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FAQ about downgrading and PC hardware.


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I've seen this all over the forums and decided to do something to save a lot of you time, effort, and a headache of having to hear it time and time again.

I know Vista hasn't shown it's good side to a lot of people and people want to stick with 2000/XP/2003 as their OS of choice. Some of you even are buying new computers and are attempting to downgrade back to 2000/XP/2003. While for some this may be a good idea there are limitations you may want to know about before you start this.

Some hardware recently produced was specifically built ONLY for Vista. This can include anything from chipsets, to video card, to audio devices, and so on. A good majority of these Vista built pieces of hardware also are limited in drivers with about 95% of them having drivers only in Vista and nothing else. A good example is the "GeForce 7150M / nForce 630M" chipset used by a lot of laptops. This chipset was built and designed around Vista only. This also is NOT the same chipset as the 7150 used by desktops which have XP support. Attempting to downgrade using these chips will only leave you with non-working hardware and a very limited usable laptop. Another recently is the audio chips used by Sigmatel and Conexant. There are limited function drivers for a few Conexant chips but these chips were designed around Vista's new Audio Specification.

Many chipset manufacturers are also not releasing drivers for certain chips due to the limitations of Windows 2000/XP/2003 due to the new way Vista allows driver access between the User and the Kernel. If you go to certain websites you may see a few legacy products with Vista drivers, if the hardware can meet the required specs of Vista, but some hardware made only recently will not have legacy OS drivers. This is because of the new way Vista handles the device.

If anything, finding legacy OS drivers for modern hardware is going to be impossible if not a challenge. I can offer some suggestions though for downgraders...

1. Research your hardware FIRST to see if it has 2000/XP/2003 drivers. If it has active driver support you may still be in luck and can downgrade. If it doesn't then you may still have to use Vista.

2. Avoid newer hardware altogether if you are buying. 2000/XP/2003 will only support DirectX 9.0C specification hardware at maximum. Be careful with audio as well. Onboard audio is a NO-NO!!! Try to avoid laptops altogether if possible or look for slightly used laptops built for XP. Many can still be found. If you want a video card the best solution is going to be the GeForce 7950 GTX.

3. Try to give Vista a chance if you can't downgrade. The two best known tweaks are Disable UAC and Disable Indexing. These alone save you tons of resources in Vista. Plus Vista still untapped as far as abilities and usability goes. In truth it's a lot like XP once you get it ironed out. Home Basic is as probably as close to XP as it gets. You also really need nothing more than Home Premium either.

I will say this... even though a lot of us here are knowledgeable in INF tweaking and hacking the INFs, we can't support a piece of hardware on an OS it wasn't designed for and will not work on. Drivers themselves contain code for chips and if that code is not in the driver for that chip, no amount of INF reworking will ever help it. This is a good analogy:

Yes, we might be able to make a GeForce 2 Ti work on Windows Vista with it's latest drivers (though it would be severely crippled to Home Basic level usage).

No, we can't make a GeForce 9500 GS work on Windows 95 with it's latest drivers.

This is the limitation we can not overcome. Drivers must contain code for a chip and if that code is not there, there will not be any support. The last 9x/ME drivers contain no code for the GeForce 9x00 series.

I hope this is very educational to many of you downgraders out there and hopefully the mods will sticky this so all can read.

Edited by whitetigerx7
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  • 5 months later...

This post is very helpful, and educational as well. I had no idea that manufacturers are now producing "Vista-specific hardware."


Manufacturing hardware that, by design, can only be used with ONE operating system, let alone one that has a quite poor initial acceptance, is STUPID and it should be illegal. Users should have a choice about which operating system they run. The choice should not be made for them by hardware manufactures forcing them to use the "advanced" technologies of Vista in a way that is incompatible with any other operating system. And I am not just talking XP here, I mean Linux too. Just because Vista is the "latest" and "greatest" new thing, doesn't mean everybody automatically wants to use it. The hardware manufactures should produce hardware compatible with any operating system for which they take the time to write a driver. Additionally, Microsoft should not have introduced these new hardware access methods making other operating systems incompatible. It is just a way of brute-forcing XP users to downgrade to Vista against their collective will.


(Steps off soapbox.) All I can say is, if you still want XP, you should check out some of Dell's small-business laptops. For now, they still have an option of coming with XP. However, they will not forever. We can only hope that Dell will keep using XP-compatible sound and other chipsets.

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  • 1 month later...

very useful, even though i already downgraded from vista to xp in my laptop,

it says devices such as the co processor have not been installed (meaning the 2nd core?) but i only get performance increases due to my downgrade

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  • 8 months later...
Guest Gustavo Vera

I need you help please

i already downgraded from vista to xp in my laptop, sony vaio and it's work excelent but my driver for camera don't work my camera is Visual Communication Camera VGP-VCC4 y need the driver for xp and the web page sony only have for vista!!!!! Help me

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