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Switching from Vista to XP: the truth

Warts and all guide to ditching Vista

We show you how to move back from Windows Vista to Windows XP - without glossing over the tricky bits. We show you how to transfer your Vista email, contacts and user data back to the old standby operating system.

Here's the step-by-step:

  1. In Vista, save your email repository to a safe place on another partition or drive before you install or overwrite Vista with XP. Find the repository in: C:\Users\Username\AppData\Local\Microsoft\WindowsMail\ Local Folders (Username is your user name). You can redirect the repository to another location by using the Tools, Options, Advanced, Maintenance, Store Folder function, or you can export in Mail format to another location. I recommend the latter (or both).
  2. After you've installed XP, open Outlook Express, open an Explorer window pointed to the safe location you copied the .eml files to, select them, then drag and drop them to the folder in OE where you want them. As I mentioned, you must recreate the folders yourself.

The above method works, but I have over 250 folders into which I sort email or have archived for particular projects, so I really, really wanted a better way. Since I had Office 2007 with Outlook (any recent version of Office Outlook will do), I hit on the idea of importing the messages into Outlook from Mail under Vista, then transferring them back from Outlook to Outlook Express in XP. It's a slightly convoluted process, but it requires no tedious labor and works like a charm.

The procedure goes thusly:

  1. In Vista, use Outlook's Data Management dialog box to create a new.pst data file, make it your default, and then import the messages (not addresses) from Mail. Make sure you save the resulting .pst file to a separate partition that won't be overwritten when you reinstall XP.
  2. In XP, install Outlook and use it to open the .pst file you created in Vista and make it the default.
  3. Fire up Outlook Express, choose Import, and select the Outlook option; you should now be good to go.

If you're wondering why I don't use Office Outlook for my email, I have two reasons: first, Outlook Express is simple, it's extremely efficient, and I'm used to it. The other reason is that the Office version of Outlook allows only one set of contacts, which I use for the much smaller group of family, friends, and colleagues that I sync to my smart phone.

And yes, I tried installing Outlook Express on Vista, but all the OE self-installers I possessed bailed after notifying me that a newer version (Windows Mail) was already installed.

  1. Switching from Vista to XP: Warts and all guide
  2. Switching from Vista to XP: How about dual booting?
  3. Switching from Vista to XP: The mail mess
  4. Switching from Vista to XP: Windows Mail migration, step by step
  5. Switching from Vista to XP: Time for Your XP Install


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