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Windows Vista + Intel Haswell issues: Documentation


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Originally posted 05/2018


The purpose of this post is to document the problems with running Microsoft Windows Vista (as well as Windows Server 2008) on the Intel Haswell (and newer) platform(s), as I feel that this issue has not been clearly documented elsewhere, and as a result is quite unknown. The issues outlined in this post have been consistent for me and other users across all Intel Haswell, Skylake, Kaby Lake, and Coffee Lake machines on which we have tested Windows Vista, so I know that this problem is not a result of user error or any wrongdoing on mine or any other user's part. In addition to myself, @burd, @98SE, @11ryanc, @AnX, and @dork have each tested Windows Vista on at least one of the aforementioned Intel platforms and the results were generally the same.


Before installing Windows Vista on an Intel Haswell (or newer) machine, you'll need to first disable secure boot and UEFI boot mode in favor of Legacy mode. After doing this, upon attempting to install Windows Vista, you may find that the installer will not load, and your system remains stuck at a black screen with a cursor. This is normal behavior, and it can only be circumvented by repeatedly resetting your system until the installer finally loads. If you're installing from a USB flash drive, you'll also need to be sure to have it plugged in to a USB 2.0 port. If your system doesn't have one, you'll have to install Windows Vista from an optical disc drive.

Post-installation - Intermittent failed boot attempts and system instability:

After installing Windows Vista, you will likely encounter the following error on the first system boot attempt, just before the start-up "Orb" animation would normally appear:


If you do not see this error right away, try restarting your system repeatedly until it occurs (it WILL occur eventually). Sometimes you can click OK, and your system will continue to boot anyway. When this occurs, your system will likely boot into a nearly unusable state, as many system services will have failed to start. The ones I saw most often were Windows Defender and Windows Audio. There is no way to start these services manually other than to restart your computer.
In most cases, however, your system will simply hang at a black screen with a cursor after you click OK, forcing you to hard-reset your system.

Sometimes your system will appear to boot normally (with no visible errors), but once the "Welcome" screen disappears, your system hangs on a black screen. In most cases, you'll have to manually open Task Manager via Ctrl+Alt+Del, and start the Explorer.exe process manually. Once your desktop loads, many system services will have more than likely failed to start.


In conclusion, at the current time there's no known way to get these problems to stop occurring, other than to simply use Intel Sandy or Ivy Bridge, which are the last platforms from Intel to properly support Windows Vista. Despite Intel releasing chipset drivers for Vista on Haswell, installing them has no effect on these problems. If anyone has any insight on how to potentially fix these problems to allow Vista users to run their preferred OS on Intel Haswell (and newer), please feel free to let me know. 

*Just to clarify, these problems do not affect AMD's Ryzen platform, as @greenhillmaniac has tested Vista on this platform with great success. This is another option to consider if you're still using older hardware with Vista and want to upgrade your hardware, but not your OS.*

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