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This chapter is from the book

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 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 the change. 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 should 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, then check out the "Making 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 "Troubleshooting" section at the end of this chapter.


Remember to check Chapter 2, "Getting Your Hardware and Software Ready for Windows XP," to ensure 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. After 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 that has access to the CD. If the existing OS is a non-Windows non-32-bit OS, then execute \i386\winnt.exe. If the 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 XPCD(this approach works only if your computer is newer, and you can boot from the CD-ROMdrive). 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.

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 might take a few minutes. After the copying process is complete, the system reboots.

  4. After the system reboots, the setup wizard continues.

  5. Jump to step 15 of the following typical clean 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.

  3. NOTE

    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.

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

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

  6. Type in your 25-digit Product Key.

  7. Click Next. The Setup Options page appears.

  8. Click the Advanced Options button.

  9. 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).

  10. If you wish, change the name of the main windows directory.

  11. 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.

  12. NOTE

    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 don't have to insert the CD-ROM. Just browse to the correct directory. Copying the over 6,000 files (yes, that's thousand, amounting to about 450MB) from the CD takes about 15 minutes on a reasonably fast system.

  13. To be able to select the partition into which to install Windows XP (other than drive C), mark the I want to choose the install drive letter and partition during Setup check box.

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

  15. If your system has Internet access from 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, then skip to step 15.

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

  17. After 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.

  18. Your drives are 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.

  19. TIP

    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 when 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 recommend the latter highly). 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 offers 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 for use with multiple operating systems. 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.

  20. 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.

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

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

  23. 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.)

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

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

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

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

  28. 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.

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

  30. NOTE

    The Quick options for both NTFS and FAT are only there when you are converting or over-formatting a partition that has already 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 let the setup wizard perform a full format on the destination partition. It takes a little longer, but it ensures 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?" Also, Chapters 26 and 28 contain additional information about file systems and formats.

  31. Press Enter to initiate formatting. A progress of the formatting action is displayed.

  32. After formatting is complete, files are copied to the destination partition. This might take 10 minutes.

  33. After the file copy procedure completes, the system automatically reboots.

  34. After it's rebooted, Setup launches a basic Windows GUI environment. After performing numerous operations (these could take 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 the Customize of Details buttons to change them.

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

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

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

  38. Click Next. The What's your computer's name page appears.

  39. Type in a meaningful computer name for this system in the Computer name field, such as wxp-den or Bob's-PC.

  40. NOTE

    Choose a computer name that is unique. It must differ from any other computer or workgroup 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.

  41. Click Next.

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

  43. The Data and Time Settings page appears. Set the date and time and select a time zone.

  44. Click Next. If a network interface is detected, the system installs networking components, then the Networking Settings page appears. If no network interface is installed in your system, skip to step 40.

  45. The default network configuration is set to connect to a Microsoft local area network (LAN) using DHCP to obtain TCP/IP address configuration settings. I think you should wait until later to configure networking for Windows XP Home systems, so, select the Typical settings radio button, and click Next. 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. As mentioned earlier, DHCP takes the pain out of setting up network (and Internet) connections because it means you don't have to enter lots of cryptic numbers into little dialog boxes just to get connected. The DHCP server and your Windows XP computer negotiate those numbers between themselves.

  46. Setup proceeds with installing the OS using the settings you've just provided. This takes 20 minutes or more.

  47. 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.

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

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

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

  51. 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). If you have a cable modem or a connection over a network, select Yes. If you use a dial-up connection, you'll be prompted for the connection specifics (such as phone number, username, and password).

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

  53. Unless you have a specific reason not to, select the Yes, activate Windows over the Internet now radio button.

  54. NOTE

    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 section of the Start menu.

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

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

  57. NOTE

    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 email from Microsoft, since Microsoft uses this information to focus product marketing.

  58. Click Next. The "Will you be sharing this computer with other users?" screen appears.

  59. If you want to maintain unique user accounts for each person who uses 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 54.

  60. NOTE

    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 into the system with the administrator account. After you've logged on, you can create other local user accounts. See Chapter 25 for details on creating user accounts.

  61. Click Next. The Who Will Use This Computer? screen appears.

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

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

  64. The Windows XP Welcome screen appears with the names of the user accounts created in step 53 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 into Windows XP, see "Logging in to Windows XP."

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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