Original XP install CD does not understand SP2 NTFS partition

My computer crashed today and would not reboot. I.e. windows starts booting and then says it cannot find c:windowssystem32configsystem file. It suggested to boot from the install CD and use the repair console, which I did. Then I was up for a surprise.

The repair console could not read drive C: at all. I ran chkdsk, it worked with the disk for about an hour, then stopped at 50% and said my drive C: has some unrecoverable errors. It did not care to elaborate what exactly those errors are. For some reason, chkdsk in the recovery console provides much less information than chkdsk run from normal install.

Then I tried to install a fresh copy of Windows alongside the old one, and I realized Windows cannot figure out partition type of my disk. It just showed as [Unknown] instead of [NTFS]. It helpfully offered to reformat the disk, but I respectfully declined.

I created a slip-streamed bootable CD that includes Windows XP 2. This is quite a tedious process, I must tell you. Windows built-in tools cannot do it. You would think Microsoft could produce a tool that takes existing install CD, applies Service Pack to it and burns a slip-streamed version, or at least gives you a ready-to-burn ISO file. Not so fast. They can apply the service pack to the files but it is up to you to figure out what to do with a boot sector and stuff.

Here is the link I used to create slip-streamed CD with Windows XP SP2. Only instead of Nero I used free “CD Burner XP”.

When I booted from the slipstreamed CD it correctly recognized my disk as NTFS, but it also could not read the directory. I ran chkdsk on it, and it is still running after 3.5 hours. However, it reached 68% already, way beyond 50% of the previous run.

It looks like Windows XP SP2 introduce some incompatible changes to NTFS, that “raw” XP does not understand. This is an old story. Windows 2000 quietly upgraded hard drives to new NTFS version from which Windows NT 4.0 could not boot (or was it 4.0 and 3.51?). I also hear that people have similar problems with XP and Vista.

Microsoft, silently breaking backward compatibility like this and hoping no one will notice is not cool. I specifically looked at the list of changes in SP2, nothing about NTFS. Maybe it was an SP1 change though: I could not quickly find list of changes for SP1.

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