I got a new Dell Latitude D630 recently, and I wanted to try using Windows Vista to see if I could get my work done with it. The short story is, I can, and it’s actually pretty nice. But there’s more to it than that.
The laptop has 4GB of memory, which means I really want to run a 64-bit operating system on it, and Dell only sells 32-bit versions of Vista, in spite of the fact that it’s a 64-bit CPU with more memory than a 32-bit OS can reasonably handle. But I’ve got 64-bit media — also Vista Business — for my home machine, so I wanted to find a way to install that copy with the license that came with the machine.
Poking around on the Internet led me to a post on the NotebookReview forums, and to a tool called ABR — Activation Backup & Restore. I installed a clean version of the 32-bit Vista Business that came with the system, which is all activated and kosher, and then I ran ABR to backup the activation data to a USB memory key. Then I did another clean install of Vista Business using my existing 64-bit media, opting to give it no CD key during installation. Then, once it was up, I re-ran ABR to restore the activation data to the system, and now it’s flying like a kite.
The other problem I ran into is that I couldn’t find fully functional drivers for the touchpad. Synaptics provides some, but they don’t allow me to enable scrolling — which I love — or disable tap-to-click — which I hate. Some more poking around, this time on Dell’s site, led me to a download page for a driver for a different laptop. I decided to give it a go, and lo! It works!
I’ve now got a happy laptop, running a happy 64-bit version of a happy OS, with happy input devices. Maybe this information will help someone else. If not, then at least I’ll know where to find it if I have to format and reinstall again.