Is Dell Support lying about downgrading PCs to WinXP?
November 26, 2007 12:04 PM   Subscribe

Is Dell Support lying when they say that their new XPS laptop is not WinXP-compatible?

I've just bought a Dell XPS M1330 laptop through Dell Outlet. It has Vista Home Premium on it, and ISTR that Dell and a number of other manufacturers had offerred to 'donwgrade' or provide a CD of XP so you could downgrade. I called Dell Support, seeking to get the CD or DVD so I could begin preparing this laptop for use by my daughter. After a number of calls, during which I am variously told 'No, we don't offer that." I finally get a rep who speaks English without a script who informs me 'We can't do that for that laptop." My next question is , of course, "Why?" She connects me to a "tech", who informs me that the M1330 has components for which there are no XP drivers, only Vista ones. This sounds plausible, but unlikely. I am staying with Vista for now, but is Dell lying to me just to avoid the issue?
posted by Fferret to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Odds are it supports XP, and odds are it doesn't have an XP option from the manufacturer.
posted by iamabot at 12:07 PM on November 26, 2007

Best answer: Google suggests there are problems with XP drivers for both the SATA controller and the audio chipset. There are some workarounds posted here and there, but they're not official.

My take is that Dell isn't lying to you, but they're not doing a whole lot to make one of their customers happy, either.
posted by Ickster at 12:09 PM on November 26, 2007

Best answer: i think they may be telling you the truth. I'm in tech support at a university, most of the faculty want to order their dell computers with winXP. Many of them ordered these 'vista only' pc's and tried to install xp. Nearly all of them faced a situation where they couldnt find all the drivers they needed. (in some cases it was manageable, for instance, the only driver they couldnt find was the sound card, which they opted to live without; but in other cases more basic things like NIC drivers didnt exist). Depends on the individual components on the computer. if its a component that you know from the manufacturer of the chip or card that they still offer a winxp driver, then you can download that from the manufacturer's website even if dell isnt offering it on their own website.
posted by jak68 at 12:18 PM on November 26, 2007

As a veteran image builder for laptops, I can say that Ickster is probably right.

You can certainly install XP on the laptop, but the question is going to be how good of an experience it's going to be.

If you don't mind editing .inf files, playing around with the registry, and other things like that, you can totally make it work. On the other hand, if your OS install experience is limited to booting from a system restore CD and hoping for the best, you might as well consider the laptop non-XP compatible.
posted by rachelpapers at 12:19 PM on November 26, 2007

Response by poster: They didn't mention the SATA issues, however they did mention the DVD-RW as one of the devices, so I'll assume that goes for all SATA in the box. Shoot. The issue now is that this laptop is supposed to be powerful enough to handle media manipulation for an artist. Recent articles in the trades (I'm a computer geek by trade,) indicate that Vista just isn't taking advantage of current technology to deliver performance improvements. SP1 is not going to be any help either. But if switching to XP is going to handicap the box, especially the graphics, that doesn't leave me much choice. Oh, and Linux isn't really an option either, she needs to stay compatible with school hardware/software, which is Windows-centric. Also, she has Ubuntu on her desktop, and she's not thrilled.
posted by Fferret at 12:35 PM on November 26, 2007

how about a 64-bit vista box?
posted by jak68 at 12:40 PM on November 26, 2007

If you go to the Dell site, pick small business (or maybe home too - I dunno, it's not the vector I use) and click on the Latitudes you'll see a choice of XP or Vista.

Do it with the 1330 and you don't. Which I'd say lends more credence to ickster's conclusion. If you look in the Vostros you'll see 2 offer XP and 2 don't.

I don't see anything obvious in the descriptions that's there in the Vistas but not the XP offerings, so no help there on what component you may have an issue with.
posted by phearlez at 12:43 PM on November 26, 2007

I believe that the downgrade offers were only for certain business flavors of Vista, so the "We don't do that" response may be technically correct albeit a poor explanation of the situation. (It would also explain why you can still get XP on small business machines at Dell but not on home machines.)

If you have the time, energy and a copy of XP, I'd hunt around for XP compatible drivers for all your devices and try installing them manually. But...then again...I find this kind of stuff fun.
posted by weebil at 1:04 PM on November 26, 2007

I have recommended the Dell Precision workstations in many threads about Dell. I'm writing you from one right now. I use these machines in video game development and stimulus generation for neuroscience research (=heavy graphics). They are great performers. The Precision line still offers XP by necessity, so it's the safe way to go for this sort of thing in the future.

how about a 64-bit vista box?

Yikes. Don't do that.
posted by fake at 1:37 PM on November 26, 2007

>how about a 64-bit vista box?

Actually most of the guys on my team are running the XPS M1330 with 64-bit Vista. They swear by it.

(I am still waiting for mine...)

However - out of 10 people, 4 have had serious enough issues with this model that it had to be sent in for repair within the last 3 months.
posted by jkaczor at 3:50 PM on November 26, 2007

OTOH - I also have a Dell Precision 470 desktop that it 2 years old, runs 24/7 and has never had an issue.

(Previously our team relied on Toshiba Tecra's and had tons of issues with them.)
posted by jkaczor at 3:51 PM on November 26, 2007

Interesting. Not to derail further, but my experience with 64 bit Vista has been nothing but pain (and that's on a Precision 690 at work). We ended up using 64 bit XP pro, which is still pain, but not so much. I only wish we could go back to just XP Pro.
posted by fake at 4:03 PM on November 26, 2007

Yikes. Don't do that.

Well, what if his daughter needs the address space? HUH!?
posted by delmoi at 6:36 PM on November 26, 2007

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