Saturday, 22 February 2014

Add Tablet PC and Media Centre Edition (XP) installs to Easy2Boot

If you want to install Windows XP  Tablet PC or Media Centre Edition using Easy2Boot, you will find there is a slight problem. These versions of Windows XP Professional require an additional CD which contains the extra software components requested during the GUI mode install stage. This means that half-way through the GUI install stage, you will be asked to insert CD #2 (which is difficult when you have booted from a single ISO!).

The two CDs used to install Tablet PC 2005 are (MCE is similar):
CD #1 : Windows XP Professional SP2 (this is identical to the standard SP2 ISO)
CD #2:  Windows XP Tablet PC Edition  CD2 (contains a \CMPNENTS folder)

It is important to note that the Product Key that you enter when prompted during the install, determines whether Windows XP Pro, Tablet PC 2005 or Media Center is installed. Therefore, to install Tablet PC, you need to enter a valid Tablet PC Product Key (usually found on the Certificate of Authenticity label on the reverse of the Tablet PC).

What we need to do is combine the two CDs. To do this you need an ISO editing tool such as Daemon Tools (though other utilities such as Magic ISO, UltraISO or WinISO may also work). Whatever ISO editing tool you pick, it is important that the ISO retains it's boot code after editing it and also, if you are using a modified/edited ISO containing filenames that are longer than the standard 8.3 filename length, that it does not convert these filenames to 8.3 when you save the new ISO file.

Using Daemon Tools Pro, to combine the two ISOs is quite simple:
1. Extract the \CMPNENTS folder from the CD #2 and copy whole folder to a temporary folder on your hard disk.
2. Load the CD #1 (XP Pro SP2) ISO in the Daemon Tools Pro Editor
3. Drag and drop the \CMPNENTS folder to the root (i.e. at the same level as the i386 folder)
4. Save the ISO with a new name (e.g. XP_TABLET_PC_1_2.iso)

Now simply copy the new ISO file to the \_ISO\WINDOWS\XP folder of your Easy2Boot USB drive (and make sure it is contiguous using RMPrepUSB - Ctrl+F2 or WinContig, as usual).
Now just install it as you would a normal XP ISO (use the DPMS version of E2B if installing to a SATA hard disk) - just remember to use a Tablet PC Product Key or else you will end up with Windows XP Professional instead of Tablet PC 2005! Also, note that because the ISO is now larger, you will need more memory in the system than if you were installing from two real CDs.

Tip: If you have BSOD or reboot/crash problems using the E2B Step 2 (512MB+) option, try the Step 2 (Low RAM) option instead.

P.S. I found that I had to install under VirtualBox with Virtual Technology CPU enhancements OFF for both the first (textmode) and second (GUI mode) install stages, otherwise it crashed!

Service Pack 3
You may be aware that there is no SP3 version of Tablet PC or MCE; you will have to run the SP3 update after installing the SP2 version. However, there are instructions here on how to prepare an SP3 Tablet PC ISO (actually an SP2 ISO which auto-updates to SP3). I suggest you use nLite to make this new ISO if you run into trouble with 8.3 filename conversion (check the \$OEM$\$$\Microsoft.NET folder name looks correct and is not 'MICROSOF' before saving the ISO file!).

Don't forget to delete the original \i386\SVCPACK.IN_ file and add (or edit) a new \i386\SVCPACK.INF file. I used this for the new SVCPACK.INF file:

;Windows XP
Signature="$Windows NT$"




Tip: If you are installing a Tablet PC from a Volume Licence version of XP Pro SP2 32-bit, you will need to enter the correct VL Tablet PC key for your establishment. I found one beginning with KT3Q2 got me past the install stage (though it may not be valid to use or activate correctly).