I've been tasked with building a demo that will translate into an article for MSDN, this requires that I build a custom Windows XP Embedded operating system image and boot the image on a PC provided by MSDN, it would appear that someone has already been playing with the MSDN PC hardware because the PC boots directly into an XP Embedded image that doesn't have a shell (no control panel, no explorer), doesn't have any useful tools, but I can get to a command prompt.

I know that the PC has two physical drives, the first drive has a copy of Windows XP Professional, the second drive has the Windows XP Embedded image - the PC boot sequence is of course controlled by a BOOT.INI file located on the root of the C:\ drive - from the command prompt I can see the existing boot.ini file on the root of the C:\ drive, this means that I can copy the file to appropriate storage media (nope, there aren't any USB drivers in the image, so I can't use a USB drive), the only hardware media device that could be used from the command prompt is A:\ - the 1.4MB floppy drive. The cunning plan is to copy the existing boot.ini file to a floppy disk (disc or disk?), edit using notepad on my Vista desktop, and then copy the file back to the MSDN PC.

But wait, there's a problem... when was the last time you actually needed a floppy disk ?

A search of the buildings stationary rooms (I guess they are called stationary rooms because they don't move) didn't turn up anything (everything is on the network, right? - you can even PXE boot and image a new machine over the network, so why do you need a CD-Rom or Floppy ?) - thankfully one of my colleagues had a secret stash of floppies in his office.

A few minutes later I had copied, modified, and copied back the boot.ini and could finally boot into the Windows XP Pro image - my demo image is now built and copying over to the MSDN PC hardware.

What an interesting morning.

- Mike