his post is more of a note to me so I know what to do when I need to install XP again, as I have just un-installed Vista after a months use and gone back to XP.
I had a lot of problems with Vista, most of my games didn’t work with Vista, I have a £100 printer that’s as good as a brick because it’s not compatible and copying files to a USB device took forever. I haven’t got the best PC in the world but its still a pretty good PC and got a Windows Experience Index Score of 4.1, but when I was running Vista it was very slow and painful to use.
I did like the look of Vista and some of the new features, like the Sidebar the fast search results and the start menu, so I found away to get these features in XP without losing performance and stability.
How to give XP some of the features Vista has.
Install royale-noir first then Royale-Remixed, when "Display Properties" window opens after installing Royale-Remixed choose the "Media Center Edition 2006" theme then open "Appearance tab" and choose "Royale" then under "Color Scheme" choose "Royale Noir".
The Royale-Noir theme uses the same resources as the default XP theme so it won’t bog down the system, this is the best theme to use if you would like to use a dark UI. The Royale-Noir theme was actually developed by the Microsoft design team and that’s why you don’t need to use the Uxtheme patch to use this, you can read more about the theme here.
- Alky for Applications 1.1, needed for Vista Sidebar.
- Vista Sidebar This is the same sidebar as used in Vista and only uses 10mb of ram.
- Windows Search 4.0 Give you very fast search results
- Vista Drive Icon Shows you the drive’s free space with a smooth colored horizontal bar.
- ViStart a Vista start menu clone but can cause explore.exe to crash, so use at your own risk.
- Windows Live Photo Gallery This is the same Photo Gallery as used in Vista
To add additional gadgets to the Vista Sidebar you need to add them manually, download the gadget that you want from Windows Live and use a program like WinRAR/7-Zip to extract the contents to a folder, then name the folder to what ever the gadget is called then put .Gadget to the end of the name e.g. BBCRadio.Gadget
Then all you need to do is place that folder to C:\Program Files\Windows Sidebar\Shared Gadgets
Free programs for a complete OS after XP is installed.
These are the programs I install, you may not need to install all of them so check out the program first to see if its a program you would use.
- Adobe AIR not needed if you don’t use AIR apps.
- avast! Best free antivirus, IMHO, with screensaver mode, or you could use AVG.
- Advanced WindowsCare Personal 3 A good program to maintain a PCs health.
- AutoPatcher Windows updates, add-ons and programs. Make sure you tick the add-ons to download them.
- Alt.Binz Needed to download NZB files.
- CCleaner A good cleaner
- Comodo Firewall Best free firewall, IMHO.
- DAMN NFO Viewer Needed to view info in NFO.
- DivX Web Player Needed for web content.
- DVD Shrink A good program to rip DVD-9s to DVDs.
- FileHippo.com Update Checker Checks online for update’s for installed programs.
- Firefox Best web browser, or you could use Opera.
- Windows Media Player Firefox Plugin Needed for Firefox.
- (IE) Flash Player Needed for web content.
- (Non-IE) Flash Player Needed for web content.
- Foxit Reader Best lightweight PDF reader.
- FastStone Screen capture program.
- Frostwire Open Source P2P program.
- Hotspot Shield Lets you view US only sites outside the US, ie. Hulu.
- IrfanView Photo editor
- JkDefragGUI A very good Defrag program with screensaver mode.
- Java Runtime Environment Needed for web content and programs.
- K-Lite Mega Codec Pack Needed for video and sound.
- KompoZer A great program for web authoring.
- MediaCoder Good program to convert videos for mobile phones, PSP and iPods.
- MediaPortal with the TVSeries plug-in and the SpinSafe skin. Needed for TV tuner cards.
- Notepad++ Not needed, but a better program then the default installed notepad.
- OpenOffice.org Needed for office docs.
- Pidgin Needed for IM.
- QuickTime Alternative Needed for web content and video.
- RadarSync Checks online for update’s for installed programs and drivers.
- Revo Uninstaller A proper uninstaller program.
- Shockwave Player Needed for web content.
- Silverlight Needed for web content.
- Skype Best VOIP program.
- SMPlayer Good video player that’s better then VLC, IMHO. If you like VLC you may want to check out Kantaris
- Songbird A great music manage that works with iPods and media device’s.
- Spybot Search & Destroy Needed to scan and remove spyware.
- Spyware Terminator Needed to guard against spyware.
- ted: torrent episode downloader Good program to automatically download TV torrents.
- Thunderbird Good email program.
- Unlocker Shows you why you can’t delete/move a file.
- Vuze Needed for torrent files.
- WinRAR Needed for compressed files, or you could use 7-Zip, but I prefer Winrar.
Not free but worth the money.
If there is a program you still need that isn’t listed have a look at my list of free software, there maybe something there that might help.
Setting Up and Installing XP
First thing you should do before doing a fresh XP install is to download all the software that is needed and to make sure that you have all of your drivers. A great program that will save you a lot of time and headaches is DriverMax, it will backup all of the drivers that are installed on your PC for easy reinstalling.
Once you have backed up all of your drivers just check that you have got all the software that you will be installing and make sure they are saved on a partition that is use for storage or a CD/DVD.
Now we need to back up your program settings, copy this folder. C:\Documents and Settings\"user name"\Application Data to a storage partition or a CD/DVD. Make sure that you can see hidden files or you won’t be able to do this.
Open a window then go to Tools > Folder Options > View > Show hidden files and folders.
Now its time to install XP, If you have never install XP before Lifehacker have a guide over on there site, the only thing I would add that isn’t in that post is to install XP without being connected to the net and if you only have one hard drive I would partition it so you can keep your documents and the OS on different partitions, I normally give XP 20GB (20480) but you may want to use more depending on what programs you use.
Once XP is installed, install these programs in this order without being connected to the net:
- Drivers using DriverMax
- AutoPatcher with all the Windows Addons, Updated Components and some Registry Tweaks.
- Windows Media Player Firefox Plugin
- DivX Web Player
- (IE) Flash Player
- (Non-IE) Flash Player
- Shockwave Player
- DAMN NFO Viewer
- JkDefrag GUI
- Advanced WindowsCare Personal 3
- K-Lite Mega Codec Pack
- QuickTime Alternative
- Comodo Firewall
- Avast! Home
- Spyware Terminator
Now connect to the net and update any programs that needs updating, at this point it doesn’t matter what order you install the rest of the software as all the important programs are installed and updated so just go ahead and install the rest of the programs.
Now that everything is installed lets change the location of “My Documents” so its not stored on the same partition as windows, you can change this by going to:
Start button > Right click “My Documents” > Properties > then change the Target > Move.
Once you have done that fire up JK Defrag and make sure the screen saver mode has been installed.
Now lets make the text look better.
Right click on the d
esktop > Properties > Appearance > Effects > second drop down menu change to ClearType.
While still in Display Properties setup the screen Saver.
select “avast! antivirus” then Settings > Screen saver > JkDefragScreenSaver, now every time the screen saver starts it will scan your PC for virus and defrag it.
Once that’s done go into safe mode (Hit F8 as the PC starts up) then copy the Application Data folder back into windows.
That’s pretty much it, you still need to setup some of the programs that are installed and to sort out what program start with Windows (you can use CCleaner to stop programs starting with Window) but this setup should give you a good starting point.