Microsoft KB Archive/255036

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Article ID: 255036

Article Last Modified on 3/1/2007


  • Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0, Terminal Server Edition
  • Microsoft Windows 2000 Server
  • Microsoft Windows 2000 Advanced Server
  • Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional Edition
  • Microsoft Windows 2000 Datacenter Server
  • Microsoft Windows NT Server 3.51
  • Microsoft Windows NT Advanced Server 3.1
  • Microsoft Windows NT Workstation 3.51
  • Microsoft Windows NT Workstation 4.0 Developer Edition
  • Microsoft Windows NT Server 3.51
  • Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft BackOffice Small Business Server 4.0a
  • Microsoft BackOffice Small Business Server 4.5
  • Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0 Enterprise Edition

This article was previously published under Q255036


Microsoft provides the Hardware Compatibility List (HCL) for Windows NT-based products because Windows NT requires greater control of the hardware compared to other operating systems such as MS-DOS and Microsoft Windows, for security, stability and efficiency reasons. This implies a deeper knowledge and usage of the computer hardware on the part of the operating system. Small incompatibilities and differences from industry standards of that hardware can have an adverse effect on the stability of the Windows NT operating system. For information about hardware that is supported in Windows NT, please see the following article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:

131303 Latest Windows 2000 and Windows NT Hardware Compatibility List (HCL)

NOTE: Small Business Server uses the Windows NT HCL.


A hardware device is unsupported if it is not listed on the HCL. In order for a computer to be considered an HCL-compliant system, the computer must be listed on the HCL. If a computer is not listed on the HCL, but is comprised of hardware from the HCL (for example: motherboard from a reference system, SCSI controller, video adapter, and network card) it is not considered an HCL computer. Any computer that contains a device that is not on the HCL is not considered compliant. If a particular computer is on the HCL, it can contain any combination of devices listed on the HCL and still qualify for support even though the system as a whole was not tested.

Microsoft follows the guidelines and troubleshooting steps listed below on non-HCL equipment support issues:

Step 1: Hardware Configuration Inquiry

  1. The Microsoft Support Professional asks about the hardware configuration.
  2. If the hardware device is not on the Windows NT HCL, the support professional informs the customer that 1 incident is charged from the customer's service agreement (prior to troubleshooting).
  3. Upon agreement, the support professional proceeds to Step 2 below. Microsoft does not guarantee a solution in cases with non-HCL devices.
  4. If there is no agreement, where the customer feels that an incident should not be charged, the support professional proceeds to Step 3 below.

Step 2: Troubleshooting

A standard troubleshooting process is used to isolate the cause of the problem. The following lists some of the resources and steps that the Microsoft Support Professionals uses, which is also available to you:

  • Microsoft Knowledge Base is available to customers through Microsoft TechNet and Microsoft World Wide Web (WWW) site at:

  • Determine if the problem occurs on supported hardware device.
  • Check hardware and/or driver configuration by removing unsupported (or suspected) components (for example: adapter cards and video cards). Issues that relate to unsupported systems and motherboards cannot be approached in this fashion.

During the course of troubleshooting, if the problem is isolated to a non-HCL device, the support professional proceeds to Step 3 below and closes the call (incident).

If there is no solution to the problem, the support professional explains the reason and recommends constructive alternatives, such as one or all of the following:

  • The engineer offers the phone and Bulletin Board Service (BBS) number or Web site for the motherboard, adapter card or other device manufacturer, if available, so that the customer can ask for troubleshooting suggestions and possible updated third-party drivers.
  • The support professional may recommend that the customer request the hardware vendor to attempt the installation of Windows NT on the system or configure it in such a way that Windows NT becomes stable and functional.
  • The support professional informs the customer of BIOS or firmware updates. Some information on the update is available in the Microsoft Knowledge Base.

Step 3: Alternative Resources

Enterprise Customer Unit (ECU) policy, in regards to a Windows NT failure related to Non-HCL hardware, is for the support professional to fax the following Knowledge Base article to the customer:

Windows 2000 Setup Troubleshooting Guide (when available)


126690 Windows NT 4.0 Setup Troubleshooting Guide


139733 Windows NT 3.5x Setup Troubleshooting Guide

Alternatively, the support professional can provide information on the location of the same file(s) and where they can be downloaded (Microsoft WWW server, FTP server, and Microsoft Download Library). If the customer elects to bypass Step 2 (does not wish to be charged for 1 incident), then the customer may attempt to resolve the issue without charge using the troubleshooting documents mentioned above.

Server Down or Data Loss Issues

There is a possibility that an installation or upgrade of the Windows NT operating system on unsupported hardware results in loss of some operating system functionality or data. In cases where the previous operating system has been Windows NT or another Microsoft operating system (such as MS-DOS, Windows 3.1x, Windows 95, OS/2 1.3), the support professional determines if the issue is a problem with the operating system or non-HCL hardware related. If the problem is the operating system, the support professional will file a report and evaluate the problem to provide a fix. The support professional will also attempt to recover the system.

If the problem is related to hardware incompatibility, the customer will need to restore the previous operating system and data from backup. If the customer does not have a backup of the previous operating system, the support professional will assist the customer in installing only the previous, working operating system. This does not include other drive file structures, data or security, or any other previous operating system settings. The support professional will then refer the customer to the Microsoft Consulting Line for any further file structure (not data) recovery, domain configuration (user accounts, trust, shares, printers, replication) recovery, as applicable.

In cases where the previous operating system is not a Microsoft operating system (for example: Power PC system with AIX, OS/2 or Macintosh operating system), Microsoft cannot assist customers in the recovery of their system. Requisite knowledge and experience to perform recovery on non- Microsoft operating systems do not exist in Microsoft Product Support Services.

Additional query words: smallbiz win2000hotsetup

Keywords: kbinfo kbfaq KB255036