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Before September 1995, Microsoft Windows was an MS-DOS program. DOS was an easy to use command line operating system that provided you with complete ability to control and troubleshoot your computer. Microsoft's goal was to eliminate DOS, possibly to prevent you from having complete control of your own computer.
The last stand-alone version of MS-DOS was version 6. Unfortunately, that version is not Y2K compliant. Windows 95 and later came with MS-DOS version 7. Unfortunately, that version is too integrated with the operating system. It will not work without access to your hard disk.
FreeDOS is a PC compatible Y2K compliant DOS that you can download from www.freedos.org. FreeDOS fits on a single floppy disk and can be used to boot your computer. Download and unzip the file odin7bin.zip (756KB). Unziping will create the files diskcopy.exe and fdodin07.144. Put a blank formatted floppy disk in the drive. In the Start | Run dialog box, or at a command prompt type diskcopy fdodin07.144 a: to create a bootable FreeDOS floppy disk.
Why would you want to boot your computer with DOS? Maybe you want to use Windows XP without product activation.
First make sure that the BIOS boot sequence on your computer is configured with the floppy drive as the first boot device (or at least before the C: drive). To get to the BIOS configuration screen, press the "Delete" or "F2" key (depending upon your BIOS) while your computer is starting.
Insert the FreeDOS floppy disk in the floppy drive and start the computer. At the A:\>_ prompt type DATE. FreeDOS will return your computer's current date, along with a prompt to enter a new date. Enter the date that you installed Windows XP (or at least a date before the 30 day expiration date). Remove the FreeDOS floppy disk and restart your computer.
Note: This will only work if Windows XP has never been started after the 30 day expiration date. The first time Windows XP is started after the 30 day expiration date will be the last time it starts.
Every time you start your computer, start it first with FreeDOS and reset the computer's date to the date that you installed Windows XP. Windows XP will think time has come to a standstill.
Note: Of course, Your file creation and last modified dates will not be correct, so this is not really a way for a serious user to bypass Windows XP product activation. However for certain purposes, like learning the Windows XP operating system, this can be a way to use Windows XP without product activation.
Microsoft should have made the expiration period much longer than 30 days. Maybe they want you to activate Windows XP before it crashes.