Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

More on switching back to XP

Many of you are going to acquire a new PC for the Holidays, and most (if not all) of those PCs are going to come with Vista,.. and — judging from the number of ‘hits’ certain articles of mine are getting — many of you are going to want to remove Vista and install XP on the new machine.

There are various reasons people have for wanting to go back to XP, but I would like to point out that most of these reasons are not really valid when Vista is pre-installed on a new machine — all the appropriate device drivers will be installed and there will not be the compatibility issues (like you might face if you upgraded an older [XP] machine to Vista) with the machine’s hardware.. and Vista has been out long enough now that there should be drivers for your attached hardware (printer, scanner, storage, etc.) even if they’re older.
Also, the finalized Vista Service Pack 1 is almost here (the “release candidate” {final Beta} is already available).

At this point in history, the main reason people have for wiping Vista off of a new machine and installing a copy of XP is that they don’t “like” Vista… and they don’t “like” Vista because it is “different” (we fear change).

[Please note: I am talking about new machines with Vista already installed here. This is not the same advice I have for people who have purchased a Vista CD and “upgraded” an older PC.. and not been happy with the results. For those folks, my advice is contained here,]

Tip of the day:It is my humble opinion that it is well worth your time to learn and get comfortable with your new machine and Vista. Yes, it will feel “different”. It’s ‘look’ is more.. modern. But a true Geek will tell you that Vista is not a whole new operating system so much as it is XP Service Pack 3. Everything is still there, pretty much in the same place, but it may have a slightly different name– “My Computer” has become “Computer”, and “All Programs” is now “Programs” for instance.

Here is some of my reasoning:
• Vista is “safer” than XP. It is harder for a distant hacker to attack, and it has better defenses against malware infections.
• Vista is inevitable. XP will fade into memory just as Windows 98 has. Sooner or later the computer you use at your job will be a Vista machine. Sooner or later, Microsoft will stop supporting XP. Sooner or later, you will be faced with a Vista machine.
• Vista has more features built into it than XP (features that most people will appreciate — such as the Media Center, and music library sharing, and slideshow widget) and improves on features already in XP — such as the Search tool and home networking.
• Programs, today, are being written to run on Vista.. not XP. So, while almost every program you buy today will run on either XP or Vista, that will not always be the case. There are already games that require Vista, and soon almost all new releases will (to take advantage of Vista’s new DirectX engine).

If, however, you aren’t feeling inclined to just “get used to it”, and are not swayed by the arguments presented above, and are bound and determined to put XP on your new machine — well, that’s what the “P” in PC stands for: “personal” — and I have some advice for you as well: device drivers.

Your new machine, and the manufacturer’s disks that come with it, will have Vista device drivers– most of which will not work with XP.
When you have finished wiping Vista from the machine, and completed the XP install, the odds are good that the machine will not be fully functional: you might not have sound, or your wireless networking might not work. You can remedy this in Device Manager and following the method for installing device drivers I published herewith this caveat — you will not be looking for the latest driver, but looking for older drivers.. XP drivers. (So, the Update Driver button is the incorrect tool.)

You will (probably) need to find XP drivers in this order:
1) motherboard (sometimes referred to as “chipset”)
2) graphics adapter*
3) network adapter*
4) sound*
*(if not ‘cured’ by the motherboard driver)

The manufacturer will be your best source for finding what you need. First, visit the PC manufacturer’s website and enter the model number of your new PC. You are looking for the “specifications” area, where hopefully you will find the make and model of each component (you may need to call the Tech Support number and ask a live human) you need a driver for.

Then, armed with the model number, you will go to that manufacturer’s website and click on either their “downloads”, or “support” page and look for the XP driver, and click on the download link.
This will (usually) download a self-installing driver package, and all you’ll have to do is double-click on it and an Install wizard will guide you through the process: simply “accept” and click “next”.
If, instead, you do not get a self-installing package, you will have to use the Add New Hardware Wizard and decline the “automatically install” option, and point it at your downloaded driver file (I describe the steps in the article mentioned above).

Or.. you could just get used to Vista. I think you’ll like it if you give it a try.

Today’s free link: today’s link is a repeat, but it is relevant to today’s discussion because it will help you identify the Make/Model of the components inside your PC, which is a necessary first step in getting the proper device drivers installed. Sandra Lite is a free benchmarking tool which (among other useful things) scans your computer for installed hardware and software.

Copyright 2007 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.

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December 19, 2007 - Posted by | advice, computers, device drivers, how to, PC, tech, Vista, Windows, XP | , ,


  1. Vista – rulez! :)


    Comment by alex flex | December 20, 2007 | Reply

  2. Well I think Vista sucks and this is why:
    1. It´s slow, very slow.
    2. It´s not ready yet.
    3. Windows Vista violates your integrity.

    I´m not going to switch to Vista, when my XP is old as hell I´ll go Open source.


    Comment by Epex | December 20, 2007 | Reply

  3. Epex–
    I sort of agree with point 1. IF the machine’s hardware is older, or there’s not 2 GBs of RAM.. yes, it can seem slow. Otherwise, I see no real lag…not even when gaming.
    On point 2, I mostly agree and I hope the release of the Service Pack will remedy the (Sleep mode, ie) glitches.
    But I am just confused by number 3. Are you referring to WGA? That’s affects XP too, you know.

    That said, I acknowledge that you are far from being alone in your sentiments. Microsoft promised us a lot with Vista which it simply did not deliver– such as a new file system. Perhaps Vista’s biggest contribution to computing will be a migration to Unix/Linux? Time will tell.


    Comment by techpaul | December 20, 2007 | Reply

  4. I did one better. I removed Vista and didn’t switch back to XP, but over to Linux. :)


    Comment by cowsbythefence | December 21, 2007 | Reply

  5. techpaul-
    Well yeah but as far as I know you can manually shut it down in XP but no such luck in Vista….

    But I could be wrong? :p


    Comment by Epex | December 22, 2007 | Reply

  6. Epex–
    If someone has cracked the WGA in Vista, they have managed to keep a low profile about it. (The “workarounds” in XP are well-published.)

    Service Pack 1 is supposed to remove WGA’s ability to turn off Vista features if it thinks you’re running a bootleg and will only be able to nag you (easy enough to shut off).. which is a step in the right direction (if you listen carefully, there’s a “but” here).
    Since I am already aware that there truly is no such thing as privacy any more, the fact that services built into Vista collect data does not really bother me. Almost everything we do on the Internet is gathered in some way, by some body.. and it doesn’t matter a lick which browser or OS you’re using. Have you ever used Google (or any other search engine)? Do you have an e-mail account? Have an ISP? Do any Bit Torrent?
    As a beta-tester, I often allow total data dumps to be collected. I do not slow down my Internet “experience” by bouncing off of anonymizers.
    Why not fight it? Because that horse has already left the barn.


    Comment by techpaul | December 22, 2007 | Reply

  7. Ok iv been using Vista for a good while now an sitting back I still say you are wrong.. Has nothing to do with change Vista removes most of the stuff a lot of people use… Vista was made to keep people under control like for example stupid stuff lets start off with you can no longer uninstall stuff you dont want that microsoft says you need on your system..

    Like for example windows media player I dont use it however I cant uninstall it because they claim windows needs it… It needs it as bad as a fat kid needs more food… I have already damaged my windows media player to the point of where it wont even run much less find it on vista yet here my system still works fine so why cant I remove it? Simple they dont want you too…

    Another thing that is bs is this sound limiter….


    Comment by Someone | September 16, 2008 | Reply

  8. Someone–
    One of the biggest complaints about Vista is “bloat”, and one of the hallmarks of bloat is adding a bunch of things people don’t use.. I am trying hard to think of an XP feature that is no longer available in Vista.. I do think there are a few, but not popular ones.
    Another big complaint about Vista is it did not really deliver anything revolutionary or new– in fact, IT types called it “XP Service Pack 3” (the real SP3 wasn’t out yet), and the wags called it “XP with a pretty face”.

    You are correct that Vista integrated WMP into the kernal, which believe it or not does provide benefits if you use it. If you don’t, and it’s pretty clear to me you don’t, why not just ignore it? Set your file associations to open your media files with your preferred player and you’re good to go. Aside from the WMP icon, you won’t even know WMP is there. (When you install a player, it offers to associate media types for you..)
    Yes.. Vista was slow coping with MIDI, and yes, Audigy (the maker of most sound cards/chipsets) exacerbated the problem by deliberately avoiding issuing Vista drivers (in some kind of silly snit). All that is past. History.

    The only arguement I won’t even involve myself in is in the arena of DRM (and perhaps this is you? your hint at “control”?) but this may surprise you, it is now harder to get around DRM in XP than it is in Vista.. and Microsoft is working to make it even harder (XP Pro is the most bootlegged software item in the world).
    Apple doesn’t ignore DRM either.

    But XP is dead technology. Vista’s time is limited. ‘MinWin’, Windows 7, and cloud-based OS’s are looming on the horizon already.

    Help me out here, “Someone”, what XP feature(s) did Vista strip away? I’m drawing a blank tonight.

    I can’t (and won’t) change personal preferrences nor opinions, but I haven’t changed my views. I have two roughly equally-capable machines sitting side-by-side: one Vista Ultimate and one XP Pro.. the XP machine hardly ever gets booted these days.


    Comment by techpaul | September 17, 2008 | Reply

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