You can install two or more operating systems on your computer, and then choose the one that you want to use each time you restart. This is known as multibooting. You can configure your computer to start Windows XP, Windows 2000, Windows NT, and either Windows 95 or Windows 98.

Consider Disk Space, Type, and File System

Before using the multibooting feature, consider the tradeoffs: each operating system uses valuable disk space, and file system compatibility can be complex if you want to run Windows XP on one partition and an earlier OS on another partition. In addition, dynamic disk format introduced in Windows 2000 does not work with earlier operating systems. However, multibooting capabilities are a valuable feature providing the single-machine flexibility to run multiple operating systems.
In the past, some users installed multiple operating systems as a safeguard against problems with starting the computer. With Windows XP, you have more and better options for system recovery. For example, if you have a problem with a newly-installed device driver, you can use safe mode, in which the operating system restarts with default settings and the minimum number of drivers. Windows XP also includes compatibility mode, so you no longer need to keep an older operating system to run most of your older programs.
However, multibooting continues to be a useful feature if you are using Windows XP but occasionally need to replicate older computing environments. This article provides an overview of multibooting, beginning with a summary of disk requirements followed by guidelines for multibooting with Windows XP. It also addresses multibooting issues for running Windows XP with earlier operating systems including Windows 2000, Windows NT 4.0, Windows 9x, and MS-DOS®. Each section includes a checklist summary for easy reference.

Does Your Disk Support Multibooting?

The following table shows the disk configurations on which you can install more than one operating system.
Disk configuration Requirements for multiple operating systems
Basic disk This is the common name for the hard disk in your computer. You have a basic disk unless you have converted it to dynamic disk. MS-DOS and all Windows-based operating systems can access basic disks. A basic disk can contain up to four primary partitions. A partition is a section of the disk that functions as a separate unit. Each partition can have a different file format and different drive letter, for example, C: and D:. Each operating system must be on a separate partition.
Single dynamic disk If you have one hard disk and you have converted it to dynamic disk, you can install only one operating system. You cannot multiboot.
To determine if you have a dynamic hard disk, click Start, click Control Panel, click Performance and Maintenance, click Administrative Tools.
Double-click Computer Management, and then click Disk Management. In the right pane, your disk will be labeled as a basic or dynamic type.
Multiple dynamic disks If you have two or more hard disks installed in your computer, each dynamic disk can contain one installation of Windows XP Professional, or Windows 2000. No other operating systems can start from a dynamic disk. Windows XP Home Edition does not support dynamic disks.


One OS Per Partition

Before installing and Windows XP and an earlier version on the same machine, you must prepare your hard disk with different partitions.
When you install Windows on a new or reformatted hard disk, the Setup program typically does not partition your hard disk automatically. To create multiple partitions, choose Advanced Options during Setup and follow the instructions to create and name multiple partitions. You can also create partitions using Fdisk.
If you have already installed Windows, and you have only one partition, you must reformat and partition your hard drive before you can multiboot.
You can divide your hard disk into multiple partitions, and each partition can function as a separate logical drive. For example, logical drives C: and D: can both exist on the same hard disk, but function as separate disks. You should install each operating system on a different partition. Then install applications on the same partition as the operating system with which you run them. If an application is used with two different operating systems, install copies on both partitions. Placing each operating system in a separate partition ensures that it will not overwrite crucial files used by the other OS.
A basic disk can contain up to four partitions. Each partition can be formatted for use by a file system, such as FAT32 or NTFS.

In general, you should always install the most recent OS last. In this case, you should install Windows 2000 and then install Windows XP.
Unique Computer Name

You can set up a computer so that it has multiple installations of Windows XP and Windows 2000 Professional. However, you must use a different computer name for each installation if the computer participates in a Windows 2000 Server domain. Because a unique security identifier (SID) is used for each installation of Windows XP on a domain, the computer name for each installation must be unique—even for multiple installations on the same computer.
Checklist Summary

To configure a computer containing Windows 2000 and Windows XP, review the following guidelines:
Install each operating system on a separate drive or disk partition.

Install Windows XP after you have installed Windows 2000.

When you perform a new installation of Windows XP (as opposed to an upgrade), by default, the installation is placed on a partition on which no other operating system is located. You can specify a partition during Setup.

Don’t install Windows XP on a compressed drive unless the drive was compressed with the NTFS file system compression feature.

On any partition where you perform a new installation of Windows XP (as opposed to an upgrade), you will need to re-install any programs, such as word processing or e-mail software, after Setup is complete.

Install the programs used by each operating system on the partition with that system. If you want your programs to run with multiple operating systems, you need to install separate copies of the programs in each of the operating system partitions.

If the computer is on a Windows 2000 Server domain, each installation of Windows XP on that computer must have a different computer name.

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Vishnu vardhan Reddy Boda is Tech Blogger and Software Engineer.

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