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A Collection of Random Thoughts
Sunday, January 08, 2006
Vista Upgrade Pain (build 5270)
I've got a few computers running Windows Vista. The first one is a desktop machine with an Athlon XP 2200+, 512mb ram and an older video card (very soon to be replaced). The second is an HP Pavilion ZD7000 laptop, with a 2.66Ghz P4, also with 512mb ram, and a GeForce FX5600 Go. I haven't had anything important on my desktop PC, because, well, it's pretty much dedicated to Beta testing at the moment. Since no one else uses it but me, it's fairly easy to keep it clean. However, the laptop is what we are using as a home PC at the moment. Nothing like trying to load some kids games to give Vista a good test :-) Anyway, because it gets used as our home PC, there was quite a bit of information that I didn't want to lose if I could help it.

Right before Christmas, build 5270 was made available to beta testers (it's on MSDN now...). so I figured it was time to load it up on these PC's. The desktop PC was no problem - I formatted the hard drive so as to get a clean build. Installation went fine and everything was up and running fairly quickly. I did notice that 5270 includes some additional drivers that previously weren't there (my USB wireless adapter), so that was nice.

The laptop was a different story. Since I wanted to keep some of the data, I decided to try and to a new install without formatting. Big mistake. The process went something like this:
1. Boot from Vista DVD - start setup.
2. Choose existing partition. Setup informs me that it has detected an existing Windows installation and if I continue, it will rename the windows directory to windows.old, etc. Fine by me.
3. Setup continues (and takes a LONG time). It reboots the first time and resumes setup (as normal), but after appearing to finish and rebooting a final time, the only thing I get is a black bootup screen telling me that Windows has detected problems with the bootup environment (or something similar). Specifically, it tells me that ntoskrnl.exe is missing.

Ok, I've got an external USB hard drive case for laptop hard drives (it's really more just a circuit board with the IDE connector going to a USB connector), so I pull out my hard drive and hook it up to my other laptop (running XP). I browse the directories, and I see that the old Windows directory was renamed properly (old user profiles were moved inside the Windows.old directory), and when I look in the windows\system32 directory, sure enough, there is no ntoskrnl.exe file present. That's weird!

I think to myself that it must have just been a glitch with the setup proces, so I'll do it over. Oops - now there isn't enough space left. Vista needs 8gb of free space in order to run setup. I had to go in and whack the windows directory that setup created along with a bunch of the temp installation files (note to Vista team - make sure that setup cleans up any temp files once it RTM's). Once that's done, I run setup again. SAME result. Unfortunatlely, I don't know how to extract that one file from the DVD (note to self - need to find this out), so I try asking around for a copy. I was desperate! Anyway, no one had a copy immediately available, and no one seemed to have encountered this problem before (my newsgroup question still remains unanswered to this day).

The end result (there was no "solution") was that I used my new DVD burner that I got for Christmas to back up all the documents, pictures, and other data that I wanted (though somehow I forgot our PST file - bummer). Once that was done, I formatted and got Vista to install with no problems. Ugh.

Now for the next part of the story. We had been using Office 2003 on the previous Vista build with no issues whatsoever. However, when I installed Office 2003 on this build, Outlook would not download any mail from my POP accounts. Totally weird! I tried everything I could think of, including completely removing office, deleting the office directory, re-creating the mail profile, etc. etc. Nothing seemed to work. So, I'm also on the Office 12 beta and decide to try and install that, or rather "upgrade" to Office 12. I'm mystified that right at the end of setup, there are some registry keys that setup doesn't seem to be able to access. When I check the keys, the owner shows up as a SID, and I can't change permisssions (System only had read access as well as Administrators). I tried changing permissions on all the keys that it mentioned to no avail. Finally, I completely removed Office 2003, then installed Office 12 and it worked fine. As soon as I installed Office 12 and configured Outlook, it began pulling down all my mail again. PHEW! At least we had webmail access to the mail for the period of time it took to sort this out. What a mess!

Do you have an upgrade horror story? Send me your link.
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