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Downgrading from Windows 7 to XP

April 2015

Windows 7 provides great levels of security, performance, reliability, organization and maintenance. If you want to use a new structure on the same platform, purchase Windows 7 Operating System and downgrade it to Windows XP or Vista Operating System. To manage your disk partitions, instead of formatting, download gParted (Genome Partitioning Tool). It can increase or decrease your C: drive, make new space for the Operating System and move partitions without losing data. After downloading gParted, boot your system and follow the installation procedure for Windows XP without losing the Windows 7 installation. Once XP is installed, search for your Driver Packs DVD and install them.

Downgrading from Windows 7 to XP




Issue


I've got a Compaq CQ 40 /425tu running with Windows 7. How do I downgrade it to Windows XP?

Solution


Don't wipe the Hard Disk Drive first, because you don't know if you are going to be able to fully get XP to work, or if you will be able to get the SATA drivers for your XP disc to slip stream it (nLite) with the correct SATA drivers. Also you will need to find the video, sound, Wi-Fi and Ethernet drivers (try getting the driverpacks online - I wish you good luck with that!)
  • Instead of FORMATTING, download gParted (Genome Partitioning Tool): it's a freeware ISO image that you can burn to a blank CD-R. Then boot your computer.
  • Once you get to boot your computer, simply do the following to test out Windows XP WITHOUT risking losing your existing Windows 7 installation in case you need to revert or refer back to it (missing XP drivers, etc.).
  • Resize the primary (main) partition (the largest one you will find, NOT the restore one. You will have 20GB of unallocated space that you get to use to create a new partition there.
  • Right click on the 20GB unallocated space and choose to create a new NTFS partition. Make sure that you do not elect the default one which is "Ext2", that is for Linux, and you will not be installing Linux, but Windows XP and XP requires either FAT (Max 2GB, can't use that) /FAT32 (MS says max is 32GB, but can go much higher than this, but don't use that anyways as it's an OLDER standard and NTFS offers more features other FAT32) or NTFS. I recommend NTFS (if offers security parameters and functions otherwise not found under FAT32).
  • After creating and FORMATTING (to NTFS) a new partition, right click on your newly created 20GB NTFS partition. A menu will come up: on the menu click on Manage Flags. Under Manage Flags select Boot and close that window. Immediately, your Newly created 20GB partition will be seen as the boot partition under your system bios - you are good to go at this stage.
  • Close gParted, double-click on the red (shutdown) icon at the top of the gParted desktop, then double-click on restart.
  • The restart sequence for gParted will start. Wait for it to eject the CD for you. Once it has, insert your Windows XP CD in your drive, then press enter to resume the system restart.


At this point, your original Windows 7 installation won't be available because you have changed the partition flags' boot parameter from the primary partition to the secondary one that we just created here. To make that installation bootable again, just repeat the same procedure again, this time setting the primary partition as boot. It's as simple as that, in case you need to go back to the original system.
  • Start the XP installation procedure as normal. When you get on the drive's menu, select the drive the corresponds to the 20GB partition that we created earlier (typically it will be labeled as Drive C:, if you formatted it as NTFS when we were under gParted, select that, but don't touch the original larger partition)
  • After XP is installed, go and search for your DriverPacks DVD, along with any other drivers you may have found online that might work for you. First try the drivers you downloaded off the web, including those suggested from your computer manufacturer's support forums, or any other online forums. If that fails for any given device, try to see if you can forcefully install them, and if that also fails or causes a BSOD (Blue Screen of Death -- that will require a restart in safe mode to retry other drivers), THEN try the DriverPacks DVD (take a look under the Software Section at www.amdk7.com to learn where to get the driver packs from online).
  • Hopefully, if you were able to get your drivers installed successfully, at this point, you may want to consider moving your personal files from your Windows 7 partition to your 20GB Windows XP partition before you load up the gParted CD again. Restarting the computer with gParted will remove Windows 7 altogether with its partition, then move and resize Windows XP to match the majority of the hard drive. Alternatively, if you WANT to keep Windows 7 on your hard drive for whatever reason, you don't need to reformat: just use the larger Windows 7 partition to install your XP programs there, and you can move your user profile (c:\Documents and Settings) folder to that drive as well, but first create a new folder on the Windows 7 partition such as "Backup" and move all the content from the Windows 7 partition into that folder so it won't conflict when you start using that partition to install your programs and your user profile. (There is/will be more documentations on the website www.amdk7.com that will cover how to move a user profile from one partition to another).

Tip


Keeping Windows XP under a 20GB partition is a great strategy in improving hard drive search responsiveness and ensuring that the 'system' partition never gets too fragmented, as Windows XP will be kept within a close reach sector wise (the larger the hard drive is, the faster data transfers will occur under that 20GB space). This is seen as an intelligent way of partitioning; you may also want to consider installing a few programs onto your XP partition since 20GB is too much to just have XP there. Based on my experience and experiments, programs that you place on this partition will have the benefit of faster read access, so just put your everyday programs there, such as Office 2007, Windows Live Messenger. While you attempt to keep your larger, and seldom used programs onto the other larger partitions.

Thanks to FranciscoNET for this tip.
For unlimited offline reading, you can download this article for free in PDF format:
Downgrading-from-windows-7-to-xp.pdf

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Published by aakai1056. - Latest update by Virginia Parsons
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