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Problems reformating hard drive

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Can anybody help me with a problem I'm having with a second hand computer I have just bought for my son?

The computer has Windows XP Professional on it but is very slow due to the fact I think it hasn't really enough memory to run XP. It also has on a lot other stuff I want to remove so I thought I would reformat the hard drive, make a clean start and put Windows 98 on it. The problem is it will not let me do that, every time I type "FORMAT C:" I get "BAD FILE COMMAND". I have tried everything I can think of now and am on the verge of throwing it out, its driving me crazy, so any suggestions would be most welcome. By the way the computer came with no disks, so I do not have a XP installation disk.

Thanks in advance
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Try booting your computer with a bootable floppy, and then typing format from the command prompt. http://www.bootdisk.com
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