I don’t use Windows XP very often, but when I do…

(this is a guest post by Tenox)

I recently needed to install Windows XP. Because I don’t do that very often nowadays I decided to document the “pro way” of doing it.

First you should consider getting a volume license copy of Windows XP CD because it doesn’t require activation over the internet. The process below will work with any version, but it will require activation.

Then you need to download and install nLite which lets you add SATA/AHCI, network, display, audio, drivers and customize a fully unattended installation, including the product keys, and some tweaks like autologin, themes or show extensions/hidden files in explorer. Create your own bootable XP .iso file. You should probably test it in VMware/Vbox/Qemu first to see that all the settings are to your liking and the setup prompt screens are gone.

Second you need WSUS Offline Update, version 9.2.1 (which is the LAST version supporting Windows XP). It will let you roll out your own Service Pack 4 for Windows XP, including all the updates and goodies like .NET framework, Silverlight and DirectX updates. Create your own SP4 .iso file.

Booting Windows XP from a regular USB pen drive is notoriously difficult, so this is where ISOSTICK comes handy. Put both of the iso files on to the stick, insert to the PC and watch the magic happen.

It’s quite easy to integrate the SP4 in to the boot cd itself, but then it outgrows size of a physical CD, which is not a big deal with ISOSTICK, but I don’t mind installing the updates in a second step.

Finally if you need to install apps automatically you can consider something like Ninite.


12 thoughts on “I don’t use Windows XP very often, but when I do…

  1. Personally, I prefer the 64bit version of XP Pro.. i find its always more peppier, and more capable than the 32bit little brother.

  2. Don’t you lose NTVDM in x64 XP though? I believe that and driver support was the main deal breaker for me. Though I must admit things do load a bit faster on it.

    • Yeah but NTVDM always was kind of sucky. Virtual PC was far superior.

      I guess I was lucky, I always had good driver support for xp64.

  3. My preferred method of making XP CDs was as follows.

    -Start with a SP3 slipstreamed image
    -Add in the mass storage and network driver packs from here: http://driverpacks.net/

    I tend to avoid the other packs as I had problems with things like video drivers not working. I also avoid adding updates and such since I got burned multiple times using that nLite program from back in the day to add things like .NET and hotfixes. Way too many times the 2nd stage installer would either lock up, or couldn’t find random installation files.

    • Yeah, I use Volume License XP CD with SP3 already in it. I just add updates with WSUS Offline. And installer lock ups etc are why I have a 2 stage process. First nLite with drivers and customizations, then a second cd or pendrive with updates made by WSUS offline. DriverPacks is a really cool idea but for my personal purposes I use a lot of non-common hardware and I doubt they would include it in. But I will check it out!

      • Looks like latest release from DriverPacks was around 2012. Little dated but then again no one is refreshing drivers for XP for a long time either.

  4. …but why XP? 7 runs surprisingly well on even P3 machines. I have full Aero at 1080p, and if I replace the HD with a quieter and faster model, it’d be a lot better.

    Allowing more XP use today is irresponsible.

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