Normally, Windows 9x must be installed on each PC individually so that it can be loaded/configured with the appropriate set of drivers. I'm wondering if there is any way to make a boot HDD that can be transported between machines.

I have two PCs with vastly different hardware specs that can both run Windows 9x, though using their own specific drivers for the video, sound, and probably other stuff. I boot both from a Compact Flash card using an IDE-to-CF converter. I'd like to find a way to have just one CF card that I can use interchangeably with both machines. I suppose part of the solution could be a scheme with partitions and BIOS settings so that each PC actually boots from a different partition. This would be fine providing I can access a main partition where apps/games are installed from both PCs.

Is it possible to setup such an interchangeable HDD for Windows 9x?

NOTE: I'd like to share a 64GB CF card, so assume I'll use FAT32.

  • There is some way to have different hardware configurations in Win9x, but it's only designed to handle laptops and docking stations, not completely different machines. I never got it work when swapping hard drives around between machines like you're doing. Instead I would delete the root of the device tree and run the Add New Hardware wizard to regenerate it. – Ross Ridge Sep 6 at 21:12
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    Anecdotally, when I moved a Win9x drive from one machine to another (e.g. when upgrading hardware) I found it detected and installed all the new hardware, but didn't delete the old devices' drivers. They were still visible in Device Manager if one selected "show hidden devices", or an option to that effect. I used to go and delete the old cruft when I knew I wasn't going to put the hard drive back in the old machine any more. – Kaz Sep 7 at 7:22

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