I have Windows 7 installed on my laptop, instead of it I want to install Windows XP. I have created bootable USB using Rufus from Windows XP iso file (GetIntoPC website). My first boot device is set to my USB which is recognized by BIOS. However, the USB just skips and BIOS boots Windows 7. Interestingly, I installed Windows 7 using that same USB too.

What have I tried:

  • changing SATA mode in BIOS from AHCI to IDE and reverse.
  • pressing F12 and choosing USB no matter that it's first in boot order already.
  • trying to start the installation by opening setup.exe on USB while Windows 7 is loaded.
  • changing USB ports.

What's weird: Before I installed Windows 7 again, I formatted whole HDD and Windows XP installation just didn't want to load while Windows 7 one did.

I know that XP is old and not supported by MS anymore.

How do I boot to Windows XP install thumb drive?

  • 1
    So your question is basically, why you cannot boot from USB device? – duDE Jul 12 '18 at 11:32
  • the USB just skips and BIOS boots Windows 7 It means your USB is not recognized as bootable. – Akina Jul 12 '18 at 12:55
  • Thanks for the reply, as I used Rufus for quite a while without problems, I believe the problem is in the iso file. I will get a new one and try. – Some Guy Jul 12 '18 at 14:24
  • Changed the file, still same. The USB is not broken and Rufus works with Windows 7 and Linux Mint (tested). – Some Guy Jul 12 '18 at 15:29
  • IS that usb drive recognized on any other PC as bootable? – Moab Jul 12 '18 at 20:02

I vaguely recall there was a hack to install it from USB but very few people ever did it, there was a long guide how to do it and it was a very fiddly process that removed any convenience one would think they were going to get!

You should be aware that trying install WinXP from USB is either a complete anacronism,or somewhat of an anacronism.

People weren't really doing that back then.People started installing from USB in windows 7 days.A good way to install XP(and here I don't mean by USB) is either from a CD,or by making a little partition on the HDD, puttin the setup files on there, and installing from there.

It may be possible to install WinXP from USB but i'm just saying you should know it's a ludicrously unusual non-standard thing2 do. One could boot off a boot disk then run the setup off the hard drive, or make the little partition bootable eg sys c: and boot off there.

Something like this https://www.tech-recipes.com/rx/578/windows-xp-installing-from-harddrive/

And there is something about smartdrv that will make it much faster.

Again, none of this is installing WinXP from USB. But I can see from the comments you have made, you are really just looking to install it. If somebody can point you to how to install it from USB then great.

The involvement of USB I'd suggest is you can make a Win9X USB boot disk (in the past people may have done that or used a floppy), and you could have the installation files copied on there, that's the i386 directory on any windows xp cd. Then copy it from the USB, to your hard drive. And run the WinXP setup off the hard drive.


Here is a link saying how to do it, in a process that is not fiddly, or not that more involved than the more standard process of installing from a hard drive. Though it is installing from the USB. https://www.poweriso.com/tutorials/how-to-make-winxp-bootable-usb-drive.htm The key seems to be to run E:\i386\winnt32.exe /syspart:C: /tempdrive:C: /makelocalsource.

There are many guides online, usually involving tools that didn't exist at the time. And claim to make it work without the kind of extreme file fiddling i've seen some a classic old guide do. It may be worth trying them

Note that some people are saying there is another issue that XP doesn't recognise SATA. If that's so, then XP would either give you a BSOD(a google of which would make it clear what the issue was), or XP would prompt you for them(I don't recall which but possibly the latter),

There is a situation regarding XP and SATA, thanks to keltari for his comment and some pictures on this page for reminding me https://hexus.net/tech/tech-explained/software/1420-installing-windows-xp-3rd-party-sataraid-driver/ , XP doesn't have SATA drivers and does prompts you to press F6 to install SCSI or RAID drivers. SATA is not SCSI and you may or may not want RAID or want to use RAID, but you push F6 there, to install your SATA driver.

Then you could use a usb floppy drive or you could just copy the files into the correct directory within i386, so that the setup finds them automatically. Some people here have mentioned "slipstreaming" and nlite.. IIRC slipstreaming is rebuilding an ISO, you don't need to as you have the i386 directory on (easily!) writable media, so you can manually add the driver file(s) just by copying them in.

  • XP works with SATA just fine. However, XP has almost no modern SATA chipset drivers. If XP doesnt have the driver, setup simply shows no drives to install to. You have to add the drivers during the install. XP will not bluescreen due to a lack of SATA support. The real issue would be the newer the SATA controller, the less likely XP drivers will exist. – Keltari Oct 8 '18 at 9:30
  • @Keltari thanks, btw I wouldn't say it's not a 'blue screen' see hexus.net/tech/tech-explained/software/… ('technically' ;-) ) , looks like a blue screen to me, but not a BSOD ;-) – barlop Oct 8 '18 at 12:29

Win XP installation package doesn't have USB drivers. As soon as BIOS executes bootloader/whatever and the then switches to Windows boot, your boot device is lost, and that's it. This is a similar problem we have today with Win7 and USB 3.0 controllers. To get WinXP installed, a heavy patching of install image is required, there might be some help on Google for that. Or you need to use a native SATA or PATA based CD-ROM to install, and then install USB drivers in normal way.

  • Thank you for the answer, it makes sense. This seems too complicated for me (don't have CD-ROM), but I may try it. – Some Guy Jul 16 '18 at 10:53

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