let me post this Q & A from feb'00 smartcomputing mag to you as i feel it may provide some useful facts for your weekend project. i know that you are working with w98, and that this piece pertains to winme, but as the author points out, "The route actually isn’t much different from Win98’s procedure". here you go, and good luck....
"Q: I need to start over again with my messed up Windows Millennium (WinMe) PC. How do I format my drive and reinstall? I understand the procedure differs from Windows 98’s.
A: Before you start this process, you must figure out whether you have a full version of WinMe or some sort of upgrade. If you try to install from an upgrade CD onto an empty hard drive, Windows will demand some sort of proof of ownership (in the form of an old Windows installation CD) or may refuse to install.
There are two update versions of WinMe. The $49 promotional version insists on seeing proof of ownership of Win98SE (Win98 Second Edition). The $89 version accepts even Win95 as an upgrade passport. The most versatile version, although it’s found less commonly, is the full version, which costs around $189 and requires no previous Windows ownership.
If your WinMe CD came with a new computer purchase, it might be neither of these, but instead be what’s sometimes called a manufacturer’s system recovery CD. If so, it might install on a bare drive, but only on the correct brand of computer. It also may insist on installing a whole mess of software that you may or may not want. (For more information on various types of Windows CDs, see Piecing Together The Windows CD Puzzle in the January 2001 issue of Smart Computing.)
The route actually isn’t much different from Win98’s procedure. You’ll need to make a WinMe EBD (Emergency Boot Disk), which is basically similar in design and operation to the startup diskette Win98 can create. You’ll find instructions on making the EBD in WinMe’s on-screen help.
Insert the EBD in the diskette drive. When you restart the computer, the EBD should boot (start) and take you to a DOS-like dark screen. Your mouse won’t work here, but you can type commands.
Before trying to format the drive, make sure the EBD has successfully activated your CD-ROM drive. If it hasn’t and you format the hard drive, you’ll be in trouble. To test the drive put a CD in the CD drive, type dir d: and press the ENTER key. (If your system designates the CD-ROM drive with a letter other than d:, use that letter instead.) You should see the CD drive light go on, hear the disc whirl, and see a listing of some of the CD’s contents on the screen.
Next type format c:/u and press the ENTER key. Remember that after this step, your hard drive’s contents are wiped out, and there’s no going back!
Once the format is complete, insert the WinMe installation CD, type d:setup, and press the ENTER key. This will start the re-install procedure."