Windows Me bootdisk troubles



Microsoft today confirmed that users will have no easy way to update system BIOSes after upgrading to Windows Millennium or Windows 2000. M$ commendable aim of removing all those dangerous command line bits has an unfortunate side effect - there’s no way to build the bootable floppy needed by BIOS upgrades.

Win2K cannot build a bootable floppy version of itself and ME has been hobbled so that you can no longer SYS a floppy or use the /S switch on the FORMAT command. Check out the following WinME DOS box dialogue:


Windows Millennium [Version 4.90.2499]

C:\WINDOWS>sys a:

You can only SYS drive C: to try and repair the boot hard disk.
Use the Startup Disk option in Add/Remove programs to create an emergency boot disk.

C:\WINDOWS>format a: /s

Microsoft Windows no longer supports the format /s command.
To create a Startup Disk, click the Add/Remove Programs icon in Control Panel.
Format terminated.

[…] Microsoft has put a lot of thought into stopping you lot messing about with DOS commands, to the extent of even ensuring that the Win98SE version of FORMAT fails under WinME with an ‘incorrect DOS version’ message.

[…] A Microsoft technical support spokesman today confirmed that there was no simple way of creating a boot floppy under ME and no way at all of creating one under Win2K. The best he could come up with was writing the BIOS data to a second floppy and swapping disks. Unfortunately, the Intel upgrade process is now totally automated and runs out of AUTOEXEC.BAT. The reason for this being that almost all upgrades now involve rewriting the boot block flash - any interruption to this process can result in the flash being corrupted and the motherboard rendered unusable - hardly a trivial problem.

[…] While BIOS upgrades were once rare, fixes to processor and chipset errata mean that these days an update is available every month or so and users sticking with the original BIOS shipped with their systems will inevitably be suffering performance and reliability problems.

Windows ME is designed to make the users’ life easier. But in the vital area of keeping the BIOS up to date, it’s making it damn near impossible. It seems the only sure way of being able to create a boot floppy in the future is to keep an ancient 286 system in a cupboard and bring it out when you need to write one.

Progress, eh?

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