Windows Foundation

XP: From the Ground Up

Your Win2K Pro-savvy will give you a head-start on implementing Windows XP. Let's start with the installation.

How times flies! This column was started less than two years ago to focus on the forthcoming Windows 2000 operating system, which has now gone through a complete product cycle. With the release of Windows XP and the soon-to-be released Windows .NET Server products, this column will shift to address these new platforms while retaining the central mission of focusing on introductory and intermediate technology issues of interest to MCSEs.

Where should we start with this new focus? At the beginning, of course! Let's look at what you'll need to do to get XP up and running.

Installation Walk-Through
XP setup is broken up into two phases: character-based and graphical-user-interface-based. This is consistent with other Windows setup routines, so not much is new here. Following is a walk-through of both phases of the installation.

For this walkthrough, I'm assuming you have a bootable CD drive—a common feature. If not, you'll need to create the setup floppy disks per the instructions in the README.DOC file on Windows XP Professional disk.

Here's the step-by-step:

  1. Place the Windows XP Professional disk in the drive and boot the computer.
  2. If required, touch any key during the machine's power on stage (POST) to boot from the CD.
  3. The character-based setup phase looks surprisingly like Win2K Professional. You're offered the opportunity to press F6 to specify unsupported SCSI and RAID drivers, but this wasn't needed with my installation.
  4. At the Setup Notification screen, press Enter to continue.
  5. At the "Welcome to Setup" screen, hit Enter to continue.
  6. Read the Windows XP Licensing Agreement and press F8 to agree.
  7. On the Win2K Professional Setup screen, you'll create your installation partition. You do this by selecting "Unpartitioned space" and pressing Enter.
  8. Next, select "Format the partition using the NTFS file system" and press Enter. The hard disk will be formatted using the NTFS file system, and the numerous setup files will be copied (*.drv, and so on). You have time here to sprint out and get a quick shot of espresso (it's true!). The computer will perform one reboot, and the very attractive XP logo will appear.
  9. The "An exciting new look" page will notify you that Windows is installing and will be done in approximately 39 minutes (your time will vary). The setup process goes on autopilot here for a spell.
  10. Numerous other information screens will pass before you eyes like virtual billboards.
  11. Complete the Regional and Language Options screen and click Next.
  12. Complete the Personalize Your Software screen (Name and Organization fields) and click Next.
  13. On the Your Product Key screen, type in the 25-character Product Key found on the CD gem case sticker. Click Next.
  14. On the Computer Name and Administrator Password screen, complete the Computer Name field (preferably a short name like Computer1) and the Administrator Password and Confirm Password fields (use a complex password, with alpha, numeric and special mixed-case characters).
  15. On the Date and Time Settings screen, adjust as necessary and click Next. At this time, the networking components will be installed in a semi-automatic manner.
  16. On the Networking Settings screen, select Typical Settings (the default selection) and click Next.
  17. On the Workgroup and Domains screen, select No and click Next. For this example, I'll assume you aren't joining a domain. Next month, I'll show you Windows XP peer-to-peer networking based on the workgroup model. At this point, the setup process will autopilot for a while again. If you look closely, you'll see the Start menu items, among other things, being installed.
  18. When the Display Settings dialog box appears, click OK.
  19. After the display test occurs, the Monitor Settings dialog box will appear, asking you if the settings are correct. Click OK.
  20. When the Welcome to Microsoft Windows screen appears, click Next.
  21. When you get to "How will the computer connect to the Internet," click either Digital subscriber line (DSL) or cable modem or Local area network (LAN). Click Next. Based on my current connection, I selected the LAN option.
  22. On the "Setting up a high-speed connection" screen, configure your IP address information for dynamically obtained or statistically assigned. I selected the Obtain IP Automatically and Obtain DNS Automatically checkboxes. Click Next.
  23. On the Ready to Activate Windows screen, you'll likely want to select "Yes, activate Windows over the Internet now." You would then proceed to complete the registration screens. In this case, for simplicity, select "No, remind me every few days." Click Next. (Note that you will have 14 days to activate Windows once you've installed it. )
  24. On the "Who will use this computer" screen, in the "Your name" field, type your name and click Next.
  25. On the "Thank you!" screen, click Finish. The setup routine will apply some last-minute configurations and a lower-case "welcome" notice will entertain you.
  26. You're then presented with the Windows XP desktop.

Take a bow! You've successfully installed Windows XP.

First Looks: Eye Candy
You might be subliminally aware that Windows XP is based on the now stable and mature Win2K code base. So when you look at the desktop in Figure 1, you might actually be "underwhelmed" with the new look and feel.

Windows XP desktop
Figure 1. Modest to say the least, the baseline Windows XP desktop is somewhat blank, relying on the Start menu to access the user interface objects. (Click image to view larger version.)

Clicking on the Start menu leads you into more familiar territory. You'll see a number of program items on the left, such as recent programs opened and the obligatory inducement to subscribe to MSN as your Internet Service Provider (ISP). On the right side of the Start menu, you have My Documents, Control Panel, Search and so on (Figure 2, below). Easily overlooked is the All Programs group that displays numerous other program items and groups (e.g., Accessories).

Windows XP Start
Figure 2. Meet and greet the revised Start menu in Windows XP. (Click image to view larger version.)

In preparing this column, I spoke with an MCSE based in Cocoa, Florida, to get her reaction to Windows XP (in part to validate or discredit my own observations). She felt the experience in upgrading to Windows XP from Win2K was similar to her experience years ago when she migrated from Windows 3.1 to Windows 95. Yes, she could appreciate that Windows XP contains new features she's not completely exploiting at this early date, but the user interface was taking a lot of time to master. I concur and basically feel I'm aging as an MCSE, forlorn in my fondness for the familiar user interfaces of old.

New Features
Windows XP isn't just replicated code base and new eye candy. There are actually some new features you should note (Future columns will focus on specific features, so this is just an overview).

  • Driver management—Long-awaited improvements in driver management include the ability to rollback a driver installation. That is, the old dynamic link library (DLL) and associated files are retained so that a rollback scenario can be easily implemented. Better yet, Microsoft has pledged to maintain its Web site as a single source for all drivers needed for any device used with Windows XP.
  • Firewall—A personal firewall component is provided as part of the networking setup routine. This is accessed from Control Panel | Network and Internet Connections | Network Setup Wizard (this is the topic of my column next month so hang on, please!).
  • Remote Desktop—Imagine something with the small footprint of NetMeeting and the robustness of Terminal Services and you've got the remote desktop management capabilities in Windows XP. This alone may well justify an organization's cost to upgrade to Windows XP because of the Help Desk savings in providing real-time user support.
  • Multimedia Support—In the past, multimedia was a take-it-or-leave-it feature with MCSEs, to be honest. But with the world changing and people re-evaluating their need to travel, we're seeing a boom in video conferencing. Windows XP, while not a Macintosh in the multimedia realm, improves on the multimedia support seen in Windows Me and brings the stability of Win2K Professional. Not bad, eh?

Next Steps
Congratulations on completing the installation of Windows XP Professional. Please take some time to explore the new user interface and build your baseline knowledge of the operating system. That will be especially useful next month when you are charged with the task of networking Windows XP in a peer-to-peer scenario.

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Reader Comments:

Wed, Feb 26, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

Im not a MCSE or anything and I found it dumbed down past my lvl.

Mon, Jul 8, 2002 Anonymous Anonymous


Thu, Apr 11, 2002 Techman IL

You did a great job explaining how to install XP. I can give the instructions to my mom. As for us techs, we want to know the tech stuff the general public does not know.......MCP/MCSA baby

Thu, Mar 21, 2002 Bob South America

I bought an upgrade for XP professional in Canada, what happens I get home and the product key is missing, any ideas on what to do next? The shop has not yet replied!

Fri, Feb 8, 2002 Trex San Francisco

I must agree with all y'all. Simply sucked.

Wed, Jan 30, 2002 Chuck Virginia

Wake up the title of the clearly states that this an overview and that they are starting with the installation of Xp.....not a technical review and critique. They also mentioned at the start....WIN2K people would fly through this.

Tue, Jan 22, 2002 Anonymous Anonymous

This is too funny, why don't the people who complain about the article write something a little more technical and submit it for our criticism
also MCSE, CCNA .....

Sun, Jan 13, 2002 Anonymous Anonymous

Agree with most boring a 10 year old can install, what is the difference in W2K and XP that make it work is more interesting.

Thu, Jan 10, 2002 Peter Gorecki Ireland/Dublin

Think this info is unessesary, we all know how to install MS procucts i presume. But then again it could be handy to copy and mail or printout to some unexperienced users to save us time and anoyment *laugh*

Sun, Dec 30, 2001 Nick PA

Ditton on the XP Home vs Professional

I bought a laptop with XP Home. Need to know if I should upgrade to Professional.

Fri, Dec 14, 2001 Tech Georgia

Verrrrry basic - How about the hardcore stuff between XP Pro and Home ?

Thu, Dec 13, 2001 Anonymous Anonymous

This is MCPMag. Not (how to turn my computer on mag)!

Wed, Dec 5, 2001 Anonymous Anonymous


Wed, Nov 28, 2001 Anonymous Anonymous

This does not belong here. I give it, minus five stars.

Fri, Nov 23, 2001 wurzel California

I worked out the install process all on my own and I'm unqualified! What I really want to know is how to put all the files on the HD and install them from there - for ME I used to use a 98se boot disk and copy everything to the HD so it would never ask for the CD when installing new features. How to do this for XP? NTFS defeats me at each step.

Thu, Nov 22, 2001 Colin Tigard, OR

A lttile elementary for my taste. I was excited to read this article when I saw it mentioned in the magazine, I was sorley let down.

Fri, Nov 16, 2001 Anonymous Anonymous

would I could find more articles that told me in short form, like this one, what I really need to know, without all the jiberish.

Tue, Nov 13, 2001 Fernando Seoane Madrid - SPAIN

Simply Great!!!!

Congratulations MSFT

Sat, Nov 10, 2001 dave Bethany Beach, DE

Absolutely Worthless. This is for professionals? Professional whats?

Thu, Nov 8, 2001 Alan Chicago

Who cares about an install? What are the in's and outs? Professional Vs. Home?

Wed, Nov 7, 2001 Aamer Anonymous

Waste of Web Space and time

Tue, Nov 6, 2001 Chris Germany

too basic I guess. And the author seems to be confused about Remote Desktop and Remote Assistance...

Tue, Nov 6, 2001 Omo Naija Toronto

Thumbs up to Microsoft! They are progressively de-emphasizing the need for geniuses in the computer profession. I guess that's the point!!!

Tue, Nov 6, 2001 Chris El Segundo

Well written. Provides easy-to-follow instructions for non-MCSEs

Tue, Nov 6, 2001 Gettingthere Ottawa

Great Job Harry. It is important to pay attention to details even the one we take for granted.

Tue, Nov 6, 2001 Netbob Irvine, CA

I agree with the sentiment here. This is way too basic. Need more. I installed it and I agree, my son could have done it.
My feeling, eye candy + 2000.

Tue, Nov 6, 2001 Anonymous Anonymous

you forgot to tell me when to click "next"

Tue, Nov 6, 2001 Anonymous Anonymous

One word- WEAK

Tue, Nov 6, 2001 reuben New Hampshire

I got to agree with the majority...I would much rather hear about the o/s not on how to install it, a monkey can install a ms o/s...I like the idea of HOME vs. Professional in a detailed (actual useful info) list. This has been my most common question. MCSE, CCNA, NH

Tue, Nov 6, 2001 Jody columbus

tooooooooooo Basic!! How old are U?
How about more on networking XP?

Tue, Nov 6, 2001 MisterB Chicago

Comon now where's the real info, this is kid's stuff!

Tue, Nov 6, 2001 Scott Minneapolis

You're killin' us here. If anyone needs to read such a basic article on Windows installation, they shouldn't be installing it.

Tue, Nov 6, 2001 Anonymous Anonymous

Nothing new under the sun...

Tue, Nov 6, 2001 Anonymous Anonymous

would like to know more about licensing, differences between XP products, and why/why not to upgrade from win2k.

Tue, Nov 6, 2001 Wesley Chicago

MCSE here.......... It is soooooooo boring, please do not waste web space.

Tue, Nov 6, 2001 Anonymous Anonymous

Simple and to the point, but a bit basic.

Tue, Nov 6, 2001 XOS Jupiter, Florida


Tue, Nov 6, 2001 Jamie Chesapeake

Very good article. XP is definately a buy for anyone who wants a more stable home usage OS. The Multimedia support in XP is much better than in Win2K. Built on the Win2K base, but with the PNP freedom of rpevious home OS's.

Tue, Nov 6, 2001 Binary Melbourne Australia

Installed the OS several times in different ways, nothing realy new except for more options, but nothing I would say special. The artical was a waste of space....Sorry, It wont take anyone with some reading skills long to figure out how to install and modify Microsoft OS.

Mon, Nov 5, 2001 RocRobster Washington

The ONLY four benefits of XP. And the drawbacks? well that would take up more space than the installation. XP is a "must'nt buy" product. I have only heard of fellow IT people having it because it comes preinstalled on the new PC's. Give tips on win2k instead, that OS will get used. Who wants to rent software on a usage time basis?

Mon, Nov 5, 2001 Jorge San Diego, CA

Wasted web space, info displayed is too basic with nothing critical to actually consider usefull to know.

Mon, Nov 5, 2001 Snappy Monterey,CA

A good effort to famaliarize an XP install, Stay positive and focused.

Mon, Nov 5, 2001 Rob Australia

Got to agree with most, pretty std. novice fare.

Mon, Nov 5, 2001 Mike Hanby Austin, TX

Information is useless to anyone who "really" is an MCP/MCSE.

A better article choice would be "What are the differences between XP Home and XP Professional"

Mon, Nov 5, 2001 Anonymous Anonymous

a lot of networking issues, overall, a lot of good ideas. Waiting for service pack

Mon, Nov 5, 2001 Anonymous Anonymous

nothing special worth to mention

Mon, Nov 5, 2001 Gary Denver

Hmm goodnight wake me when we you decide to spark my intrest in something new. Installs can be done by my 11 yr old.

Mon, Nov 5, 2001 Anonymous Anonymous

Boring. I think by now, most MCPs can go through the initial set up screens in their sleep. Even XP hasn't changed much in the initial install. This is more for PC mag then MCP mag. I want to know the fun stuff after the install.

Mon, Nov 5, 2001 Anonymous Anonymous

Figures 1 and 2 are missing.

Wed, Oct 31, 2001 Josh New York City

Given that this site is supposed to be for MCP's, isn't such an elementary walk through of the install process a waste of web space? If someone is an mcp and can't figure out "put in the cd and click next, next , next, they shouldn't be here.

Wed, Oct 31, 2001 Anonymous Anonymous

excellentwith on exception, product actvation

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