Problem installing Windows

By lopdog ยท 14 replies
Aug 4, 2011
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  1. Hi!

    I've run into a strange problem: I'm trying to install windows XP on an old computer (Pentium 3). I boot from the CD, creates a partition and windows tells me that the necessary files are copied to the hdd. Then it reboots, and I get a message saying "Missing operating system".

    I thought maybe there was something wrong with my CD, but when I tried with Windows 2000 the same thing happened. "Missing operating system".

    Any ideas how to solve this?

    BTW, I tried to install Windows 98, and that worked fine. But I was unable to update to windows XP from within Win98.
  2. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Posts: 3,797   +117

    Is there just one hard disk in this PC? If there are two, is the hard disk your installing the OS to set to boot first out of the two disks?
  3. lopdog

    lopdog TS Maniac Topic Starter Posts: 295

    No, there's only one hard disk, and one optical drive. The computer used to run windows XP, but I replaced the 20Gb hard disk with another 80Gb disk, and flashed the BIOS. Anything before Windows 2000 will install and boot normally, but Win2K and XP just won't boot after copying files to the hard disk.
    Would it be possible to somehow "force" the computer to boot, and let it continue the installation?
  4. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,742   +421

    Maybe you could make a small partition and copy the files off the install disk there. Then boot off the 98 disk into a command prompt. Then, launch the XP install from <partition>:/i386/winnt.exe

    I remember there being a smrtdrv.exe (or was it smartdrv.exe?) that you should run to help speed up the install process, but I forget if that helped the hard drive or cd drive. I'm not sure if that is on the XP disk or not, a quick google says no, so I think you have to launch it from the 98 disk. Anyway, its not essential, it will just speed up the install.

    Edit - I'm not convinced that is going to do any better than trying to upgrade 98 to XP. But it would give you a clean install of XP...
  5. lopdog

    lopdog TS Maniac Topic Starter Posts: 295

    I will try that today. Right now I have installed Windows 7 without problems, but I don't think that's the ideal OS for a Pentium 3 @ 500 Mhz and 384Mb RAM...
  6. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,742   +421

    Heh, probably not. If you can get Windows 7 Basic (not Starter, and not Home) in your country for cheap that might be worth a try if you can't get XP to work.
  7. lopdog

    lopdog TS Maniac Topic Starter Posts: 295

    I gave Windows 7 a try for a few days, but it was obviously way to slow. Specially after installing a few programs, antivirus etc.

    I followed your suggestion, making two new partitions apart from the existing Windows 7 partitions. I ignored your suggestion about Smartdrive (the installation also suggested I should run smartdrive), and the copying took ages, but finally I got a message saying something like "Windows XP has finished the MSDOS part of the installation, and will reboot to continue installation"
    Then the computer rebooted right into Windows 7.

    Is it possible that Windows XP is unable to replace the Windows 7 boot sector?
  8. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,431   +77

    They are totally different and incompatible. Installing one after the other usually leads to a non-booting system. Advice on the web is contradictory, some people say do a complete full reformat of the HDD before installing any OS earlier than the one previously installed. Others say delete the partition and start over using e.g. easius partition manager. Doing the latter means booting from a bootable CD of easius, partitioning, formatting then booting again with the OS install media.
  9. lopdog

    lopdog TS Maniac Topic Starter Posts: 295

    Sounds good, I'm downlading Easus Partition Manager and Super Fdisk now, and I will give it at try. I've reformated and re-partitioned the disk several times, but maybe cleaning the MBR with these tools does solve my problem.
    Fingers crossed...
  10. HiDDeNMisT

    HiDDeNMisT TS Booster Posts: 231   +14

    Id zero the drive before your format it using maxtor powermax
  11. lopdog

    lopdog TS Maniac Topic Starter Posts: 295

    SOLVED! Erasing the MBR using Super Fdisk made Windows XP install normally. Thank you guys, you saved my life (well, maybe I'm exaggerating a little ;) But you saved me a lot of time.)
  12. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,742   +421

    lol, I liked how you said what you took and what you ignored of my suggestions. Glad you got it fixed...

    Kinda odd to me (I'm sure it makes total sense to those that know more than me) on how deleting partitions by some install program didn't end up wiping the mbr.
  13. faizanshakyboy

    faizanshakyboy TS Rookie

    Try this

    try using some other CD of Windows Xp.. this may fix the problem.
  14. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,431   +77

    Post #7, he actually did as you suggested, but it did'nt touch the MBR, which still cheerfully booted into 7.

    IDK how that could be, but it is really useful to know a solution. Thanks for the info lapdog.
  15. lopdog

    lopdog TS Maniac Topic Starter Posts: 295

    Yes, I'm glad it worked. I guess windows is not designed to be "downgraded". But I still don't understand why Windows 98 installed and booted without problem, and Win2K/XP dind't. Strange.

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