One of the major problems that has plagued Windows XP is it’s never had the facility to install itself onto some newer hardware without the need for extra steps. Although SATA, AHCI and RAID enabled storage controllers have been around for several years, the Windows XP install CD never gained the ability to install directly onto this hardware, and you need a floppy disk with the necessary drivers for XP to be able to recognize your hard drives during setup. If you don’t use a driver floppy, you will get the dreaded “Setup did not find any hard disk drives installed in your computer” error.
Download a floppy SATA/RAID driver, extract it to floppy disk and then when installing XP, you need to press F6 at the specified time to install the driver. However, most desktop computers and all laptops don’t come with a floppy drive these days, and what makes it worse is you cannot use anything else such as a USB stick to put the drivers on, it MUST be a floppy drive. Although you can use an external USB floppy drive, it would be a waste to buy one just to use it for installing Windows XP. Recently we found a workaround that can enable you to install the SATA drivers from a USB flash drive after pressing F6, but this solution is known to be not 100% working on all computers.
In order to get around having to use a floppy drive, you can integrate the floppy SATA/RAID driver into the Windows XP CD yourself. This way, you can install Windows XP on a SATA hard drive without using a floppy drive at all because the driver is already present on the CD. You’ll need to have an XP CD or the source files contained on one stored on your hard drive, the floppy SATA/RAID driver which can be downloaded from the motherboard manufacturer’s website and a CD/DVD writer.
Here are 2 ways to integrate the SATA drivers into your Windows XP CD allowing installation without the need of a floppy drive.
Integrate SATA drivers using nLite
This first method uses the update and driver integrating tool nLite to add the drivers to the Windows XP CD. Just about everyone looking to customize their Windows XP install CD has heard of this tool.
1. Download and install nLite.
2. Download the SATA driver from the motherboard or laptop manufacturer’s website and extract it to a new folder. Alternatively, you might be able to download a newer driver from the SATA or RAID chipset manufacturer such as the drivers from the Intel website for their chipsets. Make sure to get a standalone floppy driver if available or a driver package that includes a floppy driver.
3. Run nLite and select the language to use. Next you need to specify where the Windows XP installation files are. If you already have a folder on you hard drive with the XP CD contents, point to that. If not, insert your XP CD and browse to your disc’s drive letter, select a folder location for it to save to and then wait for it to copy. Click Next once done, and Next again to skip the Presets screen.
4. At Task Selection, click Drivers and Bootable ISO. Click Next.
5. Now click the Insert button at the bottom and select “Multiple driver folder”, choose the folder where the extracted drivers are and click OK. If there are multiple choices, select the correct drivers to integrate. For example, do not select 64 bit drivers on a 32 bit Windows XP. Click OK when done selecting the drivers. Click Next.
6. If this next screen doesn’t appear, you don’t have the correct driver. The driver needs to be of a Textmode type and not a PNP type to be included in the XP setup. Make sure Textmode driver is the selected mode and to choose the exact type of hardware chipset in your system. If you’re not sure, check the documentation or the manufacturers website. For our hardware below we want the Intel ICH9R chipset. Select the drivers you require and click OK and then click Next, and finally OK to start the process.
7. Once the integration has completed, click Next to be taken to the ISO creation and burning screen. You can create a bootable ISO to burn to CD later on, or even burn to CD directly using Direct Burn option. To create and save an ISO simply click the Create Image mode option and then Make ISO. With the help of an ISO file, you could then install Windows XP from a USB flash drive.
The next integration method on page 2 is far easier to get working if you can’t find the right floppy SATA/RAID driver because it makes a universal SATA Windows CD.