Some work plans call for a double dose of NT 4.0 and Win95

As a GCN Lab reviewer, I wanted the efficiency and stability of Microsoft
Windows NT 4.0 Workstation. I also needed the compatibility and device support of Windows
95.


So I decided to have both.


When we recently upgraded our lab technology, I installed a 300-MHz Pentium II computer
with 128M RAM and an 8.4G hard drive--definitely the right configuration for a power user,
developer, network administrator or reviewer.


How could I best set it up for rough-and-tumble testing? I decided to make it a
dual-boot machine, reaping the benefits of both operating systems while trying to avoid
their headaches.


NT 4.0 Workstation gave me network strength and efficiency for 32-bit applications.
Win95 gave me Plug and Play, Universal Serial Bus support and backward compatibility with
16-bit applications. But the biggest incentive was that I could test applications and
hardware on the same platform, under different OSes.


The 8.4G drive came partitioned into four 2G drives under the 16-bit File Allocation
Table. That was perfect for my purposes, as I could format specific drives under different
file systems. It would require care, though, because the various file systems are not
compatible with both OSes.


I would be running Win95 OSR2 and NT 4.0, so I wanted a FAT16 partition, a FAT32
partition and an NT File System partition. But Win95 can't see NTFS drives, and NT can't
see FAT32 partitions.


OSR2 was already installed on the C: drive. I installed NT 4.0 on the same drive; you
must have Win95 installed first to achieve a dual-boot option.


I kept the D: drive format under FAT16 and reformatted the E: drive to FAT32 and the F:
drive to NTFS. I then installed my Win95 applications on E:, NT applications on F: and all
data files on D:.


This arrangement would let me reach my data no matter what OS I worked in. It also gave
the best application performance possible under each OS.


I've had no problems with this setup. And I now have the freedom to use the best OS for
the job, no matter what it might be. Hint: If you decide to try this, choose different
Windows backgrounds for the OSes as a quick visual orientation.


As larger and larger drives become standard, I recommend the dual-boot setup for NT 4.0
users. A slim custom installation of Win95 on one drive will ease heartache down the road.
NT driver and hardware support is growing, but Win95 is the primary target for many
manufacturers.


If you now use Win95, I recommend upgrading to NT if your hardware can handle it.
You'll need at least a 200-MHz Pentium and 48M or more RAM. The beauty of this setup is
that you keep your existing Win95 environment as a safety net.


Also, buy more cheap memory if you can. NT uses memory far more efficiently than Win95.


Finally, if you have a Pentium Pro processor, I strongly suggest sticking with NT. The
performance hit you would take in running Win95 would outweigh any benefits.


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