Before moving on, do you also have your original DOS disks, so that if need be, we can return to this state?
I ask this for a couple reasons...
I have been doing some reading up on this old system and I can tell you people have successfully used both windows 95, 98, OS2 and linux on it.
So, it's definitely possible.
There are a number of peculiarities with the system, though, and one biggie is drivers. I checked the IBM website and they have stripped their site of all driver downloads for this one. They were there as recently as 6 months ago, but no longer.
This is critical for several reasosn...windows 95 does not include them, and also the BIOS needed an update.
So, the first question is--what bios version do you have?
The other big stumbling block for this model was the soundchip, an mwave chipset that is no longer made and no longer serviced. It was also complicated to setup even when it was in service.
For that reason, I would be tending toward windows98, even though the system is a little underpowered, since it had a big driver base then 95 and ultimately might work better for you--if the BIOS you have will support Windows at all. Perhaps the previous owner updated the BIOS, we can hope.
Now, you never answered my original question, which was to determine if this has a bootable CD-ROM.
I think the first thing I would do is with the CD-ROM in place, insert your windows 98 cd, and turn the comptuer on. Do you get any indication the computer is booting off the CD? "Windows 98 setup...."
If not, and I cannot tell this from the info I was able to find, see if it can be setup to do so.
As it is, this is a peculiar machine for entering BIOS...haven't seen this key combo before, but there you have it.
Press and hold F1---THEN turn on the machine.
You will get a screen that says EASY SETUP.
Finally, I have an older IBM thinkpad than yours and it came with a small cable that would allow you to run both...hook in the cd-rom, and connect the floppy to the machine via the cable and a port on the side.
Is it possible you have this in your bag?
Another item of interest,