Monday, 14 January 2008

Lenovo T61 Windows XP Downgrade Experience

We picked up three new Lenovo T61 from a client to prep them with their Line of Business (LoB) apps and for installation onto the client's SBS network.

The T61 comes with Windows Vista Business out of the box, so we were also going to downgrade them.

When we received the boxes, we did some research on the downgrade process. We erroneously picked up on some forum posts that indicated that we were required to call Lenovo to order the downgrade CDs.

This was, of course, before opening up the boxes and having a look at the contents! ;)

Lenovo support was very straight forward. After obtaining some product codes off of the box they sent us the CDs no questions asked.

When the disks arrived - all eight of them - we opened up the T61 boxes to have a look at the laptops. Originally we planned on making copies of the disks to enable us to run all three laptops at the same time. This was not necessary since we discovered that the laptops also came with their own copy of the recovery CD set.

The first thing we noticed was that the set that was sent to us by Lenovo were stamped "Recorded in the USA" as opposed to the set that came in the box with the T61s that was stamped "Recorded in Hong Kong".

Curiosity kill the cat ... :D

Okay ... so, is there a difference in the image contents too? Technically an image should be an image.

So, we downgraded two of the laptops using the in-the-box media (referred to as HKs) and one of the laptops via the media that came directly from Lenovo (referred to as USA).

The first difference was abrupt: After running Rescue & Recovery 3 via the first recovery disk on USA and starting the "recovery" process to factory defaults for the XP downgrade we were prompted to reboot the system to continue the process. The reboot happened without a problem. The HKs on the other hand both erred out on the reboot request in what seemed to be a disk format utility error. We were offered the following button options on the error dialogue: Cancel, Retry, and Ignore. On one we clicked Retry which hung the system indefinitely and required a hard reset (hold the power button for about 10 seconds). On the other we clicked Ignore which caused the machine to pause for about half a minute before rebooting itself and continuing the recovery process. No ill effect seemed apparent after this though.

Once the three laptops finished their post recovery initialization, they seemed to be the same desktop wise, but there were some initial subtle differences. The HKs would pop up OS information bubbles at the same time while the USA would not. There were a couple of post SBS domain Windows Update hiccups on the HKs where the USA seemed to accept the changes and run through the Windows Updates smoothly.

There were a number of other anomalies associated with the LoB apps too. The LoBs installed with little or no issue on the USA but set themselves up differently on the HKs which was really odd. We saw some errors out of the LoBs on the HKs that we have not seen in years from those particular applications.

When it came time to run the Lenovo built in software updates, all three were asking to download 1.6GB each or more! That, in and of itself, is pretty scary ... especially for those who are charged by the bit or in our client's case, have a small bandwidth Internet connection.

Also, keep in mind that two of the updates required by the Lenovo software are two Windows XP hotfixes that should be applied before adding the T61s to the SBS domain: Lenovo (& Others) XP Specific Updates: Hotfixes required via Product Support Services (previous blog post).

If the hotfixes are not applied before adding the T61s to the domain, one needs to log on to the unit as a domain admin before the hotfix will allow itself to be installed citing insufficient admin rights.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

*All Mac on SBS posts are posted on our in-house iMac via the Safari Web browser.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

can you please upload a image of the windows xp recovery cd for t61?i lost me please