Downgrade Vista to XP in seven easy steps

Scott dunn
By Scott Dunn

Windows 7’s arrival is just a few months away, but many people aren’t waiting and just want to replace Vista’s newness — some say weirdness — for the familiarity of XP.

If you long for the good old days of XP and still have your install CD, this step-by-step guide will help you revert to Vista’s predecessor.

These days, you have to work to find a new computer that comes with XP installed. Many PC users who upgraded their XP systems to Vista are disappointed with the newer OS’s performance and other problems. In either case, as long as you have an XP installation CD, you can kiss Vista good-bye.

“Downgrading” from Vista to XP is not as difficult as you may think, but it does entail some time-consuming operations. Many online sources claim to offer techniques for reinstalling XP without having to reformat your hard disk. Based on my research, however, deleting the Vista partition and installing XP in its place is arguably the easiest approach. Moreover, this method ensures a clean install that is uncontaminated by Vista leftovers.

(Note: In certain cases, you may be able to undo an XP-to-Vista upgrade, even without an XP installation CD, by following the instructions in Microsoft article 933168. The article takes a command-line approach to the XP restoration, and also requires that you have a windows.old folder on your root drive.)

Make a pot of coffee and a new, clean XP machine

With your XP installation CD and your application discs in hand (and maybe a cup o’ Joe), you’re ready to begin:

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All Windows Secrets articles posted on 2009-03-12: