Windows Vista Help

Windows Vista FAQ - Installation

Updated: 04 Feb 2016

1. How do I install Windows Vista?

There are two ways to install: a clean or fresh install or an upgrade from an older version of Windows. For a clean installation you need to have a blank hard disk, boot off the Vista DVD and then follow prompts on screen. To boot from DVD, you may need to change the Boot Sequence in the BIOS to make DVD ROM boot before the Hard disk.

For an upgrade, you need to boot into Windows first, then insert the Vista DVD, run Setup.exe (or let it autorun) and select the upgrade option from the menu. It is recommended that you run the Upgrade Advisor (or run the System Check from the DVD) first to make sure that you uninstall incompatible drivers and software first. Upgrading will keep your current program installations, settings and documents in tack (but do a backup first in case it goes wrong!).

Microsoft Shop
Windows Reinstall Site
Clean Install of Windows Vista

2. What are the requirements for Vista?

Vista requires a more powerful PC than Windows XP and a more recent PC (3-4 years old at most).A Vista Ready PC will meet the minimum requirements while a Vista Ready PC will meet the recommended requirements or more. The minimum requirements are:

3. How do I uninstall Windows Vista?

No, you cannot uninstall Windows Vista but you can reinstall your old version of Windows by booting off the Windows CD and reinstalling windows on the boot partition, you should format the boot parition first to remove Vista before installing the old version of Windows.

If you have set up a dual boot system, you can remove Vista boot files using the command d:\boot\bootsect.exe /nt52 /all /force (where D: is your DVD drive with Vista DVD inserted).

4. Where do I find out if my hardware is compatible?

Visit the manufacturer's web site, otherwise try DriverGuide for drivers for Vista.

5. How does this activation thing work in Vista?

When you install Vistayou need to Activate Windows for it to work for more than 30 days otherwise Windows will no longer work. You can use each copy of Vista on one machine only as it will remember what hardware you have installed it on. If you change 3 or more items or more then you need to reactivate it again. You cannot install the same Vista CD on more than one machine, you have to buy a copy for each machine or else Activation will fail and Microsoft will be aware of you trying to 'pirate' Windows without paying for it! If you reinstall you may need to activate it again and if its the same hardware it should work fine!
You can activate it over the internet or telephone Microsoft.

6. Which software will I probably need to upgrade?

Any software that accesses the system at a low level such as Virus Scanners, CD Burning software, Disk utilities such as Norton and probably some drivers need to be updated from earlier drivers. Some old signed 2000 or XP drivers should work on Vista although Vista comes with a lot of drivers itself for most common Video, Sound, Printer and USB devices but not all. Always, check manufacturer's website for latest Vista drivers which may have been released since Vista was released. It is a good idea to run the Upgrade Advisor from the Vista DVD or from Microsoft's website to see which software is incompatible and needs an update.

7. What steps should I take before upgrading from older Windows to Windows Vista?

First do a backup of all your data, favourites and Email files to Zip, CD etc. Then run the Upgrade Advisor program (available on the Vista DVD or Microsoft's website) to see what applications or devices will or won`t work under Windows Vista. Uninstall any applications that do not work under Windows Vista such as old Virus Scanners, Norton programs, CD Writer software etc. Also, so older drivers could also be uninstalled in case they do not work in Vista. I also suggest make a list of any devices you have and download any drivers for Vista you can find for your PC and then you are ready to install then if Vista cannot find drivers for devices you have. You may then install updated applications afterwards and restore data if required.

To see what drivers you have on your machine, use Device Manager (devmgmt.msc) or MSINFO32.exe under Hardware Components to see what devices you have installed.

8. What is the difference between Vista Home Basic, Premium, Business, Enterprise or Ultimate Editions?

See the Vista Comparison web page for exact differences.

Home Basic is the cheapest and has the least features, Home Premium includes Aero interface and the Media Centre, Business is designed for work so you can join domains, laptops, collaboration but fewer media options. Enterprise edition includes support for Remote Desktop, Volume licensing, data protection, multi-language support and Unix application support. The Ultimate editions supports all features in Home and Business editions.

9. How do I migrate files from my old system to my new system?

Vista comes with a Windows Easy Transfer wizard which will allow you to backup all your data files and settings to disk when you have done the installation of XP allow you to reimport them to your new system afterwards. DO NOT use backup supplied with earlier Windows as that will not work under Vista. Use the wizard or a third party backup program such as Veritas Backup or Dantz Retrospec Pro.

10. Where are My Documents stored in Windows Vista?

In Windows XP, they were placed in C:\Documents and Settings\username\Documents. In Vista, it uses a shorter name: c:\Users\username\Documents. The All Users folder has also changed, documents are placed in C:\Users\Public and common settings are stored in c:\ProgramData such as Start menu shortcuts, and application data.

11. How do I modify the boot files in Vista?

The old NTLDR, NTDetect.ini and Boot.ini files have been replaced with a new Boot Manager program which can be edited with the BCDEdit tool or the EasyBCD tool.
The boot options can still be viewed using MSConfig and the System control panel as before.

12. How do I convert from FAT32 to NTFS?

You can use the Convert C: /FS:NTFS command to convert C: drive to NTFS. It is not possible to convert from NTFS to FAT32 (unless you own Partition Magic 8). You will need to delete and recreate a FAT32 partition to do this. Using the Convert command will keep existing data (but always do a backup before attempting it!).

13. How do I format disks in Windows Vista?

Normally, to format disks you can set up partitions and format them in Disk Management tool (diskmgmt.msc). But, you cannot format the boot drive with Vista installed e.g. C: as Windows is using that. You need to boot off another disk to allow you to format C:. For example, you can boot off the Vista DVD and use the disk setup screen to partition or format drives, without Windows loaded.

In Vista it is now possible to change the size of disks with out losing data, by using the Shrink or Extend Volume options.

14. How can I read stuff written in Japanese, Chinese or Korean languages?

Vista includes many more languages and do not to need to be installed seperately, you can change language by opening the Regional and Language Options, Keyboards and Languages, and select Change Keyboards and added the country or language you require. Use Left Alt and Shift to switch between languages or keyboards. Some programs, such as Internet Explorer, have their own language settings.

15. I have a xxx language version of Windows Vista. How can I convert it to English or other language?

In some versions of Vista (Enterprise or Ultimate), you can change the Display Language in Regional and Language Options, Keyboards and Languages, Display Language. You may have to install a language first before changing to it.

16. Where can I get additional licences of Windows Vista?

If you want Windows Vista on a second computer, you need to buy a second license. Try eBay for another Vista license and disc.

17. Windows Vista installed itself to a different drive other than C:, how can it change it?

You cannot change it when Windows is installed as it will have made all the registry settings point to the drive you installed it from. You need to reinstall it again to the correct drive ie. C: and remove the old installation. Remove any extra drives such as Zip or other removable devices before installing windows to prevent it from installing on other drives.

18. When I boot up into Windows Vista, the menu shows two or more entries for Windows, how do I get rid of the second one?

The boot manager files stored details of Operating Systems to boot from and if XP is installed more than once, then an extra entry is shown. Use BCDEdit tool to modify the boot menu to remove unwanted entries.

19. Can I copy the Installation files to my Hard Disk and point Vista to it?

There is no need to copy the installation files to the hard disk, Vista copies everything to the hard disk, and will only activate things as and when required. This does mean that Vista does take up more disk space initially but then you do not need to fish around for the DVD when you want to add additional components installed.

20. I do not have a Windows Vista install disk or a Restore Disk, can I make one?

Certainly, if you have the files on your Hard disk, then you could copy them to a DVD-R/RW disk. All you need is the folder with the install files in it and if provided the Setup.exe, Readme.htm and Autorun.inf files.
Sometimes the files are visible on C:, or sometimes stored on a hidden partition. See the manufacturer's website for any info on many CDs from these locations.
If you do not have the install files, then you can make an Image of C: drive using Norton Ghost or other imaging program or failing that buy a Retail copy of Windows Vista (make sure you buy the Full version unless you have a older Version of Windows to hand for the upgrade version).

21. Can I use Remote Desktop in Vista?

No, Vista Home editions comes with Remote Assistance which is different from Remote Desktop, only the Business, Enterprise and Ultimate editions use Remote Desktop. You need to install a third party program such as TridiaVNC to do remote desktop control.

22. How can I tell which version of VistaI have installed?

Open the Properties of My Computer or open the System Control Panel or run MSINFO32.exe. It will state which edition you have and whether it is 32 bit or 64 bit for the System Type.

23. How do I move a Hard disk form my old computer to a different computer?

If moving a hard disk from one computer to another, then to make changes to the hardware drivers, then a Repair Install from the Vista DVD will allow you to modify the Vista installation to redetect new hardware. This does not work in all cases. If moving to new hardware, uninstall all unncessary drivers via Device Manager first including graphics card, sound card, LAN cards, motherboard drivers and hard disk controllers before moving to new hardware. Also, see SysPrep info below.

24. How do I deploy Vista to multiple computers with one image?

If deploying an Vista image to multiple computers then use the new ImageX deployment tools which includes: Windows SIM, Windows PE, ImageX, Setup and Sysprep.A description of deploying Windows Vista using, WDS, is available on Microsoft's Technet site.

25. I am the only user of the computer, how do I auto-login?

If security is not an issue, then you can enable auto-login. Go to Start, Run, Netplwiz and un-tick 'Users must enter a username and password to enter this computer' and click Apply, then enter username and password to auto-login with and click Ok.


26. I am getting an error when activating Windows. What do they mean?

For more information on activation of Windows Vista, see this FAQ.

27. When does support for Windows Vista officially end?

Windows Vista SP2 support will end April 11 2017. See this lifecyle fact sheet.