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Installing Windows XP Efficiently from a USB Drive

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Ok, so when I install Windows XP (Yes, people still want it installed…) I always do it quickly from a USB drive. People keep asking me “David, how the heck did you install XP that quickly?” So today I will write out my steps for efficiently installing Windows XP. This is by no means the ONLY way to install Windows XP from a USB drive, but in my experience this is the FASTEST and most RELIABLE.


  • USB Drive (At least 4 Gigs, more is better!)
  • Windows XP install disk/iso/exe (I use Professional, but whatever you have should work)
  • A 32-bit (x86) Windows 7 install disk/iso/exe (Yes, Windows 7, no you won’t be using it to install windows… but you could… if you use a 64-bit version, you will encounter problems…)
  • A Windows XP+ machine to work on (Sorry mac users, this has to be done from windows)
  • 7-Zip file manager portable (download from the googles or from here)

Prep Procedure:

  1. Prepare the XP installation files. If you have an iso/exe… well you’re done! yay! If you have a disk…
    1. Select the contents of the disk and compress them into a single file such as a .zip or .iso or .7z
  2. Insert your USB Drive… make sure you don’t have any data you want to keep on it.
  3. Open an administrative command prompt (if on Windows XP just make sure you’re in an administrator account)
    1. type: diskpart [Enter]
      1. type: list disk [Enter]
      2. Find your USB drive in the list, I will refer to it’s disk number as ‘#’ from here on out
      3. type: select disk # [Enter]
      4. type: clean [Enter] (This will remove all partition information from the drive)
      5. type: create partition primary [Enter]
      6. type: format quick fs=ntfs [Enter]
    2. LEAVE THIS WINDOW OPEN but leave it for now…
  4. Copy the contents of the Windows 7 Install media to the root of the USB Drive. (There should be a bunch of folder… boot, sources, etc… setup.exe should be at the root of the drive)
  5. Once that’s complete, go back to the command prompt that you left open
    1. type: active [Enter]
    2. type: exit [Enter]
    3. Ok, you can close the prompt now 🙂
  6. Ok, congratulations, you now have a bootable Windows 7 Install USB Drive!
  7. Wait… wasn’t this post about Windows XP?… yea… ok, so a few more steps then…
  8. Copy your Windows XP iso/zip/exe to the USB Drive
  9. Install 7-Zip Portable to the USB Drive
  10. Create a new file on the root of the USB Drive called “installXP.bat” with the following line: “C:\winxp\i386\winnt32.exe /makelocalsource /tempdrive:c: /syspart:c:” (no quotes of course)
  11. Ok, you now have a Windows XP/Windows 7 Install USB… yay!

Install Procedure:

  1. Boot off of your shiny new Windows Install USB
  2. Once you’ve selected your keyboard layout use the keyboard combo “shift+f10” to open a command prompt
    1. type: diskpart [Enter]
      1. type: list volume [Enter]
      2. Note which volume is your USB Drive… I’ll be referring to it as the “E” drive
      3. type: list disk [Enter]
      4. Note which disk is your destination drive (the one you want XP on). I’ll be calling it “disk #”… sounds familiar…
      5. type: select disk # [Enter]
      6. type: clean [Enter]
      7. type: create partition primary [Enter]
      8. type: format quick fs=ntfs [Enter]
      9. All this really sounds familiar…
      10. type: assign letter=c [Enter] (It’s important that this succeeds, we need it to be the “C” drive…)
      11. type: active [Enter]
      12. type: exit [Enter]
    2. type: E: [Enter] (or whatever letter your USB stick happens to be)
    3. type: 7-ZipPortable\7-ZipPortable.exe [Enter] (Don’t forget to use the tab key to auto-complete!)
      1. Use 7-zip to navigate to your XP install zip/win/7z/exe/tar/gz and double-click on it, you should have a listing of all the files that make up the windows XP disk.
      2. Select all the files (ctrl+a), right-click, choose “copy to” and in the dialogue put “C:\winxp” and choose OK
      3. Ok, you can quit 7-Zip… head back to the open command prompt…
    4. type: installXP.bat [Enter] (This will start the Windows XP installer assuming you copied everything in the right place…)
      1. Follow the instructions to begin the Windows XP install.
      2. Once it’s done it’s thing, the Windows XP installer will simply quit/disappear with no errors/popups/warnings
    5. Go back to the command prompt and type: wpeutil shutdown [Enter] This will shut down the machine.
  3. Remove the USB drive and boot the computer, it will boot into a Windows XP setup environment
  4. Just hit Enter whenever it asks you something and it will complete the final stages of setup then reboot into the usual XP installer
  5. You’re on your own from here… but don’t forget to delete the “C:\winxp” folder once you’ve got everything installed…
  6. You’re Done! congrats on an XP install… takes a bit of setup, but is much faster than other methods… enjoy.

If you have any questions or encounter problems with this method, feel free to leave a comment or email me (as always 🙂

Written by David

February 5th, 2013 at 1:33 pm

Posted in Windows

Dual-booting Windows 8 and Mountain Lion natively using EFI

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This is NOT about installing Windows 8 on a Mac, this is about using Apple’s EFI to boot Windows.

(If you don’t know what an EFI is, see Wikipedia)

Okay, so here’s what’s going on:

Apple has used EFI to boot OSX for years, but Windows has not supported this method of booting.

With Windows 8, Microsoft claims that you can boot with EFI so long as the drive you’re booting on has an efi partition and uses a GUID partition table.

Here’s the kicker, for years now, OSX has been using a Hybrid MBR partition table… that is they are using a GUID partition table with a matching MBR partition table embedded into it. This means that older versions of Windows can see the partition information from the older MBR system and will work properly using a legacy bootloader. But if you have an EFI installer for Windows, it will not let you install (or even BSOD!) if you try to use it as it sees the MBR and ignores the GUID.

A lot of posts online cite that Apple’s EFI implementation is based on EFI v1.1 and that Windows supports only EFI v2 and newer. This is NOT the case. It doesn’t work because the Windows installer sees the MBR in the hybrid partition table and decides that you are NOT using a GUID partition table even though you are.

Luckily, there is a way around this to get a fully native EFI-booted Windows 8 installation! But beware, this path (while awesome) is paved with daggers, so be prepared to pull your hair out in frustration.

Warning: These steps require you tocompletely  erase your hard drive! Make sure you have all the materials and have backed up all of your data before proceeding.


  • A recent MacBook Pro (this will probably work on other Macs, but I don’t have any to test with) I’ve tested this on the 1st-gen Retina 15″ and a 13″ 2nd-gen i5 model.
  • A disk drive capable of reading DVDs (you’ll need an external drive for MacBook Retinas or MacBook Airs)
  • A Mountain Lion Install Disk or Netboot Installer
  • A CD/USB drive with the “Windows Support” files from Bootcamp
  • A Windows 8 Pro Install DVD


  1. Put the Windows 8 Disk in the disk drive
  2. Option-boot the computer and choose to boot off the “Windows” disk (Do not choose “EFI Boot” but make sure that it does show up, you’ll need to use it later)
  3. Once the installer gets to the setup screen, hit shift+f10. This will bring up a command prompt
  4. Type the following commands (this assumes that you only have one hard drive):
    1. diskpart (this puts you into the windows partitioning shell)
      1. select disk 0 (this selects the primary hard drive, make sure you don’t have any extra drives connected)
      2. clean (this erases your entire hard drive by removing all partition information)
      3. convert gpt (this converts your hard drive from an MBR partition table to a GUID partition table)
      4. create partition efi size=200 (this creates the efi partition where the bootloader will live)
      5. format fs=fat32 (this formats the EFI partition as fat32 so that Windows can write to it)
      6. create partition msr size=128 (this creates a “MicroSoft Reserved” partition… because microsoft)
      7. create partition primary (this uses the rest of your free space to create a usable partition)
      8. format fs=ntfs quick label=Windows (this formats the Windows partition and labels it as “Windows” which is what OS X will see)
      9. exit (this exits the windows partitioning shell)
    2. wpeutil reboot (this tells the computer to reboot)
  5. Option-boot the computer when it reboots, but this time choose “EFI Boot” instead of “Windows”
    1. Remember to press the any key to boot into the installer!
  6. Choose to use a Custom Install and install Windows 8 to “Partition 3” (The only primary partition)
    1. Make sure you leave the install disk in the drive through the whole install or you could get a BSOD
  7. Install the Windows Support software from your CD/USB drive to gain full functionality of your computer
    1. Congratulations! You now have a natively-EFI-booting Windows 8 Install! Now, on to dual-booting OSX…
  8. Open “Disk Management” in Windows.
    1. Find your “C Drive” partition and resize it by right-clicking on it and choosing “shrink volume”
      1. Shrink it by the size you’d like your OSX installation to be. ie. if you want to give OSX 100GB, use 102400MB
    2. Right-click on the now empty area at the end of the drive and make a new “Simple volume” Don’t format it.
  9. Reboot the computer into your OSX install disk/Netboot
  10. Open Disk Utility
    1. Choose “disk0s4” as this will be the 4th partition on disk 0
    2. On the “Erase” tab choose “Mac OS Extended (Journaled)” since this is what OSX likes to use.
    3. Give it a label that you like (Apple defaults to “Macintosh HD”)
    4. Hit Erase
    5. Exit Disk Utility
  11. Install OSX on your new partition.
  12. Congratulations! You are now dual-booting OSX and Windows in a 100% EFI environment! Happy computing 🙂

Note 1: If you get a BSOD during install, make sure that you have NOT removed the Windows 8 install DVD from the disk drive… during install, removing the DVD at any time will produce a BSOD even though the OS no longer needs the disk to install.

Note 2: Windows now shows up in option-boot as “EFI Boot” instead of “Windows”

Note 3: Because we created the partition that OSX uses in windows, it no longer shows up in “My Computer” in Windows… Here’s how to fix that:

  1. Open “Disk Management”
    1. Right-click on the partition that you created for OSX (it should be labeled as an HFS partition)
    2. Choose “Change Drive Letter and Paths”
      1. Choose “Add”
        1. Assign it to a drive letter of your liking… I used “E”
        2. Hit OK
      2. Hit OK again
  2. You now have read-only access to your Mac Partition!

Update 1: I’ve been informed that for some models the sound does not work in Windows when booted via EFI. It appears to affect models that use the Cirrus audio controller. I’ve gotten ahold of a test unit and will see if there’s a workaround.

Update 2: Added formatting into step 4 to resolve possible BCD-related problems.

Update 3: Added “select disk 0” to step 4, you can’t do anything if you don’t specify the disk.

Written by David

January 18th, 2013 at 12:51 pm

Posted in EFI,OSX,Windows

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Macbooks, Windows 8, and EFI booting

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I haven’t written an article in a while, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to write about my experience getting windows 8 set up to use EFI booting on a mac.

So first off, here’s my setup:

  • Macbook Pro with Retina Display (fell for the marketing about the screen, can you blame me?)
  • OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion (a sorry excuse for an operating system… sorry fanboys, it’s just too consumer-centric for me)
  • Windows 8 Pro (Hopefully better than windows 7, but only time will tell…)
  • 8 Gb Patriot Memory Stick (I’m going to use this to install, reasons be listed later in the article)


Well that’s all for today, I have some ideas to try out, and I’ll update this with my procedure and results tomorrow!

Update: Due to hardware problems relating to the screen, I will update this later…

Another Update: I did get this working, please see my new post titled “Dual-booting Windows 8 and Mountain Lion natively using EFI”


Written by David

October 15th, 2012 at 6:33 pm

Posted in EFI,OSX,Windows

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