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What happens when you completely wipe out your hard drive? When you turn on your computer, what shows up on the screen? Does it tell you to put in a CD to install an operating system, or is it just blank? I mean, the computer has to be able to read a CD at least even if the hard drive is clean, right?
Generally you'll see an error message like "Operating System not found". Systems have for quite some years been able to start directly from a bootable CD or DVD independent of any operating sysem existing on hard drive. Old systems with a BIOS that can't boot from an ATAPI device need to use a bootable floppy disk with CD-ROM driver.
The system should boot from a CD or DVD but you have to have a bootable CD or DVD such as a Windows setup disk. Also in some cases you may have to change some settings at the intial start up to tell the computer to boot to the CD.