Picture of How to UPGRADE from Vista to Windows XP on an Acer laptop
My wife recently bought me an Acer Extensa 5620 for Christmas. It's a great little unit with a lot of potential, but the one big flaw was the operating system: it came with Windows Vista. The fast hardware was crippled by the bloated, clumsy OS. I was therefore forced to figure out exactly how to get XP on it, so wrote up a guide to help others. It should apply to different Acer notebooks, and likely has info useful to other brands as well.

It's not as simple at it used to be. Today's laptops are 'meant' for Vista, so trying to install XP often isn't easy. In the case of my 5620, the hard drive wasn't even detected until I researched and changed Bios settings (known as the AHCI issue). I'm SO much happier after ditching Vista, though- when I first got it, a 1GHz Pentium III with XP could have run circles around it!

Step 1: Preparation

Picture of Preparation
Don't immediately wipe Vista! It's actually useful for another hour or so. Use Acer's backup software (mine had an Acer floating toolbar with this) to do two things-

First, a Full Backup of your system. Trust me, if you ever have to send your Acer in for servicing, it better have Vista on it or your warranty could be voided. Plus, someday when you sell it, uninformed people think it's a plus point ;)

Secondly, why bother downloading random drivers you hope are the right ones? Acer makes it easy with its Driver and Application backup CD creator. A little known fact is that these drivers appear to be both the complete Vista AND XP set. Once you're done, you'll have burned three DVD's, and be ready for some XP goodness! If you've already wiped it, or just want the latest available, grab them from [ftp://ftp.support.acer-euro.com/notebook/ here]. I did both, just in case, throwing the newest onto a 256MB USB drive. Thirdly, look in Device Manager to see what AHCI Disk Controller you have! Write this down. On the Best Buy Acer Extensa 5620-6830, it's the 'Intel 82801HEM/HBM SATA AHCI.' Other models may be slightly different. This info is important later, and it can be difficult to find out without some annoying trial and error.
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ummm, I'm not sure where you get all this 'performance drop' nonsense from - I can assure you that I can run several apps (Photoshop) and Games (like FSX and Crysis) much better than I ever could under XP.

...anyway I will be here waiting to give you guys a hand with Vista when MS eventually pulls the plug on XP ;)

Oh well, back to to my BMW, while you are tinkering in your shop! ;)

Just to show you there are no hard feelings go here and d/l your BMW M3:

(see you on the track :)
CharredPC (author)  dorame7 years ago
Riiiight. The OS that uses twice the resources and has double the minimum requirements runs applications better than XP. If we're comparing your 2001 XP setup to a 2008 Vista laptop, then I'll agree. Otherwise... keep dreaming.
You are very smart man. You rational is correct. Other people not have rational think, they have big money and not want to spend time to think. Is social disease maybe. All have brain, but not use. Some maybe call vista social trap. Make people think is new is better. But what vista actually do better? Nothing. Get Ubuntu if want much fast and secure or Mac for beautiful publishing, but suffer bit of program loss. OS with most application is MS. XP not perfect, but not Vista basura either. Is Espanol word. You who not agree look word BASURA up online to see accuracy about Vista please. Thank you for good instructable. Is right to show to those who smart enough to use. Others who no intelligent, use Vista. Who care?
Given the appropriate amount of system resources vista runs fine and actually better in some situations (memory management has been significantly improved, leading to less swapping on 2GBi+ ram for instance, for those of you who have random slowdowns when you use more than 50% of your ram vista helps). Flip3d and the start menu search is good as well as the more bug-free media center suite (MUCH better then MCE). Anyone ever try to hoke up MCE to a domain based network, anyone successful? Didn't think so, well you can on Vista. DX10 anyone? Also support for more ram (even on XP my minimum amount of ram is 2GBi and I'm migrating to 4 already) has been introduced with vista using PAE (since jumping to x64 is not an option for me). Th BTW if your 1GBi comp supports 2GB ram go spend the $30-$60 and upgrade, it really is noticeable since XP has atrocious memory management.
CharredPC (author)  klbclem7 years ago
Not to beat a dead horse here, but in all the benchmarks and testing between Vista and XP on the same hardware, XP came out 7-23% ahead. That's not including the dropped frames during gaming and the required extra RAM with Vista. It simply can't be as efficient with that much overhead.

Unless they do some major changes, all 32-bit operating systems are limited to around 3GB of RAM. Upgrading to 4GB is pointless, and the OS can't use it. The addressing up that high overlaps with the PCI bus, IIRC. Last I heard they were working on a patch for Vista that let it report 4GB- though it could still only use the first 3GB. 64-bit operating systems don't have this problem, and PAE doesn't solve this problem. Do some reading.

The dozen people who ever tried hooking MCE to a domain based network are very excited right now. The several million home users understandably don't care.

What are we up to, six games that use DX10? I can count it on both hands, anyway. Another twelve people are happy to have Vista for that reason. Maybe even sixteen! Oh, and DX10 is being (unofficially) worked on for XP as well.

Flip3D, the Start search tool, even Aero Glass and the sidebar/widgets have all been copied and are available for free on XP. Check out my other Instructable for more info.

Xp's memory management is fine, especially with some tweaking. Especially as it uses half or less than Vista when just sitting at the desktop :)

...I forget, why is Vista so great again?
"no. Vista is very slow and full of bugs."
And yet you haven't even tried it?

I recall someone going on Fox news and explaining to the world how Mass Effect was full of graphic sex content that corrupted our youth. Turns out she never even played the game. Latter on, after she had actually seen the game played, she was quoted as saying that the sex was sort of a joke; there was more hardcore stuff in the TV show Lost.

Get your own opinion, don't spread somebody else's.
My sources.
Sure it's good to speak from first hand experience, and that Fox news incident did happen just the way you said it did, but I don't think it's necessary to ONLY speak from first hand experience. For example, I've never been in a fatal car accident, but I'm pretty sure I wouldn't enjoy it. So maybe James doesn't have to use Vista to know it sucks. I, on the other had, DO use Vista... It sucks.
There's a difference. Basic physics will tell you that getting in a car accident would likely be a very painful thing, and you should know from experience that pain should be avoided. Therefore car accidents should be avoided. That's just simple logic, you may not know what a car accident feels like but you can make a very good assumption based on evidence and your own experiences. I agree that the opinion of others is very valuable, but you need to take other things into account. For starters, what you like and don't like is very personal. Just because someone else doesn't like something doesn't mean you won't. You also need to take bias into account, many, many, people are very biased when it comes to operating systems. Don't get me wrong, I'm not defending vista (I'm a Linux guy myself). I'm just saying that unless you have good reason to believe something (and he said/she said doesn't cut it) you shouldn't be blindly spreading other people's beliefs.
If you say so. You don't know what his sources are. You could assume, or guess, and I bet you would be right, but maybe not. Allot of people have told me that Vista had those problems. Eventually, I wound up with a laptop with Vista. All of those people are right. But let's agree to disagree, I don't want to argue. Actually, I'm hoping I could ask your advice, Hungry_Myst. Is there a "live" install of Linux you recommend for us Windows users who would like to make a nice, easy transition to Linux? I've used Knoppix before, but that was back in high school, and I was wondering if anything better has come out since then. Thanks, Tony
Humm, I worded my last paragraph badly. I still equate this to my Mass Effect example. Even if your sources are very good, I don't think you should start actively pushing one side or the other (what this instructable is doing) unless you have at least some degree of experience to base your accusation on. If your not actively pushing one side or the other then it doesn't really matter. That's all I wanted to say, so I'll stop now. As to your question. Linux seems to be improving quite rapidly, so if it's been a while since you last used it you might find that things have improved allot. I suppose I would recommend Ubuntu (or if you like KDE, Kubuntu) to someone looking to try it out.
thank you
it all depends i have 3 gigs of ram and vista runs fine but every once in a while it get slow cuz im running like 10 ram intensive programs..... i got my computer for $600 and its an awesome computer
3 gig of ram? "Fine" isn't good enough. That much ram it should be "awesome". When people say that vista runs ok, just think how much better it would be wid a decent os...
Vista is horrible, on Vista most games need almost a gig more of RAM to run than on XP.
it still came 5+ years after...
That makes no sense though, Xp is a lower version of OS than Vista, therefore replacing any software to a version that is older than that of the current version is considered a Downgrade in the tech world.
It depends on your opinion. Vista has some awesome graphics and looks, but it isn't really meant to be fast. Advanced graphics means a slow computer. Vista has pretty good security, and with Windows Update, you can always stay up to date.
With Windows XP, you have pretty basic graphics and a fair amount of security to your computer. XP also doesn't have Windows Update, but it notifies you when you should go to Microsoft's Web site and download updates. But the one thing that XP has that Vista doesn't: speed. XP is incredibly fast, especially with good hardware.
In my opinion, it would be an upgrade to go from Vista to XP. But you may have different thoughts. 
mate, windows update has been in every single version of windows since nt and windows 95...

and you should be ashamed of yourself for recommending that people use an old insecure operating system.

vista can be made to run as leanly as xp, and you gain the advantage of higher network performance, improved security (think aslr, dep, etc...), better startup/shutdown times, better use of your ram, better use of modern cpus, better use of modern hard drives (write caching).

honestly vista is faster than xp if you turn the graphics down to classic. i really think you should give it a proper go.

also i noticed you said windows 7 was better than vista... actually it's exactly the same os, but with features removed, reworked uac, some new wizards and troubleshooting tools, and a new taskbar. if you call seven fast, you are implying that vista is fast

something to think about for you
First of all: I wrote the comment before I remembered XP had Windows Update.
Second: XP isn't insecure.
Third: I'm not saying Vista is horrible.
Fourth: Vista is fast on a decent PC, but not as fast as XP.
Fifth: I have noticed a speed difference when upgrading my HP from Vista to 7. Small, but noticeable.

So stop, okay? Let people choose their own OSes.
come on mate, be nice in your comments or someone will flag you

i'm just trying to make sure you don't have the wrong idea about vista and 7, since you are pretending to be an expert and you are influencing others.

i didn't realise i would be starting an argument with a 15 year old by replying

anyway, if you managed to "forget" that xp had windows update, you really shouldn't be giving anyone advice on choosing an operating system.

as for security... hey, i think it's secure to make everyone who uses the computer an administrator... and sure, the fact that windows xp has hundreds more security fixes must mean it's obviously more secure. definately doesnt mean it was designed with security patched in later as an afterthought

good to see you don't think it's horrible, even though you advise people to use an inferior OS

your fourth point: anything is fast on a fast computer...

your fifth point: you noticed a speed-up because you installed a fresh OS, not because you changed OS, although 7 is configured to be slightly leaner by default. most computing professionals could configure vista to be faster than the default 7.

everyone should choose their own OS, but people like you should stop spreading false truths and pretending to be knowlegable on the subject, as you will mislead common folk.
What makes you think I'm 15? I'm only 11.
Treknology5 years ago
This is interesting. I bought two Acer eMachines (EM150) that only had XP on them (that's why I grabbed them). The machine is appallingly slow. So eventually I stripped and installed raw XP (without all the junkware), which reqired visiting the BIOS and disabling SATA back to IDE. I have a much older HP running the same specs: 2GB TwinCore 1.6GHz, 160 GB HDD and the EM250 sucks--even using a Linux disc to sort out partitions takes "forever". This is supposed to be "Netbook". It can't keep up with my broadband connection, it can't even play mp3 files without stuttering badly, and if you're stupid enough to try playing a DVD, getting a copy of the script by snail mail will be quicker. I strongly agree that winding back from Vista to XP is an UPGRADE !!!
jbcnet5 years ago
Vista Is A Total Flop And it is just Good For Themes XP is the Best I Mean It ITs Rere Thats IT i mean IT and it never lets you down if it does then viruse are the issue
Do you mean DOWNGRADE?
darkclaw425 years ago
Heh.. Upgrade.
In my opinion, correct.
Technically, no.
omitzu7 years ago
I have the Extensa EX 5620-6266 - How do I find out if it has bluetooth or not?
Well, first try going to the manufacturer's site (in this case Acer) and look up the exact model. when it tells you the features, it should probably say something about Bluetooth. And if it doesn't, you can try going to the store you bought it at (or a store with the exact same model) and ask the employees in the electronics department.
adnanyumer5 years ago
 yeah, feels like an upgrade but it's downgrade (:
I honestly think Vista absolutely SUCKS. Vista makes good hardware run like, like, like crud! XP, on the other hand, is the best OS there is along with Windows 7. Both are extremely fast and are very simple.
NYPA5 years ago
That's why i have 7!
S-Nocturnus5 years ago
I signed up in this site just so I could thank you for this Excellent tutorial ! I bought a new Acer Aspire 5738Z today and first thing I thought about is to get rid of Vista..I had the blue screen error issue but thanks to this tutorial I solved it really quick..I like the way you dealt with the AHCI problem , it works great! Now I have a new laptop with a clean fast XP on it! Thank you!

ps: I think there is a little typing error in step 5 , there is a "DRIVER" word missing in this command : Open the command line (Start -> Run -> cmd), and enter "c:\AHCI\setup.exe -a -pc:\" should be like that Open the command line (Start -> Run -> cmd), and enter "c:\AHCI\setup.exe -a -pc:\DRIVER" otherwise some people who are not familiar with dos and file systems will not find the .inf needed..
TiaanR5 years ago
Plz. where is the link to update the bios?
Hi I think you mean DOWNGRADE vista is the LATEST and is better you should UPGRADE to vista from XP! I'm running Vista?!
~chuckle~ You like slow speeds, random crashes and lockups, and vast program incompatibility? Congratulations on your fine purchase.
vast program incompatibility is what i dislike most about microsoft's new os'es, but i managed to suck it up, and get the second best thing...
dang, i can't upload an image...
because you're on vista!!! ;D (jk, just saw that opening and had to take it!)
Not really...I'm on vista's big brother, 7...
i knew you probably weren't... I'm on 7 right now, but am tri-booting xp and vista as well. as soon as i transfer my files to xp, I'm going to get rid of vista!!! sayonara, you big piece of junk!
Yeah, I Like 7 much better than vista, But XP is still the best ;)
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