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www.bootdisk.com try that, but if you had xp on it then get into the bios or press f.1.2 at post & switch it to "boot from cd"(make sure your xp disk is in). It should re-boot & ask to press any key to boot from cd. Continue from there. Trying to put '98 on without a floppy drive can be tricky to say the least. You'll need to find a way to load the windows dos based cd driver, from a cd just to get to the next step of the install. Avoid using 98 unless you really,really need it.
Your optical drive might be dirty or bad. Try an official Dell disk to see if it will read it, especially a Dell drivers and Utilities disk. Also try a boot flash drive or boot floppy(since your system is a older) to get the system up. If your system comes up any of those ways, I would try a disk cleaner. If that doesn't help, then you probably have a bad cd drive. You could also look in bios setup to make sure the bios is showing your cd drive. It should list it there somewhere. Probably on the first page.
do a reboot press the key to put you in the safe mode.press f3 or f8 as the system starts go to restore and try that....or follow the promps in the start up sometime it will tell you how to get to the safe mode...lastly put you orig. windows disk in you cd drive and reboot and reinstall windows.. you will have to tell your system to boot off the d: drive on startup...to get a new or repaired windows
You don't need a windows 98 disk to install XP. It will load directly from your Cd drive. You have to set the bios to be the first boot disk. It is much easier to install XP on an empty drive than to upgrade.