Installing Windows NT 3.51 Workstation using Virtual PC
From Ben's Writing
- Create an ISO of your original Windows NT 3.51 Workstation CD or get a copy from some someplace... Do this because otherwise it takes ages to install; its lightning fast with disk images as compared to real CD media.
- The Windows NT 3.51 Workstation CD image I had did not boot on its own, which I believe was standard for the time when the software was first released. So I used the same procedure I used for installing Windows 95: Create boot disks by using the Windows 95 Original (boot95a.exe) program and writing it to a real floppy drive. Then, using RawWrite create the disk image (call it, say, boot95a.img). In the end, I only needed to use boot95a.img to get the whole thing to boot (so don't even bother getting the Windows 95 Version B disk, unless you absolutely cannot boot with the first one).
- Create a new Virtual Machine (VM) in Virtual PC (VPC) with 64MB of RAM and 4GB of disk space.
- Start the new VM and have VPC capture both the nt351w.iso and boot95a.img disk, as a CD-ROM and floppy drive, respectively. You can do this by right clicking on the disk images in the lower left hand side of the VPC window.
- Once the new Virtual Machine has started, use
FDISKto initialize the drive, then
FORMAT C:to get it ready for the OS. You will also need to run the
LOCKapplication to enable direct disk access; otherwise, you'll get an error when you try to run the Windows NT installer bellow:
Windows has disabled direct disk access to protect your long filenames. To override this protection, see the LOCK /? command for more information. The system has been halted. Press Ctrl+Alt+Del to restart your computer.
The command is simple, just run:
And, when prompted, say Y to all the scary stuff it asks you.
- As part of the initial install, the installer will as you for three blank floppies. You can either make them using the Virtual Disk Wizard in the Virtual PC Console, or you can make copies of the boot95a.img disk and format them (or make one copy, format it, then copy that one twice). It seems weird that they make boot disks and then start to copy files over to the hard drive, before you actually boot off of it, but that's the way this setup works. So make the disks, and wait for the files to be copied over the hard drive.
- Now on to the fun part: Installing Window NT 3.51. (The installation program is called
WINNTand it is located off the root of the CD-ROM—which should be the R: drive, if you used the same boot disks I did—in a directory called i386.) To do a basic install from the Dos drive we created, run:
WINNT /B /W
/B flag tells installer to replace the boot loader on the main disk, while the
/W informs the installer that it is installing on a Windows 95 machine (which you are not, of course, since you've booted of a floopy, but it is required if you want the
C: drive converted to NTFS). You might wonder why you'd want to format the disk in the first place, if you are going to convert it later. It's a good question. But I don't have a good answer: it is because otherwise the NT installer will fail to detect a drive with 70MB free (since it will only see your floopy).
- Wait a long time while the installer checks the drive.
- When prompted for the CD key, if you have it saved in a file, just copy it out of there (remove the '-' and 'OEM', if it has it) and use Virtual PC to paste it into the Virtual Machine (fake the key strokes rock!). It's all about being lazy. Conceivably, one could write out all the required key strokes for an install, and simply paste them in to Virtual PC, to automate the installation; but, well, that's just silly, since there are much simpler ways of doing unattended installs.
- When asked about hardware, if you are given a list, don't select any for now, we do that later, once the installation is complete. (There are drivers on the Virtual Machine Additions ISO provided by Virtual PC.)
- [Optional] During setup it asks to make a start-up disk, if you release boot95a.img and make a copy of it (re-name it to startup95.img, or something similar), you can capture the new disk image, and have the Windows 95 setup create a new start-up disk for you. Very exciting.
- Once the installation is complete, release the floppy disk, because the seek noise on boot will drive you up the wall. While you’re at it, you can also release the install media, since you won't need it anymore.
Once you have everything configured properly, it's time to update Windows (as all good Windows users do, right?). I found, to my surprise, that the Windows 3.51 Service Pack was still available from the Microsoft web-site. Man, I'd hate to be the person doing the support for that.
You can get SP5 from here; you want Sp5_351i.exe.
Now, when you tell Virtual PC to Install or Update Virtual Machine Additions, in the words of the venerable comedian Douglas Addams, "Don't Panic!", because it will just give you a weird error (the kernel is missing a handy function to tell Virtual PC if a debugger is running, if that means anything to you, great! If not, don't worry about, it's not important anyway). But this error really isn't an error; you can ignore it and simple Explore the CD for the setup program... Sadly, it turns out only the DOS applications actually work on a Window 95 base install (and they do not play well with Windows, so you have to exit to the command line and run FSHARE.EXE to get Folder Sharing to work—and even then, it's only in DOS that you can access that drive. If you try to run Windows once it has been loaded, Windows goes all wonky—try it, if you don't believe me) what really strikes me about this, is that even the OS/2 additions work—and who even uses that OS anymore?! (says the man installing Windows 95)—so why doesn't it work on a stock Windows 95 install?