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E-911 call: How do I force an ipl from cd drive when I must bypass the mscdex or similar ?

The computer is in such a state of horror that when it's booted, it goes directly to win safe mode, and even then nothing works (all blue screens, each different, likely none of any useful info).  Therefore the only way I can DO anything is by going straight to the dos prompt.  When I do that, I have failed to run mscdex or whatever this computer uses to allocate cd-rom drive / assign drive letter to it.
BUT I need to reinstall windows 98 (se) and I only have our original CD (the source, not a copy) from which to do the reinstall.  
That puts me between a rock and a hard place.  I have, from the dos prompt, searched in vain for anything that even RESEMBLES mscdex, so I cannot find a way to make it initialize the cd drive.  What can I do ?  If I boot it by simply putting the cd in the drive, obviously it still will start up windows from the hard disk.  
WHAT DO I DO ?  This is a critical computer (work not home)

p.s.  I did try going to the Windows directory, and there happen to be the set of .cab files there, but it turned out they were all for Windows 98 (NOT 98SE) so that is no good.  I want it to use 98SE).

many points of gratitude to be had for a quick and useful solution.  
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ccbon
Asked:
ccbon
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1 Solution
 
blue_zeeCommented:

Bootup with a startup floppy disk in the drive. You can download one from www.bootdisk.com.

At the a:\ prompt if you wanta clean install type format c:

If you want to install on top just go to e: and type setup.

Zee
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ccbonAuthor Commented:
Hi Zee.

I have read your comment and I THANK YOU for such a quick response;
Unfortunately I won't be able to test it out until tomorrow.

I presume that when you mentioned bootdisk.com you realized that I'll have to create that floppy on my computer here at home; the computer in question at work is in no shape to connect to any website (yet).

I'll now go to that site and download a startup onto a floppy using this computer and take it with me tomorrow.

The idea of "format c:" has always been a frightening thought - won't that wipe out all files on the disk entirely ?  I mean above and beyond windows ?  But if it were limited in scope, I'd like to try it.  I want to clean that computer up.

Thanks.
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blue_zeeCommented:

1. If you have important data and want to keep the programs installed, don't format and install on top.

2. If you want a fresh install you must format.

Good luck,

Zee
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ccbonAuthor Commented:
TO: BLUE ZEE-
from CCBON:

Well, I started to try your solution, but not THAT much to my surprise, the a\: drive is absolutely useless.  I took the machine apart (what's left to lose?) and there was a) some sort of gummy stuff in various areas within the floppy's bay and b) the rest of the components I saw generally looked like they'd been through an earthquake.  Nothing was quite straight.  Funeral arrangements are in progress.

We will be replacing this computer.

 Nevertheless, I would like you to have the points, because in chatting with a couple of friends, I determined that your solution almost certainly would have worked.  Also as I mentioned, your answer came very quickly. THANK YOU !
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blue_zeeCommented:

Yucky sight!!!

Thanks for the points and comments.

You should have asked for a refund.

Good luck with your new rig.

Zee
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