How to create a boot (start up) menu under Windows 9x/ME

Discussion about old PC hardware.

How to create a boot (start up) menu under Windows 9x/ME

Postby jesolo » 2016-4-27 @ 13:36

During my time on Vogons, I've come across a couple of posts where users enquired about start up settings and/or boot menus under Windows 9x. Windows ME will not allow you to boot to MS-DOS without applying some patches first (these are available online), but I haven't yet tried this configuration under a Windows ME environment with the relevant patches applied.

Some users like to have multiple operating systems on one system (which is sometimes necessary, depending on the type of software you like to run), but I've noticed that some users have both MS-DOS 6.22 & Windows 9x (the most popular one being Windows 98SE) on the same system.

Since Windows 9x also has MS-DOS "built in", you can just set up a boot (start up) menu that will allow you to boot to either Windows or to MS-DOS (with multiple configurations) on the same partition.

I came across a tutorial a couple of years ago that I saved for myself (unfortunately, the website doesn't seem to exist anymore).
Although this tutorial still refers to Windows 95, it applies to all versions of the Windows 9x family (please note that I'm not the author of this document and take no credit for it).

Real mode MS-DOS emulation under Windows 9x.doc
Real Mode MS-DOS Emulation under Windows9x
(40.5 KiB) Downloaded 185 times

I've also attached a link to what the various options (parameters) are that one can specify under the MSDOS.SYS file: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/118579
In order to boot straight to MS-DOS, the first step would be to edit the MSDOS.SYS file.

I've also attached (simplified) versions of my own Autoexec.bat & Config.sys files, but these are not definitive. Users can choose whatever commands/parameters they wish to insert in their startup files.
Most of these command/settings I obtained by reading the MS-DOS 6.22 Help menu (I originally had a multiple boot menu configuration under MS-DOS 6.22) and online tutorials.
In this setup, Windows 98SE is the operating system and the sound card is an AWE64.

I'm sure the more experienced users here on Vogons will have other suggestions and/or tweaks (and are welcome to provide input), so this "guide" is more for the beginners or users that never have tried this before, but would like to have such a setup. Hope some users find this useful.

Where applicable, I've inserted some comments (in brackets) at the end of a command. You obviously need to remove these comments, otherwise DOS might complain about not being able to execute the command properly.

Contents of Config.sys file:
Code: Select all
[menu] (this is what will be displayed on the menu screen, similar to what you see on the Windows 98 start up disk)
menuitem=windows, Microsoft Windows 98 Second Edition
menuitem=DOS1, MS-DOS 7.10 - Boot with Expanded Memory
menuitem=DOS2, MS-DOS 7.10 - Boot without Expanded Memory
menudefault=windows, 5

[common] (this section will load all commands, regardless what menu option is chosen)
DEVICE=C:\WINDOWS\HIMEM.SYS /TESTMEM:OFF
FILES=45
BUFFERS=30,0
DOS=HIGH (note that I didn't also specify UMB here, since some of my boot menu options below doesn't load EMM386.EXE.  I therefore load it with each menu option, where applicable)
LASTDRIVE=E (this can be higher depending on the highgest drive letter you want to use, but the higher the letter, the more memory is being used).

[windows]
DEVICE=C:\WINDOWS\EMM386.EXE RAM D=64 MIN=0
DOS=UMB
DEVICEHIGH=C:\WINDOWS\SETVER.EXE
DEVICEHIGH=C:\CDPRO\VIDE-CDD.SYS /D:MSCD001 (this might look strange as to why I'm loading a CD-ROM device driver under the Windows section, but this is required if I wanted to boot to MS-DOS mode from within Windows, in which case it will also read the Dosstart.bat file and not the Autoexec.bat file)

[DOS1]
DEVICE=C:\WINDOWS\EMM386.EXE D=64 MIN=0
DOS=UMB
DEVICE=C:\WINDOWS\CTCM.EXE (only required for Creative Plug 'n Play cards and initialises the card.  Unlike under MS-DOS 6.22, the settings are read from a file called ctpnp.cfg in the Windows folder)
DEVICEHIGH=C:\WINDOWS\SETVER.EXE
DEVICEHIGH=C:\CDPRO\VIDE-CDD.SYS /D:MSCD001
SHELL=C:\WINDOWS\COMMAND.COM /E:512 /P (not really required, but I've had applications that had issues before, so I just carried it over from my DOS days)

[DOS2]
DEVICE=C:\WINDOWS\CTCM.EXE
DEVICE=C:\WINDOWS\SETVER.EXE
DEVICE=C:\CDPRO\VIDE-CDD.SYS /D:MSCD001
SHELL=C:\WINDOWS\COMMAND.COM /E:512 /P


Contents of the Autoexec.bat file
Code: Select all
@ECHO OFF
SET SOUND=C:\SB16
SET BLASTER=A220 I5 D1 H5 P330 E620 T6
SET MIDI=SYNTH:1 MAP:G MODE:1
PROMPT $p$g
PATH C:\;C:\WINDOWS;C:\WINDOWS\COMMAND;C:\CTCM (this is quite useful is you want to run a file/command, while in a specific folder, but don't want to specify where the actual file/command is located)

goto %config%

:windows
C:\WINDOWS\WIN.COM
goto end

:DOS1
SET CTCM=C:\WINDOWS
C:\SB16\MIXERSET /P /Q
C:\SB16\DIAGNOSE /S
C:\SB16\CT3DSE ON
LH C:\WINDOWS\COMMAND\DOSKEY.COM
LH C:\MOUSE\MOUSE.COM
LH C:\WINDOWS\COMMAND\MSCDEX.EXE /D:MSCD001
LH C:\SB16\AWEUTIL.COM /EM:GM /R:45 /C:45 /KEY-
goto end

:DOS2 (take note that none of the commands below are being loaded into the upper memory area, since EMM386.exe is not loaded in the Config.sys file under this menu option)
SET CTCM=C:\WINDOWS
C:\SB16\MIXERSET /P /Q
C:\SB16\DIAGNOSE /S
C:\SB16\CT3DSE ON
C:\WINDOWS\COMMAND\DOSKEY.COM
C:\WINDOWS\COMMAND\MSCDEX.EXE /D:MSCD001
C:\MOUSE\MOUSE.COM
C:\SB16\AWEUTIL /EM:GM /R:45 /C:45 /KEY-
goto end

:end


Contents of the Dosstart.bat file (this file is only read when you select the "Restart in MS-DOS Mode" option when shutting down Windows and effectively acts in the same manner as Autoexec.bat):
Code: Select all
C:\WINDOWS\CTCM
LH C:\MOUSE\MOUSE.COM
LH C:\WINDOWS\COMMAND\MSCDEX.EXE /D:MSCD001
Last edited by jesolo on 2019-2-05 @ 19:46, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: How to set up a start up (boot) menu under Windows 9x/ME

Postby collector » 2016-4-27 @ 16:31

This should be in Marvin. This subforum is for help with DOS games.
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Re: How to set up a start up (boot) menu under Windows 9x/ME

Postby jesolo » 2016-4-27 @ 17:10

collector wrote:This should be in Marvin. This subforum is for help with DOS games.

The purpose of this topic is to help people to be able to run their DOS games in a real mode DOS environment under Windows
However, if the general consensus is that this is a more hardware related topic, then I apologise for posting under the wrong thread.
Come to think of it, it could even belong under Milliways.
I'm confused.
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Re: How to set up a start up (boot) menu under Windows 9x/ME

Postby dr_st » 2016-4-27 @ 17:34

In a nutshell:

Under Win95/98 - the process to set up the startup menu is exactly the same as for DOS 6.x, provided that you first added BootGUI=0 in Msdos.sys (otherwise Windows will auto-load at the end of Autoexec.bat), and, optionally, Logo=0 (if you want to avoid the splash screen so it feels like pure DOS and you see the boot process). As far as I could see, this is the only key point that is missing from your guide (although it is present in the links).

Under WinME - you need to apply the patches you mentioned. And then it's probably the same thing.
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Re: How to set up a start up (boot) menu under Windows 9x/ME

Postby Stiletto » 2016-4-27 @ 19:48

jesolo wrote:
collector wrote:This should be in Marvin. This subforum is for help with DOS games.

The purpose of this topic is to help people to be able to run their DOS games in a real mode DOS environment under Windows


The purpose of the DOS subforum is to help people to be able to run their DOS games in newer operating systems, which at the time of VOGONS' creation was Windows XP. We were not considering "Windows 9x" as newer than DOS. So, getting DOS games going in everything from the Windows 2000 / Windows XP VDM (NTVDM) and any other hack you can think of, on upwards to Windows 10 and beyond. Mostly help with specific games and how-to's. DOSBox-only threads are preferred in the DOSBox section, Non-DOSBox emulator-specific questions in the PC Emulation section.

VOGONS - Very Old Games On New Systems.

... Moved to Marvin.
"I see a little silhouette-o of a man, Scaramouche, Scaramouche, will you
do the Fandango!" - Queen

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Re: How to set up a start up (boot) menu under Windows 9x/ME

Postby chinny22 » 2016-4-28 @ 13:25

Another method I used ever since I upgraded to Windows 95 was to create a shotcut to command.com on the desktop and modify the autoexe/config.sys in there and force to restart in MS-DOS mode
Yes it does mean you have to start windows simply to double click the shortcut and PC will boot again into do, but it will continue to do this till you type exit, even if the PC is turned off.

Not sure if this works in WinME though
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Re: How to set up a start up (boot) menu under Windows 9x/ME

Postby HighTreason » 2016-4-28 @ 14:03

You can actually point one menu to another and even step back to the previous menu. I used this on systems with multiple elaborate setups.

Would you like me to post the CONFIG and AUTOEXEC from my retired K7 so you can see how I had that one set up?
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Re: How to set up a start up (boot) menu under Windows 9x/ME

Postby jesolo » 2016-4-28 @ 17:50

HighTreason wrote:You can actually point one menu to another and even step back to the previous menu. I used this on systems with multiple elaborate setups.

Would you like me to post the CONFIG and AUTOEXEC from my retired K7 so you can see how I had that one set up?

Yes, I would like to see what it looks like.
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Re: How to set up a start up (boot) menu under Windows 9x/ME

Postby HighTreason » 2016-4-28 @ 19:27

OK, obviously you can't just drop these in and use them on your own machine as they rely on certain files and probably certain hardware.

[B}MSDOS.SYS[/B]
Code: Select all
[Options]
BootGUI=0
BootMulti=1
DoubleBuffer=1
AutoScan=1
WinVer=4.10.2222
Logo=1
;
;The following lines are required for compatibility with other programs.
;Do not remove them (MSDOS.SYS needs to be >1024 bytes).
;xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxa
;xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxb
;xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxc
;xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxd
;xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxe
;xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxf
;xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxg
;xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxh
;xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxi
;xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxj
;xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxk
;xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxl
;xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxm
;xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxn
;xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxo
;xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxp
;xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxq
;xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxr
;xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxs
Network=0
BootMenu=0
BootKeys=1
BootWarn=0

[Paths]
WinDir=C:\WINDOWS
WinBootDir=C:\WINDOWS
HostWinBootDrv=C


CONFIG.SYS
Code: Select all
[MENU]
MENUCOLOR=6,0
SUBMENU=DOS,Start DOS.
SUBMENU=WIN,Start Windows.
MENUDEFAULT=WIN,3

[DOS]
MENUITEM=D0,DOS Only.
MENUITEM=D1,DOS and HIMEM.
MENUITEM=D2,DOS, HIMEM and EMM386
MENUITEM=D3,DOS, HIMEM, EMM386 and MOUSE.
SUBMENU=WIN,Load Windows instead.
MENUCOLOR=10,0

[WIN]
MENUITEM=W0,With nothing loaded.
MENUITEM=W1,With all DOS Drivers.
SUBMENU=DOS,Start DOS instead.
MENUCOLOR=11,0
MENUDEFAULT=W1,3

[D0]
;JUST LOAD DOS

[D1]
DEVICE=C:\WINDOWS\HIMEMX.EXE

[D2]
DEVICE=C:\WINDOWS\HIMEMX.EXE
DEVICE=C:\WINDOWS\COMMAND\JEMM386.EXE ALTBOOT NOEMS

[D3]
DEVICE=C:\WINDOWS\HIMEMX.EXE
DEVICE=C:\WINDOWS\COMMAND\JEMM386.EXE
DEVICEHIGH=C:\WINDOWS\COMMAND\OAKCDROM.SYS /D:CD000


[W0]
;JUST LOAD WINDOWS

[W1]
DEVICE=C:\WINDOWS\HIMEM.SYS
DEVICE=C:\WINDOWS\EMM386.EXE
DEVICEHIGH=C:\WINDOWS\COMMAND\OAKCDROM.SYS /D:CD000
; ON NOEMS W=OFF

[COMMON]
;THIS WILL ALWAYS BE PARSED
FILES=40
DOS=HIGH
DOS=UMB
STACKS=9,128
; DEVICE=C:\WINDOWS\setver.exe
DEVICEHIGH=C:\WINDOWS\COMMAND\ANSI.SYS
; device=C:\WINDOWS\COMMAND\display.sys con=(ega,,1)
; Country=044,850,C:\WINDOWS\COMMAND\country.sys


AUTOEXEC.BAT
Code: Select all
@echo off

@echo off
SET SYSNAME=Riccardo

MODE CON COLS=80 LINES=50
REM LH UNIVBE
cpustat
emsstat

PROMPT $e[37;40;1m$p$g
ECHO The current configuration is %CONFIG%.

REM set BLASTER=A220 I5 D1 H5 P330 E620 T6
REM LH ctcm
REM LH aweutil /s
REM LH diagnose /s
REM LH mixerset /p /q
REM SET MIDI=SYNTH:1 MAP:E

REM mode con codepage prepare=((850) C:\WINDOWS\COMMAND\ega.cpi)
REM mode con codepage select=850
REM keyb uk,,C:\WINDOWS\COMMAND\keyboard.sys
REM ,,C:\WINDOWS\COMMAND\keyboard.sys
PATH=%PATH%

echo Basic startup complete for %SYSNAME%
IF "%CONFIG%"=="D0" GOTO :EXIT
IF "%CONFIG%"=="W0" GOTO :WIN
PROMPT $e[31;40;1m$p$g
echo Loaded HIMEM.SYS
IF "%CONFIG%"=="D1" GOTO :EXIT
PROMPT $e[32;40;1m$p$g
echo Loaded EMM386.EXE
IF "%CONFIG%"=="D2" GOTO :EXIT
PROMPT $e[33;40;1m$p$g
echo Loaded MOUSE.COM and OAKCDROM.SYS
IF "%CONFIG%"=="W1" GOTO :WIN
set SYSNAME=
SET CONFIG=
call AWE64
SET BLASTER=A220 I7 D1 H5 P300 E620 T6
lh ctmouse > NUL

PROMPT $e[34;40;1m$p$g
echo You need to start MSCDEX for CD-ROM
IF "%CONFIG%"=="D3" GOTO :EXIT
GOTO :EXIT

:WIN
MSCDEX /D:CD000
SET BLASTER=A220 I7 D1 H5 P300 E620 T6
echo Startup files and TSR's loaded. %SYSNAME% Ready to load Windows...
ver
WIN

:EXIT
LH DOSKEY > NUL
ver
echo There's nowhere to run!
echo Startup files and TSR's loaded. %SYSNAME% Ready...




Things of note:
> The IF statements in AUTOEXEC. They can be done more efficiently, this one was butchered from some old template. My K5 used a few IF NOT statements.
> As noted, these used a template I don't have any more.
> There may be modifications to WIN.INI and SYSTEM.INI but I don't remember. They do nothing significant if they exist, probably only came into my mind because the machine requires the MAXPHYSPAGE value to be set.
> You can actually use INCLUDE in CONFIG.SYS to load an existing block into another without typing it again. For example I could use;

Code: Select all
...
[D2]
DEVICE=C:\WINDOWS\HIMEMX.EXE
DEVICE=C:\WINDOWS\COMMAND\JEMM386.EXE ALTBOOT NOEMS

[D3]
INCLUDE=D2
DEVICEHIGH=C:\WINDOWS\COMMAND\OAKCDROM.SYS /D:CD000
...
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Re: How to set up a start up (boot) menu under Windows 9x/ME

Postby jesolo » 2016-4-28 @ 21:20

Quite an impressive configuration you had set up for yourself.
I like the idea of the menu colours.
The sub menu system is also quite useful if you do not wish to clog your main start up menu with too many options.
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Re: How to set up a start up (boot) menu under Windows 9x/ME

Postby jesolo » 2016-4-28 @ 21:28

chinny22 wrote:Another method I used ever since I upgraded to Windows 95 was to create a shotcut to command.com on the desktop and modify the autoexe/config.sys in there and force to restart in MS-DOS mode
Yes it does mean you have to start windows simply to double click the shortcut and PC will boot again into do, but it will continue to do this till you type exit, even if the PC is turned off.

Not sure if this works in WinME though

This is also a nice option, especially if you're already in Windows.
However, as you said, this method does require you to first boot up into Windows after which you must shut down again to enter DOS.
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