Solve Problems With Vista Installation

Before you start

Objectives: learn what should you check before you try and install Vista on your computer. Also, learn what common problems occur after the installation and how to deal with them.

Prerequisites: no prerequisites.

Key terms: compatibility, device manager, hardware requirements, display problem, driver compatibility, application compatibility

Before Installation

Check Hardware Requirements

There are several ways to check that our computer meets the minimum hardware requirements for Vista. For example, we can useSystem Information, System Properties or we can use Vista Upgrade Advisor. Vista Upgrade Advisor also checks our software to see if it will be compatible with Vista.

Upgrade Advisor

Image 179.1 – Upgrade Advisor

To start Microsoft System Information in XP, use either of the following methods:

  • Click Start, point to Programs, point to Accessories, point to System Tools, and then click System Information.
  • Click Start, click Run, type msinfo32.exe in the Open box, and then click OK.

To open the System Properties dialog box, use either of the following methods:

  • Right click the My Computer icon on your desktop and click Properties.
  • Go into the Control Panel and double click the System applet.

Check Devices and System Events

Before we install Vista, we should check Device Manager to verify that we don’t have any current problems with our hardware. To open Device Manager in Windows XP, go to Control Panel, System, Hardware tab and then click Device Manager button.

Device Manager in XP

Image 179.2 – Device Manager in XP

We should also check Event Viewer to to verify that we’re not having any serious error messages or warnings. To open Event Viewer in Windows XP, go to Control Panel, Administrative Tools and then Event Viewer.

Event Viewer in XP

Image 179.3 – Event Viewer in XP

If we find serious error messages we should go to the Internet and investigate how to fix those problems. Great place to check is Microsoft support website Of course, we can also use a search engine like Google.

We should also check that hardware devices are attached properly. It’s always possible that, for example, memory chips, CPUs or hard drive cables become loose. If we can’t boot from Vista installation DVD, we should check our BIOS settings and make sure that the proper boot order is configured. It is also possible that the DVD reader is malfunctioning itself.

After Installation


Common problems after installation are Display problems. To try and correct visual problems in Vista we can go to Control Panel and then Appearance and Personalization (or Personalization if we are in Classic view).


Image 179.4 – Personalization in Vista

Here we can change settings for color, transparency, desktop background, resolution and other display settings. Display problems are often the result of a video card that does not meet minimum Windows Vista requirements.


In Vista we should also check Device Manager. To open Device Manager in Vista go to Control Panel, Hardware and Sound and select Device Manager (if using Classic view in Control Panel, select System and then Device Manager).

Device Manager in Vista

Image 179.5 – Device Manager in Vista

In Device Manager we can see devices that don’t have drivers installed. To update drivers on a device that we are having trouble with, we can right-click it and select Update Driver Software. Here we can also disable devices that we don’t want to use.

Application Compatibility

Another common problem is application compatibility. We can download and use the Application Compatibility Tool Kit (ACT) from Microsoft to determine which applications are compatible with Windows Vista. For any program with which we are having problems, we can right-click, select Properties and go to the Compatibility tab and choose a compatibility mode.

Compatibility Tab

Image 179.6 – Compatibility Tab

This way we can simulate an environment of some other operating system. For example, if we need to use some legacy application that works on Windows XP and does not work on newer operating system, we can use Windows XP compatibility mode for that application.

Repairing the Installation

If we have problems with booting our Vista machine, we can try and use Startup Repair Tool. This tool is automatically available if the Windows Recovery Environment is preinstalled. But, we can always manually boot from Vista installation DVD and run this tool. Let’s do that now. When we boot from Vista DVD, the Installation menu appears.

Installation Menu

Image 179.7 – Installation Menu

In the lower left-hand corner we can select ‘Repair your computer‘ option. This will initiate the Startup Repair Tool. It is going to ask us which operating system to repair, so we choose Vista and click Next. After that, the System Recovery Options window will appear.

System Recovery Options

Image 179.8 – System Recovery Options

Here we have several options that we can use to repair our installation. We can try to repair startup, attempt to use restore points, attempt to use complete PC restore if we have done complete PC backup before, do memory diagnostics on RAM or run CMD prompt. For example, if we run Startup Repair it will perform a number of tests to make sure that our PC is bootable.


Before installing Vista be sure to check if your computer meets hardware requirements for Vista. To do that you can use System Information, System Properties or Vista Upgrade Advisor. We should also check Device Manager and Event Viewer to verify that we don’t have any current problems with our computer. Common problems after installation are Display problems, problems with devices with no drivers installed and application compatibility. If we have problems with booting our Vista machine, we can use Startup Repair Tool to repair our installation.

Paths that are mentioned in this article


  • Start > Programs > Accessories > System Tools > System Information – open System Information
  • Control Panel > System – open System Properties
  • Control Panel > System > Hardware tab > Device Manager – open Device manager
  • Control Panel > Administrative Tools > Event Viewer – open Event Viewer


  • Control Panel > Appearance and Personalization – personalize appearance and sounds
  • Control Panel > Hardware and Sound > Device Manager – open Device Manager (if using Classic view, in Control Panel select System and then Device Manager)
  • Startup Repair Tool – available on Vista installation DVD (‘Repair your computer’ option in main menu)