Now we all know what a concentrated cauldron of crap Windows Vista is. Once upon a time, you had a nice, quick PC. Like a particularly sturdy mountain goat, it was nimble, fleet of foot and agile enough to cope with whatever you threw at it.
Then along came Windows Vista with its bloated graphics engine, chunky system requirements and excess baggage that milled around like a desperate hanger-on from P. Diddy’s entourage. Your new PC was slower, the hard disk constantly thrashed and memory gobbled up quicker than a cash bung on the Westminster terraces.
Additionally, ultra mini netbooks are now all the rage and come in 2 flavours: cheaper versions with Linux for geeks who think nothing of a 5-hour Internet witch hunt to track down device drivers and more expensive netbooks having Windows XP installed with all its corresponding licensing robbery. However, there’s nothing to stop you from buying a cheaper Linux netbook and sticking XP on it.
Reverting back to Windows XP involves a fresh install which is all well and good but these days, all PC’s and laptops (and netbooks) tend to ship with SATA hard drives. Trying to install XP on one of these can be troublesome as I found out to my chagrin when I wanted to get rid of Vista and Linux from a desktop and netbook.
After having changed the BIOS setting for the hard drive from AHCI to Compatible, I wiped the drive and booted up using the Windows XP installation CD. So far so good, the XP installation screen appeared and it proceeded to load drivers. Less than a minute in though, I got the dreaded BSD with a typically cryptic Micro$oft error message that said "run CHKDSK /F to check for hard drive corruption" despite this being brand new kit.
One repartition and format later, I tried again but got exactly the same error. No problem, I have the SATA drivers for the specific drive and can just stick those on a floppy disk and use during install instead of the XP drivers. Initially, this appeared to work as XP asked for the floppy disk and loaded the third party drivers. Any hope that the install would continue were dashed though when the same BSD error message appeared at the same place in the installation.
I couldn’t figure out why this was happening and spent hours searching forums and support sites for the answer. People with similar problems managed to solve them by just changing the BIOS setting for the SATA drive to Compatible but I’d already done that and it still wasn’t having any of it. Eventually, I stumbled across a post where someone mentioned using XP with SP2 for a clean install and I thought let me try that as my version of the XP installation CD was vanilla with no service packs.
A quick visit to the local torrent store to download Windows XP with SP3 and bingo, we’re back in business! XP installs just fine without having to use third party drivers and or indulge in some kind of weird pagan ritual.
So in short, if you’re trying to install XP on a SATA drive, make sure you change the BIOS AHCI setting to Compatible and use an XP installation with at least SP2.