FAQ for How to Create a Windows XP Setup CD for a Windows-Preloaded System
Frequently Asked Questions
FAQ for How to Create a Windows XP Setup CD for a Windows-Preloaded System
This page lists answers to frequently asked questions about the guide How to Create a Bootable Windows XP Setup CD/DVD on a Preinstalled Windows System, which allows you to create a Windows XP setup CD from a computer system that has Windows factory-installed. If you arrived here looking for the guide itself, please read the article instead.
Can I create a Windows XP Setup CD that doesn't require me to re-activate Windows after installing?
WARNING: the following procedure may not work for you. As always, use it at your own risk.
It all depends on flavour of XP that you have currently installed. To avoid re-activation, your existing Windows system must have the following files:
Copy the various OEMBIOS files into the c:\XPSETUP\i386 folder (if you're following my folder naming system from the article), and carry on making the ISO as per normal. If all goes well, after you install, you won't have to re-activate Windows. But note: you will still need the Windows licence key, or you won't even get past the installer.
Before you ask, these files tie a particular Windows XP setup disk to a specific machine. That means that your setup disk can only be used successfully for the machine you created it from. The files are the reason why when you buy a computer with Windows preinstalled from a computer vendor, you don't have to activate Windows.
You'll probably also need the licence key from your current Windows XP installation, which may not be the same as that taped to the back or bottom of your computer.
When I tried to Install Using the Windows XP Setup CD, why does it keep telling me to put the Setup CD into Drive A:?
This error occurs when the installer cannot find the appropriate WIN51* files mentioned in the article. Go back to the article and carefully follow the instructions to create all the necessary WIN51 files.
If you have already created those files and still receive this error, it's possible that your files are saved under the wrong names. Windows hides part of the filename from you by default, and if you didn't quote your filenames when saving with Notepad like I said in the article, chances are that your actual filenames are not what you think they are. Follow the instructions in How to Force Windows Explorer to Always Show You the File Extensions and check to make sure that your files are really named with the correct names and that they do not have a hidden ".txt" or some other extension that you weren't aware of.
Why is the ISO for my Setup Disk larger than the size of a CD? How do I shrink it down to size?
The manufacturer of your computer probably placed additional files into the i386 folder. These may be the drivers for your computer, and may also include some additional applications (which you may have been trying to get rid of in the first place). Since I don't have access to a computer with such a modified i386 folder, I cannot give you the steps for eliminating any excess garbage the ISO may have acquired.
You should still be able to burn it to a DVD though. The setup DVD should be bootable the way a setup CD is.
Does the process work for Windows XP Media Center Edition?
Not as far as I know. If you happen to have XP Media Center Edition preinstalled, and manage to create an XP setup disk for it, please let me know how it's done.
Update: I have reports from 2 visitors that they have successfully created an XP setup disk that boots using the procedure given in the article. In particular, they followed the steps in the article for Windows XP Professional. Since I have no personal experience with this, I'm not able to verify that the system installed from such disks is actually Windows XP Media Center rather than XP Professional.
Update of update: A number of visitors who installed such a setup disk report that they got an XP Professional system in the end, rather than Windows XP Media Center. So it's possible that it doesn't really work for Media Center after all.
My computer doesn't have a c:\i386 folder. Can I use the one found in c:\windows\i386?
As stated in my article, no.
Update: one visitor reports that he was successful in using the files in c:\windows\i386. Note that a copy of XP installed from Microsoft's retail XP CD does not create any "c:\windows\i386" folder, so there's a chance that it was created by your computer manufacturer to contain the XP installation files. If that is the case, it may work. Or maybe not. Anyway, I don't have any system with a "c:\windows\i386" to check this claim.
Why do I get the error "This Service Pack cannot be integrated into a destination that also has integrated software updates. Consult Service Pack documentation for more details about supported integration" ?
It means that your computer came with a C:\i386 folder that already contains some Windows updates integrated into it. These updates were probably added by your computer manufacturer to fix some Windows bugs that occur in the original Windows release (or to improve Windows in some other way), so that a Windows CD created from that folder will work properly on the specific hardware that make up your computer.
Unfortunately, the service pack updater requires a pristine copy of the Windows installation files before it can integrate its updates. It cannot handle a folder that has some updates installed but not others. That is, the folder must contain files in the original condition when Microsoft shipped Windows (either the original Windows XP, or Windows XP Service Pack 1, or Windows XP Service Pack 2). The updater doesn't know what to do with a folder that contains a mixture of updated and non-updated files.
As far as I know, there is no solution for this. You'll probably have to create a setup disk without integrating any service pack. Your setup disk will be hopelessly outdated from the get go, but at least you will have something from which you can install a working system. After that's done, you can run Windows Update to get it up-to-date. Your system will be vulnerable before it's fully updated, but at least you have a workaround. Having said that, even if you have successfully integrated the service pack, your system will still be vulnerable, since it will not have the latest updates. In other words, no matter what you do, you will always need to run Windows Update after installing.
Why do I get the error "Cannot find file c:\w2ksect.bin"?
Return to the article and follow ALL the steps meticulously. You missed one step — the one where c:\w2ksect.bin was created. As you read the article, look out for the word "w2ksect.bin".
Why do I get an error saying that NTLDR cannot be found?
If you get an error telling you that NTLDR is missing, your CD was not made correctly. Make sure that you have followed all the steps of the process correctly, from including all the correct files to meticulously following the ImgBurn procedure. If you're not sure where you might have gone wrong, start from the beginning again. Make sure you do not skip any step.
Alternatively, if ImgBurn does not work for you, try using some other DVD or CD writing software, such as Nero Burning ROM or Roxio Creator. Although ImgBurn is free, it doesn't seem to behave consistently between versions or on different systems, so it's very hard to write a tutorial for it and provide a configuration file that works for everyone.
Why do I get the error "'C:\XPSP2' is not recognized as an internal or external command, operable program or batch file"?
See the sentence 'For the purpose of this tutorial, I will assume you saved it as C:\XPSP2.EXE, that is, in the root folder with the filename "XPSP2.EXE"' in the article. Basically if "C:\XPSP2" or "C:\XPSP2.EXE" is "not recognised as a program", it means you failed to save it with that file name. Therefore, when you tried to run it, Windows couldn't find the file you specified on the command line, that is, C:\XPSP2.EXE. Either go back to the earlier step and rename the file as I mentioned in the article, or type the actual name you saved it as (probably some long string of letters if you left it as the default).
Why is my Windows XP setup CD unable to detect any hard disks on my computer?
As mentioned in the article, your computer probably uses a mass storage device that Windows XP does not have default drivers for. A very common situation is if you have SATA hard disks. See the "Device Drivers" item in the "Prerequisites" section of the article.
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