How to Install Windows XP

XP comes in different editions, including Home Edition, Professional and Media Center Edition. There is also a 64-bit version of Windows XP that takes advantage of higher end processing power.

Many people continue to use XP because it reminds them of a simpler time. For others, it is a matter of aesthetics.


As with previous versions of Windows, XP requires a certain amount of hardware to work well. Microsofts official requirements for XP are a 233 MHz CPU and 64 MB of RAM, though the system can run on much less than that.

A hard disk drive with at least 1.5 gigabytes of free space is also necessary for installation and use of the operating system. The screen resolution should be 800 by 600 pixels or higher, and a mouse and keyboard are required to control the computer.

Unlike later versions of the OS, XP can run in real mode rather than protected mode, which limits software access to the hardware. This feature was particularly useful in medical applications like electroencephalographs, where the operating system had to be able to directly control hardware devices. For this reason, the medical industry continues to utilise XP even after its end of support from Microsoft. A unique boot screen identifies which edition of the OS is running, but this feature was removed in Service Pack 2. The current version of Windows XP supports both 32- and 64-bit processors.


The first screen will ask you to select the language and keyboard configuration you want Windows XP to use. When you’re done, choose Next.

The install program will then begin formatting the partition/drive you chose (depending on the size of the drive and your computer’s speed this can take a while). When finished it will ask you to choose the file system. The best choice is NTFS, which offers superior data storage capability and inherited security and recovery functions by design.

After the drive is formatted it will start loading the files needed for the XP installation. This will also take a while.

On the next screen it will ask you to enter names for users that will be using the computer. You can add more users from within Windows after the installation is complete. Select Next to continue the setup process. It will now finish installing the necessary files and settings. Once this is complete, it will reboot automatically.


Product activation is a new feature that was added to Windows XP in an attempt to curb software piracy. During the installation process, you must contact Microsoft by telephone or over the Internet to register your copy of Windows. This allows the company to identify a legitimate end-user license and verify that Windows is being used on one computer at a time.

During the activation process, the wizard establishes a connection to an activation server and sends your computer’s configuration information (including its product key), which is then verified against Microsoft records. If a match is found, the wizard prompts you to call a customer service representative to activate Windows by phone.

If you reinstall Windows XP with non-standard hardware, you may be unable to connect to an activation server or generate a valid “installation ID” over the Internet. In this case, you can bypass the phone activation process by using a registry trick. This method requires that you boot into Safe Mode to modify the registry.


With support for the 12-year-old OS ending in April, Microsoft is not issuing any security patches, leaving it vulnerable to attacks. However, IT staff can mitigate many of these risks by limiting the number of connections to XP systems on the network, according to analysts at Gartner.

For instance, requiring users to log in to standard, non-administrator accounts mitigates the overwhelming majority of risks associated with running XP, while privilege management software can help tailor settings for specific uses. Keeping third-party plug-ins like Java, Adobe Flash and PDF viewers up to date can also lower the risk on XP systems.

Minimising connectivity to XP systems also makes them less likely to be used as a stepping stone for attacks on more sensitive systems, which is an especially common attack method. But it’s not a foolproof plan, since attackers can still use XP PCs on the network to access systems outside of it. So, is it safe to use xp today?