Which XP?

Getting old software/games running on older hardware.

Which XP?

Postby jarreboum » 2017-2-05 @ 02:55

One can find several install CDs for Windows XP, with or without service packs. But which are of interest?
The interest being playing videogames. I can use my modern laptop or tablet to [s]procrastinate on the internet[/s] do serious work

Let's say for a computer forever offline, is the initial release better? (less bloated, snappier?) or crippled with BSODs that it's better to get SP3? or SP1 or SP2?

And for a connected computer? Purely for gaming, without going to dodgy sites with ie6 (but that doesn't stop Sasser now, does it?). I suppose SP2 is a minimum here.

There's even an unofficial SP4 floating around, is it worth it?

Do license keys work with any version during the installation? Like, if I have bought an original key, can I download an SP3 iso and be cool? What about x64 keys?
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Re: Which XP?

Postby Rhuwyn » 2017-2-05 @ 03:10

When it comes to to license keys the only have to worry about the media version matching the type of key you have. OEM, Retail, VLK, and Retail Upgrade I believe are the license types and obviously it has to match Home vs Pro.

As far as which version of the service pack you should run that is situational. What hardware are you running it on, and what games do you want to run. As a general rule as long as your running hardware that won't be slowed down by running the newer service packs and as long as the software/games you want to run don't have any incompatibilities with it I'd just run it fully updated.
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Re: Which XP?

Postby keenmaster486 » 2017-2-05 @ 03:12

Well, I always install XP from an OEM Service Pack 3 CD I happen to have lying around.

It seems to work better than installing original XP first and upgrading to SP3, I can tell you that much.
I flermmed the plootash just like you asked.

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Re: Which XP?

Postby leileilol » 2017-2-05 @ 03:13

Keys aren't cross compatible between versions IIRC. You'd also have to activate them.

Often you'll see people advising against SP3 for two reasons - the poor upgrade process, or the fear of WGA (pirate kryptonite XD) I run SP3 on one old PC and haven't ran into many issues with old games though NTVDM/wowexec hanging when terminating Win16 games/apps can become a problem.
by the way, DOSBox is not for running Windows 9x
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Re: Which XP?

Postby Jorpho » 2017-2-05 @ 04:32

There are benchmarks that suggest each successive service pack does not actually make XP any slower (and in fact may make it slightly faster). However, it does not seem that anyone has run through those benchmarks on low-end hardware. So, unless you have unusually ancient hardware, you might as well go with SP3.

jarreboum wrote:One can find several install CDs for Windows XP, with or without service packs.
It is quite trivial to "slipstream" service packs and other updates into any existing XP install CD using http://www.nliteos.com/ (which is completely legal and uses native Windows APIs, meaning it does nothing that you couldn't in theory do yourself manually).

I'm sure someone out there by now must have put together a deluxe customized XP install CD with all the nice updates included – but of course, the problem is that you never know what else might have been thrown in along the way. AutoPatcher is very nice since it downloads all the updates straight from Microsoft, and most of them can subsequently be slipstreamed with nLite if you want the hands-on approach.
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Re: Which XP?

Postby Azarien » 2017-2-05 @ 10:08

jarreboum wrote:What about x64 keys?

What about them?
I'm almost sure x86 and x64 keys for Windows XP are not interchangeable.

Technically, Windows XP x64 is not a 64-bit version of 32-bit Windows XP.
It's a client version of Windows Server 2003, rebranded as XP.

Kernel version is higher (5.2 vs 5.1) and you update it with service packs and hotfixes for Server 2003.
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Re: Which XP?

Postby candle_86 » 2017-2-06 @ 03:13

Jorpho wrote:There are benchmarks that suggest each successive service pack does not actually make XP any slower (and in fact may make it slightly faster). However, it does not seem that anyone has run through those benchmarks on low-end hardware. So, unless you have unusually ancient hardware, you might as well go with SP3.

jarreboum wrote:One can find several install CDs for Windows XP, with or without service packs.
It is quite trivial to "slipstream" service packs and other updates into any existing XP install CD using http://www.nliteos.com/ (which is completely legal and uses native Windows APIs, meaning it does nothing that you couldn't in theory do yourself manually).

I'm sure someone out there by now must have put together a deluxe customized XP install CD with all the nice updates included – but of course, the problem is that you never know what else might have been thrown in along the way. AutoPatcher is very nice since it downloads all the updates straight from Microsoft, and most of them can subsequently be slipstreamed with nLite if you want the hands-on approach.


Back in 2004 I had a k6-2 450 with xp on it. SP2 made it unbearably slow. It had 128mb of ram.
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Re: Which XP?

Postby PhilsComputerLab » 2017-2-06 @ 03:26

IMO if you're off the Internet, sure why not try XP Vanilla to see what it's like on older machines. You can also have the individual service packs ready to go.

Some games and software will not install however and check for SP2 for example.
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Re: Which XP?

Postby DosFreak » 2017-2-06 @ 03:46

candle_86 wrote:
Jorpho wrote:There are benchmarks that suggest each successive service pack does not actually make XP any slower (and in fact may make it slightly faster). However, it does not seem that anyone has run through those benchmarks on low-end hardware. So, unless you have unusually ancient hardware, you might as well go with SP3.

jarreboum wrote:One can find several install CDs for Windows XP, with or without service packs.
It is quite trivial to "slipstream" service packs and other updates into any existing XP install CD using http://www.nliteos.com/ (which is completely legal and uses native Windows APIs, meaning it does nothing that you couldn't in theory do yourself manually).

I'm sure someone out there by now must have put together a deluxe customized XP install CD with all the nice updates included – but of course, the problem is that you never know what else might have been thrown in along the way. AutoPatcher is very nice since it downloads all the updates straight from Microsoft, and most of them can subsequently be slipstreamed with nLite if you want the hands-on approach.


Back in 2004 I had a k6-2 450 with xp on it. SP2 made it unbearably slow. It had 128mb of ram.


Prove it. 128mb is the recommended amount by MS and we all know not to just go by the recommended amount.

384 on my parents k63-400 was good enough before browsers went crazy on memory requirements
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Re: Which XP?

Postby Jorpho » 2017-2-06 @ 05:10

Oh, I'd believe it – but then, I doubt it would be particularly great with SP1 either.

One of these days I am going to mothball my 815e-based PC, because 512 MB just doesn't cut it for XP SP3. Either that or something else is incurably wrong.
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Re: Which XP?

Postby jarreboum » 2017-2-06 @ 12:09

PhilsComputerLab wrote:Some games and software will not install however and check for SP2 for example.


That's interesting. Do you have any examples? Does it also happen for SP3?
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Re: Which XP?

Postby dr_st » 2017-2-06 @ 12:25

I would not run pre-SP2 XP to connect to the internet or use any modern technologies. (1) - it's not really safe, and (2) some modern technologies will not run without SP2.

I _think_ that nothing really requires SP3, at least I don't remember off the top of my head. It is said that SP3 makes the OS "heavier", so if you are using it on old hardware (<Pentium 4 HT / Pentium M), maybe it's OK to stay at SP2.

VLKs do not require activation. Lots of leaked VLKs out there. Microsoft has been occasionally blocking some of them, but there are those that still work. I would sometimes use a VLK to install XP even on a laptop that has its own license, simply because it was easier than dealing with the bloatware of the OEM image.
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Re: Which XP?

Postby buckeye » 2017-2-06 @ 14:39

I run XP SP2 on my duo-core rig offline only and it's as smooth as butter.
Foxconn Q45M E8400 Core2 Duo 3GB DDR2 800 BFG Geforce 7950GT 512MB X-Fi Xtreme Music 500W XP SP3
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Re: Which XP?

Postby notsofossil » 2017-2-06 @ 15:42

There's really no reason to use XP SP3 on an older computer (Pentium M and earlier), it really bogs down the system and not much software truly requires it. Sometimes you'll find something that needs Windows Installer 3.1 and .NET Framework 2.0, you can still install those onto XP SP2. Another reason to avoid actual SP3 install discs is its product keys can and will expire. I have a key that is no longer any good, so now I just use SP2 and install SP3 on top if need be.

As others have said, unless you aren't going online, don't use XP SP0 or SP1. SP2 is really not that much heavier than Windows 2000 of any service pack.
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Re: Which XP?

Postby Tetrium » 2017-2-07 @ 01:58

I think it does matter whether either SP2 or SP3 is installed by installing the updates and the service packs separately or by slipstreaming them (certainly using all the separate updates will create extra clutter). I've used NLite the most, but iirc I also tried one or two other programs for this?

And while slipstreaming a SP (I've mostly used SP2 btw, but later did SP3 trials) I'd tweak the install for performance. Even the startmenu tweak will at least make it "seem" like its faster and not all services and other stuff is actually required.

On older rigs I kinda tweaked XP in a similar way I tweaked ME, by disabling features that I deemed unnecessary and used up a lot of resources (like the backup feature, I never use it on a gaming-only rig anyway). And even if the rig were to somehow ruin itself, it's easy to reinstall using an automated setup anyway. For newer rigs I tended to not really bother with performance tweaks and mostly just tweaked it to personal preference.

I can highly recommend testing the created ISOs on a virtual machine first before burning the media to a disk. If I hadn't, I would've created lots of extra coasters :blush:

I typically don't go online with XP anymore though.

Btw, the install key is different for OEM, Pro and the VLK versions. I think using some of the Royalty OEM keys on regular XP media would install, but would refuse to activate or something? I used to try out lots of things with XP long time ago.
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Re: Which XP?

Postby emosun » 2017-2-07 @ 03:12

WFFLP is the best xp. I'm actually surprised nobody here usually ever recommends it or even uses it. Most people here recomennd regular store bought versions.
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Re: Which XP?

Postby Jorpho » 2017-2-07 @ 03:27

emosun wrote:WFFLP is the best xp. I'm actually surprised nobody here usually ever recommends it or even uses it. Most people here recomennd regular store bought versions.
There are just so many unknowns. Seems to me that getting old software and drivers to cooperate is already tricky enough as it is without having to worry about something that might be mysteriously changed or missing in WinFLP. And there's the whole questionable-legality.
Last edited by Jorpho on 2017-2-07 @ 05:58, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Which XP?

Postby Tetrium » 2017-2-07 @ 03:35

emosun wrote:WFFLP is the best xp. I'm actually surprised nobody here usually ever recommends it or even uses it. Most people here recomennd regular store bought versions.

This might be because most people will probably already have a disk of XP in a drawer somewhere.

What makes you like WinFLP so much? I did a quick read on the wiki and it does seem to have some limitations that may actually be detrimental to retro gaming. For systems that are a bit too slow for XP, I'd prefer ME anyway (or maybe even 2k).

WinFLP does sound kinda interesting in a way, but not sure how useful it is.
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Re: Which XP?

Postby PhilsComputerLab » 2017-2-07 @ 04:51

I've never heard of WinFLP!
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Re: Which XP?

Postby chinny22 » 2017-2-07 @ 10:28

XP OEM Licencing one of my pet hates!
There were so many different versions of OEM it was a struggle to find the matching key with CD.
SP2 keys wont work with SP1 CD's
Big brand keys like Dell/HP/ETC keys don't work with generic OEM CD's or even their own later CD's
and as mentioned above 32 and 64 bit keys aren't interchangeable, either is Home or Pro

Really in this day and age I would go with volume licence/Enterprise
Any volume licence key will work with any volume licence CD, period and no activation which I'm pretty no longer works and requires a tool now.

All my retro PC's (3.11,9x,NT4, 2k, XP) are all on the same network as the internet. All have the latest IE and service pack installed but no updates.
latest browser and service pack just feels more "complete" to me but don't see the point in updates as they will still have massive security holes.
Its not like browse the web on them anyway.

I don't remember pre SP1 being unstable. SP2 adds firewall, security centre, decent wifi, so more services to disable, but a lot of drivers and software require SP2. You could always see how far you get installing everything before needing it.

Of course y

PhilsComputerLab wrote:I've never heard of WinFLP!


Me either!
...this intrigues me
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