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How to install Media Center from CDs

How to install Media Center from CDs

  • Comments 27

I have seen questions from fellow Microsoft employees regarding how to install Windows XP Media Center edition on a brand new computer using the OS installation CDs.  This question has very rarely been asked by customers outside of Microsoft because Media Center is typically only available via an OEM reseller and comes pre-installed on the computer.  There are some cases where customers can buy machines with the installation CDs but do not have the OS installed, or the OEM provides recovery media on CD instead of on DVD.  This process is a little bit tricky so I decided to list the steps to install Media Center on a clean partition from CD.

The process to install Media Center is different from the process to install XP Home/Pro because Media Center spans 2 CDs whereas the standard Windows XP Home/Pro product fits on a single CD.  It requires the following 2 steps that are different from standard XP Home/Pro OS setup:

Launch OS setup with a special command line switch

The following command lines can be used to launch Media Center setup from CD:

  • If you are launching OS setup from within Windows: <cd drive>\i386\winnt32.exe /makelocalsource:all
  • If you are launching OS setup from a boot floppy: <cd drive>\i386\winnt.exe /2

The /makelocalsource:all and /2 command line parameters cause winnt32.exe and winnt.exe to copy the contents of CD1 and CD2 to the local hard drive at the beginning of OS setup.  If you fail to do this you will receive disk swap prompts during Media Center (or Tablet PC) OS installation.

Enter a valid product key that matches the OS type you want to install

After launching setup with one of the above command line parameters, the other step required to install Media Center instead of the standard XP Home/Pro OS is to enter a valid Media Center product key when prompted during OS setup.  Doing so will cause OS setup to install the .NET Framework 1.0 and Media Center components in addition to the standard XP Home/Pro components.  It will also cause your OS to be branded appropriately (for example - the left side of the start menu if you have your desktop configured for Windows Classic view will display "Media Center" instead of "Windows XP").

Also, if you enter a Home/Pro product key, OS setup will not end up installing the .NET Framework 1.0 or the Media Center components, and you cannot use Media Center on the Home/Pro OS that you have just installed.

Why the extra steps?!?

Media Center setup ships with the core OS components on CD1 and the Media Center-specific OS components on CD2.  If you take a look at Media Center CD1 and compare it to XP Home/Pro CD1, you will see that the contents are nearly identical (with the exception of the EULA file and a couple other small things).  CD2 contains Media Center, Tablet PC and .NET Framework bits.  The decision about which bits to actually install happens at OS setup time and is controlled by the product key that you enter during OS setup.

Note that even though I only mentioned Media Center, the above OS setup behaviors apply equally to Tablet PC.  Both Media Center and Tablet PC share the same underlying OS setup design and both require the extra command line switches and specific product key to be entered during setup to install the correct bits.


  • Hi Andy - Typically the installation disc that comes with a new PC will only allow you to restore the OS image on the same PC that it was originally installed on.  However, that depends on who the computer manufacturer is, and I am not familiar with exactly what Dell includes on their installation discs.  Your best bet would be to contact Dell to see if this kind of installation is allowed by your software license and if so, if their installation disc will work on different types of hardware.
  • I know I had the disc but I would like to know if I can use it to install Windows Xp Media Center on another DELL computer.
  • Hi Andy - From a technical perspective, the answer is likely yes.  From a legal/licensing perspective, I cannot answer that because I don't know what terms were included by Dell with the computer you bought from them.  That is why I suggest contacting them regarding this issue.  I'm sorry I'm not able to be more helpful here.
  • Hi now this is rally confusing, i had xp home ive formatted the hard drive and started the install which wouldnt start black screen no bios etc, now i found a solution which is to plug in my wireless card, ive entered the reg code and installed but i get errors when starting xp also it never asked for the second disk any clues pls.

    Ian UK
  • Hi Ian - Normally, if you are not prompted to enter the 2nd disc, that means that the product key you entered is for Windows XP Home or Pro as opposed to Media Center.  Can you check and see if you have the correct Media Center product key?

    Also, please make sure you are launching setup with the specific command line parameters that are listed above.
  • Hello I'm a bit confused now. I recently purchased a HP Media Center PC.  When trying to install my ATI HD card I checked my system info and found that my PC came with MC v.2002, ATI requires 2005 to be used. In my search of looking for an update to 2002 I found that the only way to get v.2005 was to either by a PC with it already installed or buy v.2005 and do a clean install.  I purchased v.2005 from TigerDirect and a new hard drive. I followed Charlie Owens instructions through out the installation. It appears to be successful, except that when I check my system info it still says that I am running v.2002. What am I missing?
  • Hi Ed - There are some places in the UI that are not correct when listing the Media Center version.  Can you please check the following registry value and let me know what it says:

    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Media Center, Ident

    If the Ident value on your system is greater than or equal to 3.0, then you have Media Center 2005 installed.
  • tried installing from MAPS oem disks. Crazy install! no IE, only 4 services were started of all the services that were even supposed to be "automatic". I've re-installed from the disks over the installation and it seemed like more installed the second time, but still not all of it. weird. also, during install, it asked me for the 2nd disk as usual, but then asked me for the "windows xp pro svc pk 2 cd" to which all i had was the disk provided to me with MAPS and it didn't like it. so during both installs, i had to cancel out of the sp2 install routine.
  • I'm new to MCE and have been struggling to get it up and running.  I'm using the two CD set and I get the software installed fine and begin all of the Windows Updates.  Eventually, my system stops booting and it's never after the same update.  Any ideas on how to troubleshoot? I know this is quite vague, but it hangs in the middle of the boot on the Windows XP splash screen with the blue bar eventually stopping it's chase across the screen.  The config is quite simple, Asus A8R32 board, Hauppauge Video card and an ATI Crossfire PCIe video card.  Can seem to find anything that makes sense in terms of diagnosing the problem.  Any help appreciated.
  • Hi G_Man - If you are encountering this kind of unpredictable behavior, it could be a hardware issue such as bad RAM, a loose connection, etc.  It could also be a firmware or driver issue.  I am not sure the best way to try to narrow this down other than trial and error, and possibly searching in your event logs after it starts crashing.  You might be able to boot your system in safe mode to check this information.
  • PingBack from http://www.pchelpforum.com/windows-xp/25870-cant-install-xp-2.html#post159807

  • Here is an update article on Windows Media Center in Windows 7. www.easy-explanations.com/.../inside-windows-media-center.html

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