An alternate title for this post could be “How I managed to memorize my Vista key in one day.” In previous versions of Windows when you purchased the Upgrade version of the new operating system you could always just insert … Continued

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Windows Vista 64 Bit Downgrade to 32 Bit Woes

7 Jun , 2007  

An alternate title for this post could be “How I managed to memorize my Vista key in one day.”

In previous versions of Windows when you purchased the Upgrade version of the new operating system you could always just insert the CD of the previous version during the install to verify that you indeed had a previous version and were eligible for the upgrade version. In Vista, as far as I can tell, this is not possible. It actually checks for a previous operating system for an upgrade key. This makes for a huge inconvenience that in the end is completely retarded because there is a “workaround” that nullifies the whole process.

So I get my copy of Vista Ultimate the other day, mostly because I am technical enough to troubleshoot the problems, the first DirectX 10 games are coming out soon, and I like eye candy. I proceed to jump right into Vista x64 (the 64 bit version). I take my Windows XP partition, along with the 15 other partitions that I foolishly made (to keep partition sizes down, which I honestly do not care much about anymore), delete all of them, and create 3 new partitions from within the Vista install program. I format and install Vista onto the smallest of the three and everything installs great. It loads up no problem, all my drivers (except for my graphics card and ATI remote wonder) are pre-installed with the OS. I easily find my video card drivers on Nvida and install them easily. The ATI remote wonder, unfortunately has some problems, but by installing the manufacturer drivers (X10) and then the software I overcome everything. However, I my Disk Stakka does not seem to work in x64 and in looking in the benefits of x64 right now, and the drawbacks of device compatibility, I decide to switch back to x86 (32 bit).

Now comes the fun. What I should have tried (and since I prefer clean installs I did not try this) was to start the x86 disk inside of Windows itself and tried to “downgrade” through that. Unfortunately I cannot tell you if that works because before I could try that I had already started my standard clean install routine that I have done throughout all versions of windows.

So I am in the Vista install program after booting off the DVD and I decide to format the OS partition and do a clean install. It does not stop me from doing that. I go to install onto the clean partition and then it asks for the key. No problem. I put in the key and then Vista says, wait a second … you are an Upgrade version! I need to see an older version of Windows to allow you to do a 32 bit upgrade. This was not a problem with a 64 bit upgrade because they require you to do a clean install anyway.

So it wants me to install Windows XP to install Windows Vista 32 bit? I am not prepared to give up just yet though, so I choose not to enter in a key at all and just authenticate when Windows is up and running. So I go through the whole install process again and load up windows. I go to the windows authentication screen and enter in my key …. only to get an error about my key being for an Upgrade only. At this point I am pretty pissed off because sitting next to me is my shiny XP CD and I am literally begging the computer to just read it and say that its ok, I am not a pirate trying to steal software.

I end up biting the bullet and installing XP and then doing the stupid upgrade (I hate upgrades too). Luckily, since I just installed XP very fast, no service pack 2 or anything (I didn’t even activate my XP install, the first time it booted I inserted Vista and started the install process), it “forced” me to do a clean install. Unfortunately it did leave a “windows.old” directory on the partition, but that was easily deleted. I was worried that it would leave an older version of NTFS on there, but as far as I can tell all the Vista features (which consists of symlinks) work.

Later I found a nice workaround that negates the entire process and makes Microsoft look really stupid. Here I was jumping through hoops to make sure Vista knew that I had XP and was upgrading properly. To work around that all you have to do to do a “clean” install without XP is install Vista without a key. Once you boot up into Vista for the first time, just insert the CD/DVD again and then choose to “upgrade” to the same exact version. You don’t even have to let the software know that XP was ever installed. Using this process this could have been the first time you used Windows and you can use the upgrade option.

Way to go Microsoft. If securing your upgrade versions from pirates and users who are not really upgrading was your goal, you utterly failed. In the process you managed to make everyone else jump through hoops.

10 responses to “Windows Vista 64 Bit Downgrade to 32 Bit Woes”

  1. aaron says:

    pirates – 99999999999999999
    microsoft – 0

    no matter what microsoft pulls off, no matter what any company pulls off, there is always and i mean always a work around. But maybe if they never made such a ridiculously buggy and incompatible operating system a absolutely appauling cost. Maybe people wouldn’t need to do pirating. After all, if people never used pirated versions of windows, imagine how much money they wouldve spent on microsoft by now and they still wouldnt be satisfied, and probably never will be. I know i am not satisfied, in fact i completely despise microsoft windows full-stop, every single version has been a failure, why rather than fooling around with upgrades, cant they just get it right first time. Surely they can get it right, considering bill gates brain is the “most expensive thing on the earth” pretty soon people will lose faith in windows and move onto macintosh, i am already planning on getting a macintosh. Im sick of windows fucking me around, and linux isnt exactly very user friendly and i dont have the time to learn it i have more important goals in life. Thing is though, linux is better than windows and it is free it doesnt cost anything and i guarantee if macintosh were made for pc’s it would be free aswell, in fact i hear they have designed a mac os x for x86 computers, but i havent bothered with it yet coz i doubt it would work well or possibly not even detect the hardware in my computer, Maybe when i get an external hard drive i will test it out. But until then, the whole point of this post is..


    I advise anyone reading this, who does not agree with me to look it up on google, u’ll probably find millions of posts saying windows sucks and mac os or linux os are well better. Linux has never ever crashed, never gotten a bug, never pissed me off, never set me back like £120, and never let me down whenever i have used it whereas windows constantly pisses me off every time i use it and whoever says, ur wrong microsoft rules blah blah blah, u r all noobs dont know what you are talking about, and are foolish because your only going to smash up ur computer one day in frustration because of windows lol wont even be the machines fault, inabit!!

  2. Adam says:

    Hi is there a way i can have the best of both worlds and install both 32 and 64 bit? I’m not that good with installing OS’. I tried to dual boot XP with vista last time and it went horribly wrong, i didnt create a partion and i couldnt get back to vista so i had to lose all my data and reintall vista. So i was wandering how i go about doing this properly. while being able to keep the files i have on vista 64 as well?


  3. Mike says:

    To Adam,
    As far as I know, there isn’t a way to dual install in both x86 and x64. It has something to do with the way the two different processing bases load that once started, the system would have to shut down to switch, and in shutting down, it would bring your right back to select (again!)
    I’m a student at Penn State and I figured top of the line with 64-bit would be a good choice, well adapted for the future. Unfortunately, it seems my spaceship doesn’t fit in the standard mini-van parking spots! I can’t use the wireless VPN (64-bit not supported!), I can’t use the printing services on-campus (64-bit not supported!), and I can’t use the MIDI software for my recording software (guess what…64-bit not supported!)
    So all in all, if you’re deciding between 32 and 64 bit systems, for the time being, you’re probably best off with the good old x86.
    AMD might be stepping up to the reigning champion, but Intel-based will ALWAYS be the norm.

  4. themusicman says:

    I thought Bill Gates Started Apple?

  5. Lanza says:

    People should read this.

  6. Lexz says:

    how can i get in to downgrade vista 64bit to 32 bit???

  7. candy says:

    i need to down grade

  8. David J says:

    I want to downgrade too. I have a very awesome hot rod system, but x64 is still laggy in it. If I go to click a hyperlink, the system waits for a couple seconds after I click it in order to execute the click. It’s like this with everything – typing, clicking, etc. VERY ANNOYING!!!

    And yes you can run a 32 bit and 64 bit system on the same computer, just not from the same hard drive. If you have two internal drives, unplug one of them, and then load the OS you want one the active drive. Then do the opposite – now unplug the one you just used, plug in the one that was unplugged, and install the other OS. Now you have two drives – one with the 32 bit OS on it, and one with the 64 bit OS on it, and both of them are configured to work with your existing hardware. This is where it gets tricky, though. There are two ways that I know of to load the OS of choice. One is to physically unplug (power or data) the drive that you do NOT want to load, and just fire up the system. If both your drives are SATA, the BIOS should find the MBR on the one drive that has a connection to the motherboard and load the OS on it. The second option is to set up the MBR on the first priority disk to check for other OSs and allow it to give you 10 seconds or so to pick the OS that you want to load (Linux users will be familiar with the GRUB loader – Windows has a similar loader, but less intuitive, of course). After the BIOS post, you should see the menu dual-boot loader come up asking you which OS you want to load, with a little clock down below that is counting down the seconds until it begins loading the OS from the first-priority drive. In the menu, select the desired OS, hit enter, and bob’s your uncle.

    Personally, I have a smaller hdd (80 GB) that I installed Windows XP on, which mostly just sits in my top drawer. Since I have SATA interfaces on the front and rear of my case, I can use a SATA cable to plug in my XP hdd from the outside. Then I just go into the BIOS and change the boot order if I want to boot from the external SATA hard drive. This way I’m not having to crack open my case when I want to do something in XP.

    And for the love of God, why can’t Microshaft make an OS that runs as smoothly, cleanly, and fast as the FOSS community does with Linux distros? Jesus Christ I’m so tired of all the laggy, bloated, slow as hell OSs these assholes keep cranking out. Honestly, I boot to Ubuntu 4 out of 5 times for general computing, and the only reason I keep Windows around is for more complex software programs (like video editing/authoring) and games, but that’s it. I think Vista is the new Windows ME – total fucking disaster. Hopefully the code is more clean and fast in Windows 7… but I doubt it will be.


  9. Adrian says:

    i cant downgrade my 64 bit to 32 bit wat do i do?

  10. Steve says:

    Before I begin, I should point out that I know less than bugger-all about computers. Until recently I thought I.T. was a Steven Speilberg movie about a small ugly alien.
    I have a computer that came with Vista 64bit already installed. My TV Set-Top box requires periodically updating by downloading files from the manufacturers website, but there are no drivers that are compatible for Vista 64Bit.
    Is it possible, by pushing buttons, to temporarily downgrade to 32Bit, do the downloading, and then put things back the way I found them?
    Or did I just make a complete arse out of myself?

    Any assistance greatfully received.

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