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Windows Vista can have trouble running some applications. There are several options for running Windows XP, from a re-install to virtual machines.

I recently purchased a computer. It came with Vista premium. The programs I bought this computer for will not work with Vista. It keeps telling me there are compatibility issues and to got to the Microsoft website. I found no support there. I guess what I'd like to know is if it is possible to remove the hard drive with Vista and install my last hard drive with XP? All the programs I need will work fine on XP. My old processor just wasn't fast enough. I know the question is kind of vague and might not be answerable with the lack of info I have given. My old computer was a put together by a friend who gave it to me when he was done with it. The new one is a HP a1700n. Or, is there a way to remove Vista and install XP on this one. In order for me to use Vista, I will have to replace most of the programs I work with. That is a little too spendy. Any suggestion would help.

I haven't taken the Vista plunge just yet (though Vista Ultimate is sitting on a shelf behind me as I type), but your complaint is one that I've been hearing from time to time: Vista doesn't run everything just yet. Normally it's a problem with hardware drivers, but I understand some applications may have difficulty as well.

So what's the best way to "revert" to Windows XP?

There are a couple of options, but none of them are truly seamless.

Unfortunately the idea that you have - just swapping out the hard drive - will probably not work. Windows XP on the old hard drive is configured for all the hardware on that old machine. Booting it in the new machine will at best confuse the heck out of Windows as nearly all the hardware is changed out from underneath it at once. At worst Windows XP simply won't boot.

You could certainly remove Vista and install XP. Just grab a Windows XP install CD, boot from it and proceed to install Windows XP from scratch. When it asks you to choose a partition, choose the one with Vista on it, and have it reformat the disk. Vista will be gone, XP will be in its place, and you can proceed to set up the applications you need. Be sure to keep the Windows Vista installation DVD that should have come with the new machine for use someday in the future.

If the hard disk is big enough, you might consider a dual-boot option allowing you to boot your system into either Vista or XP. It's been a while since I've played with dual boot, but it's a viable option if you want to keep Vista around for other things.

The approach I would take, however, is similar, but significantly more flexible.

I would use a virtual machine.

Virtual machines are, in essence, a virtual "PC in a window". When you start a virtual PC, for example, the first thing you see is a virtual BIOS screen as it starts up and tries to boot. I use a virtual machine to run Ubuntu Linux in a window on my Windows XP laptop:

Ubuntu Linux in a window in Windows XP

I also use a virtual machine to run Windows XP on my MacBook Pro running OS X. It's pretty amazing technology.

So you can probably guess where I'm headed. I would leave Windows Vista installed, and create a separate virtual machine that would run Windows XP as a "guest operating system" in a window within Vista, where Vista is the "host operating system". That installation of XP could then run all of the applications that you care about.

It's the best of both worlds, in my opinion.

The virtual machine technology I'm using is Parallels Workstation for Windows. While I've not run Parallels under Windows Vista, they do list it as supported, as both the host operating system, and as the "guest" - meaning I should be able to try Vista in a virtual machine within Windows XP as well.

Parallels does an excellent job of mapping almost all the hardware through to the guest operating system, with the most notable exception of 3D graphics acceleration, so no gaming, but most everything else is available and operates at near full speed.

Article C2964 - March 16, 2007 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

D Brechun
March 16, 2007 6:17 PM

many people have had luck in running older programs on Vista by setting the properties on the program to run in compatiblity mode for XP.

Carl Goodwin
March 16, 2007 7:26 PM

This is yet ANOTHER example of how out of touch Microsoft is with their customers. Our computer had security problems with THEIR O/s, and people attacking it from the outside. Vista makes it incredibly difficult to do everyday tasks, because Microsoft thinks that it is WE who are the security risks, and make us jump through hoops just to do basic things. Their IE solution is already getting patched, even though it was supposed to be almost impenetrable! Either way, I'll stick to XP for another year or so. My son had a problem installing Adobe on his new Vista laptop. We had to use the XP Compatibility settings. That Mac is looking MUCH better these days! :)

March 17, 2007 3:44 AM

Your suggested solution of a virtual machine may be overkill.

Vista allows an application to run in compatibility mode.

1. In Windows Explorer right click on the application file. Select the Compatibility tab.
2. Select the run in compatibility mode checkbox.
3. Select the mode from the dropdown list.

Vista allows for compatibility with XP SP2 as well as modes going back to Windows 95 or forward to Windows Server 2003 SP1.

BTW, if Vista balks at allowing an installer to run, a similar option from the install file’s context menu - properties will let it install.

I suggest trying this before anything else.

Geoff Walker
March 17, 2007 6:08 AM

Regarding the dual-boot idea, as I recall, XP must be installed BEFORE Vista. I don't think you can add XP to an existing Vista installation and dual-boot.

Nick Gimbrone
March 17, 2007 7:04 PM

If you want to go virtual, VMware is by far the best answer today. I've used it on both Windows and Linux hosts to run a wide range of guests (Windows XP & 98, Linux, NetBSD, etc). You will pay a performance penalty, but if your new system has a rich memory and fast disks, the net effect should be fine for most applications.

March 22, 2007 6:05 AM

How does Windows Genuine Advantage affect the dual-booting or Parallels Workstation idea? I thought the mantra has been "one XP, one computer".

Leo Notenboom
March 22, 2007 2:58 PM

Hash: SHA1

A fine question, and I think the specifics have yet to be determined.

Certainly you can have a licensed copy of Vista on the machine, AND a
separately licensed copy of XP on the same machine in either dual boot or VM.
You've paid for two operating systems, and can run them on a single machine -
nothing really new there. WGA will simply record the activation within the
environment it sees at the time.

Things get dicier with VM's. You could have more than one copy of XP running in
multiple VM's on Vista. Would that require more licenses? It's still the one
machine. But multiple OSs? It remains to be seen.

WGA's ability to detect piracy is also in question once you install XP in a VM.
The VM's hard disk can easily be copied to another machine and run on another
instance of parallels. Is that "legal"? Dunno. Will WGA catch it? Maybe, maybe

Lots of open issues here. I don't think there are clear answers yet.

Version: GnuPG v1.4.6 (MingW32)


Iley Pullen
March 28, 2007 9:39 PM

Some good comments, but unfortunately, it is not as simple as loading the Windows XP disc and reformatting/reloading the software. Since I installed Vista, my computer no longer recognizes the hard drives UNLESS I am changing versions of Vista. XP reports that there are no hard drives....I have booted into the drives several times and so I know they are there....just XP no longer recognizes them.

VISTA=TRASH and a waste of time. Completely useless OS until more companies are willing to spend the time to write drivers and actually support this new OS.

Joshua Button
September 21, 2007 7:54 AM

It is by all means possible to install XP in a dual boot environment when Vista is already installed. It is also possible to do a clean install on top of Vista, though I would not recommend it if your machine came with Vista and has all hardware specifically designed for Vista. A virtual machine is a great option, but it seems kind of silly to use a virtual machine to run one version of windows on top of another. In my experience, however, 99% of the applications people say are not compatible with Vista will run under compatibility mode (see one of the above posts for more info on compatibility mode). So the most cost effective, simplest, and most all-around efficient option is to utilize the compatibility wizard.

Jai Reid
October 23, 2007 4:47 PM

Vista does not run these programs -- even with compatability options.
Quicken 2004
Microsoft Streets & Trips 2005
Those are just the ones I know about---there are also a bunch that it runs partially. For instance, if you choose to enlarge fonts in windows because you have a high-pitch LCD, most XP programs won't handle it well, and you end up with two sets of menus that overlap and created a jumbled mess.

December 1, 2007 10:56 PM

the model you are working with is the a1700n. Here is a listing of the a1700n motherboard specs. I found the predecessor model the a1600n, and here is a listing of the a1600n motherboard specs. As you can see the motherboards are the same. HP went through some rapid model no turnover after the introduction of Vista in the spring. First they changed the model with the introduction of Vista and then they changed the mobo and went to black cases.

The motherboard has nVidia 6150LE chipset, and the lan is a 10/100 Marvell 88EC031.

Here is a driver listing from the HP website. Try the nVidia LAN driver. Please note on the website that Service Pack 2 MUST be installed prior to installation of this driver.

December 6, 2007 9:59 AM

i have the same problem my hp a6230n doesnt want to work with my ie and yahoo mail cant i just make a backup disk with the programs installed on new hp install xp and than reinstall the programs from recovery cd i made a recovery and it reads on my toshiba laptop so my question is is it possible to recover say my litescribe programs and so on from that disk i have a licence copy of xp please email me if you have any suggestions

December 19, 2007 7:54 AM

Only one problem with Vista......Vista!

Ralph Bivens
July 7, 2008 7:23 PM

I have windows vista i am having problems with Pop3 and host smtp

Vaughn MacMahon
September 25, 2008 7:03 PM

My OS died. Vista has given me nothing but problems on my HP media center. Compatibility with any game software is nearly impossible to accomplish. I installed NVidia's latest driver for the 8600 gfx series, and after restarting my computer, I got the "BSOD". My OS is completely fried, and I really don't feel like buying new restore discs.

September 2, 2009 8:16 AM

Leo And To Everybody Here!! READ THIS I Bought A New H.P Phenom X4 9550 Quad 7gb Ram 740gb H.D.D 64 Bit S-P-1 With Vista Premium! I Was A X.P Lover..NOW I wouldn't Go Back! Vista JUST Takes Getting Used To!! I Also Have 2 H.P,S With X.P But
Once You Do You TOO Will See How Much Smarter VISTA is And Safer! MY 64 Bit Has Rarely Encountered A Software Program IT Can,t Install When I search I add X 64 And 99% of the Time I can Find A 64 BIT Version of Any Program I want!!SO Don,t Be So Quick To Hate VISTA!! it Just Takes Getting Used TOO!! AND Once You Do YOUR GONNA LOVE IT! I Wanted The NEW POWERFUL Phenom QUAD So Bad! Note! make Sure You Get A AMD Motherboard..They Are Better And Faster Than Intel 9-2-09

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