Technology Advice by Ryan Taylor Adams

Option to Install Windows is Grayed Out (when Running Network Install)

July 30th, 2008 · 18 Comments · Printer Friendly Version


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This is not a guide to installing Vista on your m200. This is a follow-up to the original post here. This post is only for those that have tried installing Vista or XP on a laptop using TFTP32 and have experienced a grayed out “Install Windows” button.

  1. Boot into Windows PE 2.0 over the network as detailed here.
  2. Once you get to the Windows PE prompt, type: “FORMAT c: /fs:ntfs /q” without quotes. This will remove everything on your C: drive.
  3. If installing Windows XP Tablet edition, insert the second install CD. Connect to the shared CD drive on the same computer as TFTP32. Type “xcopy CMPNENTS\*.* c:\CMPNENTS /E”. If prompted, go ahead and create the directory.
  4. Insert the first Windows XP Tablet edition CD, or the only Windows Vista DVD into the shared drive. Make sure the Windows PE command prompt is still in the shared CD drive and type “\i386\winnt32.exe /syspart:c:”.
  5. After the install starts, it will at some point return you to the Windows PE environment. At that time, manually restart the computer by typing “wpeutil reboot” and pressing enter. When your computer restarts, allow it boot from the hard drive (do not boot from the network).
  6. If installing Windows XP Tablet edition, setup will prompt for “Disk 2.” Browse to the folder c:\CMPNENTS, which you created in step 3, until you find the folder/file that setup is looking for.

Thanks to Wayne Taylor for his help with these steps.

18 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Dave // Aug 6, 2008 at 8:11 PM

    Hello, first off all thanks for the great guide!

    I am sitting here VERY VERY frustrated. I have followed your guide exactly and I still can’t get things to work. I am trying to install windows xp tablet. After I mount the drive, I am able to launch windows setup, and my install text is grayed out (why is this?). I followed the guide for this error to the T. After I install from the winnt32.exe I get back to the win pe environment as stated. I typed reboot and it wouldn’t recognizing that command. So I shut down the pc, and started it again booting from the hard disk. I get “disk read error” every time. I have tried the whole installation process 9 times with no luck. I was reading somewhere that win PE 2.0 uses a different type of partitioning system that is not compatibility with windows XP and that’s why I’m getting nowhere. Please help!

  • 2 Ryan Adams // Aug 6, 2008 at 8:42 PM

    @Dave: Try replacing “winnt32.exe” in step 4 with “winnt.exe”. Let me know if that makes a difference.

  • 3 Chris // Aug 10, 2008 at 2:30 PM

    Hi. I was having the same exact problem but I overcame it. The problem I found was with the formating step. Whatever tool is used in win pe to format the drive does not leave it recognizable when rebooting. I removed the hard drive from the laptop, plugged it in via usb to the host computer and repartitioned and quick formated it. I reinstalled it, and then repeated the steps using winnt32.exe. Now everything works as expected.

  • 4 Dave // Aug 12, 2008 at 6:51 PM

    I ended up just booting from an SD card, and formating the drive to fat16 and booting from winnt.exe

  • 5 AA // Sep 9, 2008 at 10:56 PM

    Ryan, thanks for the great instructions on your site. I’m going to Paypal a few bucks your way – you saved me a lot of time getting XP working on my M200.

    At first, I was having the EXACT same problems as @Dave. Running winnt.exe didn’t work. So what I did was:

    after step #1, I ran diskpart with the following commands:

    SEL DISK 0
    SEL PAR 1

    This created an 800MB C partition that would actually boot (seems that formatting as NTFS is part of the problem) and be used by XP setup for temporary files. I then formatted it as FAT and continued with step #3. During XP setup, I created a D: NTFS drive to actually install XP to.

    This worked well for me. Just thought I’d mention it in case anyone got stuck like I did.

  • 6 Leon // Oct 1, 2008 at 9:18 AM

    i have this problem with my laptop,
    at the first time when i installed XP via network, i used winnt.exe and installed XP without any problem,
    then after many weeks i formatted Laptop and installed Vista,
    now i’m trying to back and install XP, but this time about winnt.exe is not work,
    again i tried to use winnt32.exe but “install windows xp” is grayed like it is mentioned here in this post
    i tried to follow this post but it didn’t work yet,
    any idea?
    why the file winnt.exe is worked at the first time when i installed XP, but now this time is didn’t work?


  • 7 Ryan Adams // Oct 1, 2008 at 4:33 PM

    @Leon: I’ve seen cases where there are issues going from Vista to XP on the same hard drive. You may need to reformat the drive and recreate the MBR before you will be able to install XP.

  • 8 dave // Oct 5, 2008 at 7:34 PM

    Instructions worked great. I got the windows setup to start and copy installation files. Then at the reboot part, my Tablet (TC1100) just has a blinking cursor. I think I need to change the boot.ini file now… any idea how I can do this?

  • 9 David D. // Oct 12, 2008 at 4:00 PM

    If you use “net use y: \\\ /user:\ ” you don’t have to enter the user name and pass separately, and it was the only way that I could get the folder to mount.

    In clarification to AA’s post above, if you use the fat method, when you first start the windows install (before the first restart), make sure that you do not tell it to upgrade that c: that you created to NTFS. At least when I did this it failed. Select no, and after the restart it will give you the option to create the new partition. And 800MB in the diskpart operation is more than enough space for the temporary files (I made it bigger, oops)

  • 10 Hyun // Oct 21, 2008 at 9:45 AM

    My M400 came w/ Vista business.
    I have Portege M400 w/o optical drive, and when I connect external optical drive, my system just won’t boot from the external optical drive. Installing windows XP through Network , PXE (leaving this for someone using the search engine)


    Here was my problem.
    When I do all the steps with winnt32.exe, I get a blue screen (of death) after reboot.
    Like AA’s comment, formating the HDD with NTFS is most likely causing the problem.
    I also solved my problem using AA’s method.
    Like the above person David D. said, 800 MB was good enough.
    I used windows xp CD w/ many other drives and all but still less than 800Mb.
    I made the drive 900 MB tho..xD(about 300 MB space left)

    When you type your username, type “\username”
    I got an error when I typed “\192…..”
    No “\” in the beginning for the username part.

    I used, USB drive method, SD card method and both of them did not work for me because there were always file error on those drives. Maybe all of my USB stick and SD card had bad sectors or something. I spent about 40 hours trying to install windows xp on my M400 using USB and SD method but failed.

    So far, this method w/ AA’s suggestion is the only method that worked perfectly.

    Thanks all.

  • 11 David // Oct 22, 2008 at 2:28 AM

    Hey Ryan,

    Thanks a lot. I got also this issue with a M200 Portege but I solve it now. Thank you. Your site is very helpful.

    Regards from Germany!

  • 12 f3tt // Nov 14, 2008 at 8:34 PM

    Awesome guide, worked for me. I followed AA’s steps, and it worked like a charm! Thanks!

  • 13 lisa // Nov 23, 2008 at 12:43 AM

    can you install win xp on toshiba portege m200

  • 14 Ryan Adams // Nov 23, 2008 at 9:57 AM

    @lisa: Windows XP Tablet PC Edition comes on the m200 by default. So, yes, you can.

  • 15 Ben // Dec 17, 2008 at 7:56 AM

    Thanks Ryan, the m200 is a real pain in the ass to install OS on, thanks to your guide I was able to do so. Your instructions are put together nicely, making it easy for someone like myself who does not have all that much experience able to execute them. Also very nice of you to put all the necessary files together in one download. I just noticed your from Scottsdale, im your neighbor in Phoenix, THANKS FOR YOUR HELP!

  • 16 Anti // Jan 2, 2009 at 3:22 PM

    Most important step:
    Do not fromat the hard disk as NTFS while in Windows PE. If you are installing Windows XP just format the hard drive as FAT32 and start the setup. Later, in XP you can convert the hard drive to NTFS!
    Good luck!

  • 17 Bod // Apr 9, 2009 at 9:40 AM

    Just want to add that using the command

    Format c: /fs:fat32

    seems to work (space between c: and /fs:fat32) Thought it might help.

  • 18 dc // Apr 26, 2009 at 4:12 PM

    Thanks much for all this, very useful and informative. Going to paypal a few bucks your way for hard work and bandwidth.

    Just a random note: My SATA drivers are unsupported by the PE and various windows installers (which is why I’m using/loving your method). Connecting to a share with the drivers and using “drvload.exe [driver].inf” fixes things right up. Thanks again.

  • 19 hotarubi // Jul 17, 2009 at 2:24 AM

    damn! got me quite some time to get it right. Just to add up, you must specify the drive you’d like the OS to be install, on the “Advance Settings” before installing the OS itself or you’ll end up with “disk $#!+ error” or something like that after you try to reboot ^^.
    At the end it all works out for me, thanks to the author of this very useful blog .

  • 20 Caleb // Feb 11, 2010 at 1:13 AM

    Took me 4 hours of working with it but everything worked great, this is an extrememly helpful article set and I look forward to using this knowledge in the future!

  • 21 haidar // Mar 8, 2010 at 7:34 PM

    thanks a lot, it works for me!!