Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

Reverting to Windows 98 from Windows XP and NTFS can be done, but it's a lot of work and not recommended.

I have a four year old Dell PC that originally came with a Windows 98 OS. This past summer I had the local computer repair shop upgrade to Windows XP-Pro which I now regret. They installed XP without reformatting the hard drive so Windows 98 still remains. I want to get rid of XP and convert back to Windows 98. I read the uninstall instructions and it says that Windows XP-Pro cannot be uninstalled if the hard disk configuration has been changed: if FAT has been converted to NTFS. NTFS is the current file system but I cannot be sure if it was converted from FAT during the XP installation or if it was originally set this way. The only information that I have is the original generic manual that came with the computer when I bought if from Dell. In the manual it talks only about FAT file systems so I would assume that FAT is the original file system and the computer file system was converted to NTFS during the XP installation. question is: Am I stuck with Windows XP or is it still possible to uninstall XP and if so how would I go about doing it without damaging the whole computer.

Well, it can be done. It's not easy, but it can be done.

But I don't recommend it.

Windows 98 doesn't support NTFS, period. So yes, if your hard disk is now formatted with NTFS then it was converted somewhere along the way.

It also means that your only real approach to reverting to Windows 98 would be to backup or save all your data, reformat the hard disk (with the FAT filesystem), and install Windows 98. From scratch.

That's quite a bit of work, to be sure.

And in all honesty ... why?

Windows XP is such a better operating system than Windows 98. My recommendation instead would be to see if the issues you're having with it could be addressed instead.

In the long run, I'm convinced you'll be much happier that way.

Article C2253 - January 4, 2005 « »

Share this article with your friends:

Share this article on Facebook Tweet this article Email a link to this article
Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

andy mortlock
January 6, 2005 6:18 AM

I would just like to say that if, as the person states,when xp was installed the hard drive was not re-formatted and bits of win 98 remain,the file system should still be FAT.In any event a re-installation will involve a re-format,which is a pretty straightfoward process,straight from the installation cd.
I imagine the person wishes to revert back to win 98 because their computer being 4 years old is struggling with xp,which is of course the better option,if you have a modern computer with plenty of RAM

March 1, 2005 4:57 PM

There are many reasons to revert to Windows 98se, even on a modern computer with plenty of power. A PROPERLY CONFIGURED Windows 98 machine can be more stable, faster, and generally cleaner running than XPpro. It is possible to to go back to Windows 98 even if the "hard disk configuration has been changed," but you should be aware that this will result in the loss of all your data that is stored on the installation partition, Here's how:

1. Reconfigure the installation partition:
a. Reboot your computer with the Windows 98 CDROM in the drive
b. At the prompt type "fdisk" -enter
c. Read the messages and answer "Y" to large disk support.
d. If you have multiple hard drives press "5" to change to the installation hard drive.
e. Press "3" to delete your Windows XP (NTFS) partition, then "4" for non dos, then select the number of the partition you want to delete and answer the questions
f. Press "1" to create a new DOS partition. In most cases you must create a primary partition
g. Press "2" to set the partition you just made active.
h. Exit fdisk and reboot

2. Format the new partition:
a. At the prompt type "d:" -enter where "d" is the letter of the CDROM drive
b. type "cd\win98" -enter
c. type "format c:" -enter where "c" is the letter of your new partition
d. reboot

3. Install windows 98:
Follow the instructions on your screen... Easy as pie... Maybe

May 1, 2005 11:03 AM

I to went from Windows 98 to windows XP pro.and regret it for I have an old computer and now it just craws. I still have FAT 32.Can you walk me true puting windows 98 back on and removing windows XP?

May 1, 2005 12:18 PM

It's the same approach as outlined in the article, except that the reformat isn't required, though I'd still recommend it.

May 30, 2005 4:20 AM

can i install office 97 on my new windows home xp

May 30, 2005 9:52 AM


December 1, 2005 1:14 PM

Windows 98 doesn't support NTFS, period. So yes, if your hard disk is now formatted with NTFS, it was converted somewhere along the way.

It also means that your only real approach to reverting to Windows 98 would be to backup or save all your data, reformat the hard disk (with the FAT filesystem) and install Windows 98. From scratch.

There's several commercial tools around which read+write ntfs partitions from DOS,and atleast
with one of them softs,you can install WIN98 on NTFS partition. period.

April 6, 2006 11:51 AM

At the moment i am using windows ME and ive just bought xp home, but i have heard for what i use my computer for it is better with ME. i am still going to upgrade but is there a way to downgrade my computer if i dont get on with it? i havent got a setup disk for ME but i have a red recovery floppy disk for reverting it back to factory settings and was wondering if i would be able to use this to revert it back to ME if i wasnt getting on with xp?

James Watson
July 17, 2006 11:53 AM

I beg to differ with Leo about "XP being such a better operating system" I concor with andy mortlock, in my experence a well tuned 98SE runs way more reliable and faster on the same hardware and much less trouble with spyware and viruses.
But sadly new software, new hardware and MS are dropping suport for 98SE.

If anyone knows where there is a good page for over coming most of XP's issues, I'd like to see it. Other then that, I'll be waiting and hoping for Vista

Tom Bishop
September 20, 2006 10:40 AM

I spent hours with microsoft KB and had zero success. Your methode worked Great.

Jimmy Cozad
October 10, 2006 1:09 AM

about xp on of it's major down falls is no ms dos support what so ever xp is way better then me aka Mistake Edition 98 se is by far a better os then xp due to the following with xp
1. it slow at time even for new computers due to being a system resource hog
2. the updates a majorty of the updates that install can make a computer run even slower
3 look a the recommanded sys specs
microsoft should have put that for the mininuum

the one downside to 98 though is that a lot of new software does not support 98 or me for that matter
on my computer i have i have the following O.S's 1. 98se
2. 2000 pro
3. xp media center ed 2005
4. vista beta2
all on the same 1 TB hardrive
and it works like a charm
by the way if there is any one who needs to use nfts with 98 heres a link to free software i use for my computer business
the software has more tools the a swiss army knife it like haveing a computer repair shop on cd if you have full version xp cd you can format you hd faster the by doing it the dos way heres how:
1 pop the 98 floppy in the disk drive if you need one to get one
click this link
you can either save the file above or run it from the link
when it comes up go to start computer without cd rom support then when a:\ comes up type fdisk follow the prior instructions about fdisk
2 after using fdisk reboot the computer with xp cd now do like a normal install format the hd with a quick fat32 option watch the bar very carefully when the format bar has finished going a cross quickly restart the computer with only the floppy disk no xp cd
3 got start computer with cd rom support
4. once the floppy is done reading the driver it will tell you what cd roms you have
5. instert either your 98 98se or me cd in the drive type you drive letter usually d:\
6. under d:\ type setup the press enter
7. you ready to reinstall 98 98se me

December 20, 2007 8:39 PM

some of the windows xp disk for gateway has a section that allows you to reformat the hard drive to fat32 partitions and allows you to delete partions. it a three disk set (driver, operating systems and applcations) it usually takes several times to get it to the screen that allows you to change the format. ive installed windows xp and im using your site to downgrade to windows 98 i've used your site to link to ultimatebootcd but i dont know what to select please let me know what to select so i download the right software

roxanne gross
January 8, 2009 5:55 AM

I downloaded windows xp, over 98 and it took away, but I think it kept folders I needed. I want to get revert back to 98. How can I do it? I read part of Freds, but didn't get it all. Help!

The only way to revert to Windows 98 would be to a) backup all your data and then b) reinstall Windows 98 from scratch from its original CDs.
- Leo

Computer Repair Perth
November 19, 2010 6:53 AM

some of the windows xp disk for gateway has a section that allows you to reformat the hard drive to fat32 partitions and allows you to delete partions. Thanks ;)
Computer Services

November 7, 2011 12:44 PM

I have a psion (handheld omputer fom 90's) and I would like to download the info in it into my computer. Howeve, it only uns on windows 98. I have windows vista. I wanted to know if i can download windows 9 without loosing windows vista?

Mark J
November 7, 2011 1:10 PM

You might try installing Windows 98 in a virtual machine. Since the psion requires a driver, I'm not totally sure it would work in a virtual machine, but it might be worth a try.. Otherwise, you may have to find someone with an old Windows 98 machine laying around.

Comments on this entry are closed.

If you have a question, start by using the search box up at the top of the page - there's a very good chance that your question has already been answered on Ask Leo!.

If you don't find your answer, head out to to ask your question.