How to install windows xp on a windows vista computer

The question I am asked most often is “How do I install a dual-boot with Windows XP on my new Windows Vista computer?” The answer is that it’s not that difficult, it’s just very time consuming, and you need to own a copy of Windows XP.

Note that you should not attempt this if you aren’t ready to troubleshoot any problems that might occur.

The first issue we encounter is that computers with pre-installed operating systems take up the entire drive. Luckily Microsoft included the Shrink volume feature in Vista, so we can easily shrink the Vista partition down to make room for XP.

Open the Computer Management panel, which you can find under Administrative tools or by right-clicking the Computer item in the start menu and choosing Manage. Find the Disk Management item in the list and select that.

How to install windows xp on a windows vista computer

Now we’ll shrink our volume down by right-clicking on the main hard drive and choosing Shrink Volume.

How to install windows xp on a windows vista computer

Now you can choose the size that you want to shrink, which really means you are choosing the size that you want your XP partition to be. Whatever you do, don’t just use the default. I chose roughly 10gb by entering 10000 into the amount.

How to install windows xp on a windows vista computer

The next step might be confusing, because we need to change the cd-rom drive that’s invariably taking up D: at the moment, because we want to use D: for the Windows XP partition, but it’s already taken by the cd-rom drive. If you skip this step than XP will install onto the E: drive, which isn’t the end of the world, but it’s not quite as tidy.

Right-click on the cd-rom drive in the list and choose Change Drive Letter and Paths from the menu.

How to install windows xp on a windows vista computer

Now we’ll change the CD drive to use E: by selecting that in the drop-down.

How to install windows xp on a windows vista computer

Now we can create a new partition for XP to live on and make sure that the drive letter is set the way we want. If you do not create a partition now the XP install will do so automatically, but it’s easier and cleaner to do it this way.

Right-click on the Unallocated free space area and then select New Simple Volume from the menu.

How to install windows xp on a windows vista computer

Follow through the wizard and select whatever options you’d like, making sure to use D: as the drive letter.

Now you will need to close out of disk management and reboot your computer. This is because we can’t do the next step until we reboot. (you can try, but it won’t work)

So we’ve come back from rebooting… open up Computer from the start menu and then right-click on the D: drive and select properties. Give your partition a meaningful name like “XP”. It would be wise to name the C: drive to “Vista” at this point as well.

How to install windows xp on a windows vista computer

Now you’ll want to pop your XP cd into the drive and boot off it. You may have to configure your BIOS to enable booting off the CD drive, or if your computer says something like “Hit Esc for boot menu” you might want to use that.

Once you come to the screen where you can choose the partition to install on, then choose either the unpartitioned space or the new partition you created. Whatever you do, don’t try and install onto your Vista partition! See how much cleaner it is now that we’ve labeled each partition distinctly?

How to install windows xp on a windows vista computer

We’ll assume XP is completely installed at this point, and you will have lost your ability to boot into Windows Vista, so we’ll need to use the VistaBootPro utility to restore the Vista boot loader.

Update: VistaBootPro is no longer free, but you can still download the free version.

During the install you’ll be forced to install the .NET 2.0 framework. Open up VistaBootPRO and then click on the System Bootloader tab. Check the “Windows Vista Bootloader” and then “All Drives” radio buttons, and then click on the Install Bootloader button.

How to install windows xp on a windows vista computer

At this point, the Windows Vista bootloader is installed and you’ll only be able to boot into Vista, but we’ll fix that. Instead of manually doing the work, we’ll just click the Diagnostics menu item and then choose Run Diagnostics from the menu.

How to install windows xp on a windows vista computer

This will scan your computer and then automatically fill in the XP version.. click on the “Manage OS Entries” tab and then click in the textbox for Rename OS Entry, and name it something useful like “Windows XP” or “The Windows That Works”

How to install windows xp on a windows vista computer

Click the Apply Updates button and then reboot your computer… you should see your shiny new boot manager with both operating systems in the list!

How to install windows xp on a windows vista computer

If you get an error saying “unable to find ntldr” when trying to boot XP, you’ll need to do the following:

  • Find the hidden files ntldr and ntdetect.com in the root of your Vista drive and copy them to the root of your XP drive.
  • If you can’t find the files there, you can find them in the i386 folder on your XP install cd

There’s more information on this forum thread, thanks to nrv1013

This is a critical piece of information: Windows XP will be installed on the D: drive, even in Windows XP… so you’ll need to keep that in mind when tweaking your system.

You can share information between the drives, but I wouldn’t recommend messing with the other operating system’s partition too much… it might get angry and bite you. Or screw up your files. What I do recommend is that you store most of your files on a third drive shared between the operating systems… you could call that partition “Data”.

I’m going to write a number of followup articles dealing with all of the issues with dual-boot systems, so subscribe to the feed for updates.

If you have issues with your dual-boot system, I’d recommend creating a new topic in our Computer Help forum, and we’ll try and help you.

If you have issues with using the shrink volume feature, check this article for some tips.

So you just bought a laptop with Windows Vista (or Windows 7) installed, and you hate Vista, one of your programs doesn’t work, or you just miss Windows XP. Here’s what you do to get back that old operating system that you miss so much.

Contents

  • 1 Steps
  • 2 Tips
  • 3 Warnings
  • 4 Things You’ll Need
  • 5 Related Articles

Steps

  1. Consider if you really want to downgrade. The most problematic issues with Windows Vista only apply to the original 2006 version of Vista, not the newer SP1 version that comes with computers sold today. Windows 7 also doesn’t have these issues. Windows Vista (7) also includes many features that enhance productivity, including instant desktop search, and features improvements in security.
  2. Back up the files you want to save. If you have any pictures or documents you want to keep, or programs that are hard to find, write them to a USB flash drive, external hard disk, or CD or DVD. Do this because everything on your hard disk will be destroyed during the process of installing Windows XP.

Also make a set of Windows Vista recovery DVDs to ensure that you can return to Windows Vista if Windows XP doesn’t work on your new computer. The exact location of the program to do so differs depending on the brand of your computer, but usually there is a reminder pop-up that periodically appears at the lower right corner if you have not made the discs yet.

  • Download the Windows XP drivers for your computer from its manufacturer. This is necessary because these drivers add support for newer hardware that did not exist when Windows XP was released. Save the drivers onto your backup disk (along with your personal files). Make sure you get the drivers for “Ethernet” and “Wireless”. Otherwise, you might not be able to connect to the Internet to download others. And if you use a wireless network with WPA2 security (or if you’re not sure), also download the Wireless Client Update and save it to the backup disk. Also find the driver discs for all printers, scanners, PDAs, music players, and wireless network adapters you will use with the new computer. Some of these drivers might be available from the manufacturer’s website if you have lost your CD’s.
  • Insert the Windows XP CD and boot to it. Put in the CD and then restart your computer. Wait for the setup files to finish loading. If the computer starts into Windows Vista instead of Windows XP Setup, you may have to press a key to boot from the CD. Restart your computer and press the key for the boot menu. This key is different for every computer depending on the BIOS.
  • Follow the instructions given by Setup. Press ENTER and then press F8 to accept the license agreement.

    If the setup program asks you for the disc for a previous version of Windows, insert a Windows 98 or Windows Me disc and press ENTER. Then switch back to the Windows XP disc. This is perfectly acceptable as long as you are not using that copy of Windows 98/Me.

  • Select the C: partition
  • choose the option “Format the partition by using the NTFS file system (Quick)” and press F. This erases all the files on your hard drive! Then wait for the files to copy. When the Setup program asks for a Product Key, get the folder that your Windows XP CD was in and look at the yellow label on the back. The ID number printed on it is what it wants. Type it in accurately. If Setup says that the code is invalid, carefully check your typing against the label and try again.

    If, however, Setup does not detect your hard disk, check your computer’s BIOS settings and change any “AHCI” or “RAID” setting to “IDE”. (Change it back if you want to go back to Windows Vista.) If there’s no such setting, you’re out of luck and will have to continue to use Windows Vista. (In this case, just remove the CD and reboot; no files were erased.)

  • Install the drivers you saved to the backup disk. Before running Windows Update, install the WPA update (if needed), and the drivers you downloaded before installing Windows XP.
  • When you get to the Windows XP desktop, run Windows Update from the Start menu. To save time, remember to activate Windows first. When updating your computer, you will need a high-speed Internet connection, and several reboots will be required as Service Pack 3 and other updates are installed; after each reboot, you should run Windows Update again until there are no more updates.
  • Put back your files and software. Download and install any drivers you need that you have not already installed. Get the software programs you want and reinstall them, and put back your pictures, documents, and other files you saved. Then install an anti-virus program, such as AVG Anti-Virus (free for personal use) or Microsoft Security Essentials (free for all Windows users).
  • Step-by-step guides to installing Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista & XP

    How to install windows xp on a windows vista computer

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    Installing Windows might sound like a daunting task but it’s really quite easy, especially if you’re installing a more recent operating system like Windows 10, Windows 8 or Windows 7. But no need to take your computer into the local experts for a simple reinstall — you can install Windows all by yourself!

    Just find the Windows operating system below that you’re planning to install and then click on for visual, step-by-step guides explaining how to install each OS.

    Install Windows 10

    How to install windows xp on a windows vista computer

    Windows 10 is Microsoft’s latest version of Windows and installation of this operating system is probably the easiest of them all.

    See our Windows 8 installation guide for help. It works very similarly to installing Windows 10.

    If you already have Windows 10 installed and you’re looking to reinstall it, even as a “clean” reinstall, the Reset This PC process is an easier-to-do, and equally effective, way to do this. See How to Reset Your PC in Windows 10 for a full walkthrough.

    Install Windows 8

    How to install windows xp on a windows vista computer

    The very best way to install Windows 8 is with a method called a “clean install.”

    With a clean install, you’ll get that “new computer” feel with Windows 8, without all the junk software. If you’re replacing a previous version of Windows, clean installing Windows 8 is most certainly what you want to do.

    Here’s a complete tutorial of the Windows 8 clean install process, complete with screenshots and detailed advice along the way.

    Install Windows 7

    How to install windows xp on a windows vista computer

    Windows 7 is one of the easiest-to-install Windows operating systems. You’re only asked a few important questions during the installation—most of the setup process is completely automatic.

    Like with other versions of Windows, the “clean” or “custom” method of installing Windows 7 is the smartest way to go compared to an “upgrade” install or the less common “parallel” install.

    This 34-step tutorial will walk you through every individual step of the process.

    Install Windows Vista

    Like Windows 7, the Windows Vista install process is very easy and straightforward.

    In this short walkthrough from TechTarget, you’ll see how to boot from the install DVD and step through the major sections of this process.

    Install Windows XP

    Installing Windows XP can be a bit frustrating and time-consuming, especially when compared to the installation processes in Microsoft’s newer operating systems.

    Don’t worry that you can’t do this one, however. Yes, there are lots of steps, and thank goodness Microsoft solved some of these tedious things in newer versions of Windows, but if you still need Windows XP, and you’re installing it new, or reinstalling it from scratch, this tutorial will help.

    If you’re trying to solve a problem and haven’t yet given the repair install process available in Windows XP a try yet, do that first. See How to Perform a Windows XP Repair Install for a complete walkthrough.

    Report abuse

    You can not do that.

    That XP disk from the Dell computer came preinstalled is classified as an OEM licence.

    That means that it is tied to the original computer it is installed on, and the XP licence dies with the failed Computer.

    Also, Dell tie their disks installation to their Motherboards

    If you want XP, you will have to buy it, and ead below about Drivers, etc:

    First, go to your computer manufacturer’s website and check to see if your model computer has XP Drivers available for it..

    If XP Drivers are not available for your Model, forget the idea.

    If it has, download them and save to Flash drive or CD.

    Next, buy an XP disk and Licence.

    Save all your Data, as it will be lost during installation of XP.

    Then follow the usual steps to do a clean install.

    Once installed, reload ALL your other Programs from original Media, or download again.

    Reload all Drivers and Utilities for your Motherboard.

    Mick Murphy – Microsoft Partner

    Report abuse

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    #1 KerryN

    Hi, I have been given a windows laptop:

    intel pentium Compaq Presario A900 Notebook, 32 bit.

    It is running windows vista, but I specifically want windows xp for a program that I have that will only work on windows xp and no other operating system. I am not interested in using it for anything else. I have found a video on youtube that says I can install windows xp using Sun’s Virtual Box. Two questions from this.

    1) Is that a good idea? Would it be better to format the hard drive and just install windows xp and would that program work on that laptop as a first install.

    2) If either of those options will work, I have been looking to buy a copy of windows xp on ebay, but there are so many different options with many seeming to be for dell computers. Would those ones listed as for dells not work on my laptop? Is there a specific option I should be looking for?

    Many thanks for your help.

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    #2 JohnC_21

    Wipe Vista and install XP. See this post. Use the first link. No need to watch the video.

    Edited by JohnC_21, 29 July 2020 – 01:55 PM.

    #3 KerryN

    Wipe Vista and install XP. See this post. Use the first link. No need to watch the video.

    Thank you for that pointer. It is xp with sp2 that I needed. Having searched that site there is the option there. A few questions if you could help me please:

    It says I need 16gb of disk space. Is that how much will be downloaded onto a disk? The only disks I have are 4.7GB.

    Will I need to search out other drivers or should everything work just with downloading the program?

    How can I guarantee that the version with sp2 is safe from viruses/malware?

    I have my original hard drive from my windows xp computer that died. Is there any way of extracting the program from that?

    Many thanks for your help. I am pretty computer illiterate so your help is really appreciated.

    #4 JohnC_21

    Anything that runs on SP2 should run on SP3. I’ve never came across a program that didn’t but I guess there is always a first time.

    16GB is the amount of free space required on the HDD, not the CD/DVD.

    You may need to search for drivers after installing XP but it shouldn’t be a problem. You would look in Device Manger for any devices with Yellow exclamation marks. Right click the device and select Properties. Under the Details tab select Hardware IDs in the dropdown box. Do a google search on the first line. You may have problems with the install media finding the SATA drive. XP SP2 did not have many drivers for SATA controllers. You may need to slipstream in the driver but first you need to find the computer’s chipset which can be found using the program CPUz. From the chipset you need to find the appropriate SATA driver and then slipstream it into the install. The link I provided for SP3 has most SATA drivers already slipstreamed into the iso file.

    I don’t know how you can guarantee there isn’t malware on the install media. I would at least scan the install CD with an AV and Malwarebytes after burning the iso.

    You can’t extract the program from the failed drive because when a program is installed it modifies the registry and the registry can’t be copied to the new drive. You would need to reinstall the program.

    #5 KerryN

    Anything that runs on SP2 should run on SP3. I’ve never came across a program that didn’t but I guess there is always a first time.

    16GB is the amount of free space required on the HDD, not the CD/DVD.

    You may need to search for drivers after installing XP but it shouldn’t be a problem. You would look in Device Manger for any devices with Yellow exclamation marks. Right click the device and select Properties. Under the Details tab select Hardware IDs in the dropdown box. Do a google search on the first line. You may have problems with the install media finding the SATA drive. XP SP2 did not have many drivers for SATA controllers. You may need to slipstream in the driver but first you need to find the computer’s chipset which can be found using the program CPUz. From the chipset you need to find the appropriate SATA driver and then slipstream it into the install. The link I provided for SP3 has most SATA drivers already slipstreamed into the iso file.

    I don’t know how you can guarantee there isn’t malware on the install media. I would at least scan the install CD with an AV and Malwarebytes after burning the iso.

    You can’t extract the program from the failed drive because when a program is installed it modifies the registry and the registry can’t be copied to the new drive. You would need to reinstall the program.

    Thanks for the extra help. It is very much appreciated.

    Install or reinstall Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista, or XP from scratch

    How to install windows xp on a windows vista computer

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    A clean install of Windows is the right way to go when all other software troubleshooting you’ve tried has been unsuccessful and you want to install or reinstall a “clean” copy of Windows back on your computer.

    Most of the time, a clean install is the thing you try after one of Windows’ automatic repair processes hasn’t solved your problem. A clean install will return your computer to pretty much the same state it was in the day you first turned it on.

    In case it’s not clear yet: a clean install should be reserved for the most serious of Windows operating system problems since all the data on your primary hard drive partition (usually the C drive) is erased during the process.

    How to install windows xp on a windows vista computer

    How to Clean Install Windows

    A clean install of Windows is accomplished during the Windows setup process by removing the existing Windows installation (assuming there is one) before installing a new operating system or reinstalling the existing one.

    In Windows 10, the Reset This PC process is an easier-to-do, and equally effective, way to clean reinstall Windows. See How to Reset Your PC in Windows 10 for a walkthrough.

    In versions of Windows prior to Windows 10, the individual steps involved in completing a clean install can differ greatly based on the operating system you happen to be using:

    • How to Clean Install Windows 8
    • How to Clean Install Windows 7
    • How to Clean Install Windows Vista
    • How to Clean Install Windows XP

    Important Reminders

    Remember, a clean install of Windows will erase everything from the drive that Windows is installed on. When we say everything, we mean everything. You’ll need to back up anything you want to save before you begin this process! You can back up your files online or use an offline backup tool.

    In addition to backing up the individual files you want to keep, you should also prepare to reinstall your programs. Gather the original installation discs and downloaded program setups to any program you want to put back on your computer. One easy way to document all your installed programs is with the Save to text file option in CCleaner, accessible via Tools > Uninstall.

    How to install windows xp on a windows vista computer

    No program outside of those that come bundled with an original Windows setup will be on your computer after the clean install is complete.

    If you only have a restore disc from your computer manufacturer but not an original Windows Setup disc or download, a clean install as described in the linked guides above may not be possible. Your restore disc might instead have a relatively similar process that will restore your entire PC, Windows, and programs, back to the factory default.

    Please reference the documentation that came with your computer or contact your computer manufacturer directly for directions.

    You might, but for the best experience, an upgrade is needed

    How to install windows xp on a windows vista computer

    Since Windows 10 is offered as a free upgrade for users who are running genuine Windows 7 or 8.1 on their computers, it’s pretty clear that these systems can run the new operating system flawlessly, but the big question for some users is how well the new software will work on old hardware designed for Windows XP or Vista.

    Considering that Windows XP was launched 14 years ago, it’s not such a shocking thing that installing Windows 10 on a computer that shipped with the ancient OS takes longer than expected or doesn’t work at all, but fortunately, it turns out that, in some cases, it actually runs pretty smoothly.

    “You may purchase Windows 10 from the Microsoft Store or other retailers and install it on your existing device running Windows XP or Windows Vista if your device meets the minimum spec requirements for Windows 10. You will need to back up any existing files before installing Windows 10. It will be a ‘clean’ install. However, we recommend you experience Windows 10 on a newer device,” Microsoft explains.

    System requirements

    So Microsoft says that it might be possible to run Windows 10 on an XP or Vista computer, but what about hardware requirements?

    Below are the system requirements of Windows XP:

    Processor Pentium 233-megahertz (MHz) processor or faster (300 MHz is recommended)
    RAM At least 64 megabytes (MB) of RAM (128 MB is recommended)
    HDD space At least 1.5 gigabytes (GB) of available space on the hard disk
    Graphics Video adapter and monitor with Super VGA
    Display 800 x 600 pixel resolution or higher

    And these are the system requirements of Windows Vista:

    Processor 800-megahertz (MHz) 32-bit (x86) processor or 800-MHz 64-bit (x64) processor
    RAM 512 megabytes (MB) of system memory
    HDD space 20-gigabyte (GB) hard disk that has 15 GB of free hard disk space
    Graphics DirectX 9-class graphics card
    Display 32 MB of graphics memory

    And finally, here are the Windows 10 system requirements:

    Processor 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster processor or SoC
    RAM 1 gigabyte (GB) for 32-bit or 2 GB for 64-bit
    HDD space 16 GB for 32-bit OS 20 GB for 64-bit OS
    Graphics DirectX 9 or later with WDDM 1.0 driver
    Display 1024×600 pixel resolution or higher

    Conclusion

    Not to mention that, for some specific features, hardware upgrades are required anyway, so if you really want to make the most of Windows 10, just give up on the old computer and get a new one that should be good to go for at least 10 years from today.

    Important This article is valid only when you are trying to install a 32-bit operating system. This article does not cover 64-bit operating systems. For more information about installation choices for 64-bit versions of Windows Vista, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:

    932795 Installation choices for 64-bit consumer versions of Windows Vista

    INTRODUCTION

    This article discusses the installation choices for consumer versions of Windows Vista. This article does not include information about Windows Vista Starter, about Windows Vista Enterprise, or about versions of Windows Vista that you install by using Microsoft Volume Licensing.

    The method that you use to install Windows Vista depends on the answers to the following questions:

    Do you have an upgrade license of Windows Vista or a full product license?

    Does the version of Windows that is installed support an upgrade to the version that you purchased?

    Do you want to preserve your personal files, settings, and programs? Or do you prefer to perform a clean installation of Windows Vista?

    More Information

    General information about how to install Windows Vista

    Definitions

    Upgrade to Windows VistaAn upgrade to Windows Vista preserves the currently installed personal files, settings, and programs. You can upgrade only certain versions of Windows to certain versions of Windows Vista.

    Custom installation (clean installation) of Windows Vista A custom installation or clean installation of Windows Vista does not preserve the currently installed personal files, settings, and programs. Windows Vista is installed without third-party programs. You can perform a custom installation of Windows Vista by using either an upgrade license or a full product license. However, if you own an upgrade license, you must start the installation in the current version of Windows. At the installation choice menu, select Custom to perform this action.

    The upgrade version of Windows Vista An upgrade version of Windows Vista is a license that lets you install Windows Vista if you already own a compliant, licensed version of Windows. You can perform either an upgrade installation or a custom installation of Windows Vista by using an upgrade license. However, you must start the Windows Vista installation in the compliant version of Windows.

    32-bit operating systemsWindows comes in both 32-bit and 64-bit versions. This article discusses upgrade options when you are running a 32-bit operating system and you are trying to install a 32-bit version of Windows Vista.

    N versions of Windows Vista N versions of Windows XP and of Windows Vista do not include Windows Media Player. N versions are designed for customers in Europe. You cannot upgrade an N version of Windows. Instead, you must perform a custom installation.

    Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2)

    You must have Microsoft Windows XP Service Pack 2 installed before you can upgrade a Windows XP-based computer to Windows Vista. To verify that you have Windows XP SP2 installed, follow these steps:

    Click Start, right-click My Computer, and then click Properties.

    On the General tab, verify that Service Pack 2 appears in the System area.

    If Windows XP SP2 is not installed, install it before you start an upgrade to Windows Vista. To obtain Windows XP SP2, visit the following Microsoft Web site:

    How to determine whether your computer is running a 32-bit version or a 64-bit version of Windows XP

    For more information about how to determine whether you computer is running a 32-bit version or a 64-bit version of Windows XP, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:

    827218 How to determine whether your computer is running a 32-bit version or a 64-bit version of the Windows operating system

    Installation choices

    Your installation choices depend on the version of Windows that you have installed. This section describes the choices that are available for each version of Windows.

    Upgrading is not supported for some language versions of Windows XP

    Upgrading from the following language versions of Windows XP to the matching language of Windows Vista is not supported.

    Windows XP with the following Language Interface Packs installed: