Installing Windows XP on a Compaq Presario C500

A little over a year ago, my mother purchased a Compaq Presario C500 laptop. Her needs for a laptop are primarily web browsing and other light processing. This machine is more than adequate for her needs. I was in town visiting right after she bought the machine and asked me to look at the machine because it was "so slow". I booted it up — it took a very long time. It came with Windows Vista and only 512MB of RAM. The fact that this machine was sold in this configuration is appalling. The amount of RAM in this machine makes it impossible to run Vista. I brought the machine home with me, purchased a copy of Windows XP and installed it on the laptop. It was a snappy machine. I shipped it back and Mom was pleased with her laptop.

A couple weeks ago, I got a call regarding this machine. A grandchild had used the machine and it was now running slow and the malware protection software was going nuts. Mom took it to a local shop to wipe it and reinstall Windows XP. This so called "professional" sent it back to her saying only Vista works with the machine and she should call HP to get a copy of Vista. Sigh. I told her to ship the machine back to me with the XP disk and I would get it back up and running. It took less than 5 minutes on the web to find the "trick" needed to install Windows XP on the machine. Below is what I did – just so I will know what to do next time this machine is shipped back to me.

  1. Power up the machine
  2. Press F10 to enter the BIOS setup
  3. Go to the "System Configuration menu"
  4. Set "SATA Native Support" to disable – this is the trick to install Windows XP. In fact the text on the screen says set this to disable to install "legacy" operating systems.
  5. Check boot options under system configuration to make sure you can boot from CD.
  6. Put Windows XP CD into drive
  7. Press F10 to Save and Exit
  8. Machine will reboot
  9. Install Windows XP normally
  10. Install all updates

I installed the following software to help my mother:

  1. Install AVG Free
  2. Install WinDefender
  3. Install Firefox
  4. Install Ad-Aware 2008

I now wanted to update all of the drivers and re-enable native SATA support. This ended up being a little more difficult – many of the solutions I found on the web did not work. With that caveat, this is what worked for me.

  1. Visit the HP site and download all of the drivers for the correct mode. NOTE: When I did this, the SATA drivers were included in the set of files. Installing this package failed for me.
  2. Install the HP drivers / software as directed
  3. Search for "Intel Graphic Media Accelerator 950" and review the links on the Intel site. Search for a page with both the video driver download and an "INF Update" utility.
  4. Install the video driver
  5. Run the "INF Update" program
  6. The SATA drivers downloaded from the HP site should now install without a problem. Install.
  7. Reboot
  8. Press F10 to enter the BIOS setup
  9. Go to the "System Configuration menu"
  10. Set "SATA Native Support" to enable
  11. Press F10 to Save and Exit
  12. Machine will reboot
  13. Verify the setup

Hopefully, this write up will save you (or myself, next time I need to do this) some time.