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-DOSŪ. Each section includes a checklist summary for easy reference.



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