Thursday, October 11, 2007

HOW TO Downgrade your Laptop from Vista to XP Professional - Part One

I recently bought a HP Compaq Presario V6450EE that came pre-loaded with Vista. Right now, i think Vista can be best compared with an affair with a hot mistress : it may look simply jaw-dropping great, but it's damn hard to get things done with it, and at the end of the day you find out its loyalty lies not with you but with its former billionaire master.

That said, i naturally had to 'downgrade' it to XP Professional, whose cd i fortunately still had. Now, 'downgrading' doesn't really exist in microsoft's lingo, and it's up to us real computer-users to stuff it down their throats and show them their place. As u'd expect, there's several hassles on the way. U could lose your laptop and even your hair over it. I scoured the net for this, but nearly everywhere there were accounts of the hassles involved. Still, for me there was no other option: it was either XP, or sheer hell with vista which is Sooo slow even with a 1GB RAM.

First thing all new laptop-buyers will notice is this: no OS-restore cd like the good old times, and secondly, only one hard disk, with D: drive being a backup. Like i was gonna keep my precious star trek collection on the same drive as vista, yeah right! Needing to create multiple partitions was one of the reasons i decided to format this vista thingy. Now, here's a highly technical series of steps, get back to me if u don't understand some of it.

1. Turn off native sata support:
Start the laptop. As soon as you see the first screen, hit F10 (that's in compaq comps, may be F6 or F8 or shift+F10 or likewise elsewhere.) If you were in time, you'll enter the sacred abode of the BIOS. Use your arrow keys & explore the place, just don't change any other settings. If you change them, just change them back! Look for something sounding like this: "Native SATA support" and set it to Disabled (it might also be called RAID, imp thing is to disable it). Exit while saving changes. Make sure the WinXP cd (bootable!) is inside your cd-drive

2. Now XP cd should be able to detect the hard drive. Next time your machine restarts, with the xp-cd in, a small line will appear "Press any key to boot from cd..." with increasing dots. PRESS ANY KEY!

3. A blue-and-gray screen will come, and several drivers' names will fly by. let them. Once everything's loaded, follow the instructions to agree to conditions, install xp and then you'll see a list of existing partitions, with the options of deleting partitions, creating new ones etc. DELETE BOTH C: & D:
(yes, D also.. i didn't do that, and had to do the ENTIRE task all over again 'coz it created problems later. before this process, windows can burn a dvd-backup version of the recovery partition for you, and anytime in future if you want vista back, just boot it with this dvd)

4. Now there's just pure raw unpartitoned space. Press C to create new partition. Give this partition the equivalent of 10 or 15 GB's only.. more is not needed if you'll be saving your personal files & installing software on other partitions. If you'll be installing all software on C:, then 20GB's should be enough :) You can create the rest of the partitions from winXP later.. here just make one drive. Now, press Enter to install XP over this C: drive. Choose the ntfs, quick format method.

5. Now just sit back & relax, press the usual 'next', 'ok' buttons, give your name (or rather just put in Admin) when asked, etc etc.

6. After a Long time & a reboot & some more installation, Xp will finally start. And here things can get depressing for laptop users: If you have a widescreen like mine, everything will be stretched flat, there's no sound, network adapter or other stuff. Basically you have only the keyboard, mouse & cd-drive working. Don't go installing any antivirus or any of your own software yet! You've finished only 30% of the process, see the rest of it in Part 2!

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