Find XP Version From DOS commands ONLY

The PC will not boot all the way up so I cannot tell if it has XP SP2 or SP3. For that reason PLUS there is no XP sticker (with Product Key) on the side of the PC, I **ALSO** can not find if it has XP Home, Pro or Media Center.

NOTE: The moving horizontal bar at the bottom of the XP screen duiring boot is BLUE which eliminates SP1 (green bar) as a possibility.

I want to do a Repair install and this requires that the XP CD has EXACTLY the same version of the XP OS (or a later/higher version). Hence I need to know both the SP level and the version of XP currently on the HD without booting the PC.

Using the Recovery Console  by booting from ANY XP SP2 CD, (i.e a DOS prompt with a limited set of commands) HOW CAN I FIND
(a) SP2 or SP3?
(b) XP Home or Pro or Media Center.

The answer, I assume, is to go to a specified folder (ex. C:\Windows or C:\    or whatever you specify) and look for the existence of CERTAIN FILES.

Please specify the folder to look in and the file name to check for for EACH of the above questions OR some other way to get the same INFO.

Who is Participating?
gurutcConnect With a Mentor Commented:

At the C:\ prompt just type this command:

type boot.ini

My system shows this:

C:\>type boot.ini
[boot loader]
[operating systems]
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Professional"
/noexecute=optin /fastdetect

If that file is ok, it'll tell you what's previously installed.

Good Luck,

- gurutc
To see available commands in the Recovery Console, type: HELP

Try starting in Safe Mode and use these commands at the command line:

For winver:

Verify the version of Windows XP that is installed on the computer
Click Start, click Run, type Winver.exe in the Open box, and then click OK.
In the About Windows dialog box, verify the version of Windows XP that is installed on the computer.
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Or what about just ver? Does that work?
mgross333Author Commented:
EXCUSE ME BUT DOES ANYONE HERE READ THE QUESTION? I SAID AND I QUOTE "The PC will not boot all the way up ...". THAT MEANS SAFE MODE TOO. Are you serious?? If it booted in Safe Mode one would just go to Start>Control Panel>System and the answers would be right there.

And winver & systeminfo & ver are NOT Recovery Console commands per

That eliminates ALL the replies above. DOS COMMANDS AT THE RECOVERY CONSOLE ONLY and please do not tell me to find out what that command subset is : I am expecting YOU will know as you ARE the expert, right?

Hey THIS **IS** ANSERABLE. Because there are files in various folders that correspond to the answers to my TWO questions.  WHAT FOLDERS AND WHAT FILES IS WHAT I NEED TO KNOW.

Also do NOT ignore "reverse' or "backhanded" possibilities. Maybe (I am speculating) when SP3 upgrades it leaves files with SP2 in the name so SP3 can be backed out to those SP2 files (and there is a way to back out of SP3 to SP2 ).  SO MAYBE (???) if there are files in a certain folder with SP2 in the name that means SP3 is installed.  I DON'T KNOW THAT but broadening the possibilites may help you find the answer.

Thanks in advance for your help.  -   Mike
mgross333Author Commented:
IMPORTANT: Since posting above I found the answer for the SP3 question at and also at a thread. Both say to check the dates vs 4/2008 (SP3 date) in the DOS directory listing for certain files (see link above) OR many files in the ...system32 folder .etc You get the idea.

I **STILL** need the answer for XP Home or Pro or Media Center.

mgross333Author Commented:
Gurutc and other EE experts

Gurutc: Thanks for your excellent reply. However we are NOT there yet...

THE ACTUAL SITUATION IS Normal mode Boot goes to Windows XP Screen followed by BSOD with "Unmountable boot volume" so your remark "If that file (boot.ini) is ok, it'll tell you what's previously installed" creates a concern.

Because given the "Unmountable boot volume" error MAYBE BOOT.INI IS NOT OK !!!

BUT READ ON: The standard way to fix this error is (in Recovery Console)
chkdsk /p

followed by


and the problem dissappears AND I WILL TRY THAT AS SOON AS I GET BACK TO MY CUSTOMER TODAY ; THIS HAS WORKED FOR ME IN THE PAST WITH THIS SPECIFIC ERROR but I have only used it 3 times, not a lot of data points..

But if it does NOT fix it, I am wondering if that means that Boot.ini IS BAD AND will not type out per your instructions.

(1) Please comment on the sentence above this one

(2) Do you know ANY OTHER way to tell if Home or Pro or Media Center other than typing out boot.ini ?

 (i.e use the " bootcfg /rebuild" command)

Ignore the starting text at this link and scroll down to steps 1 thru 5.

OK, here is my idea:   I do steps 1, 2, then 3. Look at what is one the screen (XP Pro or Home) and then Hold the Power Button in till the PC shuts down (or per step 4 select NO which I view as not quite as reliable.)

i.e I do not use "bootcfg /rebuild" to change anything. I use it to find the XP version EVEN IF boot.ini is corrupt..

10,000 foot view. My plan is "chkdsk /p" and then "fixboot" as Google search and my own experience shows THAT fixes the error I am getting often. IF IT FAILS then I do a Windows Repair install BUT THAT REQUIRES THAT I use the Windows CD (Home, Pro or Media Center) matching the existing Windows install type which I do not know.


flubbsterConnect With a Mentor Commented:
Looking at the boot.ini file is the way to go.

From the recovery console, use the "more" command:


more c:\boot.ini

The more command will list any text file to the screen. If the boot.ini file gives an access denied message, you may have to change the attributes first.

attrib -s c:\boot.ini
attrib -h c:\boot.ini

OK, the Mama of All Solutions I use when I'm in your wicket of stickyness is The Ultimate Boot CD for Windows.

Go here:

and download and build the sucker.

Then use the superfluous plethora of abundantly fixative, informationalative, and diagnosticative tools that are contained in this exotic garden of healthy computer repair sustenance.

This cd will let you boot windows xp from cd.  Then you have access to gozillion tools to solve your problem.  But the question you ask, what OS-version-sp to the nth nitpicky level, will be best answered by the included System Info for Windows created by Gabriel Topala.  It will tell you more than you knew existed about your patient.

Good Luck,

- gurutc
Oh, and if you go the ubcd4win route, you can even retrieve the windows installation key that 'must have rubbed off the side of the computer case.'

- gurutc
LeeTutorConnect With a Mentor retiredCommented:
From the Recovery Console, perhaps the easiest way to tell the difference between XP Home and XP Pro is the absence of various system files in Home that Pro has.  For example, try the following command to test for the presence of the Group Policy Editor:


If it gives you a "file not found", then it is XP Home rather than Pro or Media Center Edition.  I am still trying to hunt down whether XP MCE has GPEDIT.MSC (I don't have a copy of that available to test).  But XP MCE is built on Pro, with a few hampered business features.  It has the Media Center system files present and XP Pro doesn't, but I can't (yet) point you to a good one to search for because I don't have XP MCE available to look at...
mgross333Author Commented:

I REALLY DO appreicate your first reply above (and you may get points here depending on whether your suggestion works) BUT I DO NOT APPRECIATE THE NEXT TWO POSTS.

FIRST gurutc (and other EE Experts) : WHY HAVE YOU NOT REPLEID ON MY " bootcfg /rebuild" idea (details in my long post above of 05/01/09 07:50 AM). ISN'T THAT A LOT SIMPLER AND LESS TIME CONSUMING THAN USING THE ULTIMATE BOOT CD?

Regarding "...your wicket of stickyness ", I reject that remark. Look, I fix PCs for a living, this is for a customer, there is a recession going on and I need to get paid. And I may need to do a Repair Install so I need to know the XP Version EXACTLY. The CD must EXACTLY match (or be later SP  level) what is on the HD or the Repair Install will fail or make things worse. I AM NOT BEING STICKY, I AM ASKING WHAT I NEED TO KNOW TO GET PAID. IT IS NOT MY FAULT THAT THE PREVIOUS TECH FORGOT TO NOTE WHAT XP VERSION HE/SHE REPLACED VISTA WITH OR PUT AN XP VERSION STICKER (COA STICKER)ON THE CASE SIDE LIKE HE/SHE SHOULD HAVE.

Regarding "you ask, what OS-version-sp to the nth nitpicky level...", I ALREADY SAID ABOVE that I found how to get the SP level in my short post above of 05/01/09 06:33 AM; did you notice that? So why am I hearing about "OS-version-sp" ?? Regarding the rest of the OS version, see the paragraph above this one.

Regarding The Ultimate Boot CD , I will go there when there is no other way. In fact we have your boot.ini idea AND ALSO my " bootcfg /rebuild" idea (to get info, not to rebuild).


mgross333Author Commented:
Lee Tutor,

THANK YOU for your excellent reply.


Thank you also. Your directions on how to handle a "access denied" error on boot.ini is appreciated.

Points will be assigned here after I see what actually works on site.

LeeTutorConnect With a Mentor retiredCommented:
This web page implies that XP MCE doesn't have GPEDIT.MSC:


For Media Center PCs. The Media Center application enables easy listening to music, watching TV, DVD, viewing of photos and video files.

The Rollup 2 Update for Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 (KB900325) from November 2005 brings improved support for XBox 360, support for DVB-T radio, enhanced DVD burning and others.

On the other hand, I found this page:

See the comment by BigFoot48.  It says that there are two versions of XP MCE and one is based on XP Home, the other on XP Pro, with the one based on Pro apparently having GPEDIT.MSC.

In conclusion, on the GPEDIT.MSC test, I think you'll have to test it yourself if you have a version of XP MCE available...

It comes from the Professional version without the domain environment support (including EFS, Remote Desktop, secpol.msc, gpedit.msc).

The Media Center application enables easy listening to music, viewing photos and video files and offers new ways of digital entertainment, such as TV, radio, films on demand. Enhanced display features for viewing videos on a monitor or TV screen. Easy CD and DVD burning. After you connect to internet you can get films on demand, weather forecast, TV guide, and others (depending on where you connect from).

You can also buy a remote control to keep your system within easy reach.

According to the hardware in computer, Media Center PC can fully replace DVD player, TV, radio, video recorder, hi-fi devices and satellites.

I was just joking around.  I meant nothing about you, but about what you could do with the tool.  

Hope you get fixed.  And remember, people here are trying to help you...

If you do decide to go the ubcd4win route, you can back up the box before you do anything that may kill it.  

But it's all up to you.

If you 'don't appreciate' well-intentioned help then I'm in the wrong question.


- gurutc
Adam LeinssSenior Desktop EngineerCommented:
Just a reminder that the experts here are volunteers and are here to help, not hurt.
Any ways, if you boot from UBCD4WIN as suggested by gurutc, you can load the system registry as a HIVE with registry (located in C:\windows\system32\config)
Drill down to HKLM\Software\microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion, look at ProductID
Compare the values to the chart @
The dates and product id should help narrow the version down.
Adam LeinssSenior Desktop EngineerCommented:
* load the registry SYSTEM as a hive with regedit.exe
mgross333Author Commented:
All posts here were not used. Points assigned as the info will likely be of use in the future. Details are below.

Windows Recovery Console could not see the files and folders no matter what SATA mode I chose in the BIOS (and then rebooted to get the new Sata mode to take effect and then back to the Recovery Console). (Ditto for the Lenovo Reovery Partition SW which has an option to backup content to an external USB HD before doing Recovery; it could not see anything on the C: parition either).

But the XP Screen appears before BSOD so the HD **IS** actually readable at boot.

As an aside, when I removed the HD and connected it via a SATA to USB adapter to another PC, IT WAS 100% READABLE. All folders read fine including Windows, Windows\system32 and so on. (which does mean that files in the Windows folder are not corrupt, they likely are, BUT the folders and files CAN be seen). Naturally I immediately backed up all the user data to an external HD and when I return I will reformat the HD and reinstall Windows from Recovery CDs the customer made with Lenovo SW for this purpose shortly after buying the PC).

The possibility of a bad Disk Controller is very obvious here given what is above.

Lenovo phone support was not very helpful because they said they do not support SW i.e the Microsoft Windows Recovery Console. THAT IS TERRA INGONITO TO THEM. DOS PROMPT, WHAT IS THAT ??
They only support ONE piece of SW, their own Recovery Partition SW. Regarding it's failure to read C: so I could back it up prior to Recovery, they said that MAYBE the Recovery Parttion itself was corrupt but they acknowledged that that was only a guess.

I WANT TO EMPHASIZE AGAIN THAT I TRIED ALL SATA MODES IN THE BIOS WITH THEIR RECOVERY SW AND WITH THE WINDOWS RECOVERY CONSOLE because extensive past experience has shown that the 2004-created  Windows XP SP2 CDs do NOT read the more advanced SATA modes BUT changing the SATA mode in the BIOS allows the Recovery Consolde to see C: and its folders and files.

WHICH IS RELATIVELY UNIMPORTANT. WHAT MATTERS IS THE ABILITY TO DO A REPAIR OR PARALLEL INSTALL BOTH OF WHICH KEEP ALL USER DATA. However, if the Recovery Console can not see the folders, then guess what, these VERY USEFUL partial reinstall procedures will not even start. AND IN REAL LIFE **THAT** DOES MATTER.

As I said, a faulty disk controller would explain my entire experience.

mgross333Author Commented:
See my last post.
mgross333Author Commented:
EE Experts receiving points: When I said "See my last post," I MEAN THE ONE ABOVE THIS ONE.

I mention above that there may be a bad disk controller. If that is true, my plan to reformat, reinstall WILL FAIL OF COURSE.  No matter, the PC is under 3 year extended (i.e paid) Lenovo HW warranty with 2 warranty stations within 5 miles. The customer will take it there, the bad HW will be fixed, and I will return and then reformat, reinstall and copy back the user data I backed up per the post immediately above.

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