I've just had a frustrating few days trying to downgrade 4 Dell Latitude E6500 laptops to XP. The problem was, whenever you booted to the XP cd you would get to the point just before you agree to the license and then hit a blue screen with a SATA error code. It seems that the bundled driver for the SATA storage controller incorrectly identifies it and causes a fatal error as it's loaded.
The solution is fairly specific and needs to be done exactly in the order prescribed below. You will need a USB floppy drive, and a blank floppy disk.
- Firstly, go to Dell's support website and select the downloads for your E6500 laptop (if you enter your service tag, you might find that there are no XP downloads available -use the product select instead).
- Download the LATEST BIOS – at the point of writing that's A11.
- Also download the Intel Matrix Storage Manager Driver.
- Plug in your USB floppy, insert the disk and format it. Extract the storage manager driver, and then copy the extracted files onto the floppy. Unplug the floppy
- Now run the BIOS update, follow the on-screen instructions, let it reboot and flash your BIOS.
- Reboot, and on the BIOS screen, hit F2 to enter into the BIOS setup.
- Move down to System Configuration, then SATA operation. Make sure it's set to IRRT.
- Move through the BIOS and disable Parallel, Serial, and any other devices that aren't needed. Switch the NIC to Disabled. Also go down to Miscellaneous Devices and ensure USB and the Modular bay (i.e. CD/DVD) are enabled. Disable everything else.
- Plug in your USB floppy, and insert the floppy containing the drivers from earlier. Also put your Windows XP install CD in the CD/DVD drive. Save your BIOS changes and then reboot.
- On the BIOS screen, hit F12 to bring up the one time boot menu. Select your CD/DVD ROM device.
- *IMPORTANT* The blue windows installer screen will come up and you have a few seconds to hit F6 to specify that you want to use a 3rd party driver for storage.
- Once you've hit it, wait for the next screen, which will be asking for your driver. Hit S and specify the Intel SATA driver needed. There were 4 drivers in the list for my laptops, trial and error will find the right one. It should say that Windows already has a driver for that device – do you want to use the new one? Well of course you do, the old one blue screens. Hit S to accept it and at the next screen, hit ENTER to continue.
- After that, it's plain sailing – just don't forget to enable all of your devices once you've installed XP!!!