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 Draft:Recommended VM configurations.

Early DOS-based Windows[edit | edit source]

Overview[edit | edit source]

These early versions of Windows are not their own standalone operating system; 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 have 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 requires 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 "Early DOS-based Windows - "Incorrect DOS version" on DOS 5 or later" section below). 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 isn't bootable and requires a CD-ROM driver in MS-DOS to be installed. The setup in these versions are located in the MWIN directory of the installation media.

Instructions[edit | edit source]

Windows 9x[edit | edit source]

Overview[edit | edit source]

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 below).

Instructions[edit | edit source]

This guide presumes you are installing Windows Me, but most of these procedures will work for earlier Windows 9x versions, including Windows 95 and Windows 98. 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[edit | edit source]

  • 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[edit | edit source]

  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 of 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[edit | edit source]

Overview[edit | edit source]

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 three setup boot floppy disks 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 "My ISO won't boot" section above).

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[edit | edit source]