How to Remove Microsoft Vista and replace it with Windows XP

You should read these instructions completely and not attempt to do this unless you're completely comfortable with all the steps I describe. If you have any iimportant data on the computer containing Microsoft Vista, make sure you have a back up copy of it.

You may want to remove Microsoft Vista and Replace it with Windows XP because all the other computers in your location already have XP on them and you don't want to learn Vista. Or you may want to remove Microsoft Vista because you are experiencing program incompatibilities or you just don't want to learn how to use a new operating system.

Lately, I've instructed and assisted some of my friends with removing Microsoft Vista from new computers and replacing it with copies of Microsoft XP instead. I've written the instructions below:

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* Have a BACKUP of your current hard drive, in case anything goes wrong and you have to restore the old installation

* Have the CORRECT DRIVERS on a disc — For example, if you're installing windows XP, be sure to have all the correct sound, video, and port drivers specifically written for Windows XP and this computer . Different drivers from different laptops and different operating systems are mostly NOT compatible.

* HAVE A VALID REGISTRATION KEY for WINDOWS — Microsoft will not let you upgrade your operating system with necessary patches until you VALIDATE your copy of Windows XP – by phone or online. If you try to update or format your system with a shared or borrowed copy of Windows XP, your result may be a crippled or non-working copy of Windows XP on your computer. You'll need that 20 character number from your Windows Certificate of Authenticity. A certificate of Authenticity looks like the image below:

Microsoft coa


1 ) Put the installation CD of XP or Windows 2000 into the CD drive and start the computer. Your computer should display “Press a key to start from CD”. You must boot from the CD because you'll need to format the C: drive partition where Windows is installed on the hard drive.

If your computer is displaying a blue screen with white text, then you can proceed to step #2.

Your computer's “Boot Order” tells the computer which device to check first when starting the computer. If your computer did not boot from the CD, you'll need to power on your computer and press either the F2 or F10 or Del key — depending on your computer — to display your computer's BIOS menu. In the Bios Menu, find the menu that allows you to change the “boot order” and make a change so that the computer will boot from the CD first, instead of the hard drive.

2 ) A blue screen with white text will be displayed. Press F8 to accept the Windows XP Licensing Agreement. The Windows XP Setup program will search for existing Windows installations and “repair or install fresh copy” will appear if a Windows installation currently exists on your machine. Press [Esc] (don't repair).

3 ) A list of your computer's disc partitions will be displayed. Press the UP or DOWN arrow keys to choose your main install partition. Note that your system partition must be a primary partition (usually the first partition that appears in the list), not a logical partition.

4 ) Once you have selected your main partition, press ENTER. “You already have a system installed” will be displayed if you already have Windows installed on this partition.

5 ) Press C to continue. From the options displayed, select “Format the partition using the NTFS file system” then press Enter. Windows XP can also run on FAT32, but the NTFS file system is recommended because it is more stable. You will receive a warning about formatting the drive unless t

he drive is brand-new -Press “F” to confirm you know that you will be formatting the drive. The disc formatting may take a while depending on the capacity of your hard drive.

6 ) The Windows XP install should begin automatically after the formatting is complete. If not, restart the computer with the Windows XP CD in the drive and follow the instructions for installing Windows XP. This can take 35 minutes or more depending on the speed of your computer.

7 ) Once Windows XP has been installed, connect the computer to the Internet, start the Internet Explorer browser, and visit to download and install the latest security patches and updates for your operating system. This could take up to an hour depending on the age and version of your freshly installed copy of Windows XP. When I did this last week, there were 79 security patches for the version of Windows XP that I installed.

8 ) Install the sound, video, modem, and other drivers that are specific to your computer and your operating system — as mentioned in the very first step. Follow the instructions as provided by your computer manufacturer. You may be told to restart your computer between installing some drivers according to your manufacturer's directions.

9 ) Restart your computer, then select “Start > Help and Support” Click any update links you see to install the latest patches and drivers from Microsoft and from your computer manufacturer.

That's it. Good luck!

UPDATE:  “No Hard Disk” error displayed on XP install (SATA drive versus ATA/IDE drive)

The two most most popular types of hard drives in personal computers are ATA (also known as IDE hard drive) and SATA hard drives.    Many newer computers have SATA hard drives installed, but your computer may have either an (older design) ATA/IDE hard drive or a (newer design) SATA hard drive installed.

After removing Vista, when you reboot your computer, a “No Hard Disk” error may be displayed if your computer has a SATA drive installed.   To fix the “No Hard Disk” error,  you may need configure your computer’s BIOS settings so that it can recognize the SATA drive installed in you computer.  Reconfiguring your BIOS is typically not required if your computer has an ATA/IDE hard drives installed.

Step 1:  Activate your computer’s BIOS menu.   The first or second screen your computer displays on status may display which key (or keys) you must press to activate your computer’s BIOS menu.   You can also look in the index of your computer’s manual for “BIOS” or you can try passing the [Del] or [F1] key when text is first displayed after powering on your computer.

Step 2:  BIOS menus vary by computer, but there are seldom more than a few menu categories.   Review the “Main” and “Advanced” menu categories to locate your hard drive setting.    When you locate the hard drive setting,   be sure to note the original drive setting in the bios so that you can restore the original drive setting  if your new configuration doesn’t work.

Step 3: Change the drive setting to “IDE,”  then save the BIOS settings (usually by pressing the [F10] function key then restart your computer.

If changing your BIOS hard drive setting to IDE doesn’t work, return to step one and restore the original hard drive setting

UPDATE: “Setupdd.sys could not be loaded” error message

According to the Microsoft Support website, a “Setupdd.sys could not be loaded” error message may be displayed  “if your computer contains a hardware component that is either damaged or is incompatible with Windows XP.”  Some users have reported that this error is displayed if the computer doesn’t have enough RAM memory, or if one of the the RAM memory modules is damaged.

Microsoft provides troubleshooting and resolution for the Setupdd.sys error at the link below:


45 Replies to “How to Remove Microsoft Vista and replace it with Windows XP”

  1. Question;
    What is the best way to remove Windows Vista prem. from a brand new [6 days old] Dell dimension E521 desktop ? .45 cal. 9mm or 12 gauge LOL

  2. The instructions were great. I got rid of Vista and XP is running beautifully. It’s so great to have a fresh installation. Installing Vista was a huge mistake. It slowed my computer down and half of my programs didn’t work with it. Thanks for your help!

  3. Just read your instructions, but I have one question. Where and how do I find all those drivers you mentioned, before I start to install XP, replacing That crapy Vista. While using Vista, without touching anything, windows would just pop up from nowhere, causing you stop and read, only to end up closing it, then when you try to do something else, it will ask you three times if your sure you want to. I think Microsoft made a big mistake, aside from all the icons being different. Anyway, hope to hear from you soon. Hacked on this end, sorry, but no joke.

  4. Raymond, Drivers vary depending on the computer, so you’ll typically find the Windows XP at the Manufacturer’s website. The best case scenario is that the Manufacturer simply has all the Windows XP drivers in one single file you can download. Sometimes you’ll need to download the Windows XP driver files individually. Also, be aware that some manufacturers (Like Compaq, for example) may give the same computer different model numbers depending on the operating system. In this case, you may have to contact the manufacturer directly to ask them which set of drivers you need to install Windows XP on your computer. Good Luck!

  5. i have vista and its crap, the screen freezes on skype its not compatable with my 12 month old printer scanner and so it goes on , i will down load xp as soon as i get my pack

  6. Chuck:

    Thanks! I have been asking and asking how to remove Vista and install my XP. I had a laptop fry on me, and bought a new laptop….same model. But, this one came with Vista…I don’t recall having any software disk with it when I opened it. so, I can’t reinstall Vista.

    Vista quit updating, and eventually I got just my personal icon on the screen on startup, but, when I click on the icon it tells me I can’t access the account. NO password requested. Crazy.

    So, I’m so glad you have these instructions. I’ll use the XP from my old computer, I hope that works. Whatever happens it really can’t be worse than what Vista has already done.

    I’ll keep you posted.

  7. Well, I tried, and even though I changed my boot menu to start with the CD-Rom, it won’t boot from the CD-rom.

  8. After months of dealing with crappy Vista, we finally decided to remove and install XP. These instructions are great, basic terms, to the tee! The only thing I didnt realize is after step #6 I am supposed to get online to download updates, however, I could not get on the internet since my laptop did not recognize my wireless connection anymore (it wouldnt even recognize it when I plugged the laptop directly into my modem). I’m guessing I need to install the network driver for my laptop and hopefully that will work. I have downloaded it from work today (since I had no connection at home) and will try it tonight. Hopefully that does the trick!

  9. I am scared but I really need to remove this Crappy Vista.
    I have a New Computer, it is a Compaq Presario PC SR5250NX Processor Intel Pentium Dual-Core Processor E2 140, Memory 1024 MB HD 320GB

  10. where does one find the specifics of ones computer to get the right drivers…?

    Chuck Eglinton: To find drivers for a computer, I usually start at the computer manufacturer’s website. Use Google to find the manufacturers official site, then follow the manufacturer’s Dupport & Drivers, or you may be able to find the drivers by typing your model number into the manufacturer’s website search box. If you’re unsuccessful finding the drivers at the manufacturers website, you can search the Internet with the word “drivers” followed by a space and the computer model number. for example, “drivers TC4100” Sometimes I’ll add the manufacturer name to the search string, but it’s not always necessary. In the search results, I first will select the manufacturer’s site, if it appears, otherwise, I try to find what appears to be the most reputable source for the drivers.

  11. I’ve a Compact Laptop and the Vista OS on it freezes it up regularly. I’ve lost work and essential files. I’m so fedup because the dealer just keeps reinstaling Vista and it gets worse each time. I hope your tips work on my compact thx

  12. Raymond Ijust bought a comp a year in half I hate Vista so much I never use it came with a printer I cant even hook it up. Does my comp come with XP on it also?

    Chuck Eglinton: Sorry, your computer comes only with one operating system. If you want to switch from Vista to XP, you’ll need to get a copy of XP on CD to install it.

  13. Man this one actually worked…..thanks a ton. Make sure you look at your drive letters before you start. I had to cancel…go back and check them out and then re-start.

  14. Remove vista very easily w/o the whole backup/recovery from disk thing… Just use an app called VistaBootPRO – there just click Remove Vista Boot Manager or w/e the button is called, and in seconds its gone; then just format your Vista drive, and you’re done. No problems or anything. 🙂

    Free by the way………

  15. Your suggestions were excellent and very straight foward, but one item I found with the Gateway GT5428 and some newer CPU’s. Just trying to install XP will not work due too not recognizing C:\ drive if it has an SATA HD, searching the net, I found that if you go to your bios on most Gateway models and change the SATA to IDE WinXP will then recognize the hard drive and you can install XP

  16. Thank you, Thank you….you are the greatest. Worked perfectly, now I have my old XP back.

  17. To develop Vista Microsoft tried to Copy Paste MAC OS, but they failed. I don’t know who was that champ who developed new search feature for Visata. That search feature will destroy the Microsoft. People don’t want to search files every time. But that Search feature is always indexing your HDD and takes processor time.

    I have seen one intresting thing about Vista. All Developer, Business persons, Students, Doctors hate VISTA.
    Only Software testers love Vista, because they need laptop to listen music. So Vista is like mobile OS. It should be used for Cell Phones not computers.
    This is first time Microsoft removed multi threading and multi tasking from their OS. Vista is not Multi threading or multi tasking. It is a hanger.

  18. My daughter’s Dell 531 with Vista just went nuts. Windows Explorer keeps shutting down and restarting. It is impossible to do any windows functions because of this problem. This includes shutting off the computer and worse, reinstalling Windows. It seems that the hard drive must be removed, reformatted and then Windows reinstalled. I blame this on Vista Service pack 1. I would like to replace Vista with XP. Thanks for the tips above. Any other help would be appreciated.

  19. I tested the Vista program for 3 months during a trial period and didn’t like it. It uses lots of memory with way too many features for my purpose that I never use. I prefer the good old XP program which is easy to navigate. But since Microsoft doesn’t sell XP anymore, I looked around and happened to come across the Open Office (OPEL) program, sponsored by Sun Microsystem. It’s an open-source program that’s similar and compatible to the Word and Excel programs. So far I’m very happy with it as a substitute and permanent replacement for Vista. The OPEL is absolutely free and can be downloaded at

  20. Very useful…a million thanks!! My computer is running more quickly and doing what it is supposed to do. Internet is faster too. The only problem I had was with the drivers for my Acer Aspire. But I found a lovely tech. who downloaded the right ones for me and once installed, my computer worked like a dream.

  21. i recently bought a sony vaio NS series notebook with 3 gb ram. The desktop alone with the sidebar disabled takes up more than 1gb ram. I am sick and tired of vista already and m thinking on the lines of my trusted xp-pro sp2 or the new windows 7 beta. I am not sure about the compatibility with the NS series. I was advised not to go in for vista by a couple of friends but any expert opinion would be greatly appreciated. thanks.

  22. hello i have a dell inspirion e1705 came with free vista upgrade and stupid me installed it and it blows. i have tried to install xp back but it wont let me its telling me its not compatible and that its a downgrade. any tips on how i can install xp and get rid of the demon vista? thanks

    Chuck Eglinton wrote: First, verify that your computer’s BIOS is configured to start from your CD/DVD before your hard drive so that the XP installation disk is activated before the Vista can load from your hard drive. If this still doesn’t work, you may need to format or wipe your hard drive clean before trying to install XP. Good luck.

  23. I followed your steps using the boot from CD. The files seemed to copy, but when it reached the message that stated “windows is starting”, I received a blue screen.

    Stop: 0X0000007B (0XF78D3534,0XC0000034,0X00000000,0X00000000)

    I have an XPS 730 with Vista Ultimate installed. My XP Professional is new.

    Do you know what may be causing this? Thanks.

    Chuck: Hi. I added some original information to the original article regarding installing XP on computers with SATA type drives. Please check the bottom of the original article to see if that information will help you resolve the blue screen error.

  24. I’m running windows 98SE on my old Dell Dimension L500r and was thinking of installing Windows XP and welcome any suggestions as to whether anyone thinks this is a good idea or a bad idea? I’m tired of all the Internet Explorer errors I get using IE 6 and FireFox browser doesn’t give me the errors but is significantly slower. I also found that Windows 98 limits my capabilities to use software and sometimes hardware. I couldn’t even use TurboTax this year because my operating system is too old. I have 512 MB of RAM and 35 GB of free hard drive space. Any thoughts are appreciated as to whether I should upgrade or just purchase another computer? Thanks

  25. Windows XP Professional is installed on LENOVO Y410 7757 88Q and Vista Miser is installed for the Vista Them appearance. The laptop is faster compared to the Vista. But the function keys & short cut keys are not working properly. Please get me a solution to get the key board worked same as that of Vista Basic.
    Veriface is working; but the face scanning screen is seen on left side of the screen. What to do to get the face scanning screen same as on Vista Basic on the top-center.

  26. Chuck:

    Followed your instructions and replaced vista w xp. Went smoothly except that it evidently wiped out the NIC drivers and now the internet won’t connect. Went to the compaq website and there’s no NIC drivers available for the SR5110NX. Any suggestions as to where I go from here?

    Chuck Eglinton: According to the support forum at the Compaq website, your computer has an Nvidia Chipset(motherboard). You can read the thread and find the drivers at this link. Good luck!

  27. Replaced Vista on an HP dv9743cl model, by using Ubuntu 9.04 to wipe the disk. Then I used XP to wipe Ubuntu. Then I used Ubuntu to install to half the disk for a dual operating system. Next I used Ubuntu to download XP drivers, transferred them to Windows. Okay, all is good except the graphics.

    Anyone know of a driver that will work with XP on this type of machine? I’ve had zero luck finding one.

    Many thanks.

  28. I have gone through the procedure, except when I get to the blue screen and press f8 to accept, the installation procedure tells me that there is no disk drive at all. I have a feeling that the version that I have of XP does not contain the driver, and I am having difficulty locating the driver from Toshiba (computer) or Fujitsu (the hard drive).

    If I can find the right driver, how do I get it to recognize it at the beginning?

    Chuck writes: It’s possible the blue screen is displayed because you have a SATA hard drive. Please re-read the article and pay special attention to the information about configuring SATA drives from the computer’s CMOS.

  29. OpenOffice is only a replacement for the Microsoft Office Suite of Word/Excel/etc, not Microsoft Windows Operating System of Vista or XP this is referring to.

  30. Hi I have recently bought a new HP Laptop, so of course it came wit Vista.
    Tried to put XP on but I am having difficulty.

    When I boot fromn the CD it starts to dowlnload all the files from XP, then gives me an error message
    “A problem has been detected and windows has been shut down to prevent damage….”

    Something like that. It doesn’t take me to the normal set up screen.

    Chuck: One of the updates in the original article may resolve this error message. Please review the last few paragraphs of the original article.

  31. Ever heard of a program called nLite? It will create a Windows OS install disk that you create by “slipstreaming” programs and drivers you want. This is especially useful if you add in the S-ATA drivers. I just used it to build a Vista/XP dual boot system (for testing purposes before killing Vista entirely. Works like a charm. You can slipstream in Service Pack 3, and save a lot of updating time after installation.

    You can also remove Windows stuff that you don’t want, and even create an unattended Windows installation, so you don’t have to click all those dialog boxes.

    The link is

  32. Have tried to follow your instruction but when booting from CD I get a blu screen similar to Annie’s Stop: 0X0000007B (0XF78D3534,0XC0000034,0X00000000,0X00000000) posted 3/14/09. My stop error is Stop: 0X0000007B (Stop: 0X0000007B (0XF78A63C,0XC0000034,0X00000000,0X00000000).
    Desparate to get rid of Vista – performance is crap and my new Dell Studio 1737 is a hi-spec machine!

    Chuck: Hi Bob. Please check the “Updates” at the bottom of the original article to see if they can help with your blue screen.

  33. Hi, i bought a used pc at a garage sale (no cd’s included) and am trying to install win xp pro on a Dell Dimension E521, it came with Home edition originally. The install goes perfect the problem im having is i can go to any site in the world typing it in manually but i cannot get a connection to windows update, even typed in and i get page cannot display. I took the HDD out of the Dell and placed it in my other pc did the xp install and can do the updates but when i replace the drive back into the Dell it blue screens right away wont even boot, so i tried to put it back in my other pc and the xp installation is now corrupt not even repair worked, my problem is when i install xp pro on the Dell why cant i do the windows update its the only site in the whole world that wont come up using the Dell. And yes i did pick up all rquired drivers for the E521 from Dell.

    Please help me get my connection to Windows Update, Thank You 🙂

    Chuck: It could be that some of the Dell E521 drivers you’re using aren’t happy with the version of XP Pro you’re trying to install. If you can get your hands on a copy of XP Home, I’d try installing that instead with the E521 drivers you have.

  34. It sounds like installing Windowns XP over windows vista will remove all the drivers and other items assoicated with the operating system. Will all other programs and documents be deleted as well?

    Yes. All programs and documents will be overwritten. You’ll need to back up programs and documents then reinstall them after installing XP .

  35. i have a gateway t-6345u with windows vista i installed a new hard drive and tried to install xp but it says it cant find a hard drive what can i do

  36. Question
    my laptop has no CD Drive(its a HCL Leaptop)
    when i try to install XP from pendrive(on which Software for XP has been copied) system says

    Please help me out!!!!!!!!!!Vista makes me sick
    its to slowwwwww

  37. Please i have tried those descriptions above yet it is not working: the response was that my window Xp is old version and the Vista is new version!

    Please help cos i love Window Xp!!

  38. I know it sounds stupid but where will i find the Drivers i need for XP Home (Leagal Copy)for an ACER ASPIRE M5100 beacuse im fed up with Vista and just want it off my Computer. Thanks.

  39. Please may I have your babies?? This is an incredibly helpful tutorial – the best I’ve found, and I looked at quite a few because I’m hopeless at this sort of thing. A thousand thanks.

  40. I have HP620 laptop with windows vista business. it does not wok best for me wish to replace with windows XP essential. After following the given procedure I get error ,,…a problem has been detected and windows has been shut down to privent damage to your computer…kindly assist

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