Vista to XP Downgrade
Windows Vista was launched with much fanfare and was touted as the operating system for a new generation with a slick graphical interface and many new features. But the reaction to Vista has been mostly lukewarm, and many customers are looking for a way to downgrade from Vista to Windows XP.
Problems with Windows Vista
One of the common problems users are experiencing with Windows Vista is that the operating system may not be compatible with their existing hardware, especially printers, scanners, and certain video cards. And some vendors still lag in providing updated software drivers that will enable those devices to function with Vista.
Some users complain that overall performance is worse than with XP; that Vista is buggy, and will freeze or crash often - even while running Microsoft software such as Windows Media Player, Internet Explorer and MS Word. Others complain that programs which worked find on XP don't work well (or at all) with Windows Vista. And there are complaints about new Vista features like DRM (Digital Rights Management) and User Account Control that seem to restrict the freedom of the users.
Because of all these reasons, many users are looking to downgrade from Windows Vista to Windows XP. Here are some tips to take some of the pain out of that process.
Downgrade From Vista to XP
If you remember back to when you installed Windows XP, Microsoft provided users with a fairly simple option to return to Windows 98 if something went wrong, or if you didn't like it. So if you're considering Vista, be forewarned that Microsoft has NOT provided a way to simply roll back to Windows XP from Windows Vista.
But the good news is that you CAN revert from Vista to XP, and in most cases, you won't need to shell out any money for another XP license. In response to high demand, Microsoft has changed the Vista licensing terms so that PC vendors are able to provide downgrade rights from Vista Business or Vista Ultimate to Windows XP Professional.
Hewlett-Packard, and Lenovo are among the vendors offering an XP Pro recovery disc to customers who want to convert a Vista machine to XP Pro. Fujitsu goes even further, including an XP disc in the box with new Vista laptops and tablet PCs. So check with your PC vendor, to see if they will provide a Vista-to-XP recovery disk at low or no cost.
But what if you bought a no-name PC or the manufacturer won't ship you the XP recovery disk? If you happen to have an install CD for Windows XP Professional or XP Tablet Edition, you may be in luck. CNET reported in late September that Microsoft informed them that Vista Business/Ultimate owners can call the customer support center, give their Vista serial number and get an activation code for Windows XP Professional or Tablet Edition.
No XP Soup For You!
Note that this option does NOT apply to the unwashed masses who have purchased computers with Vista Home Basic or Vista Home Premium edition. Microsoft does not permit vendors to ship the XP recovery disk to customers who have these lower-end versions of Vista. But if you do have an XP install disk (either XP Home or XP Professional), you can still opt to wipe Vista from your hard drive and install a fresh copy of XP.
How to Downgrade Vista to XP
Downgrading from Windows Vista to Windows XP is almost like installing Windows XP for the first time. You should take all the normal precautions like backing up all your important files and record important passwords in a different place, preferably on a CD. When you downgrade from Windows Vista to XP, note that Windows Vista will be completely removed from your system.
(Note: There is a way to have both Vista and XP in a dual boot configuration, but that's an option for more advanced users. See Dual Booting Vista and XP for more info on that.)
Before you begin the XP installation, make sure that the necessary XP hardware drivers are available, or included on the XP disk provided by your PC vendor. If in doubt, check the vendor's website or poke around with your favorite search engine to see if others have attempted the XP install on the same hardware. You may be able to install XP without all the needed drivers, but some hardware may not work afterwards.
Also, make sure that you have a genuine Windows XP CD before you begin the downgrade. Be sure to read the section earlier in this article to see if you qualify for a low/no cost XP recovery disk from your PC vendor. If not, perhaps you have an XP disc that came with another computer. If you've upgraded an existing computer from XP to Vista, the best choice would be the XP install/recovery disc that came with that computer. One some PC's the vendor doesn't ship a CD, but the recovery CD can be created from disk images on the hard drive. If all else fails, you can always buy a copy of Windows XP on Ebay. Just be sure it's a legal, licensed copy.
Follow these steps to install Windows XP on your Vista machine:
- Insert your Windows XP install/recovery CD and restart your computer.
- Install Windows XP normally, providing either the product key that came with the disk, or the one you got from Microsoft customer support. If the installer warns you that another copy of Windows is already installed, don't worry. Remember, this install will wipe out your existing Vista installation.
- Activate your copy of Windows XP when it prompts you to do so. If you run into the "already activated" problem, you can use the option to activate by phone.
- If you own Vista Business or Vista Ultimate, explain to the rep that you want to use your Downgrade Rights to install XP Pro.
- If you own Vista Home Basic/Premium, or you are installing XP Home Edition, don't mention ANYTHING about Vista. Just give the rep your XP product key (not the Vista key), explain that you are installing XP on a new hard drive, and tell them you need to activate.
Have you successfully downgraded from Vista to XP? Share your experience. Got questions or comments about downgrading from Vista to XP? Post them below.
Posted by Bob Rankin on 16 Oct 2007
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Vista to XP Downgrade (Posted: 16 Oct 2007)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved