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Depending on your needs and the type of installation you are performing, you can modify the behaviors and actions of the Windows XP Professional Setup routing by using various switches. Depending on how you are installing Windows XP Professional, there are two methods you can use to call the Setup routine: by using the winnt.exe command or by using the winnt32.exe command. Some typical reasons to use switches include unattended installations, using Dynamic Update, installing the Recovery Console, and changing the location for the installation source files, to name a few.


Let's look first at the more useful, and likely, winnt32.exe command. The winnt32.exe command can be used to perform a clean installation or an upgrade installation of Windows XP Professional. You can run the winnt32.exe command at the command prompt from any computer running one of the following operating systems:

  • Windows 95

  • Windows 98

  • Windows 98 Second Edition

  • Windows Millennium Edition

  • Windows NT 4.0

  • Windows 2000

  • Windows XP

Using winnt32.exe from Windows 95

You cannot upgrade from Windows 95 to Windows XP Professional. An installation started from Windows 95 using the winnt32.exe command will be a clean installation only.

For more information about support upgrade paths, see the "Performing an Upgrade Installation" section earlier in this chapter.

The winnt32.exe command has the following syntax and switches as detailed in Table 3.4.

winnt32 [/checkupgradeonly] [/cmd:command_line] [/cmdcons] 
[/copydir:{i386|ia64}\FolderName] [/copysource:FolderName] 
[/debug[Level]:[FileName]] [/dudisable] 
[/duprepare:pathname] [/dushare:pathname] [/m:FolderName]
[/makelocalsource] [/noreboot] [/s:SourcePath]
[/syspart:DriveLetter] [/tempdrive:DriveLetter] 
[/udf:id [,UDB_file]] [/unattend[num]:[answer_file]]

Table 3.4 Winnt32.exe Switches




Checks your computer for upgrade compatibility with Windows XP. When used with the /unattend switch, no user input is required. If used without the /unattend switch, the results are displayed on the screen and you can save them as desired. The default location is a file named upgrade.txt located in the %systemroot% folder.


Instructs Setup to carry out a specific command before the final phase of Setup.


Installs the Recovery Console as a startup option on a functioning x86-based computer. You can only use the /cmdcons option after normal Setup is finished.


Creates an additional folder within the folder in which the Windows XP files are installed. You can use /copydir to create as many additional folders as you want.


Creates a temporary additional folder within the folder in which the Windows XP files are installed. Unlike the folders /copydir creates, /copysource folders are deleted after Setup completes.


Creates a debug log at the level specified. The default log file is C:\systemroot\Winnt32.log, and the default debug level is 2. The log levels are as follows: 0 represents severe errors, 1 represents errors, 2 represents warnings, 3 represents information, and 4 represents detailed information for debugging. Each level includes the levels below it.


Prevents Dynamic Update from running. This option will disable Dynamic Update even if you use an answer file and specify Dynamic Update options in that file.


Carries out preparations on an installation share so that it can be used with Dynamic Update files that you downloaded from the Windows Update Web site.


Specifies a share on which you previously downloaded Dynamic Update files (updated files for use with Setup) from the Windows Update Web site.


Specifies that Setup copies replacement files from an alternate location. Instructs Setup to look in the alternate location first, and if files are present, to use them instead of the files from the default location.


Instructs Setup to copy all installation source files to your local hard disk. Use /makelocalsource when installing from a CD to provide installation files when the CD is not available later in the installation.


Instructs Setup to not restart the computer after the file copy phase of Setup is completed so that you can run another command.


Specifies the source location of the Windows XP files. To simultaneously copy files from multiple servers, type the /s:SourcePath option multiple times (up to a maximum of eight). If you type the option multiple times, the first server specified must be available, or Setup will fail.


On an x86-based computer, specifies that you can copy Setup startup files to a hard disk, mark the disk as active, and then install the disk into another computer. When you start that computer, it automatically starts with the next phase of Setup. You must always use the /tempdrive parameter with the /syspart parameter.


Directs Setup to place temporary files on the specified partition. For a new installation, Windows XP will also be installed on the specified partition.

/udf:id [,UDB_file]

Indicates an identifier (id) that Setup uses to specify how a Uniqueness Database (UDB) file modifies an answer file (see the /unattend entry). If no UDB file is specified, Setup prompts the user to insert a disk that contains the $Unique$.udb file.


Upgrades your previous version of Windows 98, Windows Millennium Edition, Windows NT 4.0, or Windows 2000 in unattended Setup mode. All user settings are taken from the previous installation, so no user intervention is required during Setup.


Performs a fresh installation in unattended Setup mode. The specified answer_file provides Setup with your custom specifications. num is the number of seconds between the time that Setup finishes copying the files and when it restarts your computer.

To learn more about using the Windows Upgrade Advisor, see "Checking Hardware and Software Compatibility."

Winnt32 on Itanium-based Computers

If you run the winnt32.exe command on an Itanium-based computer, the command must be run from the Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI) or from Windows XP. Also, the /cmdcons and /syspart switches are not available, and options relating to upgrades are also not available.

For more information on EFI, see the TechNet article "Managing GPT Disks in Itanium-based Computers," located at http://www.microsoft.com/technet/prodtechnol/winxppro/reskit/prkb_cnc_ywwc.asp.


The second, and less often used, way to invoke startup is by using the winnt.exe command. The winnt.exe command can be used from the command prompt of even the oldest operating systems, such as Windows 95, Windows 3.x, and MS-DOS. These operating systems are not upgradeable to Windows XP Professional.

The winnt.exe command has the following syntax and switches as detailed in Table 3.5.

winnt [/s:SourcePath] [/t:TempDrive] [/u:answer file]
[/udf:ID [,UDB_file]] [/r:folder][/rx:folder][/e:command]

Table 3.5 Winnt.exe Switches




Specifies the source location of the Windows XP files. The location must be a full path and can use UNC locations.


Directs Setup to place temporary files on the specified drive and to install Windows XP on that drive.

/u:answer file

Performs an unattended Setup using an answer file. If you use /u, you must also use /s.

/udf:ID [,UDB_file]

Indicates an identifier (ID) that Setup uses to specify how a Uniqueness Database (UDB) file modifies an answer file (see /u). If no UDB_file is specified, Setup prompts you to insert a disk that contains the $Unique$.udb file.


Specifies an optional folder to be installed. The folder remains after Setup finishes.


Specifies an optional folder to be copied. The folder is deleted after Setup finishes.


Specifies a command to be carried out just before the final phase of Setup.


Enables accessibility options.

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