Installing Windows NT 4.0 Workstation Using Virtual PC

Posted on Sun 23 September 2007 in Windows

I assume a lot about you’re background in these tutorials. They are primarily for myself, because I have a tendency to forget things more often than not, so don’t be too distressed and come calling on me if I don’t hold your hand through the whole thing. (Sorry, it’s 12:04am, and it’s been a long day.)


  • Windows NT Workstation CD-ROM or disk image


  • Create an ISO of your original Windows NT CD or get a copy from some someplace... Do this because otherwise it takes ages to install; it’s lightning fast with disk images as compared to real CD media.

  • Create a new Virtual Machine in Virtual PC with 64MB of RAM and 4GB of disk space, or change all that to your requirements. Start the new Virtual Machine and have Virtual PC capture the WinNT.iso (or whatever you called it) as a CD-ROM.

  • Once the new Virtual Machine has started, use your common since and format the drive using NTFS. After the format is complete, which will be quick, you can sit back and let the setup do its thing.

  • On the first boot, it will look like nothing is happening… forever. But it is actually doing something, so just be patient. Even though you selected NTFS as your file system, it first must be formatted as FAT and then converted. I’m sure there is some weird historical reason for this, but I don’t know it of hand. My best guess is that they had a very quick and easy way to format a FAT partition (so the actual install phase was fast), put some run once utilities on it, and then you boot for the first time, it blows the whole FAT partition away and puts an NTFS one in its place.

  • When prompted for the CD key, if you have it saved in a file, just copy it out of there (remove the ‘-’ and ‘OEM’, if it has it) and use Virtual PC to paste it into the Virtual Machine (fake the key strokes rock!). It’s all about being lazy. Unfortunately, unlike other OS installers, the NT one is not smart enough to skip from one edit control to the next, once the edit control is full. This means that instead of being able to just paste the whole thing, like you can for Windows 95, you must paste each part individually, and then TAB to the next edit control manually. It’s a small irritation, but if you have you speakers turned up, you’ll know you entered too many characters in on field, because Windows will beep repeatedly at you. (My ears leant that the hard way.)

  • When asked about networking, just say you are on a Wired to the network and let NT detect the network adapter for you, by clicking on the search button. The TCP/IP Protocol is enabled by default. For most people this is sufficient, but you can also select NetBEUI for novelty’s sake.

  • The next step allows you to install new services, I added Simple TCP/IP Services and more importantly—for my network, anyway—Microsoft TCP/IP Printing.

  • (Optional) During setup it asks to make a start-up disk, if you copy D:\SUPPORT\HQTOOL\NTHQ and re-name it to startupNT.img, or something similar, you can capture the new disk image, and have the Windows NT setup create a new start-up disk for you. How ever so clever.

  • Once the installation is complete, release the floppy disk, because otherwise you’ll find yourself in recovery land. Also, I suggest disabling the auto detection of the floppy disk, as the seek noise on boot will drive you up the wall. (Maybe not the first time, but it will eventually get to you, I promise.) While you’re at it, you can also release the install media, since you won’t need it anymore.

  • It actually turns out that it’s just boots in general that take forever, just be patient.


Because of the way we installed Windows NT, the networking may not be configured correctly. To fix this open the Control Panel and double click on the Network icon. Once there, add click on Add… and double click on Protocol in the component list. From the Manufacturers list, select Microsoft and them, from the Network Protocols double click on TCP/IP. Finally, click OK and allow Windows to go about it’s rebooting way. Reboots always seem to make Windows happy. If your computer is ever frustrated, just reboot it, it’ll make it smile.

Service Pack

Once you have the networking configured properly, it’s time to update Windows (as all good Windows users do, right?). I found, to my surprise, that the Windows 95 Service Pack was still available from the Microsoft web-site. Man, I’d hate to be the person doing the support for that.

You can get SP6a from here. Be warned, however, that you will have to do this on your host machine and transfer the files over the network, as the version of IE that ships with NT (on my old version, anyway— packing a full SP1, oh yeah!) won’t even open


Get the following packages:

Now, when you tell Virtual PC to Install or Update Virtual Machine Additions, in the words of the venerable comedian Douglas Addams, "Don’t Panic!", because it will just give you a weird error (the kernel is missing a handy function to tell Virtual PC if a debugger is running, if that means anything to you, great! If not, don’t worry about, it’s not important anyway). But this error really isn’t an error; you can ignore it and simple Explore the CD for the setup program… Sadly, it turns out only the DOS applications actually work on a Window 95 base install (and they do not play well with Windows, so you have to exit to the command line and run FSHARE.EXE to get Folder Sharing to work— and even then, it’s only in DOS that you can access that drive. If you try to run Windows once it has been loaded, Windows goes all wonky— try it, if you don’t believe me.) What really strikes me about this is that even the OS/2 additions work—and who even uses that OS anymore?! (Says the man installing Windows 95)—so why doesn’t it work on a stock Windows 95 install?