If you ever perform installation of Windows 98, you may notice that you need a piece of floppy disk called Microsoft DOS boot disk. The disk actually contains the Microsoft DOS operating system that become the pre-installation environment platform to boot your computer. The operating system itself contains the command-line utilities required to prepare your empty hard disk for the installation.
What I means “to prepare” is you can use the Microsoft DOS boot disk to do the following (in tandem)
- Setup disk partition using FDISK command.
- Perform hard disk formatting using FORMAT command.
- Copy all Windows 98’s data from its CD installer into the hard disk. It can be done using the COPY command.
After you had done performing the steps above, you can start install Windows 98 from your hard disk using the setup.exe program.
But nowadays, we don’t need the MS DOS boot floppy disk anymore. It had been replaced by the another new generation of command-line operating system created by Microsoft. It is Windows PE. Furthermore, the limitations of Microsoft DOS boot disk had led Microsoft to develop Windows PE.
An Overview Of Windows PE
Windows PE (Pre-installation Environment) is a lightweight version of Windows operating system. It is not designed to become the primary operating system such as Windows XP, Windows Vista or Windows 7. It intend to replace the Microsoft DOS as a new generation of pre-installation environment platform. You can use the CD/DVD or USB thumb drive as a platform to boot your computer using Windows PE.
Like Microsoft DOS, it can be used to prepare computer hard disk for Windows installation. More than that, you also can use Windows PE to capture Windows image, copy it from network share or local source (eg: external hard disk) and deploy the image file into targeted computer.
Besides, Windows PE also be used for diagnostic & recovery purpose. It allows technician to troubleshoot, diagnose or backup important data from Windows system which cannot run at all.
To acquire Windows PE, you must install Microsoft WAIK in your Windows system first. Then, you can create the Windows PE boot CD or Windows PE boot USB using Windows PE Tools command prompt. I will cover about this later in my next posting.
Who Should Use Windows PE
Windows PE is very usable to IT team of large corporations that have many computers to be managed. With Windows PE, they can create the single Windows image. The image then can be deployed into many computers at the same time. This process called unattended installation. It can save a lot of time than performing the manual installation that require interactive setup from technician. To get the comparison between unattended installation and manual installation, click here.
In addition of that, the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) also use Windows PE to pre-install Windows OS into their computers’ product during manufacturing.
After the emergence of Windows PE version 2.0, this lightweight operating system is available to end users.