Go to Home Page GuidesHow to ArticlesReviewsForumsFrequently Asked QuestionsNewsLinksPotpourri

Site Search


How to Clean-Install the Windows XP Upgrade
Last updated: 6/18/02

Q.  How can the Windows XP Upgrade be clean-installed?  That is, clean- installed on a hard disk on which an older version of Windows is installed, on a new hard disk drive, or one that has been formatted or taken down to "bare metal?

A.  There are (at least) four ways to clean-install the Windows XP UPGRADE.  Be sure to back-up your data before attempting any of them.  Do it at your own risk.

1. Do the upgrade from an existing older version of Windows on the hard disk (run D:\>setup if the XP CD doesn’t autostart when the CD is inserted, where D: is your CD-ROM drive) and remove partitions/partition/format the C: drive from Setup.

2. Boot to the CD-ROM drive, if your computer will boot to the CD-ROM drive (make it the first boot device and try). It will boot to Setup. If a previous version of Windows is not on the hard disk drive, it will ask you to insert a CD from qualifying version of Windows to verify before continuing the installation. I don’t know if your previous version of Windows will work. I have heard that Windows 95 cannot be upgraded to Windows XP; however, the qualifying products listed when I did it (several times) were:

"Please insert your Windows NT 3.51 Workstation, Windows NT 4.0 Workstation, Windows 2000 Professional, Windows 95, Windows 98, or Windows Millennium CD into your CD-ROM drive."

After verification, you can then delete, create, and format partitions.

3. From the DOS prompt, use Windows 98, Me (95 OSR2 might work) Startup floppy (http://duxcw.com/digest/Fromshop/software/windows/startup/startup.htm and http://duxcw.com/digest/Howto/software/windows/winme/startup/page1.html). Put a copy of smartdrv.exe on the Startup floppy. You should be able to find a copy on and existing Windows 9x/Me computer at C:\windows. It is on the CD’s in D:\win98. Use fdisk to partition the drive. Format the C: drive. Do not install the system files. If you have more than one partition, they can be formatted during the Windows XP installation or with Windows XP after it is installed. Also, use fdisk to manually make C: active if there is more one partition. Load smartdrv.exe…


.and run D:\i386\winnt.exe.

It will ask for a CD from a previous version of Windows. Do not delete or reformat C: with this method. Winnt.exe copies the install files to that partition. You can convert it to NTFS and that process is fast. This method also works with a generic copy of Windows XP Professional OEM, which is a full version of Windows for computer manufacturers to install on new computers. It should also work if the i386 directory is copied to a scratch hard disk and the hard disk is connected to the secondary IDE interface.

4. Download the Windows XP Home Edition Setup floppies from Microsoft at http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/release.asp?releaseid=33290. BTW, that link also states that Windows 95 qualifies. There are six Setup floppies (sigh!), which probably makes this method the least desirable. I don’t have the foggiest idea why Microsoft did not include the capability to make the floppies from the CD like Windows NT and 2000.   Furthermore, the requirement to use six floppies to get a setup going is an imposition of absurdly unnecessary inconvenience on the end user/shop and is an extreme example of absolute laziness on the part of Microsoft.  It should not have been used for Windows NT.  It should have been overhauled with Windows 2000.  It was made worse by XP.  If you ever make and use these floppies you will know what I mean and the reason for this flame.

When all done, be sure to make a restore floppy and put it a safe place. Don’t learn that lesson the hard way like I and many others have.

Windows XP FAQ Index

Windows FAQ Index

Also, see Windows Tips and Tricks.

Copyright, Disclaimer, and Trademark Information Copyright © 1996-2006 Larry F. Byard.  All rights reserved. This material or parts thereof may not be copied, published, put on the Internet, rewritten, or redistributed without explicit, written permission from the author.