Hi there, Probonopublico!
If you are sure that you want to continue with this, print this answer
out then follow these steps.
*** If you feel out of your depth at any stage, ask somebody with
knowledge of computers to help. ***
Also, a little disclaimer - you perform this entirely at your own risk
and I cannot be held liable for any data loss or hardware failure.
Now on with the answer :)
Firstly, the reason why you will find it difficult to format the disk
is that Windows XP protects itself with System File Protection.
For more on this, visit Microsoft's web page on the technology here:
Also, it is impossible to format the same hard disk that you booted
This is because a lot of the system files will be in use by Windows
and also the "swap" file will be present, a large file on the disk
which is used for Virtual Memory.
Virtual Memory is needed in all modern operating systems to ensure
that the system does not run out of physical RAM at any time.
The requirements for formatting the disk and installing Windows 2000
- Windows 2000 CD with the Product Key (long sequence of letters and
numbers usually found on the CD sleeve or box)
- CD ROM drive
- Computer capable of booting from the CD drive, if not then:
a) Floppy drive
b) 4 x floppy disks
Upon starting the installation process, you will be able to format the
hard disk from within the setup.
You say that the computer came with Windows XP already installed, this
leads me to believe that it is fairly new so it should be capable of
booting from the CD drive.
To test this insert the Windows 2000 CD, cancel the setup screen and
restart the computer.
If you see the Windows 2000 setup appear then we are in luck and you
should skip to Step B below, if not, we must do the following:
Step A (no CD boot):
Follow the instructions here for creating Windows 2000 boot disks:
Now insert the first boot disk, restart the computer and follow the
instructions on the screen.
Go to Step B.
Step B (CD OK):
Insert the Windows 2000 CD and restart the computer.
Follow the setup until you get to the part where it asks which
partition or disk you want to install Windows on.
Select your normal C: drive.
It will ask if you want to:
* leave the current file system intact,
* format the partition as FAT16,
* convert the existing file system to the NTFS file system, or
* format the partition by using the NTFS file system.
Choose the last option; the setup program will then examine the disk,
format it as necessary, copy important files across from the CD then
reboot the PC.
After this, it is fairly straightforward and is simply a matter of
entering your Product Key Code and setting up your options (time zone
I hope this helps!
Microsoft Knowledge Base
What is NTFS?
Partitioning Hard Disks
How do I format/partition a Hard Disk?