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Summary

The startup process for Windows XP is fairly complicated and happens in two distinct stages. First, the computer boots up. This process is primarily controlled by the system's BIOS, which detects and applies settings to your computer's hardware. Once BIOS is finished, it passes control to the MBR, which in turn passes control to the boot sector of a particular hard drive partition. When you boot into Windows XP, several files (including NTLDR, BOOT.INI, NTDETECT.COM, and NTOSKRNL) are loaded into memory one after another.

You can control the way Windows XP starts up in two ways. The first is by configuring the BOOT.INI file, which controls the operating systems that NTLDR can load when starting the computer. You can modify the BOOT.INI file using either the System Control Panel or by directly modifying the file using a program like Notepad. The other way to control startup is to specify any of a number of advanced options when Windows XP first starts to load. You can start Windows into a number of Safe Modes, create a boot log file during startup, and even start up using a debugging mode.


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