You've got a choice. You can either wipe the non-DOS partition(s) off the hard drive with FDISK, repartition and create a Primary DOS partition, set the partition as active, and format ... or use a program like <A HREF="http://www.powerquest.com/partitionmagic" target="_new">Partition Magic 8</A>, <A HREF="http://www.v-com.com/product/pcp8_ind.html" target="_new">Partition Commander Pro</A>, or <A HREF="http://www.ranish.com/part/" target="_new">Ranish Partition Manager</A> to convert the partition from NTFS to FAT32. Then you'll be able to format the partition as FAT32 and install Win9x.
Note 2: It is sometimes necessary to low level format a hard drive to completely remove NTFS partitions, since it is not always possible to remove all such partitions from DOS. In that case, download a disk utility from the drive manufacturer, extract it to a floppy disk, boot with the disk, wipe the drive, and then partition/format normally with a Windows boot disk or the disk utility. Since this is software-based, the "low level format" is really a "medium" level format, and simply writes zeros and ones to the drive ... effectively removing the majority of the accessible data, including the partitions.
This is also a good way to "mark" any bad sectors that may be on the drive, which is an inevitable factor that occurs due to age, use, and mechanical wear and tear.
Thank you for your post,
but another problem has arisen:
When I boot with the Win98 boot disk, it creates a virtual disk with the name C: because it cannot recognise the HD file system! aarrrgh
Isn't there ANY software that lets you convert the Win 2k partition to FAT32 from within Win 2k itself?
Or else, I would need to know how to let Ramdrive from my Win98 boot disk create a virtual disk named F: or something instead of C:
Partition Magic is really the easiest cure. Install it, read the help files carefully, and convert the disk to FAT32. Back up a copy of the program on a CD-R disk so you don't lose it, and have to purchase it again, since it is not cheap.
Personally, I'd just low level format the disk, repartition, set the partition as active, format as FAT32, and then install Win9x in the clean partition. That would be the cheapest alternative. But be advised; some disk utilities have a tendencency to install some kind of BIOS manager after use, such as EZ-BIOS on the Western Digital Data LifeGuard Tools, which has to be manually removed before a regular boot disk can correctly partition and format ... otherwise, Windows can't assign a drive letter to the partition. Letting the disk utility partition and format the drive should be the last resort, as other programs might take issue with the way the partition table is written, and refuse to run. Just FYI.
Go with PM 8 if you want to convert within Win2K, and you don't want to mess around at the command line. Just don't expect for the data to be intact, afterwards. Maybe it will be ... but maybe not.