Friday, September 21, 2012

SOLVED! How I Installed a Fresh Copy of Windows XP on a Toshiba Portege M200/M205 Notebook Computer

As a computer-related thing to do, this sucks. I spent a couple of days trying to work around it and researching, trying to find out what would and would not work - finding out the hard way what did not work. This is what worked for me.

You will need:
  • Toshiba M200-series tablet/notebook PC
  • Windows XP license key (look on the bottom of the computer)
  • Windows installation CD (I used a Dell-branded OEM XP Professional SP2 reinstall disc)
  • Separate computer capable of booting from an IDE drive
  • Separate computer with Internet access, an empty USB socket, and a CD drive (can be the same separate computer)
  • (maybe) 3.5" to 2.5" IDE connector adapter
  • A USB flash ("thumb") drive
  • #1 philips screwdriver
  • Patience

Listen to the mustn'ts:

  • Nevermind booting from an external CD or DVD drive, that will not work for you. There are statistically zero PCMCIA optical drives that the M200-series will boot from.
  • Nevermind booting from an SD card. It can only read cards up to 1GB anyway, but you probably won't be able to get it to boot from an SD card. I tried using a Multimedia Card and it didn't work.
  • Nevermind making an image to copy on the hard drive, this way takes just as long.
  • The real kick in the stones: booting from a USB-anything is impossible
Here's What to Do:
  1. Shut down the computer and flip it over. Unscrew the one screw retaining the hard drive bay cover. Remove the cover
  2. Remove the hard drive. This is a 2.5" IDE drive. I had to look around for a computer that can boot to an IDE drive anymore.
  3. Install the hard drive in the separate "host" computer. You may need to use a 3.5" to 2.5" IDE drive adapter
  4. Load the Windows XP installation CD into the optical drive and boot into the windows setup program. You may need to change your computer's BIOS boot priority settings so the CD boots before the hard drive
  5. Load windows normally to the notebook's hard drive in the host computer. You may need the license key, depending on which version of XP you install, and who made your the computer.
  6. Let windows FULLY install. This involves multiple restarts. Do NOT let it install updates from the Internet, because you will just have to install them again in a few minutes.
  7. Boot into your fresh Windows installation and eject/insert the Windows installation CD.
  8. When autorun starts, tell it to install, then tell it to perform an in-place "upgrade" installation (NOT a clean install!) It will copy some files and tell you it needs to reboot the computer. When it says it is about to reboot, hit escape to allow you to shut down gracefully (vs. yanking the power cable).
  9. Shut down the computer. Remove the hard drive. Install the drive into the notebook from which it originally came.
  10. Boot the notebook. If you are lucky, it will wake up and recommence upgrading Windows WITH the components you need to operate the Portege, instead of the drivers for the host computer.
  11. Depending on the installation media and the brands of the computers, you may have to use the Windows license key to proceed. I gave it a Tablet PC Edition key and it changed from Dell XP Pro to Tablet PC - very trick!
  12. You will not have any of the toshiba-specific drivers installed. Toshiba has ALL of these on their website. You will not be able to access the Internet from the tablet yet. Use your second computer with Internet access for the next step!
  13. For the M205-S810 (my computer) these are found here: Toshiba support website
  14. Download all the drivers to a USB stick.
  15. Install the drivers on the tablet. Start with the chipset and Common Modules drivers to let the others install properly. This involves dozens of reboots.
  16. Connect your network cable to the tablet and download all your Windows Updates. I had to download SP3 before Windows Updates would work properly.

Done. Enjoy.


This might erase all your files and programs. You need to back up your stuff anyway. Do it now, while you are thinking about it!

Legal NOTE: I don't know if all these shenanigans are strictly in accordance with the Microsoft End User License Agreement, and I really don't care. I started with a tablet running this same OS, but had to wipe it to preserve confidentiality of a customer's data. I ended with a tablet running an installation of Windows that was activated with the key on the bottom of the computer.

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