Buying a laptop to dual-boot - can't find XP drivers!

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Apologies if this topic has been dragged up a lot lately, but I did
search for the specific models I'm looking at and didn't find much.

I've been going slightly crazy trying to decide on a new laptop (I'm
actually buying three). I'm not thrilled about Vista but I do need to
learn it. I need to be able to dual boot to XP Pro, but all the new
ones I've looked at lately don't have XP drivers available.

Right now I'm looking at 3. Staples in my area has 2 Acer Aspire 5610
(Core Duo, 1GB RAM, 120GB HD, 15.1" screen)  systems with XP Media
Center preloaded. They have an offer for Vista Premium for $15. Acer
does not have Vista drivers available on their website yet.

This week they'll have another Acer (5100, Turion X2, 1GB RAM, 120GB
HD, 15.1" screen) on sale with Vista Premium loaded. Acer does not
show any drivers at all for this system.

They'll also have the HP DV2210 (I'm assuming this is a DV2210us
model) on sale (same specs as the Acer, 14.1" screen ). HP has no XP
drivers available for this system.

I keep thinking that I should go with the Acer 5610s with XP already
installed which will have the added bonus of having a -real- Vista
disc rather than having to borrow one to be able to access the proper
disc tools when I go to reformat it to make it dual-boot, but I can't
find any reviews about that model, while the other two got medium/good
reviews (I'm not doing anything heavy duty with these systems so I'm
not going to be dissappointed by not being able to play games or
such). I also worry about the inability to install Vista or find
drivers, when part of the reason I'm buying a laptop is to have a
Vista system to experiment with. I'm still leaning towards the Acers
with XP because they still have PCMCIA slots while everything these
days seems to only have ExpressCard slots (mobile broadband cards are
usually PC card). But I'm also wary of buying one because their
website seems very badly designed and I'm not sure if I'd be able to
find the drivers I need no matter what model I buy.

I get the feeling that I won't find a system that suits all my needs:

1. Must have Vista because I need to learn how to use it to remain

2. Must have XP because I have software and hardware that won't and
may never run on Vista.

3. Must have an S-Video out port (I had been looking at a nice lower
end Sony Vaio until I realized it was the only laptop I've seen in the
past year or so that didn't have one).

4. Must have the Flying Windows Key in the proper place (rules out
most Toshibas)

5. 14" or 15" screen.

6. Prefer having a PCMCIA slot but not a dealbreaker.

7. No Gateways (long story).

I don't know what the other stores will have on sale this week: I only
get the Staples ad preview, but I know that Staples is the only one in
my area  that still has some XP systems left. Thanks for any advice
this group can offer.

Re: Buying a laptop to dual-boot - can't find XP drivers!

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Well, I've had an Acer 5102 for about 3 weeks now. It came with the
Windows Media Center edition and the promise of the 'upgrade' to Vista
for the cost of the p&p on the media. After 19 days, I rang to ask where
the upgrade was, to be told that the business of checking documentation
etc. was in the hands of the appropriate people, who were 'a little

The media center edition doesn't play the audio on some video files that
play on my XP Home and XP Pro machines here. There are some differences
in the codecs, but my groping in the dark research seems to show that
the only problem with the files is a slightly non-standard audio sample
rate (11kHz). The files play on the same machine in the Classic Media
Player that comes with RealAlternative.

Can anyone throw any light onto whether this is a Rights Management
problem caused by the media center edition, or just a feature of the
slightly newer version of Windows Media Player? Maybe this is a sign of
problems to come with Vista.

I've also had occasion to hit the "Tell Microsoft about this problem"
button more on this machine than on any previous lap or desktop. I think
these are Microsoft rather than Acer problems. Everything points to the
Media Center edition being a disaster.

I've taken the precaution of arming myself with a spare XP Pro
registration just in case.

Finally, my 5102 has no fancy video outputs, just the second monitor
connector. I couldn't find what I wanted either - a decent modern
machine with a real serial port.

I've never had any trouble with older Acers and drivers. Their FTP site
is the place to find them. I notice that it has a Vista directory for
the 5100, although at the moment it is still empty.

Re: Buying a laptop to dual-boot - can't find XP drivers!

Most of the XP upgrades for computers bought before Vista came out won't
be shipped until March.

XP Media Center IS XP Pro with some additional software and no domain
networking.  If a file won't play in Media Center, then try in under
Windows Media Player on the XP dekstop.  That will behave the same as
any other copy of XP with the same version of WMP installed and the same
codecs installed.  I'm not aware that the audio DRM in MCE is any
different than the DRM in XP Pro with the same version of WMP installed
(but there are significant differences between the different versions of
  WMP, and even various updates to the DRM in WMP).  There is additional
DRM for recorded video files, but I don't think it's part of your issue.

Media Center is stable and is not a "disaster".  I suspect that
something about your system (hardware or software) is unstable.

If you need a serial port, there are USB to Serial port converters (that
don't always work) and there are serial port PC Cards (which do pretty
much always work, but which are expensive and hard to find).

Bill wrote:

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Re: Buying a laptop to dual-boot - can't find XP drivers!

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Yes, that was my understanding, but I have up till now avoided MCE
because of reports I've read about it from others using it for real
audio/video applications. I hadn't actually tried the "Media Center". I
have now (what a horrid interface) - it doesn't work either.

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Well, it doesn't here. Both machines have WMP10, and the same build
number. The same audio codecs are listed for each machine. If I play a
file on the MCE machine in WMP, Properties gives the video codec as MPEG
Video Decoder and the Audio Codec is listed as - (ie there is no audio
codec listed). On the XP Home machine, Properties says Video Codec MPEG
Video Decoder and Audio Codec says MPEG Audio Codec. The particular file
is mpeg1 video with an audio type of mp2 22050, bitrate 56kbps.

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This is where I am confused. During the initial setup of the MCE
machine, it suddenly said something like "Installing DRM functions". Had
I known this was going to happen, I would have tried to look through
whatever files controlling how the setup was carried out.

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At the moment, here, MCE is a disaster in that in trying to analyse
problems with other video and audio functions, I cannot be sure that
existing audio will play. None of this is helped by the way that WMP
seems to call codecs by different names from Control Panel.

The machine itself seems just as stable as the other 6 XP laptops here.
But it came with things like Cyberlink Power Producer installed, and
that, in conjunction with WinMCE, has all sorts of issues. I'm only
really playing with this software because I'm still waiting for the
promised Vista CD, and can't really do any real work or setup on the
machine until that arrives.

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Precisely. That's why I'm having to keep yet another old laptop.

But thanks for the interest and reply. Sorry to be drifting OT and to
have used so many TLA's!

Re: Buying a laptop to dual-boot - can't find XP drivers!

I totally disagree with your assessment of Media Center.  It's made for
a living room on a TV set, not for a computer monitor, and for what it's
made for, it works wonderfully.

Microsoft has been adding and updating DRM to Windows with both
"critical updates" and non-critical updates (but still offered via
Windows Update), but not clearly identified as DRM updates and additions.

Consequently, with either XP or Media Center, what you have in terms of
DRM depends on what you've done in terms of running "windows update"
(both manual and automatic).  It's gotten to the point that almost no
two Windows machines have the same DRM installed now, the OS not
withstanding.  And having Media Center is going to change the codec
configuration somewhat.  In fact, it also depends on what non-Microsoft
video card and DVD playback software you install, because neither XP nor
MCE even comes with a DVD decoder (e.g. MPEG2 decoder), in all cases
that is something that the user is required to supply and install
separately, on his own.  It's often part of the video card software
driver package, or comes with DVD playback sofware (WinDVD or PowerDVD)
or with the CD/DVD burning package (Roxio or Nero).  But, again, since
it is not supplied by MS, you further create a situation in which almost
no two machines end up identical.

Bill wrote:
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Re: Buying a laptop to dual-boot - can't find XP drivers!

Barry, I hope you take this in the friendly way I mean it, but the OP
was asking about what laptop was suitable for dual-booting XP Pro and
Vista. Media Center may be fine on a TV set in a living room, but who is
going to put a laptop next to the fireplace and use it with no remote
control? So why are these laptops being sold with Media Center?

I can well understand why people may want or need to keep running XP Pro
while they become comfortable (or not) with Vista. This may well involve
the need to run a corporately tweaked version of XP Pro, where what is
running on the users machine is known and predictable.

You have, I feel, confirmed all my points. Either Microsoft are selling
(or licensing) an operating system, or they are not. I just used the
example that I've just been working with - a simple video file with no
'rights' involved won't play on the 'basic' Windows Media Player
provided with the OEM installation of Windows Media Center Edition. It
will play on other basic media players on the same machine and it plays
on WMP on all my other XP Pro and XP Home machines here. There is no
indication as to whether or not this is a DRM issue - it simply plays
with no audio.

I haven't tried to get 'support' in this case under the OEM 'contract'
between Acer, Microsoft and myself, because that would be stupid. I
have, in the past tried to get support from IBM (and Microsoft
themselves) about a problem to do with uPnP within the OEM Microsoft XP
Pro on a Thinkpad. I thought then, and think now, that the whole
situation is utterly unsatisfactory. There is nowhere one can turn if
one has an issue that is OS related, and it's hard to see how this can
be legally defensible.

 From my viewpoint I see that the OP asked about a laptop with a certain
video hardware output that could run XP Pro and Vista. I have one of the
machines that he asked about. It doesn't have the right connector and it
plays a video file without sound. I have spent at least 2 days pratting
around trying and failing to find what is stopping the sound in WMP.
It's now 20+ days since ordering the Vista upgrade and still the postman
never knocks. To me it's a minor disaster, and the Media Center Edition,
being another variable, certainly doesn't help. The laptop is supplied
with PowerDVD and Power Producer. The latter starts with error messages
about a wrong address for what appears to be a non-existant live update
site and goes downhill from there.

But the laptop itself seems to work fine.

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Re: Buying a laptop to dual-boot - can't find XP drivers!

There are some serious problems running XP (any version) and Vista on
the same machine in a dual boot configuration.  XP's snapvol.sys is
incompatable with Vista, and if you run both systems dual boot, XP
destroys some of Vista's data structures and vice versa.  The primary
impact of this is that system restore's backup data and all system
restore data points are lost, but there are some other effects as well.
  Anyone contemplating dual boot of XP and Vista needs to be aware of this.

Bill wrote:
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Re: Buying a laptop to dual-boot - can't find XP drivers!

On Sun, 18 Feb 2007 04:08:37 GMT, (Fenrir
Enterprises) wrote:

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Having given up on finding anything remotely useful in my area I've
decided to get a Lenovo 3000 N100 (specific model: 0689A6U). Intel
Core 2 Duo T5500 (I'm still not sure just how a Core 2 would be more
useful than a regular Core Duo if you're not running 64 bit Windows
though), XP Pro, 1GB RAM. Bizarrely enough, the 'free Vista upgrade'
is only good on systems bought with XP Home, and they charge more for
Home! So I think I'll just deal with no Vista (I wanted it to
experiment with, I don't want it as the actual main OS of the
computer), and buy it if I absolutely have to.


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