How to install Windows XP

Table of contents:

How to install Windows XP
How to install Windows XP

Windows XP is one of the most popular operating systems produced by Microsoft and many people still use it despite its age. Whether your computer is an "antique" that you want to keep running for reasons of your own, or whether it is the latest generation, it will take little time to bring it back to life by installing Windows XP. Note that Microsoft no longer provides technical support for Windows XP, which means that this system will no longer receive any security plugins. It is therefore strongly recommended to upgrade to more recent versions of Windows such as Windows 7 or Windows 8.1.


Part 1 of 3: Preparation

Install Windows XP Step 1

Step 1. Verify that your computer can support Windows XP

Your PC will need to meet the minimum hardware requirements for the system in order for it to function properly. You can familiarize yourself with the characteristics of your computer by reading its manufacturer's manual or by launching DirectX Diagnostic from an XP system already existing on your PC.

  • To start DirectX Diagnostic, open the program launch dialog window (Simultaneously press the Windows and R keys), type "dxdiag" then click "OK".
  • Minimum hardware requirements for Windows XP:

    • an Intel or AMD CPU running at a speed of at least 300 MHz,
    • 128 megabytes of random access memory (RAM),
    • 1.5 gigabytes of available hard disk space,
    • a Super VGA 800 x 600 graphics adapter or better,
    • a CD or DVD player,
    • keyboard and mouse or other compatible pointing devices,
    • a network adapter card will be necessary for connection to the Internet,
    • a sound card, speakers or stereo headphones.
Install Windows XP Step 2

Step 2. Find your Windows XP product key

It is printed on a label affixed to your computer box (if the system has already been installed there) otherwise it is included in the packaging of the original software CDROM. It is a chain of 5 groups of 5 characters each) separated by dashes. Write down this key or set the tag aside, as you will need it for the rest of the installation.

Install Windows XP Step 3

Step 3. Set your computer to boot from CD / DVD as a priority

Before inserting the installation media, you will need to set up your PC to boot from the installation CD rather than the hard drive. This will allow it to load the Windows XP installation bootstrap files before it attempts to boot the existing system on its hard drive. You can change the order of boot devices from your PC's BIOS boot settings menu.

  • To enter the BIOS configuration page of your machine, you will generally have to press one of the “F9” or “EFF” keys on your keyboard when starting the PC (this key may be different depending on the BIOS used). When you see a list of the keys through which you can access the various boot options at the bottom of the screen, press the one that corresponds to the entry in the BIOS settings page.
  • In the "BOOT" menu, set the priority of the boot devices so that the CD / DVD-ROM is placed in the first position.
  • If you are installing Windows XP from a USB flash drive, verify that the flash drive is listed first in the order of boot device priority. You may need to insert this key into one of your PC's USB connectors before turning it on for it to be recognized by the BIOS and appear in the boot options menu.

Part 2 of 3: Installation

Install Windows XP Step 4

Step 1. Load the installer

When the order of the boot devices has been established, insert the Windows XP installation CD in its drive, Save your settings then exit the BIOS settings page. Your computer will restart with the following message displayed:

Press any key to boot from CD

. Then press any key on your keyboard to launch the installer.

The installer will store the files it needs to start the installation in memory, which may take a little while. Once this is done, a welcome screen will appear on your monitor

Install Windows XP Step 5

Step 2. Press the “Enter” key to start the installation

When the installation files are finished loading, you will see a welcome screen where you will be offered several options, but, if you are installing or reinstalling Windows XP, you will need to press the "Enter" key to go directly to the configuration of the installation.

Install Windows XP Step 6

Step 3. Then read the license agreement

This text informs you about your rights and obligations as a user of the operating system and a consumer of a Microsoft product. When you have read it, press the "F8" key to indicate that you agree with the terms of the license.

Install Windows XP Step 7

Step 4. Choose the partition where you want to install the system

You will then see a list of partitions available on the hard drives installed on your PC. If you are installing Windows XP on a new hard drive, you should only see one entry labeled "Unpartitioned Disk Space". If an older version of Windows XP or Linux is already installed on your computer, the installer will offer you multiple partitions.

  • All existing data on the partition on which you choose to install Windows XP will be permanently erased by the installer. If possible, choose an empty partition or one that does not contain any data that is important to you.
  • You can erase your partitions using the "D" key. This will give them the attribute "unpartitioned space". All data on that partition will then be lost.
Install Windows XP Step 8

Step 5. Create a new partition

Select an unpartitioned space then press the "C" key. A new screen will appear for you to adjust the partition size from the available disk space. Enter the size you want in Megabytes (MB) and then press the "Enter" key.

  • The default size of the new partition will be all of the available disk space. Unless you want to create multiple partitions on this space, you can leave the size suggested by default.
  • Windows XP needs at least 1.5 Gigabytes (1536MB) for its installation files, but you will need more to be able to install your programs and data or other files. A size of 5 Gigabytes (5 120 MB) is the minimum for a decent installation of Windows XP, but allow a little more if you have a lot of programs to install.
  • You can create multiple partitions on a single hard drive. This allows you to give different space to your programs and other media files like movies or music or to install another system. Windows XP can be installed on a single partition.
Install Windows XP Step 9

Step 6. Select your new partition

You will be taken to the partition selection screen after creating a new one. Select your new partition, which is usually named “C: Partition 1 [Unformatted]” then press the “Enter” key.

Install Windows XP Step 10

Step 7. Then choose “Format partition with NTFS file system” and press “Enter” key

It is better to use NTFS format because it supports larger partitions than FAT file system. It also includes advanced file security features and enables partition compression at the operating system level. There are no longer any situations today where preference should be given to FAT file systems.

  • The installer will not offer you the choice of FAT system if your partition size exceeds 32 Gigabytes.
  • It is highly recommended to avoid choosing quick format. This formatting mode omits error checking and storage of bad sectors on the drive. This process is the longest to perform during a full format, but it has the advantage of creating a bad sector table where it memorizes the damaged locations in order to isolate them so as not to write any information to them, which allows to avoid problems which can later turn out to be unfortunate, especially if the disc is not new.
Install Windows XP Step 11

Step 8. Wait for formatting to finish

The installer will now format the partition. The time this will take depends on the size of the disk, its access time and the speed of the system. The larger the partition size, the longer the formatting process will take.

Install Windows XP Step 12

Step 9. Wait for the files to be installed to be copied

The installer will now copy the files it will need for the rest of the installation to the hard drive, then ask you to restart the computer. Press the “Enter” key when the installer asks you to do so, otherwise the PC will automatically restart after about 15 seconds.

Install Windows XP Step 13

Step 10. Let the computer start normally

You will see a message prompting you to press any key to boot from CD. Ignore it to have your computer boot from its hard drive. You will then see the Windows logo appear on your screen when the system loads.

Install Windows XP Step 14

Step 11. Allow the installation to continue

When the Windows logo disappears, the installer will display on the left of the screen a list of tasks remaining to be performed, during this time, you can read on the right part of the monitor some tips for using Windows. The time remaining until the installation process is complete is displayed at the bottom of the list of tasks that the installer still needs to complete.

As the system being installed needs to detect and adjust the monitor's display settings, it is normal for the monitor to flash or turn off momentarily during this process

Install Windows XP Step 15

Step 12. Choose your input language and locale

A dialog window will appear during the installation process asking you to choose the regional settings and your working language. Select the appropriate settings. Then click on the button labeled "Next".

Enter your full name if you want. He will be recognized as the "owner" of the system and will be linked to certain elements such as the creation of documents

Install Windows XP Step 16

Step 13. Enter your product key

You will not be able to complete your installation if you do not enter a valid product key. Click on “Next” to continue.

Some versions of Windows will not ask you for the product key until the installation is complete

Install Windows XP Step 17

Step 14. Enter your computer name when prompted

This name will represent your PC on the network. Windows will give you a default name, but you can change it if you want. You can also enter a password that will be associated with the system administrator account. This password is optional, but it is recommended for computers for public use.

Install Windows XP Step 18

Step 15. Select your time zone

Check that the dates and times are set correctly. Click “Next” to continue.

Install Windows XP Step 19

Step 16. Set up your network

Almost anyone who installs Windows XP on a personal or home computer can leave the default settings as they are. If you are installing Windows in a work or school environment, check with your network administrator for the settings to apply, although the default settings should work in most cases.

  • In the next window, you can leave the option "This computer is not connected to a network or is connected to a network without a domain name" as is. If you are commissioning in a professional environment, ask your network administrator which answer to choose.
  • You can usually leave the name of the workgroup as is.
Install Windows XP Step 20

Step 17. Wait for the installation to complete

It will only last a few minutes. Your computer will restart automatically at the end of the installation. After this restart, you will see the Windows XP desktop. At this point, you can consider the installation to be complete, although there are a few adjustments to be made before the system is fully operational.

Part 3 of 3: Installation additions

Install Windows XP Step 21

Step 1. Set your display preferences

When restarting, the system will inform you that it needs to perform an automatic configuration of its display. Click "OK" to let him do it. Your screen should flash once or twice, turn off and then turn back on, and then stabilize. Windows will display a box with a message and ask you if you can read the contents.

Install Windows XP Step 22

Step 2. Set your connection preferences

If your computer is connected to the Internet, indicate your connection method. Click “Next” to continue.

Install Windows XP Step 23

Step 3. Activate your copy of Windows

If you are connected to the Internet, select "Activate now". Windows will connect to Microsoft's activation server which will automatically authenticate the copy of your system. If you have not yet entered your product key, you will need to enter it at this time.

Install Windows XP Step 24

Step 4. Create users

When the activation process is complete, a window will appear for you to add users to your computer. Enter your name and those of other potential users of your PC. Click “Next” to continue.

Install Windows XP Step 25

Step 5. Start using Windows

You now have the default Windows XP desktop in front of you. Congratulation ! But you still have some fine-tuning to do now that the installation is complete:

  • Install all the drivers you will need for the peripheral elements that you will use in conjunction with your computer (printer, scanner or others).
  • install an anti-virus program so that you can connect to the Internet safely and / or read files from other people.
  • set your BIOS to allow your PC to restart from its hard drive rather than the CD / DVD drive.


  • Remember to set the boot priorities in your BIOS. On older systems, the BIOS is set to read floppy disks, hard disk, THEN CD-ROM in order. Boot priority should be given to CD-ROM before floppy disks and hard disk.
  • The installation process typically takes 15 to 40 minutes, depending on the speed of your system. It is best to stay near your computer, because you will have to answer a few questions (time and date settings, time zone, network settings) during the installation.
  • If you encounter any difficulties during commissioning, the Windows installer will give you technical information which can help you determine the cause of the error encountered. You can get help from the Microsoft support site for more common installation problems.


  • You can install Windows more than once on a single partition, but this can cause instability issues. Download software like Partition Magic 8 or Gparted Live. These software will allow you to divide your hard drive into several partitions in complete safety.
  • A few users installing Windows XP from discs containing service pack 2 or earlier have experienced some problems characterized by endless looping reboots or worse, such as the traditional "Blue Screen Of Death" (BSOD). Windows. This is due to the lack of SATA interface drivers on the installation disks for versions prior to Windows XP service pack 3.To work around this, you will need to include the SATA drivers in a copy of the Windows installation CD-ROM or place the required drivers on a floppy disk and manually add them to the installation list.
  • Do not attempt to install Windows XP on a computer that does not meet the minimum hardware requirements for that system.
  • Activate Windows within 30 days of installation. If you exceed this period, you will not be able to log into your system until activation has been made.

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