I have an old Compaq laptop. Its CD-ROM and floppy drive is broken, and its BIOS cannot boot from USB.
I tried doing the following steps to get Windows XP installed directly from the HDD :
1. I plugged the HDD into my desktop machine using an IDE to USB device.
2. I then formatted it with the HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool (FAT32), and made it bootable using the Windows 98 boot disk image as the DOS startup disk.
3. I copied all the contents of the Windows XP Installation CD into the HDD.
4. Removed HDD from desktop machine and plugged it into my Compaq.
5. It boots to DOS. I run the \i386\winnt.exe program to start the installation.
6. The installation completes with no errors and restarts.
When it restarts, I get an "NTLDR is missing" error. I've tried all kinds of methods to get past this error (fixing boot record, mbr, etc) but it still doesn't work. I checked the contents of the HDD and it all checks out ok (boot.ini, etc.).
Strangely, if I install Windows 98 first and then install Windows XP on top of it, the setup runs without a hitch.
Can anyone explain why this happens and suggest a solution that (obviously) doesn't require buying new hardware?