When you buy a pre-build computer system it usually ships with an operating system that is already installed on it. These systems may not ship with a full copy of the operating system. They may ship with a recovery CD that you can use to restore the operating system when it does not boot anymore, or with options to create such a disc when it does not ship with one.
Either way, this makes it impossible to install the operating system on a new system that you may buy or have. The only option that you have in this case is to buy an extra copy of Windows and use it to install it on the new system.
What many users do not know is that they have options to turn a recovery CD into a bootable standalone CD that they can use to install the Windows XP operating system.
You only need one tool and the recovery CD of course. Download the tool XP Iso Builder and install it on your system. Create a temp directory for the new CD on your hard drive, name it XP for instance. Copy the complete recovery CD to the temporary folder. Make sure you copy hidden and system files as well (check in folder options that they are shown when you browse directories).
You may want to delete the folder $OEM$ in the temporary directory, it contains software that the manufacturers added to the recovery CD. This software is normally not needed.
Start XP Iso Builder and make sure the language is set correctly.
If the recovery CD does not contain Service Pack 3 you can integrate it to automatically so that you do not have to install it manually afterwards. Download Windows XP service pack 3 Network Installation Package for IT Professionals and Developers. Save the file to your hard drive and select Integrate Service Pack in XP Iso Builder. Browse to the file and select it, the integration of the service pack should begin.
After we have integrated the service pack we can integrate new updates as well that have been released for the operating system. The easiest way is to use an update pack that contains all updates since the release of service pack 3. One location to download that file would be the winboard website. Unpack the downloaded file on your hard drive and select the entry (8) Service Updates from the xp iso builder menu.
Browse to the folder that you unpacked the files to and hit ok once you are done. All updates will be added to your installation which may take a couple of minutes.
Select (11) Finish from the menu and click on start integration. Select a filename and the creation starts.
After this is done you are ready to burn the iso to a cd with a tool like Nero for instance.
That is it. You created a full windows xp installation cd from your recovery cd and may now install it on different computers.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.