Install Windows Vista, Windows XP and Windows 7 from a USB Jumpdrive

KeyWords: Windows, WinPE 2, USB, UFD, VFD, virtual, boot, sector, utility, install, windows 7, vista, xp, diskpart, install, from, usb

Install Windows Vista, Windows XP and Windows 7 from a USB Jumpdrive
by FrosT

I am in no way responsible for losing data, corrupting jumpdrives or harddrives due to you choosing to follow this tutorial. Do any and all of these actions at your own risk with understanding it may do damage to your data, as such you should backup all of your data before proceeding. I have done this myself and it worked great. Remember that Windows 7 is a BETA release and if you do not already have it I cannot help you in finding it. Same goes with XP and Vista, if you do not have a valid/legal copy of either I cannot help you find one, so do not ask. Thank you.

For those who do not know, I am an IT Professional. As such my job demands me to re-image computers on a regular basis. For the most part I just use a premade universal image. This works great, but every now and then I need to install Windows XP, Vista or 7 (testing purposes) on a machine without all the crazyness of an image (policies and what not). Since I have never been a "good" cd keeper, almost all my CD's/DVD's are trashed within the first 5 uses. As such I decided to go out and buy an 8 GB Jumpdrive to try and find a way to fit all three of those operating systems on to one medium and not have to carry 3 CD's/DVD's around. Due to this I spent about 5 hours reading through tutorials on WinPE 2.0 and BartPE. Well since BartPE does not allow you to install Windows 7 (not sure on Vista) that was not the option for me. As such I set out to install WinPE 2.0 on a jumpdrive.

Well this went relatively seamless, except for the fact that I do not use Windows Vista on any of my computers and I really did not want to setup a machine with Vista just for creating this jumpdrive to install all 3 operating systems. Instead I found an alternative usage to the Diskpart program that is recommended. The reason the Diskpart program would not work is under Windows XP it does not show removable storage as being a disk to list. In Vista, removable storage devices are shown, and if you use Vista, the tutorials you can find on google will work just fine to setup the jumpdrive to be bootable. If that is the case, you can simply skip over this part of the tutorial.

First up, we need to take the jumpdrive (for just one OS you can use a 4GB, for more than one an 8GB is needed) and make it bootable. The easiest way to do this is with the HP Boot Utility. I do not have a direct download to it, but you should find it somewhere on Google. After you have that utility you need the Windows 98 SE Boot disk which can be found also on Google. If you do not have a floppy drive, which I take is very likely to not have one, we need a way to "mount" a floppy disk. Luckily there is a utility for that as well! Download the Virtual Floppy Drive software. Now once you have those files and installed the Virtual Floppy Drive and the HP Bootable USB utility we need to mount the Windows 98 SE Boot disk to a virtual floppy. Finally we will need Bootsect so we can change the boot sector later on to use a newer version.

Mounting Windows 98 SE to Virtual Floppy Drive
Open up the VFD program and click Start, I do not recommend installing it as a service unless you want to continue using it. Next click on the Disk 0 and click “Create“ (I think it is create) and make sure it is set on 1.44 MB 3.5“ and click ok. Now you should have A:\ show up in Windows Explorer (unless you set it to be something different). Let's open up the boot98se.exe and click ok and it should extract the files to the floppy. Great, we have the files on a virtual floppy drive, let's open up the HP USB Bootable Utility. Once that is open we want to format the drive as Fat32 and click on the “Dos Startup Disk“ or whatever that checkbox says. Browse to your Virtual Floppy Drive and use that.


I generally check the "Quick Format" but you can do it how you want. Make sure the right jumpdrive is selected, if it is not select it. Once you are sure click the “Start“ button to format the jumpdrive and make it bootable. We are nearly done, we now just have to go into a Command prompt (Start > Run > cmd) and locate the bootsect.exe and run "bootsect.exe /nt60 E: /f" Where E: is the drive letter of your jumdrive. It should change the boot sector to use the updated version (bootmgr) file.
Now we are onto to the WinPE 2.0

Getting Win PE 2.0
Well since I cannot write this tutorial better myself, I will direct you to the tutorial I used to get a valid copy of Win PE 2.0. Remember, do not do the Diskpart potion if you are on XP and followed the above steps. The best tutorial that helped me out was the one from You can find the tutorial at Svrops WinPE 2.0 Tutorial. This tutorial will show you how to add features to Win PE 2.0 etc. When you get to the part about making the ISO, which is not necessary. However, copying the winpe.wim to the /sources is important and renaming it to boot.wim. Now we simply need to copy everything located at C:\winpe\iso to your jumpdrive's root directory. (C:\ being the name of where you put winpe). Once you have it copied, you now have a bootable version of WinPE 2.0 on a jumpdrive. Now it is time to copy the windows file. I made separate directories for each version of windows (WinVista, WinXP, Win7) and copy the CD files straight to that. If it is in .iso format, mount the ISO and copy the files that way or burn the .iso to a CD/DVD then copy it. We need all the files from each CD/DVD or Image in the folder. Once that has been done, you now have all 3 operating systems on one bootable jumpdrive. Let's boot into WinPE 2.0 on a system you would like to install one of the three operating systems.

Booting up Into WinPE 2.0
Since I am not familiar with all BIOS and computer setups I would suggest, if you do not know how to boot to USB, googling how to for your system. There should be plenty of those out there. I will not waste time answering questions about how to do that, so do not ask. Booting into WinPE 2.0 will take a few minutes. The command prompt you initially see may look like it is "hanging" on winpeinit (or something similar) if so, just be patient. After 1 or 2 minutes it should pop up a new line you can type on. From here, I am not sure if the jumpdrive was mounted for me before or not. To check, try just typing in E:\ or D:\ depending on how many partitions/drives are on that computer it may be one of those or further down. You know the system better than I do. So try those first. After each one do a DIR if you see your WinXP, WinVista, Win7 folders in the directory listing then that is the drive and you can simply cd to whatever version you want and run setup.exe. And it is as simple as that.

However, if that did not work correct for you, at the command prompt type diskpart. Do a list disk and see if your jumpdrive is there (look at the size to verify) if it is do a SEL DISK X (where X is the number the jumpdrive is listed as for me it was 1). From there do AUTOMOUNT. This should mount the drive. So exit out of the diskpart and go through the process above until you locate the jumpdrive. Switch the windows version you want to install and install it.

Editor's Note:
After I tried installing WinXP using this method I found that you need to run the following command to install Windows XP and not the executable:

D:\os\WinXP\i386\winnt32.exe /syspart:C: /tempdrive:C: /makelocalsource.

Make sure D: is your jumpdrive's letter and \os\WinXP\ is where i have my XP extracted to, so modify that to be what you put it as.
Also Make sure you replace C: with the drive you want to install Windows to. (I would also verify that the drive is mounted with DISKPART before running the above).

After that is done running, remove your Jumpdrive and reboot and it should load into the Windows Installation.

Ending Notes
This process worked great for me, if it does not work for you, well I am sorry. There are just too many variables that it can go wrong. So please ask questions, but first do your own research. I will not take time to help someone who did not bother helping themselves. If you find an error or an issue with this tutorial please feel free to comment and let me know and I will look into correcting it.

Thanks for reading.

Posted by frost on Apr 26th, 2009 08:11 - Subscribe Bookmark and Share

Post a comment:


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Posted by anonymous on April 29th, 2009

Nice posting. One suggestion is that instead of having the OS files on the USB drive directly, just keep the ISO images (I use Magic ISO to make them) of them on the drive and use the free Microsoft Virtual CD powertoy (yes it does work in PE 2.0) to mount the OS image. This makes the copying and maintenance a lot easier since each OS is only one file. The image can still be customized with a winnt.sif file (XP anyway) using ISO image software (again Magic ISO for me) to slip the new/modified file into the ISO.

Posted by frost on April 29th, 2009

Not a bad tip. I will look into setting up that Virtual CD and see if I can't get it to work.

Thanks for the comment!

Posted by anonymous on May 08th, 2009

When attempting to run XP's Setup.exe, the "Install Windows" option in the list is greyed out.

Posted by frost on May 08th, 2009

Yea, I just noticed that. I am updating and adding this:

In order to install WindowsXP the following command will be needed:
D:\os\WinXP\i386\winnt32.exe /syspart:C: /tempdrive:C: /makelocalsource.

Make sure D: is your jumpdrive's letter and \os\WinXP\ is where i have my XP extracted to, so modify that to be what you put it as.
Also Make sure you replace C: with the drive you want to install Windows to. (I would also verify that the drive is mounted with DISKPART before running the above).

Posted by frost on July 21st, 2009

test “Create“

Posted by anonymous on August 18th, 2009


To simplify the process, you can successfully partition and format drives from PE for XP installations. There are two tools needed to work around the Vista/XP formatting differences. The first is a registry fix that you can load from a .reg file. The contents should look like this:
@="Alignment Settings in Bytes"

Then you can use PEs diskpart to format the partition. Finally, use bootsect ( to fix the mbr. Now run the command you have for installing XP. And thank you for the command line. I didn't include the /syspart and /tempdrive options and wound up messing up my thumb drive (temporarily).

Lastly, I have a .reg for the settings above and I also exported the ones that pre-exist in PE. This way I can switch back without a reboot. Probably never need it, but you never know.

Posted by anonymous on August 18th, 2009

Oh, and the custom answer file can be referenced in the command above like this:

D:\os\WinXP\i386\winnt32.exe /syspart:C: /tempdrive:C: /makelocalsource /unattend:X:\files\winnt.sif

The file can be located on the USB drive, in the XP image, or wherever. Just ensure the full path is correct and accessible. And if you add /dudisable, it will ensure the installation does not try to connect to the internet for dynamic updates.

Posted by anonymous on September 20th, 2009

forget all this trouble google for "wintoflash "

its a novicorp freeware.

Posted by frost on September 22nd, 2009

Posted by anonymous on September 19th, 2009

Thank you for the link reference. If I would have only found that while I was working on this project =\

Posted by anonymous on February 21st, 2010





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