Diagnostic and Recovery Tools V6: Why no XP support?

We got an email today that asked:

"...I just downloaded the new version of MDOP and wanted to install ERD. My problem now is I’m presented with two different versions, version 5 for Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 and version 6 for Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008. Is the supported versions for the operating system I’m installing ERD on OR for the OS versions I want to boot and repair?..."


Good question.

The support is in reference to the operating systems it can support, AND the machine you prepared it on. The support is actually a bit more granular than the above actually:

The reason Ive split out two lots of DaRT 6 is that for each of these you need to create a separate ERD disk. This is because the boot.wim file is x86/x64 specific along with the debugging tools that you need on the machine. Each of these needs to be prepared on the correct SKU bit version.

This leads to the next question. Why does DaRT 6 have no XP support?

There were some fundamental changes in the way System Restore works between Windows XP and Windows Vista. There were also core changes to the bootloader, servicing stack and the way components are described and authored that meant a complete change in the approach to fixing startup issues.

You will notice when you start DaRT 6's ERD that its really quite different. We now use WinRE to manage the System Restore components and then launch our UI after the WinRE components have found the Windows instance (of the correct SKU bit version).

In DaRT 5 we used WinPE and fired our UI straight away.


For those of you that are interested, there will be a DaRT 6.5 that Im currently working on the planning for. I have some early thoughts for it though I cant share them right now. Once I have an indication whether one of my ideas is even possible, Ill ask how many people would even want it 🙂 More to come on that!


Comments (4)

  1. Ill break these out into separate points:

    1. The bootloader for WinPE for DaRT 5 is completely different than the Vista one and the version of WinPE is different too. The DaRT 5 version is WinPE 1.1 and doesnt support the WIM format that came in WinPE 2.0. We havent tested switching the DaRT 5 tools into WinPE 2.

    2. At the time DaRT 5 was done the prevalence of XP x64 was pretty low. Its only in the last year or so that people have even seriously considered x64. Hence it wasnt a serious thought at the time.

    3. True. The DaRT 6 version is based on Vista’s version of WinPE (WinRE is a superset of WinPE) and thus its totally different…just take a look at the way it boots a wim file.

    4. This is something we are thinking about supporting for the future. Currently we dont support this…

    5. You mean in the DaRT image itself?

    So while I have your ear – are catastrophic motherboard replacements/upgrades ever an issue for you?

  2. 1. We arent going to test WinPE 2 with DaRT5/XP tools. It would mean a complete test pass is again required for little value and we arent going to revisit that. That said I had thought about the one installer thing but its more complicated than you might think to automate. I will take this feedback onboard though.

    2. There is now! There wasnt when DaRT 5 originally came out. Again we arent going to revisit it.

    3. Other forms deployment are definitely something we are thinking about.

    4. This is doubtful. We would need a mechanism to support online updating and theres no WU/MU client in there that can support this. Drivers I can potentially understand, though I see it only limited to storage architecture drivers – which you could slot in if you wanted anyhow using existing tools like peimg. What tools do you mean though?

  3. Björn Axell says:

    Thanks for the information. You talked about a new version in the blog – I would love to hear more about it:-) Exept for that, here is some feedback on the current version(s):

    •I don’t understand why I wouldn’t install one version and then create multiple boot images so I can support both XP, 2003 , Vista and Server 2008. I understand that they need different tools etc but you should still be able to use the same WinPE to boot on.

    •Why don’t you have support for x64 versions of XP and 2003?

    •There should be better information that the WinPE version used in EDR 6 is Vista drivers

    •You should have integration to existing Microsoft tools that is used. A couple of example is WDS (Windows Deployment Service) and MDT (Microsoft Deployment Toolkit) and other System Center applications like System Center Essentials and Configuration Manager. Why would I want to create a CD to boot from when I have existing networkboot infrastructure. The other thing is drivers – In MDT I already have all my drivers for all computer models.

    •I would like to see a more dynamic update strategy for drivers and other updates

  4. Björn Axell says:

    Thanks for clarifying. Here is my respons:

    *I do know that DaRT 5 is based on WinPe 1.1 and I hope you do test to use WinPe 2 instead since the driver support is better. As I wrote in my first post, the most irritationg with different versions is that I need to install them on different machines to start building CD ISO’s. Even if you don’t start using WInPE 2.0 – why not use one installer that can create all the different versions.

    *I see what you mean but today there is a lot of Windows server 2003 X64 out there – We need to support this

    *I really hope you do start support other tools. Since WinPE 2.0 is in WIM format – it couldn’t be so hard to provide both ISO and WIM so I can import them to WDS/MDT

    *Yes – I would like a dynamic update functions for drivers and tools

    As for your question – I haven’t had any motherboard issues. For me it’s often disk errors, regsitry stuff

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