Use command-line switches to install Windows 9x like a pro

Did you know you could bypass the End User License Agreement during a Windows 9x installation? You can do that and a whole lot more with SETUP command-line switches. Read on to find out how.

In a previous article, “Getting ready to install Windows 9x,” I took you as far through the installation process as typing SETUP at the command prompt, and then I wrote, “DO NOT PRESS ENTER YET! There's a lot more you can do before and after that keystroke, but that's another story.” Since then, numerous TechRepublic readers have asked me for the “rest of the story.” Well, here it is: the final set of instructions on command-line switches.

Command line switches
Microsoft documents most of the SETUP command line switches in their Knowledge Base article Q186111, “Description of the Windows 95, Windows 98 and Millennium Edition Setup Switches.” Here you’ll find listings of such switches as the Windows 98 Setup /m command to bypass the playing of the Setup sound files and the /d switch to bypass your existing Windows configuration. I don’t know why you would need the /m switch (unless the sound drives you mad after setting up hundreds of PCs), but the /d switch is handy for placing a fresh Windows setup over an existing installation.

You can also view a listing of setup switches by going to the directory where your Windows Setup.exe resides (C:\Windows\Options\Cabs if you followed the advice from my previous article) and entering the command “SETUP /?” (minus the quotation marks) at the prompt.

Secret switches
Then, there are the switches that Microsoft doesn’t talk much about. These include the /iw switch that lets you bypass the End User License Agreement screen and the /ip switch that allows you to ignore Plug and Play. You’ll find these and other useful tricks on the Windows Setup area of Bob Cerelli’s Windows Page. There’s a link to Bob’s excellent site on my Miscellania page at TechSetGO!. Microsoft’s Knowledge Base is another great reference. In fact, the /iw switch is described in report Q158452—How to Configure Windows 95 Remoteboot on Windows NT 4.0.

Using your new knowledge
Once you know which switches you want to use, type “SETUP /<switch1> /<switch2 /<switch3>…” and go ahead and punch that [Enter] key. As to what you can do after that keystroke? Well, what can you do with Windows?
It’s your turn to give us a grade. What do you think of John’s Windows 9x setup tips? Post a comment or write to John Kowaleski and let your voice be heard.

Editor's Picks