Installing Vista: From Hell to Heaven

I am pleased to announce that I am typing this on a freshly installed Vista64 installation, on the same exact machine that I had so much trouble with recently!

A genius Tester in Windows contacted me with a theory and a possible work-around, and he was right: something about the AHCI driver is unhappy on my machine, so his suggestion was to go into the BIOS, go to SATA Operation and change it from RAID Automatic/AHCI to Combo mode. I did this, and Vista installed in less than 30 minutes! Fabulous. It was a bit freaky to see the percentage for "Expanding files" change every few seconds, instead of every 15 minutes in all my previous attempts. The downside is that my XP installation that I dual-boot to will blue-screen with the BIOS set this way (for the reasons outlined in an earlier posting), so when I switch OSes I have to also switch SATA modes.

I'd like to link to some Dell documentation on this particular BIOS setting, but I can't find any.

The default install covered all my hardware except audio: I found an XP64 driver and tried installing that, but it complained that I was using the wrong operating system. However after that Windows said "You want me to try that again with some compatibility settings", so I said Yes, and it worked! I have a working audio driver now. My Performance score is 3.4, which isn't great, but will suffice for what I need (and for what I paid for this box).

Next I have to start installing the most commonly used stuff and trying to see what I can and can't do in this brave new Vista world. It would be nice to get XP to boot in Combo mode, and it would also be nice to delete the ten or so dead entries in the Vista boot loader left over from my installation attempts, but that's just gravy.

Comments (9)

  1. Christer says:

    RAID Automatic/AHCI  is not a new problem, and the only thing u can do is reinstalling XP.

    Hope to hear how it goes with removing the "dead" entries…

  2. HSChronic says:

    You can always run the XP install in a VM, however if you have both the installs on the same HD converting it to a virtual HD wouldn’t work…

  3. Following the travails of my Vista install at home (and subsequent success ), I will be listing my success

  4. says:

    Andy in trying to find a way to update my Ultimate which has been my Vista from Hell over a 3 to 4 weeks time frame,4Dell techs on call and hardware, & 4 Microsoft techs. I  think I am on the 6th try and on my own.  I have 7 years of computer experience I can write an XP,OS and have worked to help many techs. I have know my limitations which include Visual Studio 2005, and I can read script but this is also not my best area.  I can now say in all honesty I don’t think I will be able to learn vista now either.  I think I have come to a brain overload.  Not even the techs from Microsoft seem to be able to get through this.  I must compliment each of the techs I have worked with for their patience and persistent. The system I am using is a Dell Laptop T7500 2GB Ram 160SATA HD 7200RPM nVidea 8400 GT Intel 965.  

    The Vista OS started twice for me and the last time I copied the setupact.log. Just when I think I will be OK and I turn the system off because it is about 1AM after an 11 hour day working on it each time I turn it back on I am back to square one.  I have checked and rechecked all the hardware.  The only issue I can find is something I have never heard of.  In the device manager there are only 4 devices missing and they are all called OS system device.  Sorry I don’t remember the exact name. I didn’t write it down this time because I thought I was going to be OK if I just installed the updates. Then as before after the restart as I said I am now at square one.  I don’t have a system recovery because I updated from an OEM Home Pre. The Sysprep for that was a disaster. I was able to do one system restore with it and after the Ultimate update that was destroyed.  So now all I have are the Ultimate upgrade DVD’s and Drivers I downloaded from Dell. (Do to the fact that the Resource CD sent to me only had 3 drivers for my system). The Laptop was only on the market 3 weeks before I received it.  So if you have any ideas I could use them.  I would send the a copy of the setup file but it is pretty long and I don’t even think you’ll read this because it is also very long.  Most likely with many misspelled words and grammar from Hell. I tired and really don’t know where else to turn.  Thank you for taking the time to read this if you do.  Frances

  5. Dennis B. says:

    I had the same problem with dell only then to load the xp cdrom even xp is installed i founded a few weeks ago on the chinees forum of dell the solution with pictures.

    I will try to look on my work for the link for you 🙂

  6. asj says:

    If you think the general consumer will be able to figure this out (or be contacted by your own company’s QA), then you’re sadly mistaken 😉

  7. Dennisb1 says:

    I had this problem a while ago but then with xp reinstallation so i almost needed the same thing.

    After a while on google i got this, And the best of it! i want to share it with you all 😀

    Here is the link from the dell forum.

    Dont look at the text otherwise you will get crazy

    This is the problem you had (even i had it)

    Good luck with it!

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