User-Targetting Microsoft Windows Platforms

This section is for full operating systems which are which are compatible with proprietary mainstream Microsoft operating systems, not counting Xenix since that was more similar to a non-Microsoft standard. Some operating systems in this section may be competitors, but were still released targeting the same operating system compatibility platform as a Microsoft operating system. (The platform is significant since a lot of software is released targeting a specific platform.)

[#mwninstl]: Installation Guide(s)

See:

Code using, derived from, and/or modeled after NT code

Note that this is just a sub-section, andt here are a number of other options. For more solutions to run a lot of code that is compatible with these versions of Microsoft Windows, including Microsoft's professional “server” operating systems, be sure to review: Microsoft Operating System Code, and Compatible/Similar.

Windows 10

Perhaps Little information is presented here at this time.

Hardware support
Windows 10 Minimum Requirements
Disk size
Minimum disk size

Microsoft Documentation: “UEFI/GPT-based hard drive partitions”, section called “Drive Partition Rules”, in the sub-section called “Windows partition”, stated, “The partition must have at least 20 gigabytes (GB) of drive space for 64-bit versions, or 16 GB for 32-bit versions.” It also noted, “The Windows partition must have enough 10 GB of free space after the user has completed the Out Of Box Experience (OOBE)” At the time that page was updated (May 2, 2017), the latest consumer version of Microsoft Windows was Windows 10.

Likewise, Microsoft Documentation: “BIOS/MBR-based hard drive partitions” had the same numbers for the Windows partition (although also noting a 2 TB maximum).

Disk Partition Usage

Both the GPT/UEFI disk layout architecture (usable in 64-bit Microsoft Windows) and the MBR/BIOS disk layout architecture (which is also usable in 32-bit versions of Microsoft Windows) prefer to use a “System” partition.

In the case of GPT, this “System Partition” that Microsoft Windows tries to use/create is the ESP. This is a strongly supported part of the (U)EFI standard, and so is recommended for any of the 64-bit copies of Microsoft Windows that will be using (U)EFI firmware.

In the case of BIOS-based systems, it seems this is entirely optional. TenForums.com Tutorial: How to Clean Install Windows 10 states, “select the unallocated drive to install Windows on. If there are no partitions on the disk, you will get the System Reserved partition.” However, “If there are any partitions on the disk, you won't get the System Reserved partition.”

Windows 8

Little information is presented here at this time.

Downloading
MSDN Evaluation Center: Windows 8 evaluation for developers: Windows 8 Enterprise 90-day evaluation
[#winseven]: Windows 7
Service Pack(s)
SP1-U (Media Refresh)

MyDigitalLife.info page on Win7 SP1-U Media Refresh, some versions of Windows 7 have been released as Windows 7 SP1-U Media Refresh, and the only difference from Windows 7 SP1 is inclusion of KB 2534111's hotfix.

Service Pack 1

Information (and downloads) coming straight from Microsoft are documented on TOOGAM's Software Archive: webpage about Operating Systems, subsection about Microsoft Windows. (That information will likely be moved/copied here at a later time.)

http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=199583 redirects to Download center info on SP1 for Win7 and Svr2008R2. The 7601.17514.101119-1850_Update_Sp_Wave1-GRMSP1.1_DVD.iso file is about 1.9GB.

Post-install clean-up (Win7 SP1)

Warning: It is suspected that this may have some drawbacks, such as being unable to revert to previous versions. However, if SP1 is working fine, then this option just might have only beneficial consequences.

After successfully installing SP1, GvS's answer to Jeff Atwood's Superuser.com discussion on WinSxS size notes that around 3GB of space can be re-claimed from the WinSxS directory by running:

DISM /online /cleanup-Image /spsuperseded

If UAC is enabled, that command requires running as a UAC administrator. (See UAC, particularly handling UAC from the command line.)

Burden(s) releated to what rights are granted by Microsoft

TechNet Magazine article: The 10 Things to Do First for Windows 7 says that for those “with more than 25 desktops and/or five servers, if your organization takes advantage of a volume-license program such as an Enterprise Agreement or Select Agreement, and if you purchase Windows 7 Professional or Ultimate (or you upgrade to those versions as part of Software Assurance), you should do the following: Print out a short stack of Volume Activation documents from tinyurl.com/volact, pour yourself a few ounces of a bold Tuscan wine and start studying.” “When you eventually declare yourself completely confused,”, there are additional resources available.

Wow, doesn't that description make Windows Activation/Licensing just amazingly straightforward?

TechNet Magazine article: The 10 Things to Do First for Windows 7 also says, “Once activated, a client must reactivate every six months. Despite what you may have read elsewhere, there's no reduced functionality mode in Windows 7. If the activation key expires, the desktop background simply goes black and a notification balloon states that the operating system isn't genuine.”

[#w7schdsl]: Delaying Activation Legitimately

There was some information here, but it has been moved to: Scheduling software licensing.

[#slmgrrbt]: Reboot needed

There was some information here, but it has been moved to: Scheduling software licensing: Reboot Needed.

That section describes using Microsoft's official “software licensing manager”. The techniques described on that page use functionality that was intentionally included by Microsoft, so those techniques do not reflect using techniques that Microsoft never wanted anybody to be able to do.

Obtaining Windows 7 software online (legally)
From Microsoft

Microsoft has distributed ISO files from https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/home

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/windows7

Taking advantage of those hyperlinks requires having a Windows 7 product key. (The Microsoft website asks for the key.)

Digital River

“My Digital Life” website: Download Windows 7 ISO (Official 32-bit and 64-bit Direct Download Links) has information about obtaining some versions of Windows 7 releases. English, German, Spanish, and French versions have been made available.

(AskVG: Downloading Windows 7 indicates this may not be an option anymore.)

Obtaining a trial/evaluation
Found on Softpedia

MyTechGuide.org reference to downloading Win7 refers to Softpedia Download for Windows 7. It is believed that Softpedia is a widely recognized source of legitimate software downloads.

The Softpedia page has since turned into a redirection page to Windows 7 SP1. (From the Wayback Machine archives, that seems to have happened after the July 11 capture in 2014, and by the time of the November 17 capture during that same year.) Softpedia download page for Windows 7, from mid 2014, archived by the Wayback Machine @ Archive.org shows an archived variation of some old hyperlinks.

Straight from Microsoft

Microsoft had released a trial version of this software. This was fairly well documented; it seems that Microsoft might no longer be acting as a distribution point for the trial version that was released earlier.

AskVG article on downloading Windows XP, Vista, and 7 VHD images indicates:

  • If a password is required, try:
    Password1
    (That is likely case sensitive, so use a capital P. Also, the last character there is the number one.) Note for the French (France) and Belgians (Belgium): comment about downloads stated, “QWERTY keyboard required instead of AZERTY” and then “Now, the password matches!!”
  • These Windows 7 images have been patched through March 2011.
  • “All images will shutdown and become completely unusable on November 17, 2011.” Also, “You may be required to activate the OS as the product key has been deactivated. This is the expected behavior. The VHDs will not pass genuine validation. Immediately after you start the Windows 7” ... “images they will request to be activated. You can cancel the request and it will login to the desktop.” One option is to use “ slmgr -rearm ”, “which will extend the trial for another 30 days each time OR simply shutdown the VPC image and discard the changes you've made from undo disks to reset the image back to its initial state.” “By doing either of these methods, you can technically have a base image which never expires although you will never be able to permanently save any changes on these images for longer than 90 days.” (However, see: Delaying Activation Legitimately for details on how longer than 90 days may be available.) The quoted material comes from AskVG article on downloading Windows XP, Vista, and 7 VHD images, and has not been fully verified (so it is not currently clear how useful these images are after November 17, 2011).
  • There was no discussion noticed on whether this was 32-bit or 64-bit. (So, probably 32-bit for higher compatibility?)
Win7 with IE 8

Comment notes, “The images for "Download Windows 7 with IE8 VHD Image for Free" are not for Windows 7 but for Windows XP.....” If that is the case, that may be another option for downloading Windows XP?

Windows 7 SP1 with IE8 Part 1 of 4 Windows 7 SP1 with IE8 Part 2 of 4 Windows 7 SP1 with IE8 Part 3 of 4 Windows 7 SP1 with IE8 Part 4 of 4

Win7 with IE 9

AskVG article on downloading Windows XP, Vista, and 7 VHD images indicates the IE9 variation of the “image also has the ACT Toolkit 5.6, IECTT, and Expression Super Preview software installed.”

Windows 7 SP1 with IE9 Part 1 of 7 Windows 7 SP1 with IE9 Part 2 of 7 Windows 7 SP1 with IE9 Part 3 of 7 Windows 7 SP1 with IE9 Part 4 of 7 Windows 7 SP1 with IE9 Part 5 of 7 Windows 7 SP1 with IE9 Part 6 of 7 Windows 7 SP1 with IE9 Part 7 of 7

Other downloads by Microsoft?

Archived copy (thanks to the Wayback Machine @ Archive.org) of a page related to Microsoft Windows 7 90-Day Eval VHD

http://download.microsoft.com/download/5/2/A/52A978DF-79BB-4A0A-917D-7B465C466511/Windows7Fullx86Ent90Days.part1.exe now gives a 404 error. It may have been related to 90Days part 1 exe?

[#winvista]: Windows Vista
Names

a.k.a. Windows Mojave? (See Wikipedia's article on “The Mojave Experiment” where Microsoft referred to this operating system as Windows Mojave. Mojave Experiment facts (archived by Wayback Machine @ Archive.org) currently looks non-informational. Perhaps it looked better at the time?)

WinSuperSite.com info on “Longhorn” identifies “Longhorn” as a set of technologies that were included in this operating system. Therefore, Windows Server 2008 and other products like Microsoft Office also used Longhorn technology such as the Palladium security architecture. (On a side note, Wikipedia's article for “Next-Generation Secure Computing Base”: section called “History of the name” notes that Palladium, “was the word for a mythical talisman that guaranteed the security of Troy.” The story of Troy is that the city ended up being doomed by the events surrounding the Trojan horse.) In practice, many people outside of Microsoft understood Longhorn to be the code name of this operating system.

Vista Service Pack Info
Service Pack 2

Redirect to: Vista 64-bit SP2 Redirect to: Vista 32-bit SP2

Vista SP2 has a cleanup tool:

%windir%"\System32'Compcin.exe

Presumably this is like other clean-up tools, such as having a potential side effect of removing some ability to reverse changes. Make sure that the system seems to be working well before running this.

Service Pack 1

Information (and downloads) coming straight from Microsoft are documented on TOOGAM's Software Archive: webpage about Operating Systems, subsection about Microsoft Windows. (That information will likely be moved/copied here at a later time.)

There is a clean-up tool that was designed to be run after installing the service pack. Running this may have effects such as preventing the service pack from being uninstallable. TechNet: VSP1CLN.exe (“Vista Service Pack 1“ “File Removal Tool”/Cleaner) Command-Line Options discusses running this program. This may be limited to running only once, as per: page on TechNet's social site. web page at http://www.winvistaclub.com/f16.html notes that this may reduce the large size of the WinSxS folder.

If running the clean-up tool for Vista SP1 is desired, the command to do so is C:\Windows\System32\vsp1cln.exe (on many systems... although the exact foldername probably may vary since Windows may be installed to a different location).

Vista SP2

TechRepublic article states that like the effect of vsp1cln.exe with Vista SP1, “running compcln.exe will prevent you from removing SP2.” %windir%\system32\compcln.exe

Downloading

This may not have been fully verified, but a VHD file may be available directly from Microsoft. So, this is being documented prior to full verification of the validity of the image. (Use at your own risk.)

AskVG article on downloading Windows XP, Vista, and 7 VHD images indicates:

  • If a password is required, try:
    Password1
    (That is likely case sensitive, so use a capital P. Also, the last character there is the number one.) Note for the French (France) and Belgians (Belgium): comment about downloads stated, “QWERTY keyboard required instead of AZERTY” and then “Now, the password matches!!”
  • This version of Vista is patched through March 2011.
  • “All images will shutdown and become completely unusable on November 17, 2011.” Also, “You may be required to activate the OS as the product key has been deactivated. This is the expected behavior. The VHDs will not pass genuine validation. Immediately after you start the” ... “Windows Vista images they will request to be activated. You can cancel the request and it will login to the desktop.” One option is to use “ slmgr -rearm ”, “which will extend the trial for another 30 days each time OR simply shutdown the VPC image and discard the changes you've made from undo disks to reset the image back to its initial state.” “By doing either of these methods, you can technically have a base image which never expires although you will never be able to permanently save any changes on these images for longer than 90 days.” (However, see: Delaying Activation Legitimately for details on how longer than 90 days may be available.) The quoted material comes from AskVG article on downloading Windows XP, Vista, and 7 VHD images, and has not been fully verified (so it is not currently clear how useful these images are after November 17, 2011).
  • There was no discussion noticed on whether this was 32-bit or 64-bit. (So, probably 32-bit for higher compatibility?)

Note that these files have been distributed directly from Microsoft, and so are certainly fully legal.

(Another option may have been available at a previous time: Archived copy (thanks to the Wayback Machine @ Archive.org) of a page related to a Microsoft Windows Vista 30-Day Eval VHD

Delaying Activation

Tech-Recipes: Delay Vista Activation Grace Period indicates that running “ rundll32 slc.dll,SLReArmWindows ” and then rebooting provides 14 days of time, and the quoted web page notes that a person “can run this as needed to use vista forever.” Although Scheduling Software Licensing was primarily written about Windows 7, it also contains some Vista-specific details.

Details
User account control
Windows Vista introduced Microsoft's “User Account Control”. (For details, see the section about “User Account Control”.)
[#mswinxp]: Windows XP

The letters “XP” were meant to stand for the word “experience”. The idea behind that name is that using XP software would be a noticable experience preferable to using earlier software. (The version of Microsoft Office that was released around that same time was named Office XP. The letters “XP” had the same meaning, and for the same reason.)

Burden(s) releated to what rights are granted by Microsoft
Activation
Initial activation

Windows XP SP3 may provide an option to enter a Product ID code immediately, or later. For those with installation CDs for earlier versions of Windows XP, the original installation CDs may require that the Product ID code be addressed during the installation of the operating system. If a Product ID key is available, but not immediately convenient, the operating system's installation process may refuse to complete installation until this issue is addressed. One way of addressing this might be to Slipstream the installation discs to use XP SP3. With some Windows XP discs, the resulting installation files will then use XP SP3's method of allowing the Product ID to be entered later. With other XP discs, the resulting installation files will continue to require the Product ID to be entered during installation. (Some further information, about what discs will allow changed behavior with Slipstreaming, may be nice.)

Required Re-Activation

Microsoft Windows XP keeps track of the hardware that is installed, and may decide that the operating system requires re-activation in some cases. There are some steps that can be taken so that Microsoft Windows XP won't be quite so likely to decide this re-activation is required. Such steps can be taken simply by using the software that comes with Windows XP, and/or other standard software such as the BIOS setup routine that comes with the computers, and applying knowledge about what actions will be effective. (The techniques described involve changing settings, not trying to alter the software code written by Microsoft.)

[#actxpwpa]: Simple hints: Recommended actions

Most people probably won't have a CPUID feature that needs to be disabled, but if so, do disable it. (Doing so may help with not just dealing with Windows XP Activation, but may, at least in theory, help prevent some people from having as easy of a time remotely tracking a single computer.)

If Microsoft Windows XP is working well, but if it is anticipated that there may be some changes in the future (whether this seems unlikely, and certain to be far off in the future if such changes do ever occur, or whether such changes are most definitely going to be something that happens very soon in the future), locate and back up the system32\wpa.dbl file.

Then make some changes that will likely increase flexibiilty. Mainly, that involves: enable a docking station. Then reboot and check if the operating system is complaining about needing activation. If so, reverse changes by restoring the previously-backed-up file, and reboot again. Otherwise, if Microsoft Windows XP is not reporting any issues, then back up a copy of the newer system32\wpa.dbl file.

Resources

This “Resources” section of text is simply to provide citation to some resources that were referenced.

Some of this information may not have been fully verified. (One source of information, which has been highly ranked on the Google search results for: windows xp activation docking, is 300allpctips Blogspot entry about Windows Product Activation, at windows-product-activation-technique.html under http://300allpctips.blogspot.com/2008/07/. That site may be ranked higher on Google search results for: windows xp activation docking. The site may end up redirecting to what appears may be unrelated, and quite possibly undesirable. If that happens, have the web browser to back to the earlier site: the site may then behave nicely by not redirecting.) It looks like a lot of that information may have come from TecChannel's page on Windows Product Activation (which may have previously been at another location, which may have been redirected, as shown by a page redirection), and a lot of the other information on that BlogSpot page came from Licenturion.com's information about Windows Product Activation. Inside Windows Product Activation may discuss the topic of Windows XP activation to even further detail.

(See Licenturion.com's section about Microsoft Windows XP.)

Intel Pentium III PSN (CPU S/N)

Another item that Microsoft Windows XP may keep track of is the CPU serial number, if that serial number has been made visible using the BIOS. Such a serial number may be visible to software.

Only some chips even have the feature needed for Microsoft Windows XP to use this information. The only Intel chips affected woudl be some Pentium III chips. Wikipedia's article on Pentium III: section called “Controversy about privacy issues” states, “The Pentium III was the first” chip to support it, and the Wikipedia article also notes, “Eventually Intel decided to remove the PSN feature on Tualatin-based Pentium IIIs, and the feature was not carried through to the Pentium 4 or Pentium M.” Wikipedia's article on CPUID: section about PSN discusses processors by AMD and processors by Transmeta: specifically it states, “Transmeta's Efficeon and Crusoe processors also provide this feature. AMD CPUs however, do not implement this feature in any CPU models.”

If the BIOS is set to disable making the CPU serial number available to software, then Microsoft Windows XP may not be able to sue that serial number. Many enthusiasts of computer privacy generally recommend disabling support for the CPU serial number. Especially since Intel isn't providing this ability with newer chips, it seems unlikely that disabling this feature would cause a detrimental user experience.

Hardware that is checked only for computers that identify themselves as something other than a computer that supports a docking station

Several of the things that Microsoft Windows XP will check for are given more leniancy if the system identifies itself as a laptop using a docking station. This leniancy may be given even if the computer is actually a full-sized tower that has no support for a docking station. As long as the computer is configured to identify itself as a docking station, the extra leniency is given. (There doesn't seem to be a lot of complaints about this having significant drawbacks.)

Basically, to determine if the computer should be treated as a computer with a docking station, Microsoft Windows XP looks at the Hardware Profile, which is in the Device Manager. (More details would be helpful. May need XP machine to flesh out these details, as Vista does not support Hardware profiles as XP did, per http://social.msdn.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/windowscompatibility/thread/5657d776-8d0e-49e5-918b-77f22a893fa0/ See: http://www.dcglug.org.uk/archive/2001/07/msg00382.html refers to Device Manager / Performance / File System settings. Screenshot at http://www.tecchannel.de/pc_mobile/windows/401701/windows_product_activation_compromised/index5.html , http://www.tecchannel.de/_misc/img/detail.cfm?pk=331765&fk=401701&id=IM_5702A66E-B2E3-B982-728E761E4CD4B4E8 , http://images.tecchannel.de/images/tecchannel/bdb/331765/A06A95C0DE8513E7AB2E195355AE1E9A_1000x700.jpg )

InformIT text about Windows XP activation indicates that using a docking may raise the limit of how many devices need to change.

If a computer does not specify that it has a docking station, there are several components that are monitored for changes. The following components are only checked if the computer doesn't indicate support for a docking station installed. (Note that it doesn't matter whether or not a docking station is, in fact, being used, nor whether the computer is even physically capable of using a docking station. Microsoft Windows XP simply looks at whether the software support for a docking station was installed.) If this is not done, then the following components are checked:

  • Graphics card ID
  • SCSI host adapter
  • IDE controller

Many players of video games have updated to a new graphics card, only to find that they must go through the inconvenience of re-activation. They must not have set the computer to identify itself as a notebook with a docking station.

Volume ID
This is customizable with software made by SysInternals. VolumeID version 2.0 requires XP or Server 2003 or higher. Download from the hyperlinks on that web page, or this hyperlink: VolumeID (downloadable zip file).
MAC address
This information is typically customizable with software. (Note that cloning a MAC address may have some problems, because each NIC on a segment must be using a unique MAC address.)

Other things that Windows XP may keep track of, which might not be worked around quite so easily, may include:

  • CPU type
  • Range of RAM size (Inside Windows Product Activation: Info about RAM identifies the ranges as below 32 MB, or other powers of two, up to above 1023MB)
  • CD-ROM serial number
  • identification string of the hard disk (which is different than the Volume ID discussed above)
EULA
Downloading Windows XP
VHD Files by Microsoft

This may not have been fully verified, but a VHD file may be available directly from Microsoft. So, this is being documented prior to full verification.

Windows XP with IE 6 may also contain installers for IE7 and IE8, and have XP SP3, according to AskVG article on downloading Windows XP, Vista, and 7 VHD images which also has this to state:

  • If a password is required, try:
    Password1
    (That is likely case sensitive, so use a capital P. Also, the last character there is the number one.) Note for the French (France) and Belgians (Belgium): comment about downloads stated, “QWERTY keyboard required instead of AZERTY” and then “Now, the password matches!!”
  • This has been patched through July 2011.
  • The following seems to have been written primarily about Windows 7 and Windows Vista, and might not apply at all to XP? “All images will shutdown and become completely unusable on November 17, 2011.” Also, “You may be required to activate the OS as the product key has been deactivated. This is the expected behavior. The VHDs will not pass genuine validation. Immediately after you start the Windows 7 or Windows Vista images they will request to be activated. You can cancel the request and it will login to the desktop.” One option is to use “ slmgr -rearm ”, “which will extend the trial for another 30 days each time OR simply shutdown the VPC image and discard the changes you've made from undo disks to reset the image back to its initial state.” “By doing either of these methods, you can technically have a base image which never expires although you will never be able to permanently save any changes on these images for longer than 90 days.” (However, see: Delaying Activation Legitimately for details on how longer than 90 days may be available.) The quoted material comes from AskVG article on downloading Windows XP, Vista, and 7 VHD images, and has not been fully verified (so it is not currently clear how useful these images are after November 17, 2011).
  • There was no discussion noticed on whether this was 32-bit, or 64-bit, or some other variation like Media Center Edition. (So, this is probably the standard 32-bit release which was, by far, the most widely used variation.)

Comment notes, “The images for "Download Windows 7 with IE8 VHD Image for Free" are not for Windows 7 but for Windows XP.....” If that is the case, that may be another option for downloading Windows XP?

Windows XP Mode

Note: This is intended for use with certain releases of Windows 7. Windows 7 Pro may use this, as well as Windows 7 Enterprise and the even better Windows 7 Ultimate, but not Windows 7 Home Premium. (Users may wish to acquire a trial of Windows 7 Ultimate.)

This is a bundled copy of Windows XP 32-bit with Service Pack 3 pre-installed.

“Download Details” page for Windows XP Mode offers multiple languages, and eventually leads to downloads such as Windows XP Mode en-us and Windows XP Mode N en-us. Microsoft page: “Install and use Windows XP Mode in Windows 7” states, “WindowsXPMode_N versions do not include Windows Media Player.” In addition to downloading that, Microsoft's instructions involve using Windows Virtual PC so be sure to also download that (or an alternative: other virtual machine software options do exist and perhaps some may be able to handle the *.vhd file?

The program comes with a KEY.txt file that appears to simply contain an easily readable product key stored in Unicode. The key is also distributed by Microsoft in some publicly readable documentation: Google Cache of Microsoft's “Deploying Windows XP Mode.doc” file (next to the phrase “ProductKey”).

[#mwninstl]: Installation Guide(s)

See:

Hardware support
Disk size

The original Windows XP release did not fully support LBA48 (and attempts to enable LBA48 support, via a supported registry entry, could lead to data corruption, according to MS KB 303013). However, SP1 did provide LBA48 support. Some further details about using Windows XP without the service pack: Microsoft KB Q 303013: 48-bit Logical Block Addressing support for ATAPI disk drives in Windows XP (SP1) notes that data corruption may occur in some cases when HKLM\System\CurrentControlSet\Services\Atapi\Parameters\EnableBigLba is set to 1 in Win XP without any service packs. (More details about LBA28 limitations are in the Win98SE section.)

CartonBale: How to Break the 2TB (2 TeraByte) File System Limit notes that Windows XP 74-bit supports GPT, but 32-bit Windows XP has no such support. So 32-bit Windows XP will be stuck with using MBR partitions.

32-bit Windows XP's reliance on the MBR partitioning scheme (and/or other formats that use MBR partitioning scheme) lead to default maximum supported size of 2TB. However, Info on using 3TB in Win XP describes GPT support being added by a signed driver available as part of Paragon Software's Early Adopter program, and 3TB drives being usable with this GPT support.

Seagate: discussion on drives over 2TB states, “Windows XP sees a 3TB drive as 800GB on boot or data drives”. This is probably because Seagate was using the term “3TB drive” to refer to a drive which is 3 trillion (3,000,000,000,000) bytes, which would be just 2,929,687,500 actual GB, which is nearly 2.73 actual TB, but not quite. 3 trillion minus the number of bytes in 2 TB is 800,976,744,448 bytes, which is 782,203,852 KB. However, if using terminology that uses 1KB as 1,000 bytes, and defines larger units like megabytes as having similarly round numbers, the remaining size is just under 801 million bytes. (It is actually 22,710.5 KB less than 801 million bytes.) Seagate offers software called DiscWizard to use that space without trying to have Windows XP interpret the MBR to find all of the data. So, without special software, it looks like Windows XP simply ignores the first 2TB of space on drives with larger capacities. This means that a drive may appear to be less than 2TB (which is even worse than being limited to only 2TB).

Recommended Minimum

Many Windows XP installations cap out at around 20GB plus the size of the Program Files directory. Knowing this, a 35GB partition may be more than adequate for some systems. (This information is based on the amount of space actually seen used up on many dozens of computers that used Windows XP Professional. However, of course, that may be quite insufficient for some computers that may run some specific program that could require much more space in a “Program Files” directory.)

For those systems, using 90GB may simply be unneeded waste, even if the hard drive's 1TB size would have plenty for such waste. (However, making a filesystem too small can be even more inconvenient. This is discussed further in the section about disk layout: partition size and/or info in the section about filesystems).

Windows IT Pro says, “Microsoft doesn't support advanced format drives with deployments on Windows XP, Windows 2003, and Windows 2003 R2. So, support must come from the disk provider. The decision was made not to” have Microsoft make further investments “on older versions that were released before the first rumblings of these new drives.” So, XP does not support “Advanced Format” drives (which permit using sector sizes other than 512 bytes) with the built-in drivers.

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-hardware/manufacture/desktop/windows-and-gpt-faq says, “Windows XP and the original release of Windows Server 2003 have a limit of 2TB per physical disk, including all partitions. For Windows Server 2003 SP1, Windows XP x64 edition, and later versions, the maximum raw partition of 18 exabytes can be supported. (Windows file systems currently are limited to 256 terabytes each.)”

Command line reference
TechNet: Windows XP Command-line reference, Windows XP Pro Product Documentation: Command-line reference includes references to: Windows XP Pro Product Documentation: Command-line reference A-Z (which lists commands), Windows XP Pro Product Documentation: New command-line tools, Windows XP Pro Product Documentation: “New ways to do familiar tasks” says “Windows XP retains and enhances almost all MS-DOS functionality.”

Earlier code using the NT-kernel, including any version of Microsoft Windows 2000, was generally not classified as being designed primarily for use by home users. Therefore, such operating systems are not further discussed here, but further details on such operatinog systems may be found on the page about Microsoft Operating System Code, and Compatible/Similar.

Code meant to use boot code using, based on, or compatible with MS-DOS

The term “Win9x” might sometimes be meant to refer to Win95 and Win98 and Win98SE. However, the term probably more commonly refers to a platform that is also meant to include WinME.

Specific releases
[#winme]: Windows Millenium Edition

Windows Millenium Edition is also officially known as “Windows ME”, clearly meant as an abbreviation, and also officially known as “Windows Me”.

Home Page
http://microsoft.com/windowsme has been known to redirect people to Support for Windows Millennium Edition (ME).
Support

Microsoft decided to basically not support Windows ME any later than Windows 98 Second Edition or Windows 98. Therefore, this section of information applies to all three of these operating systems.

Support by Microsoft

Some content, including files meant to be downloaded, which was once available on Microsoft's web site has been removed.

Third party support

MDGx MAX Speed's “Windows 98 + ME *still* alive Campaign

Startup process for WinME

In many ways, it is like the startup process for Win9x. (See system startup.) However, there are some key differences related to Microsoft's attempts to get people to abandon the use of MS-DOS compatability. Mainly, some components of the operating system rather try to force the end user to start up the graphical interface, and the \Config.sys file may be butchered by the new RegEnv32 command. That command may move some of the data from \Config.sys to the registry (but might simply lose/overwrite some other data from the \Config.sys?).

[#wmefrcgu]: Automatic (forced) running of Win ME's GUI

In Microsoft Windows Millenium Edition (a.k.a. “Windows ME”), this is more complicated: solutions may require either the use of third party software and/or editing a binary file.

Note also that Windows ME tends to feel free to delete/overwrite files such as \CONFIG.SYS. Back up all the custom files (including any “hidden” files) in the “root” (\) directory before playing around with this, and have an alternate boot method to be able to restore in case experimentation results in a less-than-desirable outcome.

Solution #1: Renaming and then replacing a file
Quick steps summary

This was written based on some other documentation, and perhaps a bit of memory. (Further testing may be warranted.) This was written to try to simplify, providing clear action steps.

  • Grab an alternate command line. TOOGAM's Software Archive: User Interface provides multiple options, some of which are designed for DOS and will work here. Of these, 4DOS has been verified, by the author of this text, as working well with this process. 4DOS used to be Shareware but now has a Freeware release (and source code has been made available, and publicly modified to make additional new releases). Obtaining and extracting files are beyond the scope of this mini-guide, but some resources could include transferring files or TOOGAM's Software Archive: Archivers.
  • Reanme %windir%\SYSTEM\VMM32.VXD to %windir%\SYSTEM\VMM32.COM
  • Copy the desired command interpretor (e.g.. 4DOS) to %windir%\SYSTEM\VMM32.COM (which should not be overwriting a file since the original %windir%\SYSTEM\VMM32.COM file was just renamed).
  • After rebooting, the GUI should not auto-load. If there is a later desire to run the GUI, run %windir%\SYSTEM\VMM32.COM because, in addition to loading the GUI later on, that program does some other preparation steps that will help make the GUI work.
  • That accomplishes the trickier key parts to the process. Note that \AUTOEXEC.BAT processing may not occur quite as expected, but 4DOS provides an alternative named 4START.BTM which can accomplish the same goals. If a different “command line interpretor” is being used, then there might be another automatically started file that may be available. The details would depend on what command line shell is being used.
  • Also, \CONFIG.SYS processing may not occur quite as expected, but solutions may be available to load device drivers that were designed to run when the \CONFIG.SYS file gets processed. See the compilation of programs from TOOGAM's Software Archive: DOS Starting.
Older (Lengthier?) Analysis/Discussion

RIPLing Windows Millenium Edition from OS/2 Warp Server Appendix A: “Enabling Real-Mode DOS Support in Windows Millennium Edition” provided some of the initial details to figure this process out. Windows ME will execute a file named VMM32.VXD. That file performs some critical functions, and so must not be deleted. However, that file can be renamed to something else such as VMM32.COM, and can then be run later from the command line (if/when there is a desire to start up the grpahical interface). Meanwhile, another program can be run by renaming the other program and calling it VMM32.VXD.

Now, the challenge is to decide what program to put in that place. The copy of Command.com found on the hard drive of Windows ME will not function desirably if it does not successfully start to load the GUI. The copy of Command.com found on rescue disks will check if it is run from a hard drive, and so that won't work nicely either. Using DOSShell.com may initially appear to be an option, and it can actually start up successfully. However, it is prone to run a copy of Command.com which will then break things, so that probably won't work too nicely either. The best solution that doesn't involve cracking Microsoft's code may be to just use a third party command line interpretor. The program called 4DOS (see TOOGAM's software archive: page about JP Software: section on 4DOS), which was once shareware but has since become free with distributed source code, may be one option. Other options may be mentioned by TOOGAM's software archive: files relating to a user interface.

Then, once another shell is comfortably being run, to run the GUI, just load the renamed (VMM32.com) file.

If all that works well, then there may be a desire to look closer at the way that RegEnv32 operates. See detials in the section about: \Config.sys processing.

Alternate approach: performing binary modifications on existing files

More well-known around the time of Windows ME's release, there were some programs that were designed to modify one or more key files. This should be a bit less comforting. At least some (and perhaps all) of these solutions do not provide much/anything in the way of source code or clear documentation on why things get edited as they do. Similar functionality can be obtained without needing to be performing any binary modifications to files, and so some people are likely to prefer taking another route.

For those intent on exploring this further, the well-respected MDGx site may provide some resources at MDGx Power Tools: files related to Windows ME. Also, RIPLing Windows Millenium Edition from OS/2 Warp Server Appendix A: “Enabling Real-Mode DOS Support in Windows Millennium Edition” provides details on an approach taken (which might be less complete, only working on a single (presumably English) release of Windows ME?). To implement those details, see hex editors (especially the hyperlink to TOOGAM's software archive: Binary file editors).

Once this approach is taken, the results will likely be similar to how Win9x handles things. (See: running Windows GUI during startup process.)

\Config.sys processing

See: \Config.sys processing.

Updates for WinME

Microsoft did release updates for these operating systems. Some of them might no longer be distributed at the same locations on Microsoft's website. Note that updates to MS-DOS may also apply: see the DOS section for details about updates that may exist.

See the section about “third party support”.

The creator/founder of CyberPillar might have an archive of Windows 98 patches, obtained the day before Windows 98 support was ended. If interested, see the section about interacting with site staff.

[#win98se]: Windows 98 Second Edition

Newer drivers, and more. 234762

This is mostly like Windows 98 (First Edition). This section about Windows 98 Second Edition namely discusses things that are different from the original release of Windows 98.

Hardware support

This is mostly like Windows 98 (First Edition). (See the section on Windows 98 to discuss hardware limitations.)

Microsoft KB 234762: Description of Windows 98 Second Edition lists some differences from Win98 first edition. (Another difference is that some programs released years after Win98SE may officially work under Win98 SE but not the first edition of Win98.) ICS is not downloadable. Most other features of Second Edition were freely available to users of the original Win98 release, downloadable as separate updates.

Win98SE does come with some more WDM drivers (rather than VxD drivers) compared to Win98 Standard Edition.

[#win98]: Windows 98

The term “Windows 98” may be meant to refer to this operating system, or, at least sometimes, may be meant to also include the successor, Win98SE. The operating system of “Windows 98” which came before “Windows 98 Second Edition” has has been referred to by Microsoft as “Windows 98 Standard Edition” (but note that this name should not be abbreviated as Win98SE, since that abbreviation would more commonly seem to refer to Win98 2nd Edition). The operating system of “Windows 98” which came before “Windows 98 Second Edition” has also been known (perhaps only unofficially) as Win98FE (which stands for “Windows 98 First Edition”).

Except when otherwise noted, this section probably refers to Windows 98 Second Edition as well as the original release of Windows 98. (If things were working well, then Windows 98 Second Edition did not contain a lot of changes to the end user's experience.)

Home page
The home page at http://microsoft.com/windows98 has redirected people to a web page called Support for Windows 98.
Installation Guide
See: Microsoft Windows 98 Installation Guide.
Service Pack(s)

The information about these updates may be mostly or fully applicable just to the original release of Windows 98, because the updates discussed here were a part of Windows 98 Second Edition.

Information on Microsoft's Windows 98 Customer Service Pack said the contents of this package included:

Windows 98 System Update 1
Information on Microsoft's Windows 98 Customer Service Pack identifies this as “Security fixes and hardware specific updates”, and provides the filename of “\sysupd\w98csp.exe”.
Win98 Y2K Update #1

Information on Microsoft's Windows 98 Customer Service Pack identifies this as “Windows 98 Year 2000 Update: The 1st Y2K update for Windows 98 users (\w98y2k\y2kw98.exe)”.

For info, see: Information on Win98 Y2K Update #1, Wayback Machine @ Archive.org's cache of Microsoft KB Q168116: Microsoft Windows 98 Year 2000 Update Readme File Contents (which “contains a copy of the information in the Y2kinfo.txt file included in the Microsoft Windows 98 Year 2000 Update.”), Windows 98 Year 2000 Update (info from December 1998) mentions 11 items in its “complete list of the issues that the Windows 98 Year 2000 Update addresses”.

Win98 Y2K Update #2

Information on Microsoft's Windows 98 Customer Service Pack identifies this as “Windows 98 Year 2000 Update 2: The 2nd installment in the Y2K update (w98y2k_2\y2kw98_2.exe)”. (Yes, the quoted text did not show a leading backslash for this particular file.)

For further info on this, see: Information about Windows 98 Year 2000 Update 2 (y2kw98_2.exe). This page identifies this update as addressing three items: OLE Automation, DOS Xcopy, and support for February 29th in (Personal Web Server's) MQRT.DLL (“Microsoft Messaging Queue”/“MSMQ”) file.

Win98 Y2K Update for Outlook Express
Information on Microsoft's Windows 98 Customer Service Pack identifies this as “Windows 98 Year 2000 Update: Update for Outlook Express version 4.72.3612.1713 (\w98y2k.oe\234680.exe)

Information about Windows 98 Year 2000 Update 2 (y2kw98_2.exe) listed five updates that are part of the “Windows 98 Service Pack 1”. Four of those updates were the updates just described, and the 5th was MS IE 4.01 SP2.

Hardware support
Win98 Minimum requirements

Microsoft's list of requirements is discussed by: Microsoft KB Q182751: Win98 Installation Minimum Hardware Requirements. However, read on to review limitations related to CPU, disk size, and memory.

CPU
Like MS-DOS 7, MS-DOS 7.1 does actually check for the CPU being used, and will refuse to run if the CPU is identified is not at least compatible with a 386. As the GUI requires MS-DOS 7.1, this means that Windows 98 is entirely unusable for a 286. (This has been verified on an actual physical 286 system.)
Disk size
Minimum disk size

Minimum: Microsoft KB Q182751: Win98 Installation Minimum Hardware Requirements discusses numbers ranging from 120MB to 355MB. There are some more extreme examples: LitePC's 98Lite Professional is a commercially sold product that creates additional installation options, so that unnecessary components look like optional components. (Even after installation, the “Add/Remove Programs” Control Panel applet's “Windows Setup” tab will allow uninstallation of unwanted components.) This was generally fairly safe.

If safety is to be thrown out the window, then an installation could get to be even installer. The related site EmbeddingWindows.com's write-up of Win98SE in 8152 KB (which is less than 8MB) shows that even 120MB ends up being a very inflated number compared to what could be done. Nano98 (archived by the Wayback Machine @ Archive.org) shows how to make an installation under 5MB. (This may involve modifying the operating system components using an executable compressor called UPX.) At the further cost of basic functionality, Windows on a floppy (archived by the Wayback Machine @ Archive.org) says “To cut a long story short, I found that yes it was almost possible to also put Windows 9x in safe mode (aka real mode) onto a single floppy disk. I found the big problem (at the time) was the 4Mb SWAP file that the kernel wants to save somewhere.” (Apparently a 5MB solution was doable.) So, note that in some of these disk-saving methods may involve needing to use more RAM (in order to make a RAM drive.) Shrinking Windows (archived by the Wayback Machine @ Archive.org) discussed some attempts. RIPLing Windows Millenium Edition (Archived by the Wayback Machine @ Archive.org) states “Universality: Ideas of this article apply also to Windows 95/98/98SE. This RIPLing method works for all types of lite Windows versions, too.” “Diskless Windows 95/98/98SE configurations require much less work.”

On a side note: someone interested in such minimalization efforts may also be interested in Xwoaf: X Windows On A Floppy (archived by the Wayback Machine @ Archive.org)

Maximum supported disk size

133,693,376 KB is the largest recommended. This is a bit less than 127.49994 GB, so do not make the disk 127.5GB or larger. This precise limit is discussed by FAT filesystem details.

Even if that limit were to be exceeded, there are others. The basic LBA28 limit of 127.5GB (65536 cylinders x 16 heads/tracks x 255 sectors per track x 1/2 KB per sector) may be surpassed using third party code (or, perhaps ”third party modifications to official code” may be a better description). Forum post for Enable48BitLBA provides compatibility for larger drives using third party code to support 48-bit LBA, but has been known to say, “this current version may cause data corruption on _some_ drives w/ 48-bit LBA!!! So be extremely careful!!!” If such a driver is used, then some limits may be resolved. (ScanDisk will still likely be unhappy.) If even that was overcome, there would still be the limit of the 2TB MBR partition size.

Memory

Some research done into this topic has been posted at A website used by TOOGAM: Ram Limitations. Having more RAM than what is supported may lead to system instability. (This is discussed more fully in the Microsoft Windows 98 (First Edition or Second Edition) Installation Guide.)

[#w98pcspk]: Support in Windows 98 for the PC Speaker

See: notes on Windows 95's support for the PC Speaker and also information on TOOGAM's software archive: Sound drivers (which mainly refers to information that came from MS KB Q199030).

Supported filesystems
FAT32, FAT16, FAT12, ISO9660 (built-in; also TOOGAM's page about CD drivers: section for Win9x for alternatives). (Win98 is said to support UDF 1.02 as well.) (Smart-Projects File Systems page notes, “UDF 1.02 is supported by Windows 98 or higher if the media is closed and contains a TOC.”)
Support
(A section of information about support for Windows ME covers the topic of support for Windows 98.)
[#mswin95]: Windows 95
Multiple Releases
Operating System Release (OSR) 2.1
...
[#w98osr2]: Operating System Release (OSR) 2
Original Win95
Service Pack

A service pack for Windows 95 did exist. See: Microsoft announcement: “Microsoft Releases Windows 95 Service Pack” (on February 14 (Valentine's Day), 1996).

Some information/hyperlinks may be available from TOOGAM's Software Archive: webpage about Operating Systems, subsection about Microsoft Windows.

Supported hardware
[#w95pcspk]: PC Speaker in Windows 95

If memory serves correctly, Windows 95 did not come with any support for the PC Speaker but the PC Speaker Driver for Windows 3 could be installed, and would work for Windows 95 just as well as it worked in Windows 3.1. In fact, MDGX Windows 3.1x Updates has listed it as the “Microsoft Windows 3.1x/9x/ME PC Speaker Driver 16-bit SPEAKER.DRV”, so apparently it also works for Windows ME.

(Perhaps the info related to Windows 98's support for the PC Speaker also applies here?)

[#mswin31x]: Windows 3.1 and newer 3.x

Windows 3.11, Windows 3.1. (Using related code, in China only, Windows 3.2.)

Here is some standardized information that is provided about many operating systems:

Release date
Microsoft KB Q32905: Windows Version History shows the following release dates: Windows 3.11 was released on the last day of 1993; Windows 3.1 was released April 6, 1992; Windows 3.0 was released May 22, 1990; Windows 3.00a was released on Halloween of that same year; and “3.00a Multimedia Extensions” is documented to have been released in Fall 1991.
System Requirements
See: Microsoft KB Q32905: Windows Version History mentions requirements for early versions of Microsoft Windows.
Supported Hardware
Memory limits

Windows 3.1 Memory Limits has the following to say:

“The memory limit for Windows 3.1 has been reported as 512 MB. This limit, while technically correct, does need some qualification. This limit applies only to Windows running in standard mode. The limit for 386 enhanced mode is 256 MB. This number is a sum of both physical and virtual memory. The stated 512 MB limit of standard mode Windows is only theoretically possible and is not practical. In practice, the limit on standard mode Windows is the same as the 386 enhanced mode limit of 256 MB. This information does not apply to computers using a 80286 processor. This processor is physically limited to accessing only 16 MB.”

Note that this is only the maximum amount of memory. Windows can actually address memory at higher addresses (by not using memory at lower addresses), but it cannot actually use more than that amount of memory at once. “This means that for Windows 3.1 running in standard mode, the limit for the maximum usable physical memory address is 4096 MB; the limit for 386 enhanced mode is 2044 MB.” To clarify, the maximum amount of memory that could be accessed by Microsoft Windows is more than the amount that is truely usable at any specific time. This information “applies to: Microsoft Windows 3.1 Microsoft Windows 3.11”

Finally, still quoting Windows 3.1 Memory Limits, “The actual virtual memory size stays at 256 MB once you reach 64 MB of total physical memory, and never gets any bigger.” (It appears that more virtual memory might be allocated, up to one GB, but that the additional memory would not be used.)

Video drivers
Perhaps see: TOOGAM's software archive: Video drivers.
[#win3spkd]: PC Speaker

Having a sound card (or embedded “sound card” circuitry) was often not considered to be standard equipment back in the days of Windows 3.1. Microsoft did release a PC Speaker driver (which may even have been usable in some newer, 32-bit Microsoft Windows releases). The quality could vary between some systems, arguably being either bad or worse. For details on getting this driver, see the section about available updates for Windows 3.x.

This may be found from: TOOGAM's software archive: files related to Microsoft Windows 3.x. Perhaps similar/related files: TOOGAM's software archive: Sound Drivers.

[#wn31xupd]: Available Updates
See TOOGAM's Software Archive: section about Microsoft Windows 3. (Also, since this operating system runs in DOS or a DOS-like environment, updates for DOS may be applicable to a computer running this operating environment.)

Information on specific versions:

[#win31]: Microsoft Windows 3.1

Some of the newer code from Windows 3.11 has been made avialable for download: see the “WW0981.EXE Windows 3.11 Refresh files”. (e.g.: see TOOGAM's Software Archive: page about Microsoft Windows 3: section about “WW0981.EXE Windows 3.11 Refresh files”)

IBM was well-known to have licensed code for Microsoft Windows 3.x and included that code in the OS/2 operating systems. For more details on OS/2, see: OS/2.

Earlier versions of Windows

See: Microsoft KB Q32905: Windows Version History. It mentions that Microsoft Windows Version 1.01 was released in November of 1985.

MS-DOS
(See the “DOS operating systems” section.)
[#os2based]: OS/2-based

[#opsystwo]: OS/2

IBM was well-known to have licensed code for Microsoft Windows 3.x and included that code in the OS/2 operating systems. For more details on OS/2, see: OS/2.

Parts of Microsoft Windows

See: Windows Components

Others
Windows CE is described in the section for mobile devices.
[#dos]: DOS operating systems

See the DOS section.

Other Microsoft Operating Systems

See: Microsoft Operating System Code, and Compatible/Similar.