Windows Server 2003 Booting Process


Boot sequence for Windows NT, 2000, XP and 2003: 

BIOS: performs Power On Self Test (POST)
BIOS: loads MBR from the boot device specified/selected by the BIOS

MBR: contains a small amount of code that reads the partition table, the first partition marked as active is determined to be the system volume

MBR: loads the boot sector from the system volume

BOOT SECTOR: reads the root directory of the system volume at loads NTLDR

NTLDR: reads BOOT.INI from the system volume to determine the boot drive (presenting a menu if more than 1 entry is defined)
NTLDR: loads and executes NTDETECT.COM from the system volume to perform BIOS hardware detection
NTLDR: loads NTOSKRNL.EXE, HAL.DLL, BOOTVID.DLL (and KDCOM.DLL for XP upwards) from the boot (Windows) volume
NTLDR: loads \WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\CONFIG\SYSTEM which becomes the system hive HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System
NTLDR: loads drivers flagged as “boot” defined in the system hive, then passes control to NTOSKRNL.EXE

NTOSKRNL.EXE: brings up the loading splash screen and initializes the kernel subsystem
NTOSKRNL.EXE: starts the boot-start drivers and then loads & starts the system-start drivers
NTOSKRNL.EXE: creates the Session Manager process (SMSS.EXE)

SMSS.EXE: runs any programs specified in BootExecute (e.g. AUTOCHK, the native API version of CHKDSK)
SMSS.EXE: processes any delayed move/rename operations from hotfixes/service packs replacing in-use system files
SMSS.EXE: initializes the paging file(s) and the remaining registry hives
** before this step completes, bugchecks will not result in a memory dump as we need a working page file on the boot (Windows) volume **
SMSS.EXE: starts the kernel-mode portion of the Win32 subsystem (WIN32K.SYS)
SMSS.EXE: starts the user-mode portion of the Win32 subsystem (CSRSS.EXE)
SMSS.EXE: starts WINLOGON.EXE

WINLOGON.EXE: starts the Local Security Authority (LSASS.EXE)
WINLOGON.EXE: loads the Graphical User Identification and Authentication DLL (MSGINA.DLL by default)
WINLOGON.EXE: displays the logon window
WINLOGON.EXE: starts the services controller (SERVICES.EXE)
** at this point users can logon **

SERVICES.EXE: starts all services markes as automatic

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