[Legacy] A Clean Install of Windows XP

Windows XP has no IE9/10/11, downloadable installation media or Office 2013 support and has reached End of Life. No drivers are amde for new hardware to support Windows XP.


Legacy Guide… Its time to upgrade to Windows 10 if your hardware is capable….

The “Free” Upgrade to Windows 10

Officially there is no free upgrade from genuine Windows XP to genuine Windows 10.

Unofficially there is an available upgrade path and I’m going to document it. Windows 10130 is the last Windows 10 Insider Build that does not have the new form of Microsoft Product Activation and a generic key for installation moreover it is classified as an eligible edition of Windows to take the upgrade to Windows 10 Pro Build 10240.

The Windows 10 10130 build expires on the 2nd of October 2015 so you should carry out this free upgrade as soon as possible.

Buy Windows 10

Dell will not provide installation media for Windows XP and as mentioned it is an obsolete version of Windows so I do not recommend paying the prices on eBay for a Windows XP Reinstallation CD/DVD.

If your hardware is Windows 10 capable you can buy Windows 10. One of the cheapest places to buy a Full license is Amazon available as a Bootable USB:

At this point you should access the relative worth of your systems hardware particular if your hard drive has failed. You might be able to buy a second hand system with a Windows 7 OEM license for a similar price and have better hardware to take the “Free” Upgrade to Windows 10.

Legacy Guide…

Part 1: Virtualisation of Windows XP

VMWare Player is a program which emulates hardware with a system BIOS suitable for the OS being installed in question. You can use such a utility to install Windows or Linux. This virtual system BIOS will be a generic VMWare BIOS and will be unrelated to the actual system BIOS of your system. For example on modern hardware its pretty much impossible to install Windows 98SE as all the hardware is much newer than the drivers available for Windows 98SE and soon it will be the same for Windows XP. VMWare player on the other hand emulates hardware with a system BIOS which is friendly for a Windows 98SE install. VMWare player can also allow the virtual machine to interact with hardware attached to the host, for example hardware attached to a serial port or hardware attached to a USB device. This means that really old piece of specialised hardware of yours which only has drivers for an obsolete version of Windows can still be used on your new computer. Of course it can be used for just testing and playing with other OS. Schematically the advantages of virtualisation can be shown:


If Windows XP must be installed for a legacy application, virtualisation is recommended as newer hardware will not have system drivers for Windows XP. Moreover Windows XP will utilise a fraction of newer hardware’s capabilities. Virtualisation allows Windows XP to be installed as an application in Windows 7/8.1/10 in virtual hardware which is friendly for Windows XP:

Player 1: YouTube

Player 2: WordPress

More details about virtualisation are available here:

Installation of Windows and Linux on a Virtual Machine Using VMware Player

Part 2: Windows and Office Licensing and Obtaining Installation Media

This section talks about obtaining Windows and Office installation media and their product keys. If you already have all the media and product keys the bulk of this section can be skipped. You will still need to download the standalone updates and system drivers however.

Windows License

Gathering System Information

Note: The Dell OEM version of Windows XP will have a SLP key.

Obtaining Installation Media

Its recommended to install with Reinstallation media which includes Service Pack 3 however the media which came with your system is likely far older. I have provided instructions on how to bring your installation media more up to date (2009 opposed to 2001). SATA drivers may be required to load Windows XP on less older XP compatible hardware.

Windows XP is at End of Life and Dell will No Longer Provide Windows XP Reinstallation Media Requests.

If you need a Windows XP Reinstallation CD and have misplaced your own look to eBay. Ensure to get one that matches your COA. i.e. Home Edition if your COA says Home Edition.

Downloading Windows and Office Updates [Part 1 Downloading]

You will likely have issues with an unpatched Windows XP with Windows Update, its recommended to use WSUS Offline Update which won’t present the same issues as Windows Update.

At this stage you should download the Standalone Windows Updates or most of the Windows Updates using WSUS Offline Update and copy the folder to a USB external hard drive.

Downloading System Drivers [Part 1 Downloading]

At this stage you should download the System Drivers and copy them in a folder to a USB external hard drive. If unsure of hardware variants check the ahrdware IDs and make a new post on the Dell Community – Microsoft OS Forum stating your version of Windows, model and Hardware IDs.

Part 3: Backing Up Data

This section talks about backing up data, if you have no data to backup then this section can be skipped.

Follow Backing Up your Files unless your installation can’t boot in this case follow Data Recovery Using Fedora.

You may also want to backup your entire old Windows installation in some cases:

Part 4: Updating the BIOS and Hardware and Preparing the System for Windows Installation

This section takes you through upgrading some hardware which will optimise your systems performance. It also takes you through updating the BIOS and making some changes which may or may not be necessary depending on your hardware configuration. Finally it takes you through preparing the hard drive before Windows installation i.e. securely wiping it.

BIOS Updates

  • The BIOS Update – Theres no need to right click and select run as an administrator for Windows XP

The latest BIOS Update is recommended to be installed before Windows Installation however requires a working Windows installation. If you cannot update the BIOS from the old Windows installation then update it after installing Windows.

BIOS Settings

Hardware Upgrades

Ensure that you refer to your Service Manual (older systems) or Owner’s Manual when adding/removing hardware.

DDR2 RAM is quite expensive now and the best performance from old systems will be from a SSD. Its not worthwhile upgrading if your system only has an IDE harddrive connector.

To be honest its probably not worth spending cash in upgrading a Windows XP system. Newer hardware will not work with Windows XP.

Preparing your Hard Drive

Securely wiping your system with DBAN is recommended if you want to remove any personal information or you suspect you were infected by Viruses/Malware.

SATA drivers generally only need to be loaded if the installation cannot detect any hard drives or reports later during the setup that it can’t configure your hardware.

Part 5: Windows Installation and Driver Installation

This part takes you through the actual Windows installation aswell as updating it and installing the system drivers.

Windows Installation

System Drivers Download and Installation [Part 2 Installing]

This is listed twice as you need to install the drivers after installing Windows. This guide recommends downloading and saving the drivers to an external hard drive before Windows installation however acknowledges that many users will attempt to download drivers only after Windows is installed.

Additional Microsoft Services

The latest version of Microsoft Office for Windows XP is Office 2010.

Windows Update

It is recommended to only use Windows XP Offline as it has reached End of Life and is no longer updated and is more likely to be insecure.

Part 5: Dell Preinstalled Software and Third Party Software

This gives some notes about additional Dell software and other Third Party software.

Dell Preinstalled Software


Support for Windows XP is eventually dropping with mainstream security vendors.

The Royale and Royale Noir Theme

Adobe Software

Other Software

Backing up your Clean Windows Installation

These steps are highly recommended as it gives you a means to quickly restore your clean Windows installation if something goes wrong. I recommend making one before any software is installed and maybe another one once you have installed all your desired third party software.

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