Microsoft Licensing Question

Posted on 2011-10-25
Last Modified: 2012-05-12
Can anyone provide documentation as to the legality of loading Windows XP Professional for Embedded Systems on a removable compact flash card.  
Question by:CCSWilk
    LVL 22

    Accepted Solution

    The EULA (available here) makes no mention of mass storage, only that you may run the product on a system.  That being the case, you can run it on a a system that uses a hard drive, SSD, Compact Flash, Secure Digital, mini-IDE flash, streaming magnetic tape or punched cards, so long as you comply with the terms of the EULA.

    (Side note:  XP can't run normally from punched cards, because those are a write-once read-many medium, thus no pagefile.  But if the pagefile were set to zero and nothing was running that required paging, the system could limp along for a while before failing due to some obscure pagefile side effect.)
    LVL 22

    Expert Comment

    by:Dr. Klahn
    Some hardware addenda:

    There really are pagefile issues with running XP from a CompactFlash card.   The main one is that CF has a fixed lifetime measured in write cycles, and due to the CF chip's built in wear leveling, when it goes bad, the entire chip goes bad all at once.  It is prudent to use a dual CF adapter (example 1, example 2) and put the pagefile on a second CF that can be replaced quickly if the problem ever occurs.

    Many CF adapters have problems with DMA access, causing them to fail either at installation or intermittently while in use.  This can generally be avoided by setting the BIOS disk access method to PIO rather than DMA, and disabling UDMA auto-detect at installation, then disabling UDMA access for the IDE controllers asap once XP is installed.  PIO has significant speed disadvantages compared to DMA, but in an embedded system without a lot of disk traffic, the performance hit is often acceptable.  My own web server runs from just such a dual CF configuration.
    LVL 22

    Expert Comment

    by:Dr. Klahn
    And another:

    It's much easier and a lot faster to install and debug the system on an 8 GB notebook drive, then transfer it to an 8 GB CF, than to try to bring it up from scratch on CF.
    LVL 1

    Author Closing Comment

    Thank you, this is excellent information!!

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