One version of Windows isn't enough, I need three!
June 8, 2008 2:27 AM   Subscribe

Will Windows 98 and XP run and dual boot (or, treble boot, I suppose,) with my new Vista running computer?

I'm being given a slightly used computer that is currently is running Vista, but I'd like to bring over my hard drives from my current computer. Right now, I have two hard disks, one with Windows 98 and one with XP, and I have a dual boot setup. The computer I want to move them two is a Dell Inspiron 531S, an ACPIx86-based machine, with an AMD Athlon 64 X2 Dual Core Processor 3800+ 2009 Mhz, 958 Megs RAM, and the BIOS is Dell Inc, 1.0.3 6/15/2007. This is all I can easily find out at the moment, since I didn't buy the computer originally and I'm not used to Vista.

To be brief, can I run a triple boot system with Vista, Win98 and XP with this hardware? My idea is to have the backwards compatibility of 98 with the robustness of XP, while Vista gets itself sorted out. Any adivce in that direction too would be appreciated. Thanks for the help.
posted by Snyder to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Yes, why not? The correct way to do this would be to install Win98 first, then XP and finally, Vista. When you're done with installing Vista, you'll get an option in the Vista bootloader menu to boot legacy Windows OSes, and selecting that will take you to the NTLDR bootmenu with XP and 98 as the options.
posted by cyanide at 3:34 AM on June 8, 2008

A big problem with your above idea is that the hard disk and chipset drivers that were installed for your 98 and XP systems will likely not be compatible with the hardware on the vista machine. If you plug the drives in and attempt to boot off of them you will more than likely get a blue screen of death when the OS attempts to load.

Have you considered running 98 and XP in separate virtual machines? Going this route means that you don't have to worry about driver incompatibilities and also means that you can switch quickly and easily between operating systems without rebooting your machine. If you do go the virtual machine route you can install the drives in the new computer (providing that you have the proper ATA connectors) and copy your user data into the new virtual machine. You can then move each virtual appliance onto its own drive if you wish to free up space on your system disk.

The benefits of virtual machines are almost too numerous to mention. Check out VMWare Workstation software for a list of all the cool things you can do.

One more thing to will have to have valid license keys for all operating systems that you install. You may also need to reactivate Windows XP since the "hardware" is going to be changing.
posted by talkingmuffin at 9:20 AM on June 8, 2008

People still actively use Windows 98? Do you seriously have something that XP won't run, or that wont run reasonably well in VMWare?

I would (and do!) just run XP only.
posted by SirStan at 1:24 PM on June 8, 2008

What talkingmuffin said. VMWare is phenomenal piece of software.
posted by meta_eli at 1:29 PM on June 8, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks for the help, everybody. I'll take the VMWare thing under advisement, but I think I might just try to fix my other computer first, the one that currently dualboots Win98 and XP. Thanks.
posted by Snyder at 1:07 PM on June 10, 2008

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