Upgrading to Windows 98

Question: Someone told me that, if I want to install the Windows 98 full version on top of Windows 95 without reformatting my hard drive, I should delete these files:

  • msdos.sys
  • io.sys
  • command .com
  • c:windows
  • system.dat
  • user.dat
  • all files ending with .reg

They said I should then boot with a boot disk and install Windows 98. Is it true? —A.Z.

Answer: I checked with Microsoft and their technical support folks came back with this answer:

“The procedure listed isn’t really that great an option because deleting user.dat and system.dat files is deleting your registry.”

The registry is the Windows filing cabinet that stores all of Windows vital information.

“If you delete your registry, you will likely have to reinstall all your applications and some hardware again. This method doesn’t really have a lot of advantages. You may as well delete the whole Windows directory and start from scratch,” the anonymous technical support person said. (Microsoft doesn’t like to identify the people who help out journalists like me, and all messages get filtered through their public relations agency.)

Incidentally, the only difference between the Windows 98 full retail version (which has the title “for PCs without Windows”) that A.Z. is referring to, and the Windows 98 upgrade version is this:

  1. The Upgrade Retail Version does compliance checking, which means it checks that the user already has a copy of Windows 95 or Windows 3.1.
  2. The full version also comes with a boot disk because it’s assumed that the computer it will be installed on doesn’t have an operating system on board.

The boot disk can cause problems if you install the full version over an upgrade, said the unnamed Microserf. So if you have Windows 95 installed, use the install CD-ROM as you would to use the upgrade version and start the install from inside Windows 95. Don’t use the boot disk.