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Windows 95 Professional

A Publication of The Cobb Group

Published February 1997

When you install Windows 95 on a system that's already running Windows 3.x, you can configure the system to dual-boot between Windows 95 and the DOS/Windows 3.x combination. But what do you do if you install Windows 95 without the dual-boot option or you buy a new system with Windows 95 pre-installed and then discover that you need to run Windows 3.x? Relax—you don't have to start all over by reformatting your hard disk, installing DOS 6.x and Windows 3.x, and then installing Windows 95 with the dual-boot option. You can avoid this hassle with a technique we've discovered that lets you set up a dual-boot system after Windows 95 is installed. In this article, we'll walk you through the steps you can use to create a dual-boot system on a Windows 95 machine. Then, we'll show you how to safely install Windows 3.x on the PC.

The first thing you'll need to do is create a MS-DOS boot disk. To begin, find a blank floppy disk and your DOS 5.X or 6.X installation disks (versions of DOS prior to 5.0 aren't compatible with our dual-boot setup). Next, select the Shutdown… command on the Start menu and choose the Restart the computer in MS-DOS mode? option. When the system restarts, insert DOS disk 1 and type SETUP /F on the command line. When you do, the Setup utility will prompt you to reboot the system by pressing [Ctrl][Alt][Del].

When the system restarts, Setup will launch normally. Don't worry—DOS won't install itself on your hard disk. If you're using DOS 6.X, you'll want to press [F7] to create a DOS 6.X startup floppy disk. If you're using DOS 5.X, you'll press [Enter] to proceed to the second Setup screen, where you'll see a dialog box prompting you to confirm your settings. You'll notice that the INSTALL TO option is set to Hard disk. Simply select this option and then press [Enter]. When you do, you should choose the Floppy disks option and continue with the installation.

Although DOS 6.X will let you create just a startup disk, DOS 5.X will require you to create an entire set of disks. You can then generate new CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT files on your DOS startup disk.

On This Page

Finding your real-mode drivers
Preparing the DOS startup files
Altering the CONFIG.DOS and AUTOEXEC.DOS files
Altering Windows 95's MSDOS.SYS file
Copying the DOS startup files to the root folder
Booting to DOS
Installing Windows 3.x
Rebooting Windows 95

Finding your real-mode drivers

If you want to be able to access a CD-ROM drive from Windows 3.x, you'll need to make sure copies of your real-mode CD-ROM drivers are referenced in the system files your Windows 3.x/DOS combination will use. If the CD-ROM drive was installed on your system before you upgraded from Windows 3.x to Windows 95, chances are good that the real-mode CD-ROM drivers are on your hard disk and that you can find the commands to load them in your CONFIG.SYS file.

To determine if your real-mode CD-ROM drivers are, in fact, on your hard disk, use Notepad to open your CONFIG.SYS file and look for commands like the following:



(The name of the folder that contains the files will indicate what hardware they're associated with.) Then, open either My Computer or Windows Explorer and look for the actual files on your hard disk. For example, if the commands in your CONFIG.SYS file look like the ones we just listed, you'd look for a folder called SCSI that contains the files ASPI$DOS.SYS and ASWCDSNY.SYS.

If you can't find the real-mode CD-ROM drivers or the commands necessary to load them, you'll need to read the article "Preparing for Disaster" in our November 1996 issue. In that article, we discuss how to track down the drivers for your CD-ROM drive.

Preparing the DOS startup files

Once you've created a bootable DOS system disk, you'll need to prepare a special set of DOS startup files. To begin, use either My Computer or Windows Explorer to create a temporary working folder on your hard disk. For this example, we'll create a folder called Temporary and place it in our hard drive's root folder. Once you've created this working folder, insert your bootable DOS system disk into your floppy disk drive and locate the following three DOS operating system files:




Next, copy the files from your floppy disk to the Temporary folder. Then, copy your current CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT files from your hard drive's root folder to the Temporary folder. Be sure to eject the DOS startup disk from your floppy drive.

Now that your Temporary folder contains the five files necessary to launch DOS, you need to configure the files to work in a dual-boot setup. You can do so by changing the files' extensions to DOS.

The easiest way to change these file extensions is from a DOS prompt, since you'll be able to change them all at once. First, open a DOS window by choosing Start|Programs|MS-DOS Prompt. Then, switch to the Temporary folder using the DOS change directory (CD) command. For example, if you created the Temporary folder in the root of drive C, you'd use the command


Once you access the Temporary folder, you'll use the Rename (REN) command along with the asterisk wild card character (*) to rename all the files simultaneously by issuing the command

REN *.* *.DOS

At this point, close the MS-DOS Prompt window by typing Exit and pressing [Enter]. All the files in your Temporary folder should now have the file extension DOS, as shown in Figure A.


Figure A: : In our dual-boot configuration, all the DOS startup files need to have the file extension DOS.

Altering the CONFIG.DOS and AUTOEXEC.DOS files

After you've finished gathering and renaming all your DOS startup files, you need to edit the CONFIG.DOS and AUTOEXEC.DOS files to remove references to Windows 95. To begin, use Notepad to open the CONFIG.DOS file.

Suppose your CONFIG.DOS file looks like the one shown in Figure B.


Figure B: : You'll need to edit CONFIG.DOS and remove all references to Windows 95.

You'd need to change the first two lines to call the DOS versions of the referenced files by changing their paths from C:\WIN95 to C:\DOS. (On our sample machine, the Windows 95 folder is called WIN95.) You'd leave the commands that load the real-mode CD-ROM drivers just as they are. Then, you'd save your changes to the CONFIG.DOS file and open the AUTOEXEC.DOS file.

If your AUTOEXEC.DOS file looks like the one shown in Figure C, you'd leave the first two commands alone, remove the Windows 95 references from the PATH statement, and remove just the REM statements from the last two lines. After you do, your AUTOEXEC.DOS file will look like the one shown in Figure D.


Figure C: : The AUTOEXEC.DOS file contains references to Windows 95 that you'll need to remove.


Figure D: : You'll leave the MSCDEX command in the AUTOEXEC.DOS file.

Although you want to remove virtually all references to Windows 95, the command that loads Windows 95's MSCDEX.EXE (the Microsoft CD-ROM extensions driver) is an exception. You should leave this command alone because MSCDEX.EXE is required by your CD-ROM drive. Fortunately, Windows 95's version of MSCDEX is backward-compatible with previous versions of DOS.

Altering Windows 95's MSDOS.SYS file

The next step in our procedure is to alter Windows 95's MSDOS.SYS file. As you may know, this file is actually a text file that contains parameters Windows 95 uses as it boots the system. To enable your PC to dual-boot, you need to add the BootMulti command to your MSDOS.SYS file.

Since the MSDOS.SYS file has both the Read-Only and Hidden attributes enabled, it won't show up in My Computer or Windows Explorer unless you've disabled the Hide files of these types option in the Options properties sheet. (You can access the Options properties sheet from both My Computer and Windows Explorer by pulling down the View menu and selecting the Options… command.) However, you can easily locate the file by using the Find utility.

Once you locate MSDOS.SYS, you need to disable the Read-only attribute so you can edit the file. To do so, right-click the file and select Properties from the context menu. When you do, you'll see the Msdos.sys Properties sheet, shown in Figure E. At this point, deselect the Read-only check box and click OK.


Figure E: : You need to disable the Read-only attribute before you can make changes to the MSDOS.SYS file.

Now, load the MSDOS.SYS file into Notepad, locate the [Options] section, and add the BootMulti=1 setting, as shown in Figure F. Then, save the file and close Notepad. Finally, access the MSDOS.SYS Properties sheet again and re-enable the file's Read-only attribute.


Figure F: : To enable a dual-boot, you must add the BootMulti=1 command to the [Options] section.

Copying the DOS startup files to the root folder

Now you're ready to use either My Computer or Windows Explorer to copy the five DOS startup files from the Temporary folder to the root folder of your hard drive. Once you do, you'll have 10 startup files in your root folder, as shown in Figure G.


Figure G: : You'll now have 10 startup files in your hard drive's root folder.

Booting to DOS

You're now ready to boot the system to DOS. To do so, select Shutdown… from the Start menu. When the Shut Down Windows dialog box appears, select the Restart the computer radio button and then click Yes.

When your computer restarts, you'll see the message Starting Windows 95… displayed across the top of your screen. As soon as you do, press [F4]. Almost immediately, you'll see the message

Now loading your previous version of MS-DOS, please wait
and then the message
Starting MS-DOS

Next, you'll see the familiar C:> prompt. To make sure the system started your previous version of DOS, you can type VER. When you do, you should see a message indicating your DOS version. For example, if you used an MS-DOS 6.2 system disk to create the DOS startup files, you'll see the message

MS-DOS Version 6.20

Installing Windows 3.x

Now that your system is running your previous version of DOS, you can install Windows 3.x or Windows for Workgroups (WFWG) 3.x. To do so, simply insert installation Disk 1 and type A:SETUP.

As the Windows installation procedure begins, Setup will find your Windows 95 folder, assume that you're performing an upgrade, and suggest that you install Windows 3.x or WFWG 3.x in the Windows 95 folder, as shown in Figure H.


Figure H: : Setup will assume you're performing an upgrade and suggest that you install Windows 3.x in the Windows 95 folder.

At this point, you'll need to direct Setup to install Windows 3.x in a different folder. For example, you might type C:\WIN31 in the text box.

Toward the end of the Windows 3.x installation, Setup will prompt you to let it search your hard disk for any Windows 3.x applications. If you let Setup do so, you'll end up with several Windows 95 applets in your Windows 3.x Application program group that you'll have to painstakingly delete, since the 16-bit versions of Windows can't run Windows 95's 32-bit code. Therefore, we recommend that you bypass this step and continue with Setup.

Once the Windows 3.x installation procedure is complete, you'll have a fully functional version of Windows 3.x that's totally separate from Windows 95. You'll have to rerun the installation procedure of any Windows 3.x applications, placing them in the same folder in which they currently exist. By doing so, you'll have icons for these programs in both Windows 3.x and Windows 95.

Rebooting Windows 95

Each time you restart your system, it will boot Windows 95 by default, even if you booted to DOS the last time you restarted your PC. Anytime you want to boot to DOS and run Windows 3.x, you'll need to press [F4] when you see the Starting Windows 95 message during startup.


If you installed Windows 95 over Windows 3.x or purchased a new system with Windows 95 already installed, you may think you must wipe out Windows 95 and start all over with DOS and Windows 3.x in order to set up a dual-boot system. In this article, we've shown you how to create a dual-boot setup and install Windows 3.x on a Windows 95 system without all that work.

The article entitled "Creating a dual-boot setup" was originally published in Windows 95 Professional, February 1997. Copyright © 1997, The Cobb Group, 9420 Bunson Parkway, Louisville, KY 40220. All rights reserved. For subscription information, call the Cobb Group at 1-800-223-8720.

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