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70-270 Windows XP Exam TechNotes
Installing Windows XP Professional
- System Requirements
- The Installation
- Unattended Installations
--- Setup Manager
--- System Preparation Tool
--- Remote Installation Services
- Upgrading to Windows XP
- Migrating User Environments
- Post-installation Updates
- Service Packs
- Activating Windows XP
- Troubleshooting Installations

    Back to top

Before you install Windows XP Professional you should ensure that your hardware meets the system requirements. These may vary based on your system configuration, click here for more details and the complete system requirements listed at Microsoft.com
CPU Minimum required: 233 MHz
Recommended: 300 Mhz or higher processor
Supports Dual-processor.
RAM 64 MB minimum supported
128 MB or higher recommended
4 GB maximum supported
Disk space 1.5 gigabytes (GB) of available hard disk space
- SVGA (800x600 or higher) display adapter and monitor
- CD-ROM or DVD drive
- Keyboard and mouse or compatible pointing device


You should also ensure that you hardware is listed in the Hardware Compatibility List, You can download the HCL in text file format here. When not all your hardware is on the HCL it does not necessarily mean you cannot use it with Windows XP, check the vendor's web site if they have a XP driver for their device.


A typical installation of Windows XP Professional from a CD-ROM consists of 4 stages described below:

1. Starting Setup

If your computer is able to boot from CD-ROM, the easiest way to start setup is to boot from the Windows XP Professional installation CD. During this stage, which is also known as the text-based portion of setup, a mini Windows XP is loaded on the target computer and starts the setup program. After accepting the license agreement, setup prompts you to create or choose a partition where Windows XP should be installed. If you choose to create a new partition setup formats the new partition as either FAT32 or NTFS, depending on your choice.

If the target computer is not able to boot from CD-ROM, or you want more control over the setup process and parameters, you can start setup manually using winnt32.exe or winnt.exe, both described below.


Performs an installation of, or upgrade to Windows XP. You can run winnt32.exe on Windows 9x, ME, NT, 2000, or XP. The following table lists and describes the available command-line parameters for the winnt32.exe command:

Parameter Purpose
/checkupgradeonly Checks your computer for upgrade compatibility with Windows XP. You can save the results in a file, upgrade.txt in the system root by default.
/cmd:command_line Instructs Setup to carry out a specific command before the final phase of Setup. This would occur after your computer has restarted and after Setup has collected the necessary configuration information, but before Setup is complete.
/cmdcons Adds the Recovery Console to the startup options. This option can only be used when Windows XP is already installed.
/copydir:{i386|I64}\FolderName Creates an additional folder within the folder in which the Windows XP files are installed. For example use /copydir:i386\corpdrivers to have Setup copy that folder to your newly installed computer, making the new folder location systemroot\corpdrivers. Use /copydir multiple times to create additional folders.
/copysource:FolderName Creates a temporary additional folder within the folder in which the Windows XP files are installed and is deleted after Setup completes. For example use /copysource:corpdrivers to have Setup copy that folder to your newly installed computer, making the temporary folder location systemroot\corpdrivers. Use /copysource multiple times to create additional folders.
/debug[Level]:[FileName] Creates a debug log at the level specified, for example, /debug4:InstDbg.log. The default log file is C:\systemroot\Winnt32.log, and the default debug level is 2. Level 0 represents severe errors, 1 errors, 2 warnings, 3 information, and 4 detailed information for debugging.
/dudisable Discussed below in "Post-installation Updates"
/duprepare:pathname Discussed below in "Post-installation Updates"
/dushare:pathname Discussed below in "Post-installation Updates"
/m:FolderName Instructs Setup to look for installation files in this alternate location first, instead of using the files from the default location.
/makelocalsource Instructs Setup to copy all installation source files to your local hard disk.
/noreboot Instructs Setup to not restart the computer after the file copy phase of Setup is completed so that you can run another command.
/s:SourcePath Specifies the source location of the Windows XP files. You can copy files simultaneously from multiple servers, by using the /s:SourcePath option multiple times (up to a maximum of eight) to specify different source servers.
/syspart:DriveLetter Copies Setup startup files to the hard disk and marks the disk as active. This disk can then be installed into another computer. When you start that computer, it automatically starts with the next phase of Setup. You must always use the /tempdrive parameter with the /syspart parameter. You can start Winnt32 with the /syspart option on an x86-based computer running Windows NT 4.0, 2000, or XP.
/tempdrive:DriveLetter Specifies a drive letter to place temporary files. (note: for a clean installation, Windows XP will also be installed on the specified partition.)
/unattend[num]:[answer_file] Specifies an answer file for unattended installations, discussed in detail below in "unattended installations"
Num is the number of seconds between the time that Setup finishes copying the files and when it restarts your computer.
/unattend Discussed below in "unattended installation"
/udf:id [,UDB_file] Specifies an UDB file for unattended installations
Discussed below in "unattended installations"


Performs an installation of Windows XP. If your hardware is compatible with Windows XP, you can run winnt.exe at a Windows 3.x or MS-DOS command prompt. The following table lists and describes the available command-line parameters for the winnt.exe command:

Parameter Purpose
/s:SourcePath Specifies the source location of the Windows XP files. The location must be a full path of the form x:\[Path] or \\server\share[\Path].
/t:TempDrive Directs Setup to place temporary files on the specified drive and to install Windows XP on that drive. If you do not specify a location, Setup attempts to locate a drive for you.
/u:answer file Discussed below in "unattended installation"
/udf:ID [,UDB_file] Discussed below in "unattended installation"
/r:folder Specifies an optional folder to be installed. The folder remains after Setup finishes.
/rx:folder Specifies an optional folder to be copied. The folder is deleted after Setup finishes.
/e:command Specifies a command to be carried out just before the final phase of Setup.
/a Enables accessibility options.
/? Displays the parameters listed above.

2. Setup Wizard

When the first stage of the installation completed, the computer reboots and the GUI portion, known as the Setup Wizard, will start. This will prompt you for regional settings to customize keyboard, language, and locale settings. Information such as your name and organization, the Computer name, Administrator password and time and date is also entered during this stage.

3. Installing Network components

The next stage is Installing Network components, which includes detecting the network interface card. You must also choose to join a Domain or Workgroup during this stage. Typically the following components are installed:
- Client for Microsoft Networks
- File and Print Sharing for Microsoft Networks
- Qos Packet Scheduler
- TCP/IP protocol suite.

4. Completing the installation

During this final stage Setup copies the remaining files, configures the computer, saves the settings, removes temporary installation files, and restarts the computer.


There are several ways to perform an unattended installation of Windows XP. Unattended means Setup will not require any user input during the installation, although in practice this is not always the case. But it allows you to install multiple computers without actually sitting in front of them.

Setup Manager    Back to top

The Setup Manager (setupmgr.exe) can be used primarily to create or modify answer files. When you start the Setup Manager, a wizard will take you through all the steps involved, similar to going through a regular Setup. Although answer files can be created manually using a simple text editor, the Setup Manager provides a graphical interface allowing you to easily create complex answer files. For example, answer files with additional commands that run other installation and configuration scripts when Setup is finished. Besides creating the default unattend.txt answer files, you can also use the Setup Manager to create answer files for Sysprep and RIS installations. When a regular unattend.txt answer file is created you can also have Setup Manager create a distribution folder with the installation files. Additional files (applications, drivers, etc.) can be installed in the same folder.

The Setupmgr.exe file must be extracted from the DEPLOY.CAB file located in the \Support\Tools folder on the XP installation CD. Before you enter the the information (the answers) you would normally enter during the installation process, you have to select the User Interaction Level. You can choose from 5 different options:

Provide Defaults During the installation the user will see the answers provided in the answer file as defaults, the user can accept or change them.
Fully Automated Fully automated installation.
Hide Pages During the installation the user will see the answers provided in the answer file as defaults. Pages which answers are completely provided by the answer file are hidden, the user cannot accept or change those.
Read Only During the installation the user will see the answers provided in the answer file as defaults, but cannot change them.
GUI Attended This automates only the text-based stage of the installation, the user will have to enter the answers starting from the Setup Wizard.

At some point during the wizard, you need to provide the computer name. If you specify multiple names, Setup Manager will also create Uniqueness Database (UDB) files. The computer or user specific values in these .udf files can be used to override the values provided in the answer file.

If you want to perform an unattended installation from the command prompt on Windows 98, ME, NT, 2000, or XP, use Winnt32.exe, otherwise use winnt.exe. For example to perform an unattended installation on a computer named XPclient1, using unattend.txt as the answer file, and overriding some of the answers with XPclient1 specific values in the unnattend.udf file use the following command:

winnt32 /unattend:unattend.txt /udf:XPclient1,unattend.udf
winnt /u:unattend.txt /udf:XPclient1,unattend.udf

You can also use the /unattend parameter without specifying an answer file to upgrade Windows 98, ME, NT 4.0, or 2000 in unattended mode and take all user settings from the 'previous' installation. If you use the /udf parameter and do not specify an UDB_file, Setup will prompt to insert a disk that contains the $Unique$.udb file.

When you want to perform an unattended installation by booting from a CD-ROM, you need to rename the answer file to winnt.sif (default is unnattend.txt) and copy it to a floppy disk. When Setup starts, it looks for the winnt.sif file on the floppy disk and uses it to provide the answer during the unattended installation.

Using answer files in combination with winnt32, winnt, or the CD rom/winnt.sif combination is used for standardized deployment of Windows XP Professional in situations where the target clients have many different hardware configurations. If the target clients all have the same or very similar hardware and configuration, RIS or disk duplexing is usually faster to deploy Windows XP to a large number of clients.

Here's a sample part of an answer file:


UnattendMode = FullUnattended
TargetPath = WinXPpro
FileSystem = LeaveAlone
OemPreinstall = No
OemSkipEula = Yes

TimeZone = "YourTimeZone"
OemSkipWelcome = 1
OemSkipRegional = 1

ComputerName = *
ProductKey = "Your product key"


BitsPerPel = 16
XResolution = 800
YResolution = 600
VRefresh = 60

iis_common = On
iis_inetmgr = Off
iis_www = Off
iis_ftp = Off
iis_doc = Off
Fp_extensions = On
Indexsrv_system = On
Accessopt = On
Calc = On
Charmap = On
Chat = Off
Clipbook = On
Deskpaper = On
Dialer = On

CountryCode = "1"
Dialing = Pulse
AreaCode = "Your telephone area code"
LongDistanceAccess = 9


JoinDomain = TEcorp.net
DomainAdmin = Administrator
DomainAdminPassword = XEkdf7834H

Home_Page = http://www.techexams.net
Search_Page = http://www.google.com
Quick_Link_1 = http://www.techexams.net

HTTP_Proxy_Server = proxysrv12:80
Use_Same_Proxy = 1


Here's an example of a simple .udf file, which can be used in combination with the answer file above:




System Preparation Tool    Back to top

The System Preparation Tool (sysprep.exe) is used to assist in performing a large deployment of Windows XP on clients with identical hardware configurations. This process is fairly simple:

First Windows XP Professional is installed and completely configured on a master disk. Next, an image of the client is created using sysprep.exe (remember that only a single partition can be imaged). This image can be duplicated to other disks using third-party disk duplication software. A duplicate of the master disk is placed in a target machine, and when this computer boots a mini-setup will be performed and a new SID is generated. You can use the Setup Manager Wizard to create a mini-answer file named sysprep.inf. This file must be placed in the Sysprep folder on the root where Windows is installed or saved to a floppy disk, and inserted at the beginning of Mini-Setup. (Click here for more information about using Sysprep with sysprep.inf.)

The Sysprep.exe file must be extracted from the DEPLOY.CAB file located in the \Support\Tools folder on the XP installation CD and supports the following parameters:

Parameter Purpose
pnp force Plug and Play enumeration on next restart
quiet run in Silent mode, with no dialog boxes
nosidgen do not regenerate security ID on restart (this is useful for creating a backup image of a client)
reboot automatically restart when the Sysprep.exe tool is finished
mini Configures Windows XP Professional to use Mini-Setup instead of Windows Welcome. This option has no effect on Windows XP Home Edition, where the first-run experience is always Windows Welcome. This switch also forces SysPrep to recognize the Sysprep.inf file.

Remote Installation Services (RIS)    Back to top

One of the best additions to Windows introduced in Windows 2000 is RIS. This service allows you to push automate remote installations of Windows 2000 Professional and Windows XP Professional clients.

First Windows XP Professional is installed and configured on a client, including software applications and other settings. Next, an image of the client is created using riprep.exe ( only a single partition can be imaged). The riprep.exe command offers the same parameters as the sysprep.exe tool described earlier. The image is stored on the RIS server. When a target client's boot order is set to "boot from network" (in the BIOS) it receives basic IP addressing info and a mini-Setup (Client Installation Wizard) starts. Again the answers to this mini-setup can be provided by a special answer file created with Setup Manager. (Click here for more information about using answer files and RIS).

Instead of creating a new preconfigured RIS image, you can also use the default CD-ROM based image. There must be at least one Windows XP CD-ROM based image to allow target clients to request additional installation files if needed.

There are a couple of things you need in a network to be able to install RIS and perform remote installations.

Network in which clients are installed needs:
- a DHCP server
- Active Directory
- a DNS server

Target clients:
Besides enough available disk space for Windows XP and temporary installation files the target clients must have a Network Interface Card equipped with PXE Boot Rom version .99c or greater. If Pre-boot Execution Environment (PXE) is not supported use rbfg.exe (located in the \remoteinstall\admin\i386 folder on the Windows 2000 RIS server) to create a remote boot floppy.

The user used to perform RIS installations needs the right Create Computer Objects in Active Directory.

Click here for more detailed information in the chapter RIS in the Windows XP Resource Kit.


Windows 98, ME, NT 4 Workstation, 2000 Professional can be directly upgraded to Windows XP Professional. If you want to upgrade from Windows 95 you need to upgrade to Windows 98 first, and if you want to upgrade from Windows NT 3.x you need to upgrade to Windows NT 4 first.

Run winnt32.exe with the /checkupgrade only parameter to check if the target machine meets the minimum system requirements. You can save the results in a file, upgrade.txt in the system root by default.

There are several ways to address problems with applications that do not run properly after the upgrade:
- Reinstall the applications after the upgrade.
- Use migration dynamic-link libraries (DLLs)
- Run the application in Compatibility Mode by right-clicking the application, selecting Properties, and then clicking the Compatibility tab.


Files and Settings Transfer Wizard

This tool allows users who with a new computer to migrate their own files and settings by using a direct cable connection or the network and without the support of an admin. When you run the wizard you'll have to choose the transportation method, which can be removable media, a direct serial cable connection or the network. Then you can customize which settings and files are included in the migration. This includes display settings, Internet Explorer and Outlook setting, and regional settings.

User State Management Tool (USMT)

The User State Management Tool (USMT) provides the same functionality as the wizard, but on a large scale, targeted at migrating multiple users. USMT gives administrators command line precision in customizing specific settings such as unique modifications to the registry. The User State Migration Tool consists of two executable files, ScanState.exe, LoadState.exe, and four migration rule information files Migapp.inf, Migsys.inf, Miguser.inf, and Sysfiles.inf. These files are located on the Windows XP CD in the \valueadd\msft\usmt\ folder.

A user can run Scanstate.exe on a Windows 95, 98, NT Workstation 4.0, or 2000 Professional computer and it will collect the data and settings based on the information in the migration rule .inf files mentioned above. A local admin can then run Loadstate.exe on the target Windows XP Professional computer to migrate the data and the settings.


If you are performing an upgrade to Windows XP Professional on a computer with Internet connectivity, you can have setup uses Dynamic Update to check online for newer versions of the installation files. Instead of using the Internet for each installation, you can also place the updated files on a share in the network.

There are three related parameters for the winnt32.exe command:

Prevents Dynamic Update from running and will disable Dynamic Update even if you use an answer file and specify Dynamic Update options in that file. Setup will only use the original Setup files.

Prepares an installation share so that it can be used with Dynamic Update files that you downloaded from the Windows Update Web site. This share can then be used for installing Windows XP for multiple clients.

Specifies a share on which you previously downloaded Dynamic Update files (updated files for use with Setup) from the Windows Update Web site, and on which you previously ran /duprepare:pathname. When used on a client, it specifies that the client installation will make use of the updated files on the share specified in pathname.

SERVICE PACKS    Back to top

Once in a while Microsoft releases a Service Pack; a combination of all previous updates and hot-fixes and some new ones. A service pack can be installed by using the command:

To uninstall a service pack, change to the %systemroot%\$NtservicepackUninstall$\spuninst folder and type: spuninst.exe -u


Windows XP introduces a new method to prevent piracy: if you don't activate your copy of Windows online within 30 days you don't you won't be able to use it any longer. An Installation ID is created based on a hardware ID (based on several hardware components) and a Product ID (based on the Product Key) and is send to Microsoft. Replacing several hardware devices might require re-activation. MS does not know the actual hardware configuration, the information is encrypted using a on-way hash, which means it can't be decrypted.
To activate Windows from the command-prompt type: C:\WINDOWS\system32\oobe>msoobe /a

To activate Windows XP unattended installations, add the following information to the Unattend.txt or Winnt.sif answer file:
In the [Unattended] section: AutoActivate = Yes
In the [UserData] section: ProductID = yourProductID

Windows Product Activation uses ports 80 - HTTP and 443 - HTTPS.


Installations of Windows XP Professional can fail partly or completely for many different reasons. Some common causes and possible solutions are listed in the following table:

Media errors Check/clean the CD-ROM drive and the installation CD.
Dependency service fails to start This is almost always network related.
SCSI disk not detected Install the drivers by pressing F6 during the text mode portion of setup.

Windows Setup creates several log files during the installation listed in the following table:

SETUPACT.LOG Keeps a record of all actions performed during setup.
SETUPERR.LOG Keeps a record of errors that occurred during setup and their severity. The information in this file will be displayed at the end of setup if any errors occurred.
%windir%\COMSETUP.LOG COM+ components
%windir%\SETUPAPI.LOG Keeps a record of each processed line from an .inf file and related errors.
%windir%\debug\NETSETUP.LOG Logs the process of joining a domain or workgroup.

    Back to top

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Current related exam objectives for the 70-270 exam:


Perform and troubleshoot an attended installation of Windows XP Professional.

Perform and troubleshoot an unattended installation of Windows XP Professional.
- Install Windows XP Professional by using Remote Installation Services (RIS).
- Install Windows XP Professional by using the System Preparation Tool.
- Create unattended answer files by using Setup Manager to automate the installation of Windows XP Professional.

Upgrade from a previous version of Windows to Windows XP Professional.
- Prepare a computer to meet upgrade requirements.
- Migrate existing user environments to a new installation.

Perform post-installation updates and product activation.

Troubleshoot failed installations.

Click here for the complete list of exam objectives.

Discuss this TechNote here

Date: Saturday, April 26, 2003 Author: Johan Hiemstra
MCSE NT4 MCSA 2000 MCSA 2003
Security+, CWNA, CCNA, CCDA, CNA

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