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Clean Installation Procedure

The three basic types of clean installation procedures are as follows:

  • Install on a brand new disk or computer system

  • Erase the disk, format it, and install

  • Install into a new directory for dual-booting (see the multi-boot discussion earlier in this chapter)

If you intend to use either of the first two methods, make sure you are equipped to boot your computer from the CD-ROM. Most of today's breeds of computers support booting from the CD-ROM drive. Doing so might require changing the drive boot order in the BIOS or CMOS, but try it first without. With no floppy disk inserted and a clean hard disk, the CD-ROM drive should be tried next. The Windows XP CD-ROM is bootable and should run the Setup program automatically.

The Windows XP setup procedure can also be launched using the five setup boot floppies. On an older computer, you might have to ensure you can boot into DOS from a floppy. People preparing to set up Windows on older computers often overlook this point. They wipe the hard disk and then boot up with a floppy only to find the CD-ROM drive isn't recognized, so they can't run the Setup program on the CD. If you have the boot floppy for Windows XP, your CD-ROM drive will mostly likely be recognized upon booting, assuming your CD-ROM drive is among those supported. If you have misplaced your floppies or they were not included with your Windows XP CD, check out the "Making Replacement Startup Floppies" section later this chapter.

If you can't get DOS to recognize your CD-ROM drive, see "My Existing OS Won't Recognize the CD-ROM Drive" in the "Troubleshozoting" section at the end of this chapter.


Remember to check Chapter 2, "Getting Your Hardware and Software Ready for Windows XP Professional," to ensure that your hardware components meet the minimum requirements to run Windows XP.

Installation takes 60–90 minutes depending on the speed of your machine. Refer to the following sections if you have questions about the steps of the process. The process is fairly similar for each category of installation, with the addition of the software compatibility report when you're upgrading from an older operating system.

Typical Clean Setup Procedure

If you're installing into an empty partition, and you can boot an operating system that is supported for the purpose of Setup (Windows 9x/SE/Me/NT/2000), just boot up, insert the CD, and choose Install Windows XP from the resulting dialog box. Then, you can follow the installation step-by-step procedure below.

If Windows doesn't automatically detect the CD when you insert it, you must run the Setup program, setup.exe, manually from the Start, Run dialog box. Once the Setup routine has started, you can follow the installation step-by-step procedure below.

Another method of kick-starting the installation of Windows XP can be performed from any OS which has access to the CD. If the OS is a non-Windows non-32-bit OS, then execute \i386\winnt.exe. If the existing OS is a 32-bit Windows OS, then execute \i386\winnt32.exe. If you are able to use the winnt32 launch tool, you can follow the typical installation step-by-step procedure below.

If your computer has a blank hard disk, or your current operating system isn't supported, the process is different. You will need to start the installation by using Setup floppy disks or by booting from the Windows XP CD (this approach works only if your computer is newer, and you can boot from the CD-ROM drive). Setup automatically runs if you boot from the CD-ROM.

' If you need to create Setup floppy disks, see the "Making Startup Floppies" section later in this chapter.

Yet another setup initiation method involves the network. To initiate a network installation, you must have a network share of the distribution CD or a copy of the CD on a hard drive. The destination system must have network access and the user account must have at least read access to the installation files. Setup is initiated by executing winnt or winnt32 from the network share (the same 16-bit and 32-bit rules apply). For example, from the Start, Run command type a path of \\<servername>\<sharename>\i386\winnt. Setup will recognize an over-the-network installation and will automatically copy all files from the network share to the local system before the first reboot.

If you used the winnt launch tool, used the boot floppies to initiate setup, or were able to start from a bootable CD your installation varies from the typical installation step-by-step procedure as follows:

  1. A text-only step wizard is launched.

  2. Verify that the displayed path is the correct location of the Windows XP source files. Press Enter.

  3. Setup copies numerous files to the hard drive of the computer; this may take a few minutes. Once complete, the system reboots.

  4. Once the system reboots, the Setup Wizard continues.

  5. Jump to step 15 of the following typical installation step-by-step procedure to continue.

The typical clean installation step-by-step procedure is as follows:

  1. The Windows Setup Wizard appears. Using the Installation Type pull-down list, select New Installation. (Note: Upgrading is discussed later in this chapter).

  2. Click Next. The License Agreement page appears.


Corporate attorneys know that people don't read these software agreements. I've even heard reports of software in which the agreements make you promise not to write a review of the software without alerting the manufacturer first. I'm sure some interesting, precedent-setting cases will occur in upcoming years.

  1. Read the agreement then select the "I accept this agreement" radio button.

  2. Click Next. The Your Product Key page appears.

  3. Type in your 25-digit Product Key.

  4. Click Next. The Setup Options page appears.

  5. Click the Advanced Options button.

  6. Verify that the path for the location of the source files is correct (it should be <cd-rom drive letter>:\i386, or if you are installing over a network this would be \\<servername>\<sharename>\i386).

  7. If you wish, change the name of the main Windows directory.

  8. To force Setup to duplicate all necessary files to the hard drive before initiating the installation procedure, mark the Copy all installation files from the Setup CD check box.


Copying all the Setup files to the hard disk has two advantages. First, you can save yourself some time because the file copying and decompressing process is faster from the hard disk than from a CD-ROM drive. Second, the next time Windows XP needs access to Setup files (when you add new hardware, for example), you won't have to insert the CD-ROM. Just browse to the correct directory. Copying the more than 6,000 files (yes, that's thousand, amounting to about 450MB) from the CD takes about 15 minutes on a reasonably fast system.

  1. To be able to select the partition to install Windows XP into (that is, other than drive C), mark the I want to choose the install drive letter and partition during Setup checkbox.

  2. Click OK. Click Next. The Performing Dynamic Update page appears.

  3. If your system has Internet access on the pre-existing OS, you can optionally select to download the latest setup files for Windows XP at this time. Mark the Yes radio button. If your system does not currently have Internet access, select No, click Next, and then skip to step 15.

  4. Click Next. The setup routine attempts to contact the Microsoft download site and retrieve any new Setup files. Once this is completed, the setup routine reboots the system automatically.

  5. Once the system reboots, the Welcome to Setup text-only screen prompts you to install Windows XP, repair an existing installation, or exit Setup. Press Enter to continue with setup.

  6. Your drives will be examined and the partition manager is displayed. This tool is used to select the installation partition for Windows XP. If the partition already exists, use the arrow keys to select it, then skip to step 25.


If you want to install Windows XP into a separate partition, make sure the partition is preexisting or that you have some unpartitioned space on your hard drive. Sorry to state the obvious, but Setup doesn't let you change the size of existing partitions on-the-fly, even though it does convert from FAT to NTFS and does create NTFS partitions from an unpartitioned space.

If you have a large hard disk all in one partition (typical with today's cheap drives as they come from the factory) and want to split it, use a utility program such as FDISK, NT's Disk Administrator tool, 2000's Computer Management tool, or PartitionMagic (I highly recommend PartitionMagic). If you want to install into an NTFS partition, remember that FDISK can't create NTFS partitions. As a workaround, you either have to convert the target partition to NTFS during or after Setup or use a utility such as PartitionMagic that can make or convert FAT partitions to NTFS. Note that the NTFS partition does not have to be formatted in advance of your running Setup; as long as it exists as a partition, Setup will offer to format it for you.

The main advantage of having multiple partitions on a hard disk these days is to support different file system formats. You can use FAT or FAT32 on one partition to run DOS or Windows 9x, for example, and use an NTFS partition for Windows XP.

FDISK is often the tool of choice for ex-DOS users when managing drive partitions. This tool works great as long as you are working with all primary partitions or only FAT, FAT32, and OS/2's HPFS. FDISK is not even able to recognize NTFS-formatted extended partitions. So, if you need to delete such a partition, you either need to have access to a Windows NT, Windows 2000, or Windows XP OS on the same system as the hard drive in question, and boot into the setup routines of one of these three OSes to use the text-based partition configuration tool, or use a third party tool. I've already mentioned PartitionMagic, but there is another tool you may want to look at: DELPART. DELPART is a DOS based tool from Windows NT 3.51; you can find it floating around the Internet with a quick search on "delpart". This tool can delete any and all partitions on a hard drive, thus making way for easy re-partitioning and new OS installation. This is a tool I always keep handy.

  1. If an existing partition must be deleted to create unpartitioned space where you want to install Windows XP, go on to step 18. Otherwise, skip to step 21.

  2. Use the arrow keys to select the partition to delete, then press D.

  3. If the selected partition is a system partition, you must press Enter to confirm the deletion of a system partition.

  4. Press L to confirm deletion of the partition. (Yes, this is a valid extra step to make sure you are aware that you are deleting a partition.)

  5. To create a new partition out of unpartitioned space, use the arrow keys to select the unpartitioned space, then press C.

  6. Type in the size of the partition you wish to create out of the unpartitioned space. The default size listed is the maximum size that can be created. Once you have typed in a number, press Enter.

  7. Use the arrow keys to select the newly created partition.

  8. Press Enter to install Windows XP into the selected partition.

  9. Select the file system to format the partition. If the partition is already properly formatted with NTFS v5, another option of "Leave the current file system intact (no changes)" is available. If this option is available, select it and press Enter. Then skip to step 28.

  10. Use the arrow keys to select the NTFS file system (not the one with (Quick) next to it).


By the way, the Quick options for both NTFS and FAT are only there when you are converting or over-formatting a partition which already has been formatted. It's a way to save time, especially if you are formatting a 2GB or larger drive. I recommend staying away from the Quick format and letting the Setup Wizard perform a full format on the destination partition. It will take a little longer, but it will ensure a properly formatted drive.

→ If you want to know more information about deciding whether you should change file systems, see "Choosing a File System: FAT, FAT32, or NTFS?" p. 80. Also, Chapters 29 and 31 contain additional information about file systems and formats.

  1. Press Enter to initiate formatting. The progress of the formatting action is displayed.

  2. When formatting is complete, files are copied to the destination partition. This can take 10 minutes.

  3. When the file copy procedure completes, the system automatically reboots.

  4. After it's rebooted, Setup launches a basic Windows GUI environment. After performing numerous operations (this could take about 10 minutes or more), the Setup Wizard appears displaying the Regional and Language Options page. The defaults are for English and a US keyboard; if you require other settings click on the Customize or Details buttons to change them.

If the Windows installer crashes during the installation, see "Windows Crashes During Installation" in the "Troubleshooting" section at the end of this chapter.

  1. Click Next. The Personalize Your Software page appears.

  2. Type in your name and a company name if appropriate.

  3. Click Next. The Computer Name and Administrator Password page appears.

  4. Type in a meaningful computer name for this system in the Computer name field, such as wxp-181. WXP-181 in my naming convention tells me that the system is running Windows XP and has an IP address of All of the systems on my network use the same first three values in the four part IP address.


Choose a computer name that is unique. It must differ from any other computer, workgroup, or domain names on the network. You'll probably want to enter your name or a name of your own choosing, though Setup supplies some cryptic name for you. You might want to coordinate naming your computer with your LAN administrator, if you have one.

  1. Type in and confirm a password for the administrator account.


You definitely should assign a password for the administrator account. If you leave this field blank, anyone can get into the system settings by just entering Administrator as the username and pressing Enter with no password.

An Administrator account is set up automatically during each installation, just as in NT/2000. The Administrator account is assigned full rights, allowing the administrator to create user passwords, set up new accounts, and mess with all the computer's settings as a manager. When you specify a password for the administrator, enter it, write it down somewhere safe, and remember it!

  1. Click Next. If you have a modem present on your system, the Modem Dialing Information page appears. Type in your area code, and then click Next.

  2. The Date and Time Settings page appears. Set the date and time and select a time zone.

  3. Click Next. If a network interface is detected, the system installs networking components, and then the Networking Settings page appears. If no network interface is installed in your system, skip to step 46.

  4. If you are connected to a Microsoft network which uses DHCP to assign TCP/IP address configuration settings for clients, select the Typical settings radio button, click Next, and then skip to step 46. DHCP or Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol is a networking service operating from a Windows Server system which can provide clients with IP configuration upon bootup.

  5. If you are connected to a network of any other configuration, select the Custom settings radio button, and then click Next.


Select the Custom settings option if you want to manually configure network clients, services, and protocols. But do so only if you're an expert in these matters and know that the typical settings won't cut it. You'll probably be fine with the default settings, and you can change them later if not.

  1. The Networking Components page appears. To alter the TCP/IP settings on this system, click to select the Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) item from the list of components, and then click the Properties button.

  2. The Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) Properties dialog box appears. Select the Use the Following IP Address radio button. Fill in the IP address, subnet mask, and default gateway (if available).

  3. If you need to use DNS, select the Use the Following DNS Server Addresses radio button and fill in the IP addresses of one or two DNS servers.

  4. Click OK. You are returned to the Networking Components page.

  5. Click Next. The Workgroup or Computer Domain page appears.


During Setup, you must join either a workgroup or a domain. If your system is a standalone system, you must join a workgroup. If your system is the first or only system within a workgroup, providing a name in the field on the Workgroup or Computer Domain page will create the workgroup. Being a member of a workgroup offers you nothing as a standalone system, but it is still a requirement of setup.

A workgroup is a more casual collection of connected computers than is a domain. Any computer can join a workgroup. To join a workgroup on the LAN, you just supply the workgroup name. All computers set for the same workgroup name can share files, printers, and other resources. The Setup program suggests a name, but if you already have a workgroup in your office, use that name.

A domain is a collection of computers that an administrator creates. Domains offer more security and control than workgroups do. Ask your system administrator if you don't know the domain settings. He or she has to create a computer account for you before you can join the domain. If you're upgrading from Windows NT, your existing computer account is used to identify you. If you have the right privileges already, you can create the account during the Setup process, but you have to enter the username and password that match the entry in the domain controller (server) for the preexisting account. A wizard for Network Identification will walk you through joining a domain. If you run into trouble joining a domain (the network server doesn't allow it), join a workgroup first, and join the domain later.

  1. If this system is not on a network or is a member of a non-domain network, select the No radio button and provide a name of a workgroup. The default name of Workgroup is often sufficient.

  2. If this system is to be a member of a domain, select the Yes radio button and provide the name of the domain.

  3. Click Next.

  4. If you selected to join a domain, you will be prompted for the name and password of an administrator level account within the domain. Provide this information and click OK.

  5. Setup will proceed with installing the OS using the settings you've just provided. This may take 20 minutes or more.

  6. If any issues or problems were encountered during the installation, a pop-up dialog box appears. If you want to view the log file of errors now click Yes. If not, click No. You can always view this information by reading the setuperr.log file later with any text editor, such as Notepad or WordPad.

  7. At this point, the Setup process is complete and the system needs to be rebooted. This may occur automatically or you may be prompted to confirm the reboot.

  8. Window XP is booted, but there are still several steps remaining before you can gain access.

  9. The Welcome to Microsoft Windows XP screen appears, accompanied by an animated wizard. You must wait until it is through "talking" to you. Then, click Next.

  10. Setup checks your system for Internet connectivity. No matter what Setup determines, you must indicate whether the system gains Internet access through a local network (the Yes radio button) or must establish a dial-up connection (the No radio button). I assume you have a cable modem or a connection over a network, so select Yes.

  11. Click Next. The Ready to activate Windows screen appears.

  12. Unless you have a specific reason not to, select the Yes, Activate Windows Over the Internet Now radio button.


In an effort to curb software piracy, Microsoft has implemented a new scheme to prevent unauthorized installations of Windows XP. After installing Windows XP, you must activate it within 30 days. When you activate Windows XP, your product key is filed into a database along with hardware identifiers from your computer. Activation prevents the same product key from being used numerous times. Microsoft claims the hardware identifiers cannot be used to trace a specific computer and that the activation process is fully anonymous. If you fail to activate within the time limit, the system fails to function until activation is completed.

Activation can occur over the telephone if you do not have an Internet connection. The phone numbers to call are listed on the activation screen and in the readme file on the distribution CD.

If you choose to skip activation during setup, an activation command is added to the top of the All Programs list within the Start menu.

  1. Click Next. The Ready to register with Microsoft screen appears.

  2. Unless you want to offer private information to Microsoft, select the No, Not At This Time radio button.


Registration is a separate and distinct process from activation. Activation is mandatory for a functioning OS past the 30-day grace period. Registration is voluntary. You should register if you want to get junk snail mail and e-mail from Microsoft, because Microsoft uses this information to focus product marketing.

  1. Click Next. The Will you be sharing this computer with other users screen appears.

  2. If you want to maintain unique user accounts for each person who will use this system, select Yes. If you select no, Windows XP is configured to log in automatically with the administrator account each time the computer boots. If you select No, skip to step 64.


Selecting not to create unique user accounts for each person does not mean you cannot switch to this in the future. However, if you select No, you must initially log in to the system with the Administrator account. Once you've logged on, you can create other local user accounts or configure the system to log on to a domain and use domain user accounts. Network logon is discussed in Part IV. See Chapter 28 for details on creating user accounts.

  1. Click Next. The Who will use this computer? screen appears.

  2. Type in the names of up to six users for this system, one in each field.

  3. Click Next. The Thank you! page appears; click Finish.

  4. The Windows XP Welcome screen appears with the names of the user accounts created in step 63 listed in a column on the right ready for logon. If you selected No in step 61, you'll be automatically logged on as the administrator and presented the Windows XP desktop.

The final step necessary to complete the installation of Windows XP is to log in. If you don't already know how to log in to Windows XP, jump over to Chapter 4 and check out the "Logging into Windows XP" section.

If Windows refuses to boot after the installation is complete, see "Windows XP Fails to Boot After Installation" in the "Troubleshooting" section at the end of this chapter.

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