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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Starting the Windows XP Setup Wizard

As mentioned earlier in this chapter you can start the Windows XP Setup Wizard using several different methods. In past versions of Windows NT and Windows 2000, you could start the Setup process using floppy disks that would boot the system, gather hardware information, and then start copying files from the CD (or the network source). That option isn't available with Windows XP. If you boot from the CD, then you will get a full-screen menu that allows you to install Windows XP, browse the CD, or perform additional tasks.


Before you start to install or upgrade to Windows XP, I highly suggest that you use the Browse This CD option. This will allow you to locate and read any readme.1st or other similar files that may contain updated information that was not available on the first version of the Windows XP CD.


The El Torito Specification. You are probably aware that the BIOS of a standard PC will first look to the A: drive and then the hard disk when looking for sector. In 1995, the "El Torito" Bootable CD-ROM Format Specification Version 1.0 was published, which provides the information that computer manufacturers can use to provide support in a PC for booting from a CD-ROM disk. You can learn more about how this works by reading the specification, which is available at the following URL: http://www.phoenix.com/PlatSS/PDFs/specs-cdrom.pdf. Note that you will need to have the Adobe Acrobat Reader installed to read this, since it is presented in .PDF format.

In the next few sections, you will explore the ways you can start the Setup Wizard.

Booting from the Windows XP CD

The distribution source CD for Windows XP is a bootable CD. Unless your computer is a very old one, you should have a CD-ROM drive that is capable of booting from the distribution CD. Simply place the CD in the drive and power up the system. The computer will boot from the CD and the wizard will pop up on your screen to start the Setup process.

Running the Setup Wizard under Another Version of Windows

The following operating systems can be upgraded to Windows XP:

  • Windows 98 (all versions)

  • Windows Millennium Edition (Windows Me)

  • Windows NT 4.0 Workstation

  • Windows 2000 Professional

  • Windows XP (if you want to install a second copy!)


Starting with Windows 95 and Windows NT 4.0, the AutoRun feature is found in Microsoft operating systems. Basically, if the CD-ROM drive uses a 32-bit device driver (so it can detect when a CD is inserted into the drive) and if a file named autorun.inf is found in the root directory of the CD, then commands in that file will be used to run a program from the CD. You can disable AutoRun by changing values in the Registry, which we will cover in Chapter 20, "The Windows XP Registry."

If you are running any of these operating systems, then you should be able to pop the Windows XP installation CD into your CD-ROM drive to start the Setup Wizard. If you have AutoRun enabled on the computer, then the wizard will start automatically. If not, simply use Windows Explorer to locate the Setup icon. The Setup program is found in the \i386 folder on the CD. You can double-click on the Setup icon in Windows Explorer, or you can execute the program from the Command Prompt by simply entering the program name as you would to start any other application.


Although you cannot update an MS-DOS or Windows 3.1 computer to run Windows XP, you can run the installation program you are using under these operating systems. For example, in Appendix A you will find the steps you can use to create a bootable MS-DOS floppy disk to boot the computer, attach to the network file share that holds the Windows XP Setup files, and begin the installation. If you are starting the Setup Wizard using either MS-DOS or Windows 3.1, then the Setup program you will need to execute is called winnt.exe. If you are using Windows 98, Windows Me, or any version of Windows NT or later, then use the Setup program winnt32.exe to start the Setup Wizard.

Running the Setup Wizard from a Network Connection

If your network administrator has set up a file share that contains the source files for Windows XP, you can connect to the file share and execute the Setup Wizard program. In this situation, you may find that your network administrator has used a different folder than the standard \i386 folder, so be sure get the full path name you need to use to locate the Setup file.

Lights Out: Performing an Unattended Installation

If you are charged with the task of installing or upgrading a large number of computers, then it can be very tedious to have to go to each PC, run the Setup program, and wait around to respond to the prompts from the Setup Wizard. If this is the case, you can perform the installation in Unattended Setup mode. To do this, you will need to create an answer file that contains the information needed by the Setup application. The Windows XP CD contains a sample of this file, called unattend.txt, which you can customize not only to answer questions about the usual Setup process, but also to configure other applications or drivers to use during setup.

For more information on using Unattended Setup mode, see Appendix A.

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Last Update: November 17, 2020