Article ID : 00009010 / Last Modified : 06/08/2015

How to downgrade to the Windows XP operating system using a retail Windows XP installation disc.

Applicable Products and Categories of This Article

WARNING: There is a risk of data loss. The very nature of a clean installation requires that the hard drive be completely formatted (erased) before the operating system is installed. For that reason, to avoid the loss of personal data, a backup procedure should be performed before proceeding with the clean installation.


  • This procedure requires a retail Windows® XP installation disc and is generally referred to as a clean installation of the operating system.
  • If the computer requires a SATA/RAID driver, you must use a Windows XP installation disc that includes Service Pack 2 (SP2) or higher. The notes in step A will help you determine if you need a SATA/RAID driver.
  • To perform a clean installation of the Windows XP operating system, your computer must meet the minimum hardware requirements.
  • Download and install all of the appropriate Windows XP operating system drivers before performing this procedure.
  • Not all computers will have all the components listed here. Refer to the hardware specifications for your model for information regarding the installed components.

Additional Requirements:

  • Internet Connection
  • USB Floppy Drive
  • Blank Floppy Disk

Step A - Creating a Intel® SATA/RAID Driver Disc:

IMPORTANT: If your computer does not require a SATA/RAID driver, please proceed to Step B.


  • If you are not sure whether or not your computer shipped with a SATA drive or included a RAID configuration, and therefore are not sure if you will need the SATA/RAID driver, consult the Marketing Specifications for your computer model. Manuals are posted on your model support page.
  • If you purchased a Configure-To-Order model computer, the Bill Of Materials listed on the computer purchase receipt will include information as to whether or not your computer shipped with a SATA drive or included a RAID configuration.
  1. To ensure that no other program interferes with the installation, save all work and close all other programs. The Taskbar should be clear of applications before proceeding.
  2. Ensure the USB Floppy Disk Drive is connected to the computer.
  3. Insert the blank Floppy Disc into the USB Floppy Disk Drive.
  4. Download the SATA/RAID drivers for your computer model. Downloads are posted on your model support page.


    • Make note of the directory where the SATA/RAID driver was saved.
    • Since the instructions on how to create the SATA/RAID driver floppy disk may vary slightly by computer model, check the instructions on the model specific driver download Web page to see if they include other steps that those listed below.
  5. Open the directory where the SATA/RAID driver was saved and double-click the SATA/RAID driver file icon to begin the installation process.
  6. Follow the on-screen instructions to extract the driver files to the Floppy Disk (A:\) Drive.
  7. At the WinZip Self-Extractor prompt, click Unzip.

    NOTE: By default the utility unzips all files to the blank Floppy Disc in the USB Floppy Disk Drive.

  8. At the 6 file(s) unzipped successfully prompt, click OK, and then click Close.

    The Intel SATA/RAID Driver files are now ready for use in performing an installation of the Windows XP operating system.

Step B - Downloading the Sony® VAIO® Drivers Main Components (Chipset, Network, Wireless, Video, Audio, Bluetooth, Camera, Memory Card Reader/Writer, Memory Stick, Modem, Sony Shared Library, Notebook Control Device, Notebook Utilities)

  1. Access all drivers on the Sony eSupport website. Downloads are posted on your model support page.
  2. Download all the appropriate drivers and save them to either removable media (CD, DVD, or Flash), or to a hard drive other than the one you are using for the operating system clean install procedure.
    • Chipset - The Chipset driver allows the motherboard to communicate with other hardware devices.
    • Network - The Network driver will enable connection to other devices (E.G. Routers, Notebooks, Modem).
    • Wireless LAN - This will enable Wireless connection with other devices (E.G. Routers, Notebooks).
    • Video - The Video driver will enable the user to obtain improved display and resolution quality.
    • Audio - The Audio driver will enable the notebook speakers to have sound.
    • Bluetooth - The Bluetooth® driver will enable the user to use the Bluetooth to connect to other devices.
    • Camera - The Camera Driver will allow the user to use the Camera that is built-in to the computer.
    • Memory Stick - The Memory Stick® Driver will allow the user to use memory cards (E.G. SD Card).
    • Memory Card Reader/Writer - The Memory Card Reader/Writer will enable the user to use external memory cards (E.G. SD/MMC)
    • Modem - Allows the user use a dial-up connection.
    • Sony Shared Library - The Sony Shared Library allows other Sony applications (Notebook Utilities) to function correctly.
    • Notebook Control Device - This program installs essential system components that enable Sony utilities to run properly.
    • Sony Notebook Utilities - The Notebook Utilities driver will install the VAIO software component that may allow some functionality for the FUNCTION key.

      NOTE: There may be some limitation of the function keys. Please read the disclaimer for each driver download.

Step C - Installing the Windows XP operating system:

  1. Turn on the computer.
  2. Insert the Windows XP Disk into the CD/DVD drive.
  3. Restart the computer.
  4. When the words Press any key to Boot from CD appear, press any key on the keyboard.
  5. If the computer requires a SATA/RAID driver please proceed with this procedure. If the computer does not require SATA/RAID driver please proceed to step 6.
    1. In the Windows Setup screen (the second screen after installation starts), at the Press F6 if you need to install a third party SCSI or RAID driver message (bottom of the screen), press the F6 key.
    2. When the next screen appears, press the S key to specify an additional device.
    3. Insert the floppy disk containing the SATA/RAID drivers into the floppy disk drive.

      IMPORTANT: Leave the floppy disk drive connected to the computer with the floppy disk inserted throughout the entire Windows XP installation procedure.

    4. From the provided list, select the Intel® ICH Driver.


      • The proper SATA/RAID driver will be displayed under the Hard Drive tab on the Sony eSupport USA page specific for your model.
      • There are normally more than 8 SATA/RAID drivers on the list. If your driver is not on the list, please use the UP and DOWN arrow keys to locate the proper SATA/RAID driver.
    5. The SATA/RAID drivers will now load.
    6. At the Setup will load support for the following mass storage device(s) prompt, press the Enter key to continue.

      IMPORTANT: If a Blue Screen occurs after you press the Enter key, then an incorrect SATA/RAID driver was selected. If this occurs, repeat Steps a through d and select the correct SATA/RAID driver.

  6. The installation program will check your hardware, install default-set drivers, and load files necessary for installation. When the Welcome to Setup screen appears, Press the ENTER key to begin the installation process.
  7. Read the License Agreement, and then press F8 key to indicate you agree to the terms.

    NOTE: If a prompt appears asking if you want to repair your computer, press the ESC key to avoid the Repair (ESC=Do not Repair).

  8. On the next screen there will be a summary of the available partitions on the installed hard drives. At this point, you should see only one entry, Un-partitioned Space highlighted in gray. Press C on your keyboard to begin creating partitions for the drive.

    IMPORTANT: If you do not see Un-partition Space then you will need to perform the following steps:

    1. Use the UP and DOWN arrow keys to highlight the C: drive.
    2. Press the D key to delete the partition (D=Delete Partition)
    3. At the The Partition you tried to delete is a system partition screen, press the Enter key.
    4. At the You asked Setup to delete the partition screen, press the L key to delete the partition.
    5. Continue to the next step.
  9. Enter the maximum size in megabytes for the new partition.
  10. The system will create your new partition, and you will now be at the partition summary screen once again. Select your new partition, usually labeled C: Partition 1 [Raw] and press the ENTER key.
  11. Select either Format the Partition using the NTFS File System or Format the Partition using the FAT File System, and then press the ENTER key.

    IMPORTANT: NTFS is the preferred method, supporting a larger amount of disk space per partition than FAT, and including security features at the file system level. NTFS also includes system level compression. If your partition is larger than 32 Gigabytes, you must choose NTFS. However, with a partition less than 32 Gigabytes, you can choose FAT, and convert to NTFS later should you desire. Be aware that NTFS cannot be converted back to FAT.

    NOTE: It is highly recommended to avoid the Quick Format option, as this skips an important process that checks the hard drive for errors or bad sectors. This scan is what consumes the majority of the time taken when performing a full format. If there are errors on a disk at the physical level, it's best to catch them now rather than later.

  12. The system will now format the partition. The length of time this process requires depends on the speed and size of the drive, and the type of file system selected earlier. In most cases, the larger the partition, the longer the process will take.
  13. Windows will now start copying files from the installation disc and prompt you to reboot the computer when the process is completed. Press the ENTER key when prompted to restart the computer, otherwise it will do so automatically after 15 seconds.
  14. When the computer restarts, do not press the ENTER key to boot from the disc this time. This will allow the computer to boot from the hard drive.
  15. The setup program will display various marketing information to you as it installs and configures itself to your system. The estimated time remaining is displayed in the lower left corner.

    NOTE: It is normal for the screen to flicker, turn on and off, or resize during this process.

  16. A dialog window will appear, asking you to choose your Regional settings. Select appropriate settings native to your area. Click the Next button when that is completed.
  17. Enter in your Name and Organization then click the Next button.
  18. When prompted, enter the Product Key (also known as the CD Key or Install Key), and then click the Next button.

    NOTE: You will not be able to complete the process without a valid Product Key.

  19. At the Computer Name and Administrator Password prompt, you have an option to create a password for the Administrator Account or leave it blank. When finished, click the Next button.
  20. Select the appropriate time zone and ensure that the date and time are correct, then click the Next button.
  21. At the Typical Settings screen, unless you have a specialized access device or protocol required, leave the selection as Network Setup.
  22. At the Workgroup or Computer Domain screen, choose whether your computer is in a workgroup or on a domain, and then click the Next button.
  23. Setup will continue to install other devices and peripherals connected to your machine, give you marketing and capability information, then restart automatically.
  24. Remove the CD from the drive.
  25. Upon restart, when prompted that Windows will be changing your visual settings to improve quality, click the Yes button.
  26. At the Welcome to Microsoft Windows screen, click the Next button.
  27. At the Help Protect your PC screen, choose either Help Protect my PC by turning on Automatic Updates now or Not right now, and then click the Next button.

    IMPORTANT: Sony highly recommends that you choose Help Protect my PC by turning on Automatic Updates now.

  28. At the Who will use this computer screen, create a User Name, and then click the Next button.


    • The Computer Name must be different for each computer connected to the network.
    • The Computer Name must be alphanumeric, may not exceed 15 characters, and may not include the following characters: ! # $ @ % & ' ) . ( - ^ _ { }
    • The Computer Name must begin with a letter of the alphabet.
  29. At the Thank you screen, click the Finish button.
  30. The Windows XP installation is complete.
  31. Install the required component drivers from the removable media or hard drive to which you previously saved them.

    IMPORTANT: Unless noted otherwise, please install the Video, Audio, Sony Shared Library and Notebook Control Device driver before installing the Notebook Utilities.