Downgrading from Vista to XP
I thought I would post this up somewhere so, sometime in the future, when someone wants to know this, they won't have to wade through a bunch of random websites to find the answer.
This apparently voids your software warranty, or something.. the cryptic Indian tech support line wouldn't tell me anything beyond "You will like Vista. Keep using it until you like it. You don't want to downgrade to XP... you're getting sleepy.. very sleepy..." Don't waste your time with them; they don't know how to use computers and will put you on hold to talk to their floor supervisor. At one point, one of the people hung up on me when I told him I wanted to downgrade. I called back to complain and asked for the supervisor myself, to which they said, "He can't help you." Lesson learned: most tech support lines don't help at all and you must google your own answers.
My friend recently bought a Dell PC. They told him he only had the option for Vista Home Premium, not XP Pro. So, when he got it he played around with it only to find he hated it. I myself do not like Vista much yet, so I offered to downgrade his system. It seemed to be a simple venture -- I thought I could place the CD into the drive and boot from the BIOS, then reinstall Windows XP Pro on a newly formatted and partitioned drive. However, once the XP cd got to a certain point, it would crash and list a hex dump on one of those horrible Blue Screens of Death!
So, after much deliberation we realized that the XP Pro cds that were made were not compatible with the SATA architecture of his motherboard. They just don't have the SATA drivers! The reason we got this BSOD was because Windows (as it was with XP Pro), only had IDE drivers on the CD.
So what you do is this: You must go to the manufacturer's website and download the newest drivers for your board. One of them will be for mass storage devices or something similar (look for an SATA or RAID controller). Download the package, extract the files into a directory on your desktop. From here, you must have a floppy drive to make this work. Copy the contents onto a disk (it does not need to be bootable), and restart your computer.
Boot from CD with XP in it, and the first line that shows up on the bottom of the screen once Windows loads says something like
"press f6 now to install 3rd party scsi/raid drivers"
So, press f6 and wait for the cd to run its course. When it can't find any IDE channels, it will prompt you to select the drive where the SATA drivers are and will ask which ones to load. I would suggest loading all of them to eliminate your downtime. This will bring you to the next screen and allow you to install windows xp pro on a machine that has SATA architecture.
Most newer computers from Dell, HP, etc. will use SATA technology and unfortunately for the rest of us who purchased XP (even SP2 copies) beforehand we will not be able to install it via the normal method. Use the f6 method with drivers on a floppy.
I hope this helps out anyone who is having the same problem we had.