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Dual Windows Installations
By Thiravudh Khoman

I read with interest Don Chapman's piece in the January 6, 1999 issue of Post Database about how to install two copies of Windows on the same hard disk, which was in response to a letter by Rae Bridal dating back to December 9, 1998.

As an addendum, I'd like to offer my experiences with a dual boot Windows system of a different kind. Alas, this too is rather advanced and may not be very useful for casual users.

For about a year now, my computer has had Windows 95 installed on drive C: and Windows NT 4.0 Workstation installed on drive D:. In such instances, Windows 95 must be installed first, given its unruly nature. When NT is installed next, a boot manager will be automatically set up which allows you to choose between Windows 95, Windows NT default display mode, and Windows NT VGA display mode on startup.

I could have installed NT on drive C: which was formatted with FAT16, sharing it with Windows 95, but I decided to segregate it on drive D: so that I could format it with NT's NTFS and make use of its superior features. A few months ago, I upgraded my Windows 95 to Windows 98 but kept FAT16 rather than upgrading to Windows 98's new and improved FAT32.

When I boot into Windows 95/98, I see only a drive C: because Windows 95/98 cannot read NTFS volumes. However, when I boot into NT, I can see not only NT's home drive D:, but also Windows 95/98's drive C:, since NT can read both NTFS and FAT16. This is why I decided against upgrading drive C: to FAT32 - NT 4.0 can't natively read FAT32 volumes. Drive C: thus acts as a common drive on which Windows 95/98 and NT can pass files back and forth to each other.

Why did I choose to install Windows 95/98 and Windows NT on the same computer? One reason was because I wanted to learn something about NT without having to forsake Windows 95/98. Superficially, NT 4.0 looks a lot like Windows 95, but in fact the internals are quite different and the way you go about doings things can be very different as well. In hindsight, abandoning Windows 95/98 "cold turkey" for NT might have been a better approach, but my computer is also used by other family members, so I needed a familiar setup for their sake as well (good excuse!).

Another reason for having both Windows 95/98 and NT resident was because I wanted to run some programs which are either better run under NT or can only be run under NT. A case in point: install memory in excess of 32mb on a Windows 95/98 system and you will only get marginal gains on performance. Do the same with an NT system and the NT will efficiently and effectively use any memory you throw at it. This is especially true when running "heavy" programs like Adobe PhotoShop, PageMaker or Corel Draw. To keep all of these programs in memory, you need a lot of memory and NT simply does a better job of managing memory.

I'm also fooling around with SQL. Rather than setting up a full blown SQL Server on NT server, I've opted for a simpler and cheaper solution - using SQL Workstation, a product which runs under NT Workstation and which comes with the Enterprise Edition of Microsoft's Visual Studio. Of course, using SQL isn't the only reason to use NT, but there are many other programs which only or prefer to run under NT.

Finally, like Don Chapman, I also use Partition Magic (https://www.powerquest.com). However, in my case, it is only used to adjust the disk space allocated to my Windows 95/98 and NT volumes, and not as a boot manager. As my familiarity with NT grows and my need for space increases under NT, I simply shrink my drive C: FAT16 volume and increase my drive D: NTFS volume.

Copyright © 1998-2000, Thiravudh Khoman