Draft:Windows installation guide

This guide lists how to generally install Windows versions. This guide only provides instructions for installing Windows on a new hard drive that doesn't have partitions; this guide does not provide instructions for creating a proper virtual machine configuration for Windows. For these configurations, see Recommended VM configurations.

Early DOS-based Windows

Overview

These early versions of Windows are not their own standalone operating systems; they run under DOS as an "operating environment" shell interface. As a result, they require MS-DOS to be installed in order to be installed on top of MS-DOS. No version of early DOS-based Windows has bootable installation media. This applies to Windows 1.0 up to Windows 3.1x.

In order to install these versions, you need to have a copy of MS-DOS. The version that you can use is up to your desire, but note that:

  • No version of Windows is compatible with MS-DOS 1.x.
  • Windows 1.0 requires at least MS-DOS 2.00.
  • Windows 2.x requires at least MS-DOS 3.00.
  • Windows/386 should be installed in a MS-DOS version below 5.0, as the high memory driver in MS-DOS 5.0 conflicts with the one loaded in Windows/386, resulting in Windows can only boot in real mode (via win86 instead of win386).
  • Windows 3.0 and Windows 3.1x require at least MS-DOS 3.10.
  • Windows for Workgroups 3.1x requires at least MS-DOS 3.30.
  • It is recommended to use a MS-DOS version below 4.0 for Windows 1.0 and Windows 2.x (see "Compatibility" section in each of the respective version pages). Otherwise, MS-DOS 6.22 should run all versions just fine.

Install your desired MS-DOS version (using fdisk and format to partition and format a hard drive and sys to copy the system files if you're installing an earlier version of MS-DOS). Once you boot to the hard drive, insert the Windows installation floppy disk to a floppy drive, change the drive in MS-DOS to that floppy drive, and run setup. Be sure to eject the floppy drive once you have finished installing Windows.

Windows 3.0 MME comes in CD-ROM media, but again it isn't bootable and requires a CD-ROM driver in MS-DOS to be installed. The setup in these versions is located in the MWIN directory of the installation media.

Instructions

This guide will be split into different versions to reduce problems present in earlier version of Windows. Some quirks specific to certain versions are also listed in the instructions. It is recommended that if you want to emulate these versions that you use the configurations provided in the Recommended VM configurations guide.

Windows 3.x

This guide presumes you are installing Windows 3.11 for Workgroups on top of MS-DOS 6.22, but this will also work for earlier versions of MS-DOS and Windows 3.x, including Windows 3.0.

Prerequisites
  • MS-DOS installation diskettes, preferably MS-DOS 6.22
  • Windows installation diskettes
  • Installation CD-ROM media (if installing Windows 3.0 MME)
  • Floppy disk with MSCDEX 2.23 (MS-DOS CD-ROM driver) installer (if installing Windows 3.0 MME)

See the version page of the version you're installing for additional information regarding system requirements and hardware compatibility.

Procedures
Installing MS-DOS
  1. Insert the first MS-DOS installation disk into the floppy drive. If the drive isn't partitioned and formatted yet, setup should likely detect that and request to create a new partition that will be formatted upon reboot. If setup doesn't provide you that option, you should initiate the drive via fdisk and format <drive letter>
  2. Upon reboot, you may be requested to provide additional information for the configuration of MS-DOS. Leave these as the default options and setup should begin copying files.
  3. When requested to change the floppy drive, insert the correct diskettes onto the floppy drive and press Enter.
  4. When you reach the end of setup, remove the floppy disk and reboot the computer to start MS-DOS.
  5. Windows 3.0 MME only: After MS-DOS has booted, insert the MSCDEX disk into the floppy drive and change the current directory to that drive (usually A:). Run the setup executable (for example install.exe) for the CD-ROM driver and install it. Remove the floppy disk and restart the computer to load the CD-ROM driver.
Installing Windows
  1. While in MS-DOS, insert the first Windows installation disk into the floppy drive and change the current directory to that drive (usually A:, or D: if installing Windows 3.0 MME).
  2. Run setup (or cd MWIN then setup for Windows 3.0 MME).
  3. Setup should start and you will see the welcome screen on a blue text-only screen.
  4. Unless you need to change specific features, press Enter to accept the default options for every screen until you reach the file copying portion of text setup. Use the Express Setup if requested on Windows 3.1.
  5. When you reach the file copying portion, change the floppy disk as necessary and press Enter after doing so.
  6. Windows will eventually load a graphical user interface for the second portion of setup. It will prompt for a name and organization name.
  7. Again, unless there is a need to change specific features, accept the default options for everything on forward and click Continue as prompted with the exceptions of the following:
    • Windows 3.1x: Enter the name and organization on the first prompt of setup. Windows for Workgroups 3.1x may also prompt for a product number, but this isn't required.
    • All versions: Uncheck "Set up printers" unless you have an installed printer (like the Generic Text Printer from 86Box).
    • Windows 3.0: Uncheck "Read On-line documents" unless you really need to read the readme file on the installation disk.
    • Windows 3.1x: Uncheck "Set Up Only Windows Components You Select" unless you really need to remove components.
    • Windows for Workgroups 3.1x: Network Setup. You want to install the correct adapter based on your configuration, alongside the TCP/IP protocol and Microsoft Windows Network. If you're on 86Box, be sure to set the addresses as described here. If you set it up correctly, it should prompt to enter a network username, workgroup, and computer name. Enter those and press OK.
    • All versions: Set Up Applications. Let setup search the hard drive (usually C:), then click "Add All" then OK.
    • Windows 3.1x: Skip Tutorial unless you really want to run it.
  8. As Windows copy files again, change the floppy disk when requested and press OK.
  9. At the Exit Windows Setup screen, remove the floppy disk from the drive and press "Reboot".
  10. When MS-DOS loads, run win to load into Windows and log in to the system if you're on Windows for Workgroups 3.1x.

Windows 1.x and 2.x

This guide presumes you are installing Windows 2.03 on top of MS-DOS 3.31, but this will also work for earlier versions of MS-DOS and Windows 1.0.

Prerequisites
  • MS-DOS installation/boot diskettes, preferably MS-DOS 3.31
    • Avoid using any version above MS-DOS 3.31, as they cause Windows to crash on startup
  • Windows installation diskettes

See the version page of the version you're installing for additional information regarding system requirements and hardware compatibility.

Procedures
Installing MS-DOS
  1. Insert the MS-DOS boot disk into the floppy drive. If the drive isn't partitioned and formatted yet, you should initiate the drive via fdisk and format <drive letter>
  2. After the drive is formatted, run sys <drive letter> to copy the MS-DOS files onto the hard drive. Alternatively, copy the files on the boot disk onto the hard drive.
  3. Remove the floppy disk and reboot the computer to boot to the hard drive.
Installing Windows
  1. While in MS-DOS, insert the first Windows installation disk into the floppy drive and change the current directory to that drive (usually A:).
  2. Run setup.
  3. Setup should start and you will see the "Setup prepares Windows to run on your computer" screen.
  4. Unless you need to change specific settings, press C or Enter to accept the default options for every screen except the following:
    • All versions: Set up Windows on a hard disk, unless setup does not provide you such option (occurs with certain OEM versions) or you really want to install Windows on floppy disks.
    • Windows 2.x: Below is a list of computers on which you may set up Windows. Select "IBM PC, XT, AT (100% compatible)" or "IBM AT (or 100% compatible)" for 286 versions, or "IBM Personal System/2 Model 80" (or the machine that closely relates to the one being used) for 386 versions.
    • All versions: Windows needs to know what kind of graphics adapter you have. Select the best available graphics driver setup provides for you (or the graphics adapter that matches the one being used) , which is usually "EGA (more than 64K) with Enhanced Color Display" for Windows 1.0 or "IBM (or 100% compatible) VGA (Video Graphics Array)" for Windows 2.x.
    • All versions: Windows needs to know what kind of pointing device you have. Select "Microsoft Mouse (Bus or Serial)" or "Microsoft Mouse connected to PS/2 Mouse Port" depending on the port the mouse is connected to.
  5. When you reach the file copying portion, change the floppy disk as necessary and press C or Enter after doing so.
  6. MS-DOS 5.0 and above only: Run setver WIN100.BIN 3.31 or setver WIN200.BIN 3.31 to allow Windows to report an MS-DOS version of 3.31, then reboot the machine.
  7. At the end of setup, remove the Windows installation floppy disk, then run win (or win86 for Windows/286 or win386 for Windows/386) to boot into Windows. When you reboot the system, you'll need to change the directory to the Windows directory in order to run win / win86 / win386 again.

Windows 9x

Overview

Windows 9x (Windows 95, Windows Nashville, Windows 98, and Windows Me) are now standalone operating systems, and thus can be installed without an existing version of MS-DOS before installation. However, many of the installation CD-ROMs are still not bootable; most retail versions aren't bootable and bootable versions were usually exclusive to OEMs.

If the installation media cannot be booted into, you must use a Windows boot disk to install Windows from there. A Windows 98 Second Edition boot disk is recommended. Initiate a drive using fdisk and format, then change to the drive of the installation media (usually D:\ or E:\). If SETUP.EXE isn't in the root directory of the drive, try checking for any of these directories, which may have SETUP.EXE:

  • RETAIL (Chicago builds)
  • WIN95 (Windows 95 and Nashville)
  • WIN98 (Windows 98)
  • WIN9X (Memphis/Millennium builds and Windows Me)
  • WINME (Windows Me)

To start setup, run setup /is. The /is switch will ignore ScanDisk and instantly start setup, but you can remove the switch if desired.

If you load fdisk and it gives a notice about enabling large disk support (FAT32), what you have to respond will depend on the version of Windows to install. If you are installing any version of Windows 95 before OEM Service Release 2 or Windows Nashville, you must not enable large disk support, as these versions are not compatible with FAT32 and their installers will be unable to find the hard drive. Otherwise, you should enable large disk support to use more than 2 GB of hard drive space on Windows (see Earlier versions of Windows - partition size limited to 2 GB section in the Windows build FAQ).

Instructions

This guide presumes you are installing Windows 98 Second Edition, but most of these procedures will work for other Windows 9x versions, including Windows 95 and Windows Me. Some quirks specific to certain versions are also listed in the instructions. It is recommended that if you want to emulate these versions that you use the configurations provided in the Recommended VM configurations guide.

Prerequisites

  • A Windows boot disk, preferably from Windows 98 Second Edition
  • Installation CD-ROM media (floppy disk installation is also possible for Windows 95 and the original release of Windows 98, but will be slow)

See the version page of the version you're installing for additional information regarding system requirements and hardware compatibility.

Procedures

  1. Insert the Windows boot disk into the floppy drive. If the drive isn't partitioned and formatted yet, you should initiate it via fdisk and format <drive letter>
    • You may be able to boot directly from certain OEM versions of the installation media, but it's nonetheless recommended to use a boot disk.
  2. Recommended for non-SCSI or non-early ATAPI CD-ROM drives for Windows 95: Copy the contents of the installation media onto the hard drive. Change the current drive to the hard drive (usually C: - just type the name of the drive to change the current drive) and run md 95TEMP and then copy <drive installation media is in>\WIN95 <hard drive letter>\95TEMP (if the hard drive is C: and the CD-ROM drive is E:, run copy E:\WIN95 C:\95TEMP)
  3. Change the current drive to the CD-ROM drive (this is usually the E: or D:).
  4. Try to run setup /is in the current directory. If you get "Bad command or file name", try to change the current directory (ex: cd WIN9X) to one of the listed directories in the overview (or run dir to find the correct directory) then run setup /is.
  5. Setup should start and you will see the welcome screen.
  6. Unless you need to change specific features, click Next or Yes on the screens you see except for the following:
    • All versions: Setup Options. For a full installation, do not select the default "Typical" option. Instead, select Custom, and choose every optional component to install. For the most part, you should choose every option except for the modem-related software and Web TV for Windows.
    • All versions: User Information. Enter the name and organization here.
    • All versions: Product Key. Enter the product key here.
    • All versions: Startup Disk. On Windows 95, select "No, I don't want a startup disk". On Windows 98 and Me, click Next on the first prompt, and click Cancel when it requests to insert and label a floppy.
    • Windows 95: Analyzing Your Computer. Select all options in the list and click Next.
    • Windows Me: Establishing Your Time Zone. Normally placed at the end of setup on Windows 95 and 98, select your desired time zone and click Next.
  7. If you have selected Custom installation, you may also be given the option to configure the network card and additional hardware settings. Make sure you know the adapter's addresses and IRQ during the setup to configure the network card. Most of the time, you should also remove the Dial-Up Adapter as well.
  8. When setup states that it is ready to copy files, remove the boot disk from the floppy drive and click Next.
  9. Wait for the reboot prompt for Windows 95 or the final stage of setup for Windows 98. It will give a prompt to restart the computer or select a time zone. Select Finish for the reboot prompt, and select the desired time zone and click Apply and OK for the time zone applet.
  10. Windows 95 only: When prompted to set up a printer, click Cancel unless you have an installed printer (like the Generic Text Printer from 86Box).
  11. Setup will prompt to reboot the computer for the final time. Let the computer restart, and log in to the system.

Windows NT

Overview

Earlier versions of Windows NT were intended to boot into setup using three setup boot floppies, which copies drivers and loads information files from these floppies. This prominently applies to versions before Windows NT 4.0, although boot disks were available as a legacy setup option until Windows 2000. Windows NT 3.5 offers an option to copy the setup files to the hard drive, which should be used on builds without a bootable installation media or those that bugcheck when booting from it. As of Windows NT 4.0, the installation CD-ROM media can be booted from directly, and is the recommended installation method.

On Windows NT 3.1, you must use the first boot floppy to start setup and follow the instructions as setup states. Alternatively, use a Windows boot disk (recommended is a Windows 98 SE boot disk), initiate a drive (using fdisk and format), and run setup via winnt in the I386 directory of the installation media (in most cases, you should also run lock to allow direct disk access to the hard drive for Windows NT Setup, otherwise setup can exit with "Windows has disabled direct disk access to protect your long filenames" error message and halt the system). This secondary method will still require a setup boot floppy disk for Windows NT 3.1 or three disks for Windows NT 3.5 and above to be formatted and created by setup. On Windows NT 3.5 build 756 and above, you can run winnt /b instead to copy the setup files to the hard drive, which is usually more successful. On Windows NT 4.0 and above, you should boot directly to the installation media, unless booting to it fails (see "Why won't my ISO boot?" section in the Windows build FAQ).

It is imperative that you do not restart during the GUI portion of setup before setup is complete on Windows NT 3.x or early Windows NT 4.0 builds. If you do, setup will not reload, giving you a bricked system with the error "The system is not fully installed. Please run setup again."

Do note that FAT32 isn't supported by default on Windows NT until Windows 2000. If prompted to enable large disk support (FAT32) on fdisk on a Windows boot disk, it should be disabled if you're installing Windows NT 4.0 or earlier.

Instructions

This guide will be split into different versions to reduce problems present in earlier version of Windows. Some quirks specific to certain versions are also listed in the instructions. It is recommended that if you want to emulate versions before Windows 2000 that you use the configurations provided in the Recommended VM configurations guide.

Windows Vista and above

This guide presumes you are installing Windows 10, but these procedures will work for other versions of Windows that utilize a WIM installation method (NT 6.0 and above).

Prerequisites
  • Installation CD-ROM/DVD-ROM media

See the version page of the version you're installing for additional information regarding system requirements and hardware compatibility.

Procedures
  1. Insert the Windows installation media into the disc drive and boot into the installation media to load the Preinstallation Environment.
  2. Select the installation language and keyboard and click "Next" then "Install now".
  3. Most of the setup process (including inserting a product key or selecting the edition of Windows to install and accepting the EULA) should be self-explanatory. When you reach "Which type of installation do you want?" select Custom and the disk/partition that Windows will be installed on.
  4. Wait until you reach the out-of-box experience and complete it, which is also self-explanatory for the most part. After completing the OOBE, you'll be sent to the desktop or the login screen.

Windows NT 4.0 to Windows XP

This guide presumes you are installing Windows XP, but these procedures apply to any version of Windows above Windows NT 4.0 that uses the i386 installation method (NT 4.0 to 5.2).

Prerequisites
  • Installation CD-ROM media

See the version page of the version you're installing for additional information regarding system requirements and hardware compatibility.

Procedures
  1. Insert the Windows installation media into the disc drive and boot into the installation media. After the drivers and services finish loading, you'll be greeted to the welcome screen.
  2. Press Enter to start setup and accept the EULA by pressing F8 (scroll down to the bottom of the EULA first to accept the EULA on Windows NT 4.0).
  3. If setup detects a Windows installation and requests if it should repair it, you should press Esc to continue setup as normal.
  4. At the disk partition screen, select the partition to install Windows in, or select "Unpartitioned space" to create a new partition. It is recommended to format partitions in NTFS, using quick format on Windows XP. Accept the default options for any other screen during the text-mode setup.
  5. Wait for setup to format the drive and copy files. The system should eventually reboot into the graphical user interface portion of setup and detect hardware.
  6. Unless you need to change specific features, accept the default options for everything except for the following:
    • Windows NT 4.0: Setup Options. For a full installation, do not select the default "Typical" option. Instead, select Custom, and at the Windows NT Components screen, select "Show me the list of components so I can choose" and choose every optional component to install. For the most part, you should choose every option except for the modem-related software.
    • All versions: Name and Organization. Enter the name and organization here.
    • Windows 2000 and XP: Product Key. Enter the product key here. This might be present on a few copies of Windows NT 4.0 as Registration with a CD key.
    • All versions: Computer Name. Enter the computer name here.
    • All versions: Administrator Account. Enter a password for the Administrator account.
    • Windows NT 4.0: Emergency Repair Disk. Select "No, do not create an emergency repair disk."
    • All versions: Date and Time. Select the time zone here; do not change anything related to the date.
  7. Installing networking depends on the version of Windows:
    • Windows NT 4.0: Windows will need to manually check for a network adapter to install. Select "This computer will participate on a network" for the networking option and allow it to search for the correct adapter. Install the TCP/IP protocol and accept the default options for everything afterwards until you reach the final stage of setup.
    • Windows 2000 and Windows XP: Windows will automatically detect and install the network adapter; allow it to connect to a workgroup and choose a name for it.
  8. Wait for setup to finish copying files and configuring settings. At the end, press "Restart Computer" on Windows NT 4.0 or "Finish" on Windows 2000. Windows XP will automatically restart. It will reboot one last time to the login screen or the out-of-box experience. The latter is self-explanatory; you will be sent to the desktop or login screen after completing it.

Windows NT 3.5x

This guide presumes you are installing Windows NT 3.51, but these procedures will also work for later builds of Windows NT 3.5, including the RTM.

Prerequisites
  • A Windows boot disk, preferably from Windows 98 Second Edition
  • Installation CD-ROM media (floppy disk installation is also possible, but will be slow)

See the version page of the version you're installing for additional information regarding system requirements and hardware compatibility.

Procedures
  1. Insert the Windows boot disk into the floppy drive. If the drive isn't partitioned and formatted yet, you should initiate it via fdisk and format <drive letter>
  2. Run lock <drive letter> and enter Y to allow direct disk access for setup to copy files.
  3. Change the current drive to the CD-ROM drive (this is usually the E: or D:).
  4. Run cd i386 to change the current directory to I386 and run winnt /b
  5. Press Enter to accept the default directory to search for the installation files and wait for the initial setup files to copy to the hard drive.
  6. After it's finished, remove the boot disk from the floppy drive and press Enter to reboot the computer.
  7. The system should boot into a blue text-mode screen. From there, accept all the default options prompted unless there is a need to actually change them. Converting the drive to NTFS is recommended.
  8. Windows NT 3.5 only if running on a P6 or higher generation processor: At the end of the second file copying portion, re-insert the Windows boot disk and reboot into it. Run cd <windows directory>/SYSTEM32 edit and modify the INITIAL.INF and SETUP.INF files in there to change all instances of STF_PROCESSOR = "" ? $(!LIBHANDLE) GetProcessor to STF_PROCESSOR = $(ProcessorID_I586). Save the changes and remove the boot disk and reboot the machine.
  9. Remove the floppy disk at the end of the file copying and press Enter to reboot the computer. Windows should boot to the graphical portion of setup. Enter the name and organization, computer name, language, and product ID (the lattermost isn't requested on most releases).
  10. Unless there is a desire to change specific features, accept the default options for everything on forward and click Continue as prompted with the exceptions of the following:
    • Uncheck "Set Up Printers (locally connected printers only)" unless you have an installed printer (like the Generic Text Printer from 86Box).
    • Uncheck "Set Up Only Windows Components You Select" unless you really need to remove components.
    • Network Setup. You want to install the correct adapter based on your configuration, alongside the TCP/IP protocol. If you are on 86Box, be sure to set the addresses as described here.
    • Administrator Account Setup. Enter a password for the Administrator account.
    • Local Account Setup. Enter a username and password for a new non-Administrator account.
    • Set Up Applications. Let setup search the hard drive (usually C:), then click "Add All" then OK.
    • Date and Time. Select the time zone here; do not change anything related to the date.
    • Display Settings. To be safe, you can click Cancel here and change the settings in the Control Panel after finishing setup, as setup may not properly detect invalid options that may cause a system crash upon testing, leading to a bricked install.
    • Emergency Repair Disk. Click No.
  11. Once you reach the end of setup, click "Restart Computer" to restart the system and log into Windows.

Windows NT 3.1

This guide applies for Windows NT 3.1 and early builds of Windows NT 3.5 that does not offer the ability to copy setup files to the hard drive via winnt /b.

Prerequisites
  • A Windows boot disk, preferably from Windows 98 Second Edition
  • Three formatted floppy disks, 3.5" 1.44MB floppies recommended
  • Installation CD-ROM media (floppy disk installation is also possible, but will be slow)
    • Important: CD-ROM drive must be SCSI, or setup will not detect it

See the version page of the version you're installing for additional information regarding system requirements and hardware compatibility.

Procedures
  1. Insert the Windows boot disk into the floppy drive. If the drive isn't partitioned and formatted yet, you should initiate it via fdisk and format <drive letter>
  2. Run lock <drive letter> and enter Y to allow direct disk access for setup to copy files.
  3. Change the current drive to the CD-ROM drive (this is usually the E: or D:).
  4. Run cd i386 to change the current directory to I386 and run winnt
  5. Press Enter to accept the default directory to search for the installation files. Setup will request for up to three floppies to start setup on. Insert and remove the floppy disk(s) as requested, and wait for setup to copy files onto the hard drive after that is done.
  6. Insert the first setup disk into the floppy drive and press Enter to reboot the computer.
  7. The system should boot into a blue text-mode screen. From there, accept all the default options prompted unless there is a need to actually change them. Keep the drive as FAT, as the NTFS in this version is prone to being rather unstable and also largely incompatible with systems using later versions of NTFS.
  8. Only if running on a P6 or higher generation processor: At the end of the second file copying portion, re-insert the Windows boot disk and reboot into it. Run cd <windows directory>/SYSTEM32 edit and modify the INITIAL.INF and SETUP.INF files in there to change all instances of STF_PROCESSOR = "" ? $(!LIBHANDLE) GetProcessor to STF_PROCESSOR = $(ProcessorID_I586). Save the changes and remove the boot disk and reboot the machine.
  9. Remove the floppy disk at the end of the file copying and press Enter to reboot the computer. Windows should boot to the graphical portion of setup. Enter the name and organization, computer name, and language.
  10. Unless there is a desire to change specific features, accept the default options for everything on forward and click Continue as prompted with the exceptions of the following:
    • Uncheck "Set Up Printers (locally connected printers only)" unless you have an installed printer (like the Generic Text Printer from 86Box).
    • Uncheck "Set Up Only Windows Components You Select" unless you really need to remove components.
    • Network Setup. You want to install the correct adapter based on your configuration, alongside the TCP/IP protocol. If you're on 86Box, be sure to set the addresses as described here.
    • Administrator Account Setup. Enter a password for the Administrator account.
    • Local Account Setup. Enter a username and password for a new non-Administrator account.
    • Set Up Applications. Let setup search the hard drive (usually C:), then click "Add All" then OK.
    • Date and Time. Select the time zone here; do not change anything related to the date.
    • Emergency Repair Disk. Do not insert a floppy disk and press OK. Setup will complain that it cannot read the drive; just cancel the creation of the Emergency Repair Disk.
  11. Once you reach the end of setup, click "Restart Computer" to restart the system and log into Windows.