No operating system, Windows or otherwise, can work with a hard drive that hasn't been formatted.
The steps involved to format a hard drive from the Disk Management tool depend on the specific version of Windows you're running:
- How To Format a Hard Drive in Windows 7
- How To Format a Hard Drive in Windows Vista
- How To Format a Hard Drive in Windows XP
Important: You can only format a hard drive after you've partitioned it. A hard drive that you want to format but that you've already been using in Windows has already been partitioned. However, a brand new hard drive installed in a computer will not be partitioned. See How To Partition a Hard Drive in Windows for instructions on partitioning a hard drive.
Important: You can not format the C drive, or whatever drive Windows is installed on, from within Windows. See How To Format C for help if you want to format this drive.
Note: When formatting in Windows XP and earlier versions of Windows, data isn't actually erased during a format, it's only hidden from Windows and other operating systems. See How To Wipe a Hard Drive for instructions on truly removing all the information on a hard drive.