A friend in need is usually a friend with Vista pre-installed

This is a situation you will no doubt be familiar with, after all you are tech savvy by virtue of reading a blog!

A friend had bought a new Sony Vaio laptop which came pre-installed with Vista. That would have been ok were it not for the fact that the software he wanted to use didn't run on Vista and various devices he owned such a"s a Sony Video camera wouldn't connect to the Vaio because drivers weren't available.

So he turned to me and in my innocence (over-confidence?) I offered to help him by putting XP on the machine as a dual boot. I found all the relevant articles online and got a sense of the horror to come. Nonetheless, I set off and partitioned his hard drive using the Vista facilities and then presented the laptop with a genuine copy of Windows XP.

Now the story got complicated. XP claimed it couldn't find the Hitachi SATA hard drive and hence couldnt proceed with the install. Look around the internet, find references to the issue and how to solve.

Step 1 get the drivers - go to Sony website only to find they don't supply XP drivers for this machine. Ok, ring support line and enquire if they have XP drivers - nope or at least none they are admitting to. Best line from them though was "Why would you want to use XP when Vista is the latest version". HELLO? Have you used Vista or read online about the general experience? "Errr, not personally Sir".

Ok, so its a matter of finding the relevant drivers online and then making them available during the install via "f6" which allows extra drivers to be installed. Yes, but then you need to have a floppy drive available under that method - a what! Do I look like the Science museum? Obviously the laptop doesn't have one and I can't remember how many years ago I last used a floppy drive.

Found the hard disk drivers + relevant intel drivers after more online investigation......But still can't apply them without floppy disk drive.

Plan B - create a slipstream disk. Not having ever been in tech support, my journey took a detour to learn about creating consolidation files that aggregated an XP install with relevant service packs & drivers etc and how a freeware application called nlite would help. Duly installed and drivers located I created a consolidated installation file. Unfortunately, I only had DVDs rather than CDs and XP doesn't natively copy to DVDs.

Every frustrating turn was accompanied by yet another assault course. Finally I decided I'd spent far too long on this and accompanied my friend down to the local PC repair shop - small shop, lots of kit lying around, weird people wandering in and out. Explained what I wanted to do and whilst they were very conversant with what was required they counselled strongly against it.

They could install XP but in their experience the laptop probably would have too many components for which drivers were unavailable. Not to mention they would have to spend a long time looking for them at my friend's expense.

In the end, we just gave up. Result, couple of unhappy people having wasted time trying to get rid of some software they didn't want for a product they did, both of which come from the same software supplier. Moreover my friend, a lifelong Mac user for whom this was his first pc purchase, had his prejudices about the inferiority of PCs confirmed.

Whilst I can understand that Microsoft would prefer we used Vista, why make life so hard for the consumer? Moreover, it has only create a poor impression with us and we shall be telling everyone considering by a PC to only buy one if you can have it come with XP.

posted by John Wilson @ 4:02 PM Permanent Link newsvine reddit

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