Thanks to Microsoft™ and their competitors we computer users have many more Operating Systems (OSes) to choose from than we did a few years ago. In fact, I’m willing to bet most of us have purchased at least two. So what do you do when the latest and greatest OS is released? Sell the old one on eBay? Well, you could, but you won’t get much money for a 98/ME OS when 2000/XP is so readily available. Do you make a coaster out of the old one? You could do that too, just remember how much you paid for that old OS a couple of years ago. Do you want a better solution? How about a dual boot system? Sound interesting? Give me a little of your time, and I will explain the steps to a dual boot system in detail.
Is it really for me?
First you need to ask yourself about the advantages and disadvantages of a dual boot system. Is a multiple OS setup really for you? Of course it is. And throughout this tutorial, you will find that it’s not as hard as you may have thought. Lets discuss the pros and cons of a multiple OS system:
It’s like having two computers in one. Different settings and appearances in each OS make them unique from each other. This can certainly help when you get bored with just one OS. And lets not forget how much we all loved Windows 98SE, it doesn’t have to sit on a shelf collecting dust.
It’s an “insurance policy”. We have all seen the Blue Screen Of Death, and most of us have seen the Computer Reaper in some form or another. Having two OSes insures against lost data. One fails, and the other one is still there waiting for you. This provides a level of protection that allows you to back up important files that would otherwise have to be retrieved by buying a separate drive and slaving your old drive to it, or slaving your drive to a buddy’s computer.
Reformatting is inevitable. It’s like your car’s oil change, It’s got to be done sooner or later if you don’t want hassles later on. A dual boot system provides the convenience of allowing you a time to reformat a drive. One OS goes south? No problem. You can still use your computer until it is convenient for you to do a reformat. No more staying up all night because your OS failed, and you just have to have your computer up and running the next day.
Software compatibility. Not only can you share programs between OSes, but you can still utilize those older ones that you love so much. How many of us have upgraded to a new OS like 2000/XP and said to ourselves “this ran better in my 98/ME system than it does now”? With a dual boot system, you can have all the functionality of a program, with the benefits of running it like “it used to run”. Pretty nice for those of us that are a little reluctant to change.
Hardware compatibility. How many of you have upgraded to 2000/XP only to find out your printer, CDRW, or other hardware is not supported? No sweat. If you prefer using your programs in 2000/XP, you can still save, then print or burn your work in the other OS. Saves you from having to upgrade and buy more hardware. You already paid enough for the new OS; and it’s like adding insult to injury when you discover your old, reliable hardware just doesn’t work the same or not at all in the new OS.
It’s cool. Everybody likes choices. Having 2, 3 or more OSes on your computer is a smart thing, and just plain cool.
Hard drive space. Yes, a second or third OS does take up valuable hard drive space, but compared to the level of personal security you get from a multiple OS system, it is really a moot point. Other than that fact, there are no disadvantages. You paid good money for 98/ME, and you paid good money for 2000/XP, why not use them both? You don’t just park your old car off to the side of your yard when you buy a new one, do you? Of course not. You trade it in (which is something you can’t do with an OS, unfortunately) or you utilize it as a second vehicle.
*IMPORTANT NOTE: If you already have 2000/XP installed as a single OS on your computer, you cannot revert back and install 98/ME with the Windows boot manager. Unless you have a separate drive, and follow these instructions provided so generously by our PCMECH friend, Hpro. You can with System Commander 7™, but we will get into that later. Also, unless you already have your drive partitioned into 2 partitions, you will either have to 1) Reformat, Fdisk, and reinstall 98/ME, or, 2) Obtain a copy of Partition Magic™, and run it’s partition utility (System Commander 7 comes with it’s own partition tool, which will be covered later in this article).
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