HOW TO INSTALL WINDOWS ME 
Last updated: 10/10/00

Minimum System Requirements - suggestions in parenthesis.

  • 150 Mhz Pentium or equivalent (300 Mhz or higher).

  • 32 MBytes of memory (64 MBytes, 128 Mbytes is even better)

  • Free Disk Space (now is the time to buy that 7,200 RPM drive)

    • Compact install 200 MBytes

    • Typical 350 MBytes

    • Full 400 MBytes

    • If saving system files from prior version of Windows, to allow for uninstalling Win Me, add 150 Mbytes

    • On an average system with Office, graphics, etc. I would allow a four Gig (GigaByte) partition for the C: drive;  Two Gigs is almost too small for this hog.

  • VGA or higher monitor

  • CD-ROM or DVD drive

  • Mouse

To Upgrade or Not?  I did the initial install as an upgrade to my computer and a second one as a clean install (installation on a new hard disk or one that has been taken-down to "bare metal" by removing the primary partition).  As soon as that 7,200 RPM drive arrives I will do a clean install (see below) on my computer.  Whenever one installs a new version of Windows it is usually much better to do a clean install.  That gets rid of any problems that have developed in the old version through use and eliminates any lingering driver problems, etc.

Installing Directly from the CD.   No can do.  The various versions of the Windows Me CDs are not bootable like Windows 98 and Windows 98 Second Edition.

Copying cab files and Installing from a Hard Disk.  Unless there are severe problems in prior installation attempts, there is no need to copy the Windows cab files (cabinet or compressed files containing the Windows files) from the CD to the hard disk and installing from the hard disk (which is done just like it is for Windows 98).  Unlike Windows 98 and 98 SE and like Windows 95 OSR2, the Windows Me Setup copies the cab files to the hard disk drive (C:\windows\options\install) and installs Windows from there.   Windows will no longer be asking for the Windows CD when you are on the road with your laptop while the CD remains behind in a desk drawer in your office (most annoying).

Before Installing (Upgrades and Clean Installs)...  Back-up your critical data.   This is advisable for upgrades as well as clean installs.  I use Microsoft Backup to back-up critical data to a file server or another computer on a network or to a second drive connected to the computer as a slave.  One could also use a Zip, tape, or CD-RW drive as a backup device with this software.  My critical data consists of: C:\My Documents, C:\Windows\Cookies, C:\Windows\Favorites, C:\Windows\lbyard.pwl (password file), and few other directories and files specific to me.  Of course, you will have to reinstall all of applications if you do a clean install and restore your critical data.

If you are installing a new hard disk, your old hard disk becomes a backup.  Be sure it is not connected to the new drive when partitioning, formatting or installing Windows on it.

I always try to have two backups before cleaning a drive.  I have seen backup programs fail to make a good backup (especially if tape is used), old disk drives dropped, data on old disk drives wiped-out by human error, and still other disk drives that  decided to die at the very moment they were evicted from their beloved homes.

Try to obtain the latest drivers for the motherboard and and expansion boards in your computer.

Flash the motherboard with the latest BIOS, if you feel competent to do so, and test the flash with you existing version of Windows.

If you are installing Windows Me on a newly constructed computer, I recommend installing Windows after the video board is installed and before the rest of the expansion boards are installed.

< Contents | Next  >

Before Installing as an Upgrade...

  • Run a virus scan.

  • Uninstall the anti-virus program.

  • Remove any programs which prevent access to the boot track on the hard disk, such as Norton Bootlock.

  • Go into the computer's CMOS setup and disable any setting which warn if the boot track is about to be changed.

  • Be sure you have your Internet info (account, password, DNS settings, etc.)

  • Run (Start, Run) msconfig and turn-off any unnecessary start-up programs, etc. (turn them back on after the upgrade, if you desire).

  • Double-check your drive for any important data which you may have overlooked when you did the backups.

Install as an Upgrade.  Installing the Win Me upgrade on top of an existing Windows 9x installation is almost identical to installing the Windows 98/98 SE upgrade:

  • Boot to your existing version of Windows.

  • Insert the Win Me Upgrade or Full version CD into the CD-ROM drive.

  • Wait for the CD-ROM drive to come-up to speed and autostart.

  • If you are prompted with a message asking if you want to upgrade, simply click Yes.  (There is no Install option on the Start-up Window if it appears).

  • If not, Click Start, Run, and enter setup.

  • Follow the Setup instructions and choose Save the system files and make the Startup floppy when prompted.  This version of Windows does not force you to make the Startup floppy as Win 98 and 98 SE did.  So, if you have a shop and plenty of Startup floppies you do not have run Setup from the DOS prompt with the /ie flag to avoid having to dig out a blank floppy and waiting for Setup to make the Startup floppy (that was most annoying).

You can also run setup from the DOS prompt with a Startup disk if you can't get your existing  Windows to boot-up after an aborted install, etc...

D:\win9x\>setup.exe (where D: is your CD-ROM letter). 

Clean Install.  I experimented with a couple of other hard disk drives and found that installing the Full Retail Version of ME on a bare hard disk drive was altogether a different matter than the using it as an upgrade, and quite crude for a retail package.  Instructions for doing it are on the ME CD ROM at D:\win9x\cleanhd.txt, where D: is your CD-ROM drive.  They start-out with the following:

"IMPORTANT: All the steps you need for preparing a hard disk and installing Windows Me are included here. However, if you are an inexperienced user, it is not recommended that you install the hard disk and prepare it for use yourself. If you are not familiar with the related technical issues, it is recommended that you contact a computer hardware service organization to do this."

The instructions are lengthy.  Basically, they say you have to partition and format the drive before running setup.  If you read all of the cleanhd.txt and follow it carefully, you should succeed in accomplishing the install.  If, however, you skip over them, rely on past Windows experience, and read the label on the floppy that comes with ME you may have problems as I did.  The label says...

If you don't have a previous operating system on your computer:

  1. Turn off your computer.

  2. Insert the Boot Disk in drive A

  3. Turn on your computer.

  4. Select option 1 to install Windows Millennium Edition

Here is what one gets on the screen When the floppy boots:

  1. Help

  2. Start computer with CD-ROM support

  3. Start computer without CD-ROM support

  4. Minimal boot

Partition the hard disk.  "Help" looks to me like an illogical choice for a tech at a computer "hardware service organization."  A tech probably would not read all of the cleanhd.txt file (I didn't) and choose "4.  Minimal boot" to fdisk the drive and avoid having to wait for the CD-ROM drivers to load.  That works.  Use FDISK to create a new partition on your new hard disk as follows:

A:\>fdisk

Will produce the following screen:

Your computer has a disk larger than 512 MB. This version of Windows includes improved support for large disks, resulting in more efficient use of disk space on large drives, and allowing disks over 2 GB to be formatted as a single drive.

IMPORTANT: If you enable large disk support and create any new drives on this disk, you will not be able to access the new drive(s) using other operating systems, including some versions of Windows 95 and Windows NT, as well as earlier versions of Windows and MS-DOS. In addition, disk utilities that were not designed explicitly for the FAT32 file system will not be able
to work with this disk. If you need to access this disk with other operating systems or older disk utilities, do not enable large drive support. [this is usually not a problem]
Do you wish to enable large disk support (Y/N)...........? [Y]

Press the Enter key to accept the default [Y] for FAT32.  You will get the following menu:

FDISK Options

Current fixed disk drive: 1

Choose one of the following:

1. Create DOS partition or Logical DOS Drive
2. Set active partition
3. Delete partition or Logical DOS Drive
4. Display partition information


Enter choice: [1]


Press Esc to exit FDISK

Press Enter to select the default [1].  The following screen will be displayed:

Create DOS Partition or Logical DOS Drive

Current fixed disk drive: 1

Choose one of the following:

1. Create Primary DOS Partition
2. Create Extended DOS Partition
3. Create Logical DOS Drive(s) in the Extended DOS Partition


Enter choice: [1]


Press Esc to return to FDISK Options

Again, press Enter to select the default.  The following will be displayed

Again, press Enter to select the default.  The following will be displayed

Create Primary DOS partition

Current fixed disk drive : 1

Verifying drive integrity, xx% complete.

Current fixed disk drive: 1

Do you wish to use the maximum available size for a primary DOS partition
and make the partition active (Y/N) ....................? [Y]

At this point you can press the Enter key and make the entire drive one partition, your C: drive, or enter N and make a partition which occupies less than the entire drive.  I recommend 4 GB partition for the C: drive. You may want to allocated the rest of the drive to the D: drive, but one can make more than just two partitions if desired. The menus are quite self explanatory for accomplishing this task.   You will also want to create an Extended DOS partition and assign logical drive D: to it (fdisk should do that automatically after the partition is created).  You must exit fdisk and reboot after creating each partition.  Only one of the partitions can be active.  The active partition is the one which will boot after Windows is installed.  Make sure the primary partition is Active by displaying the partition information. 

If partitions already exist on the hard disk drive, you will be able to display and delete them with fdisk.  After making sure you have everything of value backed up, you can take the drive down to "bare metal" with delete partition functions.  This will, of course, destroy all data on the drive (or make it very difficult to recover).  Do it at your own risk.  to be sure the boot record is rather pristine you may want to restore it to the way it was when it came from the manufacture with C:\>fdisk /mbr (where mbr = manufacturer's boot record).

Format the partitions.  After creating the partitions and making sure the primary DOS partition is active, and rebooting to the floppy, an experienced tech might assume that the Windows Setup would format the drive.  Not so.  That has to be done manually.  And, by the way, It cannot be done from "4.  Minimal boot."  Issuing the Format C: command there results in the following error message:

Invalid media type reading Drive C:

Menu choices "1. Help" and "2.  Start with CD-ROM support" do allow formatting drive C: without error.

So, reboot the computer to the floppy.

Select  "2.  Start Computer with CD-ROM support," and format the C: drive as follows:

A:\> format c:

Do not use the /s  (transfer system files) flag with the format command.  Win ME does not support it (by the way, Full Versions of Windows 98/SE will not install if it is done).  Also, the SYS command results in an error message.

Get a cup of coffee...

Repeat for the D: drive, etc.  Get two cups of coffee.

Run Setup.  After formatting all of the partitions, change drives to your CD-ROM drive and execute Setup from the DOS as follows:

A:\>E:

E:\>win9x\setup.exe (where E: is your CD-ROM letter).

Follow the Setup instructions.  If you are using the upgrade, Setup will ask you to insert the CD or floppies form the previous version and will verify it/them.  Choose to make the Startup floppy when prompted.  You may opt to feed it a new floppy disk or use the one you that came with Windows ME.

Larry

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