Final Thoughts on Running Windows Vista on an IBM ThinkPad T42

Little did I know my blog posting on how to run Windows Vista on an IBM ThinkPad T42 would be so popular – almost all of the visits to this blog came from Google searches on this topic.  So much for all that other stuff I blog about….  :)

So, I am now reaching the end of my time on a T42 as I will be moving to the Lenovo ThinkPad T61P next month – a very welcome change.  But, I know a lot of people are still interested in the T42, so here are some final thoughts on getting Windows Vista to play nice:

  • Do not upgrade your machine from Windows XP to Windows Vista!  While this is supported, there are so many programs that don’t work that you will just cause problems.  Clean is always better!
  • When Windows Vista is done installing, you will have a VGA video driver that can handle the full resolution of the monitor.  This driver will work great in almost all cases.  The only major problem areas are the machine cannot go into Sleep mode and you cannot connect a projector to the machine.
  • As for other drivers, the installer will have a driver for almost all components and you may not need anything else.
  • Lenovo now has a set of drivers for the T42 supporting Windows Vista.  These include the hard drive airbag driver, the driver management tool, power management, etc.  However, there is no driver for the video card.  Also, for the biometrics and related components, you need to be running Windows Vista Enterprise Edition or Windows Vista Ultimate Edition to tap into the TPM module in the laptop.
  • While there is no ATI Radeon Mobile 7500 driver, go ahead and download the Windows XP driver.  Start the installer for this driver.  This will create a folder to store the driver, but does not actually start the installation.  I guess Lenovo/ATI thought people like to "install" things twice!
  • Open Device Manager (accept all of the User Account Control prompts), expand the video option, right-click and select properties and then click on the driver tab.  Here, you can specify the driver.  When prompted, point Windows to the folder created by the "installer" and its sub-folder for drivers.
  • Windows Vista will then install the Windows XP video driver and will restart.
  • At this point, NEVER run the Windows Experience Index tool as the tool will cause the computer to blue screen due to the bad ATI driver.  Also, Windows Media Player can cause the Blue Screen in some cases – again due to the video driver.
  • Now, install the rest of the Lenovo drivers and you should be up and running.

It is important to understand some of the changes in Windows Vista to understand the impact on applications and actions.  First, remember that due to User Account Control (UAC), you will always run with the lowest permissions needed and will need to elevate permissions as needed.  If you work with Visual Studio 2005, get in the habit of running Visual Studio 2005 as an Administrator to allow all of the debugging features to work correctly.

Second, you should be aware of kernel changes in Windows NT 6.x (Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008).  For example, Session 0 isolation moves all services and machine items into Session 0 while user items are moved to Session 1.  This helps add security protection between the sessions.  This will also break the IBM Keyboard Configuration utility as it used the Session 0 items to operate instead of just making the correct registry changes.

Third, Windows Vista will consume more resources as it is constantly indexing data, doing Address Space Randomization, performing additional security inspections, and so forth.  While it would be nice to get the same overall performance as Windows XP, the performance hit is the best in the end as the protection offered is much better.

I hope this helps those looking for information on running Windows Vista on the T42.

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