I do know there are a number of applications available and projects underway to provide support for NTFS in other operating systems and some have been around for several years. Some examples would be NTFS-3G, which is a stable, open source, freely available read/write NTFS driver for Linux, FreeBSD, Mac OS X, NetBSD, and Haiku. And there's Linux-NTFS, which is an open source project to add NTFS support to the Linux kernel.
With regard to the problems of NTFS compatibility on older Windows, this Wikipedia article on NTFS explains:
Still, there are several different software packages available which provides NTFS support for the Windows 98 series:
While the different NTFS versions have a great degree of both forward and backward compatibility, there are technical considerations for mounting newer NTFS volumes in older versions of Windows. This affects dual-booting, and external portable hard drives.
For example, "Previous Versions" (a.k.a. Volume Shadow Copy) are lost because the older OS doesn't understand how to keep the new features' data updated.
DiskInternals > NTFS Reader for Windows 95, 98, Me
NTFS for Windows 98 (v1.03) (Sysinternals)
Paragon > NTFS for Win 98
Purenetworking.net > NFTS FOR WINDOWS 95/98/ME
The first two links above are for freeware. However, the second two are commercial products. And they can be rather pricey. ($79 or more?! ) In some cases the software only allows reading and/or writing of files through an explorer-like interface, but some have more to offer. I noticed one of the commercial products claims "NTFS drives behave just like regular FAT and FAT32 drives." Unfortunately, several of these packages require files from either Windows NT 4.0 or Windows 2000 in order to work.
BTW: One of the freeware NTFS for Windows 98 solutions above is originally from a website called "Sysinternals" and a company called "Winternals Software." However, the company was bought out by Microsoft a couple years ago and several of their free programs have been removed from the site, including the NTFS for Windows 98 software. (So now we have to dig around for old copies.)
Anyway, if it is possible to implement NTFS into Windows 98 itself (through a major hack), I doubt it could support the extra file security that NT/2K/XP boasts. But it seems the biggest obstacle to such an implementation is the fact that the Windows 98 OS is still actually MS-DOS underneath. So it seems that NTFS support would have to be provided on the DOS level first, before Windows boots.
From an archived copy of the original Sysinternals description of their program I found this:
Archive.org > Sysinternals.com >NTFS for Windows 98
I do think it is technically possible to integrate at least partial support for NTFS to the Windows 9x family, but it would be a lot of work. To start with, I think you'd need a DOS implementation of NTFS.
Do not convert your first partition, or your Windows 95/98 boot partition (the one with \windows on it), to NTFS as there is no support in Windows 95 or Windows 98 for reading NTFS drives during the boot sequence.
I was thinking about the possibility of installing FreeDOS underneath Windows 98, thinking that perhaps the FreeDOS team may have implemented NTFS already. But then I read this:
Wikipedia > FreeDOS
Windows 95, 98 and Me use a stripped down version of MS-DOS as a bootloader. FreeDOS can not be used as a replacement bootloader; however, it can be installed and used beside these systems using a boot manager program, such as the "METAKERN" included with FreeDOS.
Once I read that, I vaguely recalled reading about such products several years ago.
There is no planned support for NTFS or ext2, but there are several external third-party drivers available for that purpose. To access ext2fs, LTOOLS (counterpart to MTOOLS) can be used to copy data to and from ext2fs drives. NTFS support is provided by products such as NTFSDOS and NTFS4DOS.
Wikipedia > NTFSDOS
This, however, was another product of Winternals Software. Microsoft bought them out recently and this was another program that was removed from their website. It is now considered abandonware:
Avira > Avira NTFS4DOS
Winternals was acquired by Microsoft mid 2006. Microsoft has removed any traces of NTFSDOS, NTFSDOS Tools and NTFSDOS Professional from the new internal site of Microsoft's Winternals' utilities.
This company does provide a "Personal" edition as freeware, provided it is only for personal use. And it does allow both reading from and writing to NTFS partitions. Though I'm not sure of the extent of its functionality. For the business environment they are selling their "Premium" edition. Their site says it "has the same functional range as the Personal version," so I wonder if this means the Personal version has nearly the same features.
Edited by bsperan, 12 January 2008 - 05:27 AM.