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Windows XP, Installing and Setup

By: Arie Slob

File System

If you choose to dual boot, you may be limited to the choice of file system (either FAT or FAT32). Only when dual booting with Windows 2000 will you be able to choose NTFS.

If at all possible, choose NTFS as your file system. It will offer you increased security & reliability. If you want to read more on the advantages of NTFS, read my article: Windows XP File System: NTFS.

You can convert from FAT to NTFS after you have installed Windows XP. Type convert /? in a command prompt for details. But I would strongly advise you not to do this. The reason is that by converting you will (most likely) end up with a cluster size of 512 bytes, which will increases the likelihood of fragmentation, and on large volumes, will cause the Disk Defragmenter to take a significant amount of time to defragment. So, all in all, you are better off in formatting a drive using NTFS in the first place.

Clean Install Using Upgrade CD?

One of the most frequently asked questions is whether it is possible to do a clean install using an upgrade version. The answer is yes. At some point during setup, Windows XP will ask you to insert your qualifying media, to ensure that you are eligible for the upgrade. The media must be a retail Windows 98, 98 Second Edition, Millennium Edition, NT 4.0, or 2000 CD-ROM, be it an Upgrade or Full version. You cannot, however, use a rescue CD that you got from a PC maker.

Running Setup

There are a few ways to invoke setup. The easiest way is to load the Windows XP CD-ROM in your CD-ROM drive, and reboot your computer. Your BIOS needs to support booting from the CD-ROM, but most computers have had this support for the past 2-4 years. It might be necessary to enable this in your BIOS. Consult your computer/motherboard manual about this.

If your computer doesn't support booting from the CD-ROM drive, you will either have to boot from your previous OS, or from a bootable floppy drive.

If you boot from your previous OS, the Windows XP setup will start as soon as you pop the CD in your drive. If you boot from a floppy (remember, you need to have support for your CD-ROM and the Windows 98 start disk includes this), you will have to change to the CD-ROM drive, and then you will have to run winnt.exe from the I386 directory.

Microsoft has made Boot disks available for download:

Important Notes:

  • Windows XP CD-ROMs that include SP1 have the text "Includes Service Pack 1" on the CD-ROM
  • Windows XP Home Edition startup disks will not work for Windows XP Professional installations and vice-versa
  • Windows XP SP1 and Windows XP SP1a startup disks are not interchangeable

Information on usage is linked from the respective pages linked from the download page above, and in Microsoft Knowledge Base article 310994.

Dynamic Update

Dynamic Update

Windows XP setup includes a new Dynamic Update. This enables the setup program to connect to the Microsoft Web site, to check for the latest updates before setup starts. This should guarantee that you have the most up-to-date files when you start the upgrade process.

This does not include all available Windows Update downloads, just setup fixes.

Dynamic Update can only run when you have an Internet connection available during setup (upgrade only).

Administrator Password

Near the end of the setup routine, you will be asked to input an administrator password. This is important. Make sure you remember it, or make a note of it (but keep it in a safe place). The Administrator account on Windows XP is the most powerful account which lets you control the total system.

When doing an upgrade from Windows 9x, you will be asked to supply usernames for people using the computer

This is a completely new concept for Windows 9x users to come to terms with. To learn more about it, use the Learn About link on the User Accounts applet in Control Panel, or search for User Accounts in Help.

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