Uninstalling Win98 from Dual Boot System?

  Ben Avery 16:28 07 Feb 2003


I have windows 98SE and Windows 200 Professional setup on my PC as a dual boot. The Win 98SE has lots of error which is why I installed 2000 Pro (plus the fact it's a nicer operating system).

I would like to uninstall the Win 98SE version completely although I may put a fresh copy back on as a backup.

What's the best way to do this? I have been tolod that I can simply delete the C:\Windows file but will this also get rid of the startup screen where you choose which operating system you want?

Also, what's the best way to install it back on as a backup?


  temp003 17:03 07 Feb 2003

Assuming you have 98 on C partition and w2k on another, click here

Do not format the C drive, as the w2k boot files are there.

You can delete all the folders in C. Some of the small files in the C root directory are boot files and other system files for w2k. Those that are not necessary for w2k do not take up much space and so better leave them alone.

To remove the boot options screen, right click C:\boot.ini, Properties, untick Read-only. Click OK. Then open it with Notepad, and edit it to read:

[boot loader]



[operating systems]

multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(2)\WINNT="Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional" /fastdetect

This assumes that w2k is installed on the 1st hard disk, on the 2nd partition on that disk, and in the WINNT directory. The timeout value is irrelevant when you have only one OS.

Save changes and exit. When you reboot, there will be no dual boot option screen, and computer will boot straight into w2k.

  Ben Avery 17:33 07 Feb 2003

WINNT is installed on the C: Drive!

Sorry - should have said!

  temp003 23:46 07 Feb 2003

Well then, that's even easier. Boot into w2k. Edit C:\boot.ini to read

[boot loader]



[operating systems]

multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINNT="Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional" /fastdetect

If you can't find boot.ini, click Tools, Folder Options, View. Untick the boxes "Hide protected operating system files" and "Hide known file extensions".

Then simply reformat the win98 partition.

[I'm also assuming you did not use any third party software to create the dual boot, and is not using a special boot manager.]

  Ben Avery 00:12 08 Feb 2003

I've found the boot.ini file.

Just to check, this is my system configuration:

C: Drive has Win 98SE & Win 2000 Pro installed (2k installed from upgrade CD using the "add windows 2000 pressional as a dual operating system" option), no 3rd party software used.

D: Programs

E: Data

When you say "forformat the Win 98 Partition" do you simply mean delete the C:\Windows folder?

  flecc 03:08 08 Feb 2003

You appear to have a highly undesirable form of dual installation which Microsoft do not approve.

Unfortunately, because its simple, doesn't involve partitioning, and therefore apparently costs nothing, it's very popular. Also it works, as you know.

However, there's always a cost somewhere, and it comes at the end if necessary, as you've just discovered.

The only chance of a normal uninstallation that you have is if (a) the old system files have been retained, and (b), your Windows 98 appears in Add/Remove Programs in the Control Panel. If it does, just use that; the uninstall takes approximately 10 minutes with today's average hardware. It it appears but the uninstallation doesn't start, it means that either the System Files weren't saved originally or they have been deleted/removed since.

In the event of failure, an approximation of an uninstallation is achievable with careful selective deletion of the Windows 98 folders/files in the manner you were proposing in your last post entry, and you can extract from the excellent information that Temp003 has given the necessary actions for Boot.ini.

The best way of tackling this difficult situation is with some form of Drive Imaging if you have either Ghost or Drive Image available. Take an image, carry out the most likely deletions, try th ersult and if OK, image again and move on to further clearance.

Following this course, culminating with Windows and Registry Searches, normally results in substantially better removals than any standard Windows uninstallation and this is in fact my most commonly used method of program removal.

  Ben Avery 08:35 08 Feb 2003

No option is Add/Remove programs. I'll have to image as you suggest.

Just out of curiosity, why do Microsoft add the installing as a dual boot if they don't approve of it?

That seems like a pretty dumb idea of theirs, don't you?!


  temp003 17:10 08 Feb 2003

If you're going to image your w2k setup as flecc suggests, coupled with a separate data partition, you're fairly safe.

My suggestion, in summary, is when you're in w2k, edit the boot.ini file to read as in my 2nd post, i.e. the path should be multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINNT (it should be in the existing boot.ini file anyway). It may not be necessary to reboot, but do so anyway just to make sure that 98 is not considered an OS on the computer any more before you start deleting 98 system folders and files.

Then delete the entire C:\WINDOWS folder (including contents). Keep it in the Recycled Bin for the time being. If no problem occurs, remove it permanently.

I think it is not necessary to uninstall programs from within 98 before you remove 98 as an OS, or even afterwards by deleting individual program folders/files, unless you're really sure they are not needed by w2k.

The only other 98 system folder on C I can think of (forgotten much about 98 now) to delete is the My Documents folder at C:\My Documents (but not the desktop icon - you probably can't anyway), if it's still there (w2k has its own My Documents folder). Naturally flecc is the one for other suggestions.

There's also a file called C:\bootsect.dos which can be deleted afer editing out 98 from boot.ini.

Here are the reasons for my suggestions. w2k's windows directory is C:\WINNT, not C:\WINDOWS. It does not need the latter to operate. I can also confirm this from my own experience (more so later, too much more I'm afraid).

w2k also has its own My Documents folder for each user account at C:\Documents and Settings\[username]\My Documents. If the folder C:\My Documents remains on your computer, it's a 98 remnant. You can delete it after moving any contents inside the folder elsewhere.

In a dual boot with w2k, the 98 boot files are turned into a file called C:\bootsect.dos. After removing 98 as an OS, you can delete that file, but it's very small.

Individual program files or folders - If any program, installed both on 98 and w2k, has been installed at the same location, whether it is the default system folder C:\Program Files, or your D partition (which you describe as Programs), when you try to uninstall it from within 98's Add/Remove Programs, I'm not sure whether 98, reading from its own uninstall information in its own registry, will be aware that files it is deleting are needed by w2k, a separate (and later) OS.

If you are really sure what programs to uninstall, or what program files and folders to delete manually, e.g. because you have meticulously put them at different locations for the 2 OS's, you may remove them. Even then, many programs copy files and folders outside the default C:\Program Files folder or your designated location, so it's not easy to tell what to delete and what not.

The fact is, you must have needed to install programs over again to run in w2k (since it was a dual boot and not upgrade). Those have been working well, and will continue to work well if you leave the 98 programs alone.

If space is a concern, you might actually find that if the two OS's share the program folders, there's not much to delete.

If tidiness is a concern, I'm afraid that it's not easy to achieve with a dual boot of 2 OS's on one partition. It will take either thorough knowledge of the workings of both OS's and how each program is installed, or a complete reformat and fresh start.

  temp003 17:24 08 Feb 2003

What I don't quite understand is the option you were given to add w2k as a dual operating system.

I switched from WinMe to w2k 2 years ago, but I don't remember being given that option. Even now, when I put the CD in, the options are to upgrade, or to install a new copy (which MS calls a clean install - which actually is not very clean).

But maybe you were given the option later in the Setup process when w2k recognised the existence of 98 on your computer.

Here is my experience, which in some ways was similar to yours. I only mention it as a matter of interest, and perhaps some of it will help you. But by all means skip it if you're not interested (my posts are already too long).

I installed w2k over ME, choosing a new installation (clean install), but without formating the C partition. I didn't know anything about formatting a drive. It was my first installation of an OS on my own.

The result was I got a dual boot options screen (although I didn't even know then that it was a dual boot).

My old C:\Program Files folder was wiped clean, as I expected. I reinstalled my programs and w2k worked extremely well.

But the C:\WINDOWs folder remained. I later learnt that in a clean install, w2k starts afresh only with the its own system folders, such as C:\WINNT, C:\Documents and Settings, C:\Program Files and C:\Recycled (and some other individual files). Anything else, it actually leaves intact. I should have formatted the drive first.

w2k's default windows folder is WINNT, not WINDOWS. So the WINDOWS folder remained. This, coupled with w2k's ability to recognise boot files and system files from an older OS and its own boot manager, resulted in a dual boot.

This may not be what happened to you, since you were actually given the option to create a dual boot, but the result is similar. What I would like very much to know is what happened to your C:\Program Files folder after installing w2k on to C partition. Was it wiped clean? Or did it remain as before, and w2k created a second Program Files folder?

Anyway, what concerns you is that I later deleted the entire WINDOWS folder, with no adverse effect on w2k at all.

You may feel that deleting the WINDOWS folder is a big step, but it may be some comfort to you that much as the folder sounds important, it has no value to w2k. Everything it needs is in the WINNT instead.

As to why MS allows you to create a dual boot on othe same partition when they have advised against it (quite consistently), I have no idea. It may be that with Windows installations, you can actually change the default location of the windows directory. You can specify windows to be installed to a folder called something other than WINDOWS or WINNT. That will not overwrite any existing windows directory, and will mitigate the potential danger. It may still create problems of two different OS's overwriting each other's files. Hence MS's warning.

In your case, and lucky for you and MS, it is entirely fortuitous that it has worked, because w2k's default windows directory is WINNT, which has avoided overwriting the WINDOWS folder and kept most, if not all, of the 98 system files intact. Had it been XP whose default windows directory is back to C:\WINDOWS again, it would not have worked, or at least the 98 part of it.

By the way, sorry for the suggestions in my first 2 posts. Good thing I set out my assumptions. Those suggestions would not have served you very well had you followed them :o))

The rambling stops here.

  flecc 19:16 08 Feb 2003

It's not actually an option but happens as a by product of what is provided.

Microsoft have incorporated an automatic dual boot loader in Win 2000 and XP which is meant to be used by ADDING Windows 2000/XP to an EXISTING 98 or ME.

So it's not daft for a change, but the rational upgrading from an older to a newer system.

Unfortunately there are some users who dodge the system and go backwards (!), adding the older system to the new as you have done! (Tut, tut, tease, tease!)

This coincidentally is accepted by the system, as a by product of the provisions that Microsoft have made. On discovering that some were doing this, Microsoft did the only thing they could, publish a "Don't you dare!" in the Knowledgebase.

Unfortunately the knowledgebase is a bit like the Bible these days, those who who could benefit from it the most never read it!

Here endeth the last lesson!

  Ben Avery 23:52 08 Feb 2003

I've never had such a lot of interesting and useful feedback than from you 2 guys; flecc and temp003.

Temp003: I believe the options were the same, i.e. upgrade (wiping 98) or clean install (keeping 98 on there) therefore giving a dual boot - hence my suggestion - sorry for the confusion. So you know, before I installed Win 2k, I made a point of uninstalling everything I had on the D: drive, programs, the lot. I then moved any wanted data to the E: drive and performed the clean install. Thank you for your valued help, you are a true gentleman.

Flecc: I was a little confused by your last post but get the gist of it. Although, I can assure you that I didn'y go "backwarrd" by installing win 98 AFTER win 2000, that would be silly! Re. your comment about Microsoft's Knowledge base and the bible, I have one major difference: I try not to get bogged down with the stuff MS come out with in their knowledge base as I usually get a far more sensible and practical - not to mention helpful - suggestion from posting on here. The bible on the other hand is indispensible. A must read for all. I try to make a point of reading and appying some every day - that's why I'm such a placid and nice guy! If everyone followed the advice in this great book, we'd all be a lot better off. Thanks for your valued help.

Thank you all


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