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Is there a way to prevent Vista from auto installing drivers on boot? I'm trying to remove all drivers so I can replace the motherboard without having to reinstall windows.

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

The easiest and quickest way to do this is to go to start > run and type "sysprep"

This should open up the folder of c:\windows\system32\sysprep

Launch sysprep.exe

Under shutdown options, change reboot to shutdown and under system cleanup action you can either choose enter system audit mode (which allows you to pre install software) or Enter system out of box experience which will bring up the welcome screen when you first install windows.

Make sure you click the generalise button as this is what uninstalls ALL system drivers and re scans for them on your first boot.

I am a OEM and this is the program I use to prepare a image for deployment on many machines with different hardware.

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Lol I was just adding this info! Great find ;-) –  Ivo Flipse Aug 2 '09 at 17:39
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Check this article with a very good How to from Techspot (note it's for XP, but should work with Vista):

So you have had that Windows XP or 2000 install working very nicley over a year or more and it's only working as good as it ever is going to get with countless of tweaks and hundreds of installed applications and updates, all configured to your liking, next you decide to buy a new/other mainboard and start cyring over either having to do a clean install (the proper way) or a repair of your Windows installation (resetting your registry to default meaning most of your apps and config changes will no longer work...)

There is a better way, it's called Sysprep. It's real use is in big organizations where you can configure a system the way it must be to be able to work in your organization, then you run sysprep and it removes the machine specific drivers/settings allowing you to make a Ghost image of the install and push it out to thousands of different machines which will all be configured peoperly by the mini setup that Sysprep configures the machines to run on the next bootup... Well that is the theory anyway :D

We will use it in a similar way, but only on a single system...

1: Download all the latest drivers for your system, especially remember the LAN drivers since XP might not support it by default and then it will be difficult to download the rest of the drivers when you have no net connection ;)

2: Extract sysprep from your Windows install CD, it is under \support\tools\deploy.cab) to c:\sysprep (it can also be downloaded for XP (http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=7a83123d-507b-4095-9d9d-0a195f7b5f69&DisplayLang=en) or 2000 (http://www.microsoft.com/windows2000/downloads/tools/sysprep/default.asp).

3: Start Sysprep.exe choose Mini-Setup, PnP, and then Reseal. Your machine will shutdown when the process is completed.

4: Install your new mainboard and any other hardware, when you boot it up Windows should launch a mini setup wizard, similar to the normal 2000/XP install... The setup should prompt you for drivers it does not have, so lucky you that you downloaded them in step 1 :D


If that isn't for you try this:

You should indeed deinstall anything that's specific to your old motherboard, so it reduces the chances of a conflict.

Best thing would be to also disconnect any unnecessary hardware, reducing the chance of failure.

If you have an installation DVD you could just do a start-up repair and let Vista adjust itself to the new hardware.

Perhaps be sure to make a backup, so you can always restore when something goes wrong.

Note: Id always suggest to do a clean install when you switch hardware (especially your motherboard). Perhaps even a better solution would be to install the Windows 7 RC with the new motherboard and give that a try. But enough with the preaching and good luck! ;-)

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I was a tiny bit faster! - It has improved since 2000 / XP. In 2000 / XP, you needed the correct version as it changed in EVERY release, service pack and more -meaning if you installed from a XP SP1 professional cd, and upgraded to SP2, your SP1 sysprep for professional edition no longer works. With Vista, Sysprep is actually installed and is always the correct version as it gets updated with anything that is installed... Windows Vista has so many cool features like this, it is just ashame that they are for the System Admin and not visible / needed by the end user! –  William Hilsum Aug 2 '09 at 17:58
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