Installing Microsoft Network Client 3.0


This guide will provide you step-by-step instructions for installing Microsoft Network Client 3.0 on your computer. One of the objectives of the MCSE exams is to perform an unattended installation of Windows 2000 Server, with one of the sub-objectives being to be able to perform such an installation using distribution files located on the network. From my studying of books and websites, I have found that whenever the subject of network installation arises, specific instructions are not given. For example, on page 89 of Sybex’s “Windows 2000 Server Study Guide”, the authors state that “the target computer must be able to connect to the distribution server over the network,” yet she does not mention how to do so. Now, I must clarify that on any regular Windows computer, connecting to a shared file or folder is as simple as typing in the UNC name, but what we are interested in here is a clean unattended installation of Windows 2000. If we wanted to install Windows 2000 strictly over the network, we would not install Windows 95 on it first just so we could access the distribution share, for that would be time-consuming and not a clean-install. We could boot from a PXE network card to start installation, but not all cards are supported. What we need is a simple way to access a network share point from DOS. Perhaps most people studying for the MCSE already know how to do this, judging from the lack of documentation on this subject. I surely do not, which is why I am writing this guide.


We begin with a freshly cleaned-out test system:

  • AMD Duron 700 MHz Processor
  • ASUS A7V Motherboard
  • 256 MB Generic PC133 RAM
  • 6 GB Fujitsu HD
  • 48X Generic CDROM Drive
  • 3Com Etherlink XL 10/100 NIC

Note that by cleaned out, I mean that there are no partitions on the hard drive of this computer. It is as if the computer has just been built (and preferably burned in – see below).

Booting without an operating system
Booting without an operating system

The first thing we have to do is to create a bootable floppy which we can use to boot this system. If possible, use a DOS bootable floppy to keep things simple. Since my DOS machine is currently sitting under my bed, I will use Windows 98 to create a boot disk. There are so many ways to do this in Windows 98, but I am going to do this the old-fashioned way by inserting a blank floppy, going to the DOS prompt, and typing format c: /q /s. Next, we must add some utilities which we will need. The files we will need are: HIMEM.SYS, EMM386.EXE, SMARTDRV.EXE, FDISK.EXE, FORMAT.COM, and EDIT.COM. If you are rusty on your DOS and Windows file locations, then type the following (pressing enter after each line) after you have formatted your disk:


Note that in older versions of DOS, these files are all located in the same directory (usually C:\DOS).

Formatting the boot floppy
Formatting the boot floppy
Copying necessary files
Copying necessary files

Once you have completed setting up your boot disk, you need to prepare the Microsoft Network Client 3.0 setup disks. This requires that you have two blank, formatted 1.44MB floppies. Once you have those, label them Microsoft Network Client Setup Disk and OEM Driver Disk. Then, we will be ready to download Microsoft Network Client 3.0 from Microsoft’s FTP site. The URL for the files is

Update 2-3-14: try if the link above doesn’t work. Apparently, the domain name doesn’t always resolve properly.

In this directory there will be two self-extracting files, dsk3-1.exe, and dsk3-2.exe. Download these two files and extract them into two separate folders. Copy the contents of dsk3-1.exe to the Microsoft Network Client Setup Disk you created earlier, and the contents of dsk3-2.exe to the OEM Driver Disk, noting not to copy the original dsk3 packages.

Finally, you will need the NDIS 2.0 compliant DOS drivers for your network card, if your card is not natively supported by Network Client. You will know if your card is natively supported if it is listed in the adapter list when you run setup. Usually, these drivers are downloadable from your card vendor’s website, and will come in 4 files. The main driver will be in the form xxxxxxxx.DOS, where xxxxxxxx will be a name similar to your card’s. There will be another file with a name similar to your card’s name, xxxxxxxx.NIF. The remaining two files are OEMSETUP.INF and PROTOCOL.INI. Once you have downloaded these driver files, copy them to an appropriately named directory on the Microsoft Network Client Setup Disk. We are now finished with preparation and can begin setting up our system for network access.

Partitioning and Formatting

Insert the boot disk into the floppy drive, and start the computer. If you used Windows 98 to create the boot disk, you will see this screen:

You will see a screen similar to this upon bootup
You will see a screen similar to this upon bootup
Enabling large disk support
Enabling large disk support
The main FDISK screen
The main FDISK screen
Choosing yes or no
Choosing yes or no

Next, type fdisk to start MS-DOS’s drive partitioning utility. If you are using a post-Windows 95 version of FDISK, you will be asked if you want to enable large disk support (if you have a hard drive larger than 512 MB, which you most likely do). Leave the default setting of yes, and press enter. You will then be greeted with the main FDISK screen. Press enter twice to create a new partition. FDISK will then verify your drive integrity. When it is finished, you will be asked if you want to use the maximum available size for a partition. Depending on your needs, your answer may vary. For example, if you are installing Windows 2000 Server, then a 2GB boot partition will suit your needs nicely. On the other hand, if you are setting up a workstation, you may just want to answer yes and have one big partition. For the sake of this guide, we will answer NO, because we are assuming that we will install Windows 2000 Server later on. FDISK will once again verify your drive integrity, then ask you to specify a partition size. I have chosen 2000 megabytes, as mentioned above. So, type in 2000, and press enter. FDISK will then notify you that the partition has been created, and then warn you that no partitions are set active. Once back at the main menu, choose 2, then partition 1, to set our 2000 MB partition active. Press ESC three times to exit FDISK, and then reboot.

Setting a partition size
Setting a partition size
FDISK's no active partitions warning
FDISK’s no active partitions warning
This screen, once again
This screen, once again (well, except it should be C:\ this time)


The next thing we want to do is to format our 2000 MB partition. After rebooting, type format c:/s at the DOS prompt, and then type Y, followed by enter, to confirm format. When finished, hit enter for no volume label. Then, remove your boot disk from the floppy drive and restart the computer.


This screen, once again
This screen, once again (well, except it should be C:\ now)

If all went well, you should be greeted once again with this screen. Now, we are ready to install Microsoft Network Client 3.0. Insert the Microsoft Network Client Setup Disk and type A:\SETUP.

The Welcome Screen
The Welcome Screen
Specifying your installation path
Specifying your installation path
Choosing your adapter
Choosing your adapter

Setup starts and you will see the welcome screen. Press enter to continue. Setup will then ask you where you want your Network Client files to be installed. Just press enter to accept the default of C:\NET. Setup will then examine your system files, and present you with a list of network adapters. Choose your adapter, or choose “Network adapter not shown on list below …” to locate the drivers you downloaded and placed on the Microsoft Network Client Setup Disk earlier. If you have specified the correct location and drivers, Setup will provide a new list which includes your NIC. Press enter to choose whichever adapter you have installed, and then press it again at the Set Network Buffers prompt.

The next step is to type a username for accessing your network share. This would probably be an administrator’s account or an account created specifically for remote-installation use. Here, I have chosen my own name as the username. Enter your username, then press enter.

Entering a suitable username
Entering a suitable username
Changing other settings
Changing other settings
Adding TCP/IP support
Adding TCP/IP support

On the next screen, highlight “Change Names” and hit enter. Next, change the settings to whatever apply to you, then scroll down to “The listed names are correct” and press enter.

Next, highlight “Change Network Configuration” and press enter. The default installed protocol is NWLink IPX Compatible Transport, but I personally was unable to use this protocol to communicate with my server, so I added TCP/IP. Depending on your own network, you may have to play around with these settings after you have installed the client. For now, add TCP/IP anyway, since Windows 2000 supports TCP/IP by default. Highlight “Add Protocol,” hit enter, then choose “Microsoft TCP/IP” and hit enter. Finally, select “Network configuration is correct” to continue.

Note the 3Com NIC driver initializing at the top of the screen
Note the 3Com NIC driver initializing at the top of the screen

After selecting “Network configuration is correct” to continue, we will be taken back to the confirmation screen. Press enter to install files, and insert the appropriate disks when prompted. When Setup is finished, it will prompt you to remove any floppy from the drive and then restart. Restart your computer, and hit ESC when you see the Windows 9X splash screen (not if you used a DOS boot disk, however) so you can see if your NIC driver installed correctly. You will know it loaded correctly if you see a message saying “Initializing TCP/IP via DHCP…”

At this point, you will most likely encounter “Error 8: There is not enough memory available.” Well, if you remember from your old DOS days, DOS programs only have 640k of memory to work with. Thus, we must free up some memory. Insert your boot disk into the floppy drive, and copy the following files to the root of the hard drive:


Then, type edit config.sys at the C:\ prompt, and press enter. Here, we will make some modifications. Change the contents of this file to look like the following:


Save the file (Alt-F-S) and then open (Alt-F-O) AUTOEXEC.BAT. Modify this file to look like the following:


Save the file, then quit (Alt-F-X) the edit program. Remove your boot floppy and restart your computer.

"Error 8" error message
“Error 8” error message
The modified CONFIG.SYS file
The modified CONFIG.SYS file
The modified AUTOEXEC.BAT file
The modified AUTOEXEC.BAT file

Once your computer restarts this time, you should not receive an error 8, but rather a username prompt. Press enter to input your default username, then type in your password. Choose Y to create a password-list file and confirm with your password. You should now receive a “command completed successfully” message. Now, we have come to the moment of truth. Type NET VIEW and wait to see if the names of the computers on your network appear. If they do, congratulations, you are done! If not, then you may have to re-configure the driver or the protocol for your NIC. Also, make sure that you have a DHCP server on your network. I will address driver and DHCP issues in the next section. To connect to a share, type NET to bring up the Network Client popup application, and type in the UNC name, then type Alt-C to connect. You have now mapped a drive to your distribution share, and can start Windows 2000 installation or access your files over the network.

Entering your username
Entering your username
Viewing your workgroup computers
Viewing your workgroup computers
Connecting to a share
Connecting to a share

Final Words

So there you have it, a quick, simple way to access a Microsoft Network share with Network Client 3.0. Although this guide may seem lengthy, it actually only takes about 10 minutes to install the client, and you only need to do it once. If you are in a corporate environment with a DHCP server and are installing many servers with identical NICs, you can copy the original setup onto a couple of floppies or a CD, and then copy it onto each new server. Then, you can add the individual answer files for each server, and you will have a nice unattended setup going simultaneously. Note that this also works with Windows 2000 Professional as well as Windows XP Home/Professional. If you do not have a DHCP server on your network, read on to find out how to set your TCP/IP settings manually.

Manually Configuring TCP/IP

Look for the [TCPIP] section in PROTOCOL.INI
Look for the [TCPIP] section in PROTOCOL.INI

To manually configure TCP/IP, install Network Client as described in this guide, and then edit the PROTOCOL.INI file located inside the NET directory. If you followed this guide precisely, here is what to type:


Look for a section titled [TCP/IP] and change the settings accordingly. Here is what it looks like by default:

SubNetMask0=255 0 0 0
IPAddress0=0 0 0 0

So, if you wanted to disable DHCP and configure your machine with an IP address of with a subnet mask, you would change it to this:

SubNetMask0=255 255 255 0
IPAddress0=192 168 0 1

Changing Drivers and Adding Additional Protocols

To change drivers after installation, navigate to the NET directory by typing CD\NET and then restart the setup program by typing SETUP. You will once again see the confirmation screen which you saw earlier during setup. Highlight “Change Network Configuration,” and choose “Remove” to remove your current driver and try a new one. You can also change other settings such as protocols and workgroup names. If nothing else works, you may want to play with the settings to see if you can find a solution.

Manually Adding a NIC Driver

There may be an occasion when your NIC vendor either does not provide NDIS 2.0 compliant drivers, or provides a package that is incomplete (i.e. missing OEMSETUP.INF, PROTOCOL.INI, etc.). In these situations, you will not be able to use the Setup program to add your NIC driver. If, however, you can find the correct xxxxxxxx.DOS file for your NIC, then you can manually configure Network Client to use that driver. To do so, specify the first listed NIC, 3Com Etherlink, when you are asked to specify a NIC during installation. Then, proceed as normal, and modify the SYSTEM.INI and PROTOCOL.INI files (located in the C:\NET directory) once installation is complete. In SYSTEM.INI, the line you want to change is:


This line is listed under the [network drivers] section. Change it to netcard=xxxxxxxx.DOS, where xxxxxxxx is the name of your vendor-provided driver file.

In PROTOCOL.INI, look for the [MS$ELNK] section and change the following line:


Change this to DriverName=xxxxxxxx$, where xxxxxxxx is the name of your vendor-provided driver file.

If you have a PNP NIC, you may also need to delete the lines under [MS$ELNK] that relate to I/O Address, IRQ, and DMA settings.

Look for "netcard=elnk.dos" in SYSTEM.INI
Look for “netcard=elnk.dos” in SYSTEM.INI
Look for "DriverName=ELNK$" in PROTOCOL.INI
Look for “DriverName=ELNK$” in PROTOCOL.INI

Once you have modified these files, save them and restart your computer. If the drivers are correct, your computer should now be able to connect to your network.


You may have noticed that aside from copying it to the root directory, SMARTDRV.EXE has not been mentioned or used. The reason for this is that Windows 2000 Setup runs faster with SMARTDRV installed. If you are using this guide for something other than setting up Windows 2000/XP, then you can disregard SMARTDRV.EXE.

Well, that’s it for this guide, thank you for reading. See you next time!

10 thoughts on “Installing Microsoft Network Client 3.0”

    1. Hi Xlaits,

      Sorry for the late reply, but it looks like Microsoft’s FTP site finally went offline last year. That said, the Microsoft Network Client files are still mirrored on various sites on the web. If you do a Google search for DSK3-1.EXE (864,723 bytes) and DSK3-2.EXE (288,142 bytes), you’ll be able to find the files. Please keep in mind that I can’t be responsible for any malware that is downloaded or any damage resulting from downloaded malware. Thank you for understanding.

      Jonathan Young

  1. I know this is an old article but have I’m having difficulties connecting my XP machine to my dos machine. I am sharing my dos folder (net share cdrive=c:\) and I see the machine name under workgroup computers in xp but when I click to connect it gives me the error “\\dosmachine is not accessible . You might now have permission to use this resource.” If you have any suggestions, please let me know. Great site by the way!

    1. Hi Bob,

      The one thing I can think of is that the user on the XP machine does not match the user on the DOS machine. I would make sure that I have an account on the XP machine with the same username and password. Also, have you tried accessing the UNC path directly? In your case, it would be \\dosmachine\cdrive. Lastly, make sure that you don’t have a user on the XP machine with the same username as the user on the DOS machine, but with a different password. In my experience that always causes problems.

      Thank you for the kind words. I hope I was able to help. Good luck, and let me know how it goes!

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