can't install windows millennium edition on dell dimension 4700
December 11, 2008 9:47 AM   Subscribe

Can't install windows millennium edition on dell dimension 4700. A call for help.


I'm trying without success to install windows millennium edition on a dell dimension 4700.

I have a dell windows me re-installation disk and a windows me boot disk. The installation formats the hard disk, copies files from the cd, then reboots the computer from the hard disk (as it should). At this point things go wrong. Usually at this point, I get a brief flash of the windows me logo screen and then the computer reboots *again* and this time goes into the menu that gives the Normal Boot/Safe Mode/Logged Boot/Step By Step Boot choices. None of these work. Which ever I try, the computer just reboots from scratch and goes right back to that menu again.

I have tried different variations that I had hoped might make a difference: using fat16, using fat32, creating a fat32 partition with linux, running with less ram ( 2gb - down from 4gb ) - none have had any effect.

The BIOS is "A10" from dell which seems to be the latest for a dimension 4700.

The computer itself seems to be in good condition. I was able to install both windows xp and ubuntu linux on it. ( I removed these from the disk before starting with windows me ).

Windows millennium edition is not negotiable - I'm doing this for a client who needs millennium to run a particular application. One option might be to run windows me in a virtual machine but when I try to do this using Sun's "Virtual Box", the install disk realizes at some point that the machine is not a dell computer and halts.

Does anyone have any thoughts on how to get windows me running on this machine?

Thanks for reading and for any feedback you have.

- Dave
posted by metadave to Computers & Internet (18 answers total)
"dell windows me re-installation disk"

That's probably part of the problem. If this disk didn't come with this specific Dell, you might have issues. Any way you can find a full (NOT reinstall) disk? Assuming you have a valid license for WinME, you may or may not feel comfortable burning / torrenting a copy of a full install disk from somewhere. Reinstall disks suck. You buy a computer and pay for the OS, you ought to get a full install disk out of the deal.
posted by caution live frogs at 9:59 AM on December 11, 2008

I know this doesn't answer the question directly, but for your own sake, please, please, please install ANY OTHER OS than Windows ME.

If you have a valid ME license, you can legally purchase an upgrade edition of XP, Windows 2000, Vista or whatever you like.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 11:19 AM on December 11, 2008

And... I'm an idiot. I missed the non-negotiable part.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 11:20 AM on December 11, 2008

I'm with caution live frogs, it's probably a WinME disk for a different model Dell.

However, the program in question, does it absolutely require WinME specifically? Will the program run in compatibility mode in XP? Will it run in 98 SE (which many consider superior to ME)? Do you have access to the program/98 SE to test these things?
posted by Xuff at 11:43 AM on December 11, 2008

Seconding caution live frog's suggestion to find a non-OEM version of WinMe. It sounds like you're using a Windows Me disk from an ancient Dell on a newer system. You mention decreasing RAM from 4GB down to 2GB, so that infers to me that the Dell you're working with here is a modern one.
posted by phrayzee at 11:46 AM on December 11, 2008

I'm guessing you're running into driver issues. The computer you're installing it on is too new. What I would recommend is first trying Win98SE. If it works, then ME is just a piece of crap that won't install. If that doesn't work, then your computer is indeed too new. If that's the case, try running ME in some kind of virtualization on XP or Ubuntu, which should work.

Actually, just try the virtualization. It will be significantly more stable as the crappiness of ME (or the oldness of 98) won't destroy your system.
posted by General Malaise at 11:53 AM on December 11, 2008

Oh, and that is all if you can get your hand on a non-OEM copy of the OS like the others above have stated.
posted by General Malaise at 11:55 AM on December 11, 2008

This gentleman, who worked at Microsoft, ran into the same problem with the virtual machine - you're probably stuck if you keep using that disk. So, exactly what everyone else is saying, I suppose.
posted by averyoldworld at 12:01 PM on December 11, 2008

You have an OEM sticker for Windows ME so you just need a generic Windows ME disc. Go to a local computer shop and ask if they have a spare OEM ME disc laying around from the olden days, they may make a copy for you free of charge (after telling you how crappy it is).

A regular OEM disc doesn't care what type of PC it is, just what kind of license is typed into it, and you should have a compatible key stuck to the chassis.
posted by ijoyner at 12:08 PM on December 11, 2008

And chances are you'll have difficulties installing/running ANY 32bit Windows (this includes 98, ME, XP) with 4GB of RAM. In some cases it is just too much memory for a 32 bit OS to address, so stick with 2 or 3 GB. I have heard of 4GB RAM in 32 bit XP installs, but haven't tried it myself.
posted by ijoyner at 12:10 PM on December 11, 2008

Also, since this is a new PC that possibly has SATA hard drive ports, look around in the BIOS for a "Compatibility mode" if you think the Windows disk can't see the hard drive.
posted by ijoyner at 12:12 PM on December 11, 2008

Running an old (especially end-of-life) proprietary OS natively on new (relative to the OS) hardware is always going to be a nightmare. Using a virtual machine will indeed take some of the sting out, because most VMs can emulate old hardware, and because you can configure the VM to have a small enough amount of RAM not to freak the old OS out (Windows 9x dies if you give it more than 1GB).

I'd pick VMWare over VirtualBox as a container for ME, since VMWare has Windows 9x compatible virtual sound hardware and VirtualBox doesn't.
posted by flabdablet at 4:27 PM on December 11, 2008

The free VMWare Player should work fine, and you can use EasyVMX to make the initial virtual machine image to run in it.
posted by flabdablet at 4:29 PM on December 11, 2008

"Windows millennium edition is not negotiable - I'm doing this for a client who needs millennium to run a particular application. "

Windows 2000 and up has a per-instance compatibility setting to allow apps to run as-if they're running on older Windows versions.
posted by orthogonality at 5:30 PM on December 11, 2008

Yes indeed it does, and it often works. Not always, though. I work at a school that can no longer use its Windows-95-era edition of WiggleWorks because it won't run in XP, even with compatibility mode turned on. Building a Mindows 98 VM to deal with that is on my to-do list.
posted by flabdablet at 5:40 PM on December 11, 2008

Oh, and that is all if you can get your hand on a non-OEM copy of the OS like the others above have stated

Err.. ijoyner is closer to the mark here, I think. You want a full OEM install disc, not a branded restore disc (the restore disc can be model specific, a full install disc won't be). The full install may be branded, that should still be okay. A retail or upgrade install disc won't accept your license key, so it has to be an OEM disc.
My experience in these issues is limited mostly to XP, so there might be specific details I'm missing.
posted by Chuckles at 2:39 PM on December 13, 2008

Thanks to everyone who responded! For anyone who is interested, here's how I eventually got this resolved:

The application that I needed to get to run was "Managing Your Money". I tried compatibility mode but could not get it to run in windows xp. It does run though in windows 98. I was able to install windows 98 in vmware and run the app.

A few more details:

I first tried virtual box but switched to vmware player because virtual box had trouble accessing the host machine's floppy drive. Vmware also seemed quite a bit faster than virtual box. On the other hand the vmware display is a little irritating because it does not seem to update smoothly.

As flabdablet suggested, I used EasyVMX to build the initial virtual image.

I couldn't get the built in host file sharing to work with vmware player *or* virtual box. My guess is that this is a win98 limitation but I can't say for sure. This turned out to be a non-issue because I was able to "share" a folder from the host in the standard winxp way and then map it to a drive from within the virtual win98 machine. To get this to work I used "Host Only" networking when I configured the virtual machine and then disabled the windows firewall for the virtual network adapter on the host machine.


I was a little surprised too that this windows xp install worked well with 4gb but it seems to be ok. With this much physical memory, I had no problem allocating 1gb to the vmware win98 guest.

- Dave
posted by metadave at 5:13 AM on December 15, 2008

Windows XP will install just fine with vast amounts of RAM, but the 32 bit version won't actually use more than 3GB of it (you can run third party stuff to use the rest as RAM disks, though). This is in contrast to the Windows 9x family, which really does freak out if it sees more than 1GB available.
posted by flabdablet at 4:37 PM on December 15, 2008

« Older Where can I find this skeleton/DJ T-Shirt?   |   Share your slow carb recipes Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.