FAT16 Multi Boot w3.1, 95, 98, ME, 2K, XP, Server 2000 and 2003 Using BootitNG

Hello everyone,

Firstly, I apologise if this is posted in the wrong section, but it really didn't seem to fit anywhere else.

I read something on the magic web the other week about installing Windows on FAT16 partitions and that started me wondering as to which versions of Windows can install natively on FAT16 partitions, so I've done a bit of testing in VirtualBox and this is the result.

I've created a multiboot VHD with 8 Windows FAT16 installs:

Windows 3.1
Windows 95B
Windows 98SE
Windows ME
Windows 2000
Windows XP
Windows Server 2000
Windows Server 2003

All installs are done using the native Windows installers onto FAT16 partitions on a single hard disk.

I've used the BootitNG boot manager for this as it allows multiple primary partitions (in this case, 12 in total).

All of the above Windows versions install just fine on FAT16 and I've not found any issues in testing them.

Not that that's either here or there, as using FAT16 for later Windows such as 2000 or XP is rather wasteful as the FAT16 cluster size of 64K wastes a heck of a lot of disk space.

Just an exercise done out of curiosity.

All the installs were done using VirtualBox 6.1.26 and no guest additions are installed.

I've added VBemp display drivers for the w9x installs and applied the fast CPU fix for w95 for CPU's >2.1ghz.

Wherever there are logins needed, the password has been left blank.

If you change any of the partitions or install a different OS in any, then you'll need to re-install / re-activate BootitNG from the floppy image (included in the zip file).

Note on graphics: Allocate your VM's graphic card at least 40MB of RAM or the VBemp driver in w95-98-2K will only show a black screen on startup. The more RAM you allocate, the higher the resolution you'll be able to achieve (Windows 2000 is particularly fussy).

All these installs will run fine with 512MB of RAM in VirtualBox.

You'll need to tweak your VM sound settings for w31 and XP as the sound is currently set for w9x.

The VHD size is 4.5GB but this has been zipped down to 1.5GB.

I've uploaded the VHD to the Internet Archive here:

Kind regards,

Sign In or Register to comment.