XP Install Process

Stage 1 - System Disk

Boot the machine using the System Disk (Disk 1). This will load up Windows 98 of all things. Select the language, and then you must click on an icon that looks like a spanner and some bubbles (top left). This is the only option, and it is for restoring the system to the factory original state.

Once you have confirmed that you do want to erase anything currently on the hard disk, then you should go about resizing the hard disk. At this point you can only really create a single partition. And, assuming that there is nothing else on the machine, this will probably currently be the whole disk. Obviously, you need to change this for a dual boot system. It is extremely important to choose the correct parition size. It is a lot of hassle to change it at a later date. I chose to give Windows XP half of the disk, and moved the slider to 9958Mb. All three of the other paritions I created were done at a later stage.

Stage 2 - XP Recovery Disk

After clicking OK at the end of the previous stage, you asked to insert the Recovery CD. You should insert the correct CD for the OS that you are installing. A point to note is that I had trouble if I didn't wait for the CD to spin-up before clicking. Hence, stick it in and wait for a little while.

Once you have clicked on OK, Symantec Ghost appears and start copying files onto the drive.You should be able to read that it is copying it into a partition of the correct size. It is copying it as FAT, so we will have to change that later.

Once Ghost has done its bit, the CD will be ejected automatically, so look out for your coffe mug if it is to the left of the machine. You will also be asked to insert CD 1 once more. Remember to let it spin-up again.

Stage 3 - W98 Copying Files

The System CD is needed once more for Windows 98 but this time it launches a program that copies files from the System CD.

At the end of this stage, the CD will be ejected automatically once more. The System and Recovery CDs can now be stored away safely somewhere.

Stage 4 - Windows XP Copying Files

Windows XP will now start copying the files it needs, It may pause for quite some time while doing this. The installation automatically moves onto the next stage by rebooting.

Stage 5 - Windows XP Setup

Windows XP will now start copying yet more files.

Caveat: When the machine reboots, if the hard disk does not have a standard Master Boot Record (MBR), then it will not boot properly. This might be because you have already installed Linux. In this situation, turn to your trusted GRUB boot disk. It will allow you to boot manually.

Stage 6 - Windows XP Installer

Yes, it has finally got to a position where it can start installing! On the 273, it gives a time estimate of about forty minutes for this stage. There isn't much to do while it is installing.

At the end of this stage, the machine will reboot automatically once more.

Stage 7 - Further Installation

Don't know what it is doing at this stage, but it seems to be running 'update' at a DOS prompt a lot. I installed without a network connection so maybe it would be different with a connection.

At the end of this stage, the machine will power down but NOT reboot.

Caveat: That CD tray just can't stay shut!

Stage 8 - Windows XP Setup Wizard

After restarting the machine, you will be presented with the Windows XP Setup Wizard.

Obviously, you should say yes to the agreement. If you're curious, then clicking 'no' just powers down the machine.

When setting up the local information take care to specify your keyboard. I always make sure to remove the US keyboard (although it will say that it can't do it just yet).

Once this stage finishes, Windows reboots yet again.

Stage 9 - Acer Setup

At last, you're at the final stage. In this stage, it seems to spend some time setting up files. The desktop has changed to Acer's goldfish however.

After this stage is complete, the machine will reboot once more. Next time you log in, the machine will be yours. However, you may want to set up the partitions before doing anything else. I personally recommend setting up Linux after this and coming back and installing Windows software once you have a Linux partition booting.