted with the correct file system You must reformat and repartition your hard drive if:

You have only one volume (so each installation can retain its own files and configuration information).

The boot volume is formatted with the NTFS file system.

If you want to install Windows 95 or Windows 98 with Windows NT 4.0 or Windows 2000, the boot volume must be formatted as FAT, not NTFS, because Windows 95 and Windows 98 must be installed on the boot volume when more than one operating system is installed, and FAT is the only file system those systems support. Windows 95 OSR2, Windows 98, Windows 2000, and Windows XP support FAT32 volumes.

However, if you format a Windows NT 4.0, Windows 2000, or Windows XP volume with any file system other than NTFS, you will lose all NTFS-specific features. This includes some Windows XP features such as file system security, encrypting file system (EFS) settings, disk quotas, and Remote Storage. Likewise, Windows 95 and Windows 98 cannot recognize an NTFS partition and will identify it as unknown. Therefore, if you format a Windows 98 partition as FAT, and a Windows XP partition as NTFS, any files on the NTFS partition will not be available or visible if you try to access them while running Windows 98.

Operating SystemSupported File System

MS-DOS

FAT

Windows 3.1

FAT

Windows 95

FAT

Windows 95 OSR2

FAT, FAT32

Windows 98

FAT, FAT32

Windows 2000

FAT32, NTFS

Windows XP

FAT32, NTFS

How to create a multiple-boot system with MS-DOS, Windows 95 or Windows 98, and Windows XP

You will be less likely to encounter problems installing a multiple-boot system with MS-DOS, Windows 95 or Windows 98, and Windows XP if you install these operating systems in the following order: MS-DOS, Windows 95 or Windows 98, and then Windows XP.

If you have Windows XP installed on a volume formatted as FAT, and you have another free volume formatted as FAT or FAT32, you can install Windows 98 to the free volume without reformatting your hard drive.

After ensuring that your hard drive is formatted with the correct file system, do one of the following:

If you want a multiple-boot system with MS-DOS, Windows 95 or Windows 98, and Windows XP, install MS-DOS, then Windows 95 or Windows 98, and then Windows XP.

If you want a dual-boot system with only Windows 95 or Windows 98, install Windows 95 or Windows 98, and then install Windows XP.

 Important

Before creating a multiple-boot configuration with Windows XP and another operating system, such as MS-DOS, Windows 95, or Windows 98, review the following precautions:

Each operating system must be installed on a separate volume. Microsoft does not support installing multiple operating systems on the same volume.

If you have only one volume on your computer, you must reformat and repartition your hard drive to contain multiple volumes before you begin creating a multiple-boot configuration, unless you are simply installing another copy of Windows XP.

You cannot install both Windows 95 and Windows 98 in a multiple-boot configuration. Windows 98 is intended as an upgrade to Windows 95 and will try to use the same boot file.

You must install Windows XP only after installing MS-DOS, Windows 95, or Windows 98 to prevent MS-DOS or Windows 95 from overwriting the Windows XP boot sector and the Windows XP startup files.

Do not install Windows XP on a compressed drive that was not compressed using the NTFS compression utility.

You must use a different computer name for each operating system if the computer is on a Windows 2000 or Windows XP secure domain 

How to create a multiple-boot system with Windows NT 4.0 and Windows XP

Using a multiple-boot system with both Windows NT 4.0 and Windows XP is not recommended as a long-term solution. The NTFS update in Service Pack 4 for Windows NT 4.0 is provided only to help you evaluate and upgrade to Windows XP.

After ensuring that your hard drive is formatted with the correct file system, install Windows NT 4.0, and then install Windows XP.

 Important

Before creating a multiple-boot configuration with Windows XP and another operating system, such as MS-DOS, Windows 95, or Windows 98, review the following precautions:

Each operating system must be installed on a separate volume. Microsoft does not support installing multiple operating systems on the same volume.

If you have only one volume on your computer, you must reformat and repartition your hard drive to contain multiple volumes before you begin creating a multiple-boot configuration, unless you are simply installing another copy of Windows XP.

If you intend to install more than one operating system consisting of some combination of Windows NT 4.0 with either Windows 2000 or Windows XP as the only installed operating systems, you must ensure that you have installed Service Pack 4 for Windows NT 4.0. Windows XP will automatically upgrade any NTFS partitions it finds on your system to the version of NTFS used in Windows 2000 and Windows XP. However, Windows NT 4.0 requires Service Pack 4 to be able to read and write files on a volume formatted with the version of NTFS used in Windows 2000 and Windows XP.

Do not install Windows XP on a compressed drive that was not compressed using the NTFS compression utility.

You must use a different computer name for each operating system if the computer is on a Windows 2000 or Windows XP secure domain 

Installing programs on more than one operating system

You must treat each operating system as a separate entity. Any programs and drivers you want to use must be installed under each operating system under which you want to use it. For example, if you want to use Microsoft Word on the same computer under both Windows 98 and Windows XP, you must start Windows 98 and install Microsoft Word. Then, you must restart your computer under Windows XP and install Microsoft Word again.

 Note

If you have more than one operating system on your computer, you can set the operating system you want to use as the default when you start your computer. For more information, click Related Topics

Windows 95 or Windows 98 might reconfigure hardware settings the first time you use them. This can cause configuration problems when you start Windows XP.

Specify the default operating system for startup

Driver Signing for Windows



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