Installing a Clean, Basic, Native Windows XP System

In a previous post, I worked through the process of installing Windows XP in a virtual machine (VM). The purpose of this installation was to create a minimal Windows XP installation with as few complications as possible. The advice seemed to be that, the simpler the system, the more likely I was to succeed in my attempts to use Cameyo to create portable versions of Windows programs.

Now, as part of that effort, I needed another basic Windows XP installation, this time on bare metal — that is, on a real computer, not in a virtual machine. It was reportedly possible to restore a VM onto real hardware. But in the interests of creating an XP installation with as few bugs as possible, I decided to do it the old-fashioned way and install from the Windows XP CD.

Not that installing from CD should be complicated. The previous post had presented a relatively simple process. Nor would I ordinarily bother writing a post about something as well documented as the task of installing Windows XP. My purpose here was primarily to restate more briefly the contents of the previous post, hopefully without the errors and detours reported there. Of course, since this installation did not involve a VM, the VM settings discussed in the previous post are not repeated here.

I inserted the Windows XP installation CD into the computer’s CD drive and started the computer. It went through various “Setup is loading files” messages. But then, when it got to “Setup is starting Windows,” it crashed with a 0x0000007B stop error code. Same thing on retry. Several (1 2 3) searches led eventually to several possible changes to the BIOS (typically accessed by repeatedly hitting F2, DEL, or some other key at startup) on my Asus H97 Plus motherboard. BIOS menus differ, but in this case I encountered advice or impressions that I should change one or more of the following:

  • Boot > Secure Boot > OS Type > Other OS (not Windows UEFI mode)
  • Boot > Secure Boot > Key Management > Delete PK
  • Boot > Boot Override > select the disc I wanted to boot

I was not sure whether any of those were essential. What was essential was this:

  • Advanced > PCH Storage Configuration > SATA Mode Selection > IDE

With that change, I was able to proceed with Windows XP installation. The details of that process are provided below. But regarding the foregoing changes to the BIOS, I found that my WinXP installation would boot even if I undid the first of those changes (i.e., OS Type > Other OS: I restored it to Windows UEFI mode). I was not able to undelete the Key Management items; without restoring their defaults (which I decided to try to do without), it was impossible to say what difference they might have made. There continued to be times when the third item on the list, Boot Override, was useful. The last item shown above (i.e., SATA Mode Selection > IDE) continued to be essential: Windows XP would crash when the value was set to AHCI. And, conversely, Windows 7 would not load unless it was set to AHCI.

In the Windows XP installation process. I went with the default settings except where otherwise required. I paid attention to relevant comments in the previous post — regarding, among other things, the advisability of using a consistent account name.

Upon completing the install, I went into Control Panel > System > Hardware tab > Device Manager. There were many yellow question marks, indicating that drivers were needed. A search confirmed that Windows XP drivers were not available for this motherboard; it was too new. Around this time, incidentally, I also rediscovered that Windows XP did not support drives larger than 2TB.

So I started over on an old Dell XPS M1210, for which Dell still offered a full set of drivers. This was a vastly simpler process. Moral of the story: match the software to the hardware, or get new hardware. When the Windows installation was complete, I installed those drivers. Then I looked again in Device Manager. The yellow question marks were gone.

Now it was time for a few tweaks. Bear in mind that my objective was to minimize viruses and also antivirus programs, as well as anything else that might run during the Cameyo virtualization process.

  • Run the WinXPRegEdits.reg file (details in the other post).
  • Control Panel > Network Connections > Create a New Connection > Set up my connection manually > Connect using a broadband connection that requires a user name and password > enter account information > Finish > Connect.
  • Device Manager > Network adapters > Disable wireless and/or ethernet adapters to prevent Internet connection (and viruses) for the time being.
  • Control Panel > System > Automatic Updates tab > Turn off Automatic Updates.
  • Control Panel > Security Center > Change the way Security Center alerts me > uncheck all boxes.
  • Desktop > Recycle Bin > right-click > Properties > uncheck “Display delete confirmation dialog.”
  • Start > Control Panel > Display > Settings tab > Maximum available resolution or as otherwise desired.
  • Control Panel > Display > Screen Saver tab > Screen Saver: None.
  • Control Panel > Display > Desktop tab > Customize Desktop > uncheck “Run Desktop Cleanup Wizard every 60 days.”
  • In Windows Explorer (i.e., Start > My Computer), I went into Tools > Folder Options > View. There, I made a few changes, to show more information. The key one was to uncheck “Hide extensions for known file types.”
  • Device Manager > Network adapters > right-click > Enable. Then Start > Run > “oobe/msoobe /a” > “Yes, let’s activate Windows over the Internet now” > “No, I don’t want to register now.” That was all I had to do: “You have successfully activated your copy of Windows.” I disabled the network adapter again.
  • During that process, I thought I would have an opportunity to change the Windows XP product key. Instead, I had to use the Windows Product Key Update Tool to change it, and then the Magical Jelly Bean Keyfinder to verify that it had been changed.
  • As a final checkup, I went to Start > Run > “sfc /scannow.” This required reinsertion of the installation CD > Install optional Windows components. This opened the Windows Components Wizard. Presumably the System File Checker command had caused Windows to check or uncheck something that it needed. I closed that window.

With those measures in place, I powered down the VM. I used Acronis True Image Home 2011 to make a backup image. My basic, native WinXP installation was finished.

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