Try a live CD for hardware compatibility testing. Wipe the partitions, make new partitions, install linux, install windows.
Here's how to do this:
1) Download a linux Live CD and burn and the iso image to CD. I recommend PClinuxOS, Mint, or ubuntu as an easy distro to start with. Insert the CD and boot your PC...it should load everything and know you will know if that version of linux will work on your old PC. Older harware may be trickier as nowaday the old driver packages may or may not be included in the linux distro...most just have the newer drivers but you will know when you try the live CD.
2) If all goes well then install the Live CD to your harddrive. If you chose PClinuxOS there is an icon on the desktop to start you off...if using other live cd distros use the method they have for this.
a) When installing it will ask you for your partitioning preferences...delete ALL partitions (will WIPE current windows installations).
b) Create the FIRST partition for your windows install - start it at the BEGINNING of the hard drive!!! Choose your size ensuring you have included the FIRST cyclinder (beginning block) for windows.
c) Create a boot partition (/boot) of about 100mb
d) Create a /swap partition of about twice the size of your RAM installed.
d) Create the root partition next ( / )and then any other partitions you want. You don't need to make any others to have it work but there are many reasons to make other partition depending on your needs. Google it for more info if you want. If your only making a / partition have it fill the rest of the disk.
e) DO NOT FORMAT THE WINDOWS PARTITION. Format the rest with with ext3 (extended 3). /swap will take care of itself.
4) Pick your boot loader (grub or lilo) and install it but DO NOT INSTALL IT IN THE MBR (choose other option)!!!
5) Continue and finish your linux installation (easy)
6) When all is done...install windows. For the windows partition select the UNFORMATTED partition and format is as NTFS.
7) Finish windows installation.
8) Learn linux