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19 January 2008
I bought my HP Pavilion dv6285eu Notebook PC during April 2007. This was shortly after manufacturers had started to release laptops running Windows Vista. Having run Windows Vista for a few months I have not been very impressed. Reasons why Windows Vista is worse than Windows XP. As a result of this I decided to ditch Windows Vista and instead run Windows XP and Linux on the laptop. This should have been fairly straight forward, but it turned out to be a bit of a disaster. I did anticipate loosing perhaps the HP Quick Play, and I could even understand loosing the ability to use the DVD style remote control, but Windows XP is virtually unusable.
The Windows Vista that is installed on the laptop is Windows Vista Home Premium. It did not have a install disk and in fact didn't even come with a rescue DVD, although it was possible to create one using the built-in software (although doesn't allow a second backup DVD in case the first gets damaged).
This is one of the real problems with OEM versions of software that Microsoft ships.
I however had a full Microsoft Windows XP Professional CD, which should have made installing XP easier.
I had bought a new disk drive for this install, so as to keep my Windows Vista setup, if needed for warrenty or other issues. I had already loaded the Windows Vista image onto my new hard disk when trying to verify why the wireless networking wasn't working. The new disk drive was 250GB, whereas the original supplied with the laptop was only 160GB. When I tried to overwrite the Windows Vista image with Windows XP it would only install into a 160GB partition and whatever I tried to do with Windows XP it refused to acknowledge the disk was larger.
I thefore had to turn to Linux. I used PC Linux OS to repartition the disk which had no problems with the size of the disk. Once I'd partition the disk in Linux then I installed Windows XP, which then installed onto the full partition.
Once XP was installed I then went to the HP web site and started installing drivers. The HP website listed various Windows XP drivers which I started installing. This included the wireless network drivers, the touchpad, quick launch buttons and others. It didn't however include any of the drivers for the motherboard devices or the graphics drivers. No problem I thought. The motherboard is based on an Nvidia chipset and the graphics card is also Nvidia - I'd specifically chosen this laptop because of the Nvidia graphics being better than the Intel graphics option.
I went to the Nvidia site and updating the motherboard wasn't a problem (including the drivers for the built-in ethernet etc), but then I tried to get the drivers for the video controller. The graphics card is a Nvidia Go 7200. So I tried to download the NVIDIA GeForce Go 7200 Driver. The graphics card was not however listed in the vidia download page. I then tried the Nvidia automatic detection and install, which didn't work. I then found a similar HP laptop which had the same graphics card, but was available with Windows XP. The laptop I found was the HP Pavilion dv2057ea Notebook PC, but although this sounded like it was the same graphics card it refused to install onto the laptop. It turns out that the only drivers that work on this laptop for Windows are for Windows Vista.
Without the correct video drivers the computer can only work at VGA resolutions, and cannot work with the widescreen format of the laptop screen. Therefore it was not worth running Windows XP.
If Windows Vista had been around for a long time and had long since replaced Windows XP then I could understand the lack of drivers. But this is one of the first laptops to be supplied with Windows Vista and it would have been nice for HP to have given the choice to run Windows XP instead.
Fortunately after repartitioning the disk when I then loaded Vista it used up all the disk space, not just the 160GB it was expecting. I then resized the partition and added PC Linux OS as a dual boot option, which had much better graphic support than Windows XP had. I also added Ubuntu as a Virtual Machine within Windows Vista, which also worked fine.
A word of warning. If buying a laptop that comes with Windows Vista, you may want to check if it will run Windows XP especially if you have software that is not Vista ready.