Secrets of a clean Vista install

Microsoft’s official definition of a clean Windows install involves booting from the Windows DVD and pointing Setup at a piece of bare hard disk or a freshly formatted partition.

But that’s not the only way to do a clean install. In fact, thanks to the new Setup architecture in Vista you can now do what you would never have dared to do in earlier Windows versions: install a fresh copy of Windows on the same hard disk as your current copy.

In the second installment of my 30 days of Vista Hands On series at ZDNet, I’ve got details on why this works, how to run Setup (the steps are easy but not necessarily intuitive), and how to clean up the pieces of your old Windows installation afterwards. For details, see:

Vista Hands On #2: A no-fuss, nondestructive clean install

6 thoughts on “Secrets of a clean Vista install

  1. I did this myself — I used the Easy Transfer tool to back up my user settings, installed “clean”, and then restored the user settings from the backup. The applications that didn’t need a reinstall, I just copied out of the WINDOWS.OLD directory;

  2. Thanks for that as it sounds a considerable smoother way than the recently documented method for doing a clean install from the upgrade disk involving two setup runs.

    All I have to do now is to wait for modus link to send me my free upgrade disk. Though how long that will take is anyones guess. As they seem to be in melt down at the moment due to the apparently unforeseen demand for the free upgrades from XP 😦

  3. I’ve done a couple of clean installs but mostly use full install just to keep the data files intact. One thing I’ll never do again is an upgrade. Did that with a brand new Lenovo ThinkPad and lots of little problems.

  4. Upgrades on any system with a factory-install of Windows (read: tons of proprietary gunk) NEVER go well. I learned that lesson hard.

  5. This isn’t the appropriate post for this comment, but I thought you had asked somewhere about Vista installation problems, and we just had one, so I thought I would let you know.

    We develop custom, mobile, low power hardware and currently ship XP on it. Microsoft will force us to upgrade to Vista at some point, so we are starting to look at what software and hardware upgrades we will need to make that jump.

    We installed Vista on our device today a bunch of times, and each time got a blue screen right at the end of the installation (after the reboot) saying something about USB. If we then rebooted, Windows reported an installation error, and “please try installing again”.

    We have a custom microprocessor hanging off the USB, so we thought that even though Vista didn’t have a driver for it (yet) it was getting confused. But, it turned out to be the off-the-shelf USB keyboard. If we unplug the keyboard before rebooting the computer to finish the install, it successfully completes, and then the keyboard can be plugged in when the dialog comes up asking for the login name.


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