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I have a Compaq Deskpro EN that doesn't like to boot from the Windows XP disc in my CD drive. So, I've been wondering if I could just install XP on another computer, not install any drivers or software, transfer it to the Deskpro, then install corresponding drivers and software. Is that possible?

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It isn't simplier to get drive on USB or changeing dvd from other machine ? – Adam RichardSon Aug 1 '11 at 21:20
up vote 4 down vote accepted

If there are any major differences between the two machines, no. A "major difference" would be something that causes Windows to choose a different HAL (Hardware Abstraction Layer) when it is installed; the HAL can never be changed after installation, so the correct HAL must always be installed to start. I know the HAL is different for single-CPU and multiple-CPU (or core) machines, among other things.

In general, it's a tremendous hassle to move a Windows install. It's much easier to find some way to boot the Deskpro from a CD or USB drive.

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You can run a dual core computer with a single core HAL. You won't get the benefit of the 2nd core though. – Dan Neely Sep 26 '10 at 0:27
Although it's not officially supported (and if botched will break your install) you can swap out a 1 processor HAL for a multi-processor HAL using tools that MS provides for driver developers. I've done it once after discovering my work laptop was imaged with the wrong HAL after I spend a few weeks installing and configuring all my software. – Dan Neely Sep 26 '10 at 0:29

If it simply doesn't boot from the CD, but the CD drive is still accessible, you can try to perform the first (Dos part) of setup until it reboots, then transfer the hard drive.

Alternatively, if you install XP fully, you can then look on the CD in the Support > Tools folder for Sysprep.

When you run this, choose both Shutdown and Genralize. Transfer the hard drive and you should be good to go.

If you are savvy, you can press Shift+F10 at the first out of box experience screen (after setup where you set the usernames and default settings), you can run sysprep here before doing anything else.

alt text

This is a picture from Windows 7 sysprep, however it should be very similar.

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... but even this will not work if the machines are significantly different - just allows more than a standard swap out! – William Hilsum Sep 26 '10 at 0:06

I've done it once before. I strongly advise making sure you have all your drivers available before starting. I was swapping between two laptops and finding some of the drivers I needed turned into a nightmarish experience.

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