Okay, it is time to install your operating system. This is the final step necessary to make your new PC a fully workable PC.
There are many operating systems on the market today, but for the sake of this tutorial, we are assuming you will be using Microsoft Windows. There are, of course, other OSes out there including many varieties of Linux, and you are certainly welcome to try those other operating systems if you wish. As things stand now, though, simple statistics will show that an overwhelming majority of PC users make use of some version of Windows. For that reason, we are focusing on the Windows operating system in this step.
Your first step is to buy your Windows operating system. The first thing you will notice is that Microsoft distinguishes between “full versions” and “upgrades”. The upgrade is cheaper, but it will ask for and check to make sure you have a previous version of Windows installed before proceeding. Often you do not need to have a prior version installed physically to get it to work, but you must have a prior version available on floppy diskette or CD-ROM, because whether it checks your hard drive or a removable medium, it will check for a prior version. A full version, of course, is designed to be installed when no other version is there or when you have no valid license to a prior version.
TIP: Instead of installing Windows from a CD, some people prefer installing directly from the hard drive itself. The basic reason is speed. Hard drives are many times faster than a CD drive, and since the Windows install procedure will be moving a lot of data from the CD to the hard drive anyway, many people prefer to simply skip the bottleneck and do everything from the hard drive. Basically, this is done by copying the entire Windows setup from the CD to the hard drive before installing anything and then running Setup directly from the hard drive. Just copy the whole CD over to a directory on your hard drive, and then run Setup from that directory. This is also helpful later down the road if you need to install a Windows component and cannot find your Windows CD.
NOTICE: The full installation procedures for Windows 95, 98, 2000 and XP are included in the Build Your Own PC e-book.