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Windows 7: Difficulty Installing Windows 7 on a Dell XPS 720

28 Oct 2009   #11

Windows 7 Professional


Gonna try this in a moment coupled with something else, will edit this bit when I'm done :)

Edit: Nope no cigar, monitor signal just dries up like always. The hardware seems to be fine, While I sort out this issue I'm dual booting just so I can still use the files from the other drives that are school related. T_T vista hurts...


I can't really do any of the tutorials since I'm still at the part where I'm supposed to setup my user account, password and computer name. Even if I did manage to make it past that without actually seeing what's going on I don't think I'd get far.


I did already remove the OEM reserved partition that Dell had hidden and tried and tried doing a clean install from there without success.


On a quick side note I tried downloading the video driver that dell provided for my machine onto my flash stick and tried executing the setup within the recovery console but that didn't work. Would there be a way to install the video driver before actually doing the bit where you make your profile, password and designate a computer name?

Edit 2: Or at the very least would I be able to force the generic video driver that comes with Windows 7 to initialize overriding the OEM video driver? As I have said before booting in safe mode seems fine as I'm able to see something happen (and get a dialog box telling me I can't finish the setup in safe mode) and since safe mode forces the generic driver I'm guessing that still works.

But then again I could be wrong somewhere since operating systems aren't exactly my forte. I've tried downgrading to XP Pro and changing to Linux in the past on this machine and I kept hitting the same roadblock. Couldn't even dual boot XP or Fedora forcing me to stick with vista...

My System SpecsSystem Spec
28 Oct 2009   #12
Microsoft MVP


Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by CoreFlood View Post
I did already remove the OEM reserved partition that Dell had hidden and tried and tried doing a clean install from there without success.
You tried to clean install booting from the Win7 installer?

That way you can delete any remaining partitions and create a new one to format.

Then there is no way Dell can be controlling what drivers you get, as you suspect.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
28 Oct 2009   #13

Windows 7 Professional

Well like I said operating systems were never my forte, maybe I'm misunderstanding greg.

Here's what I did:

Boot from disc
Chose the option under upgrade when it came up
Selected the partition I wanted, deleted it, created and formatted it
... completing installation
system reboots
enter darkness (i'm guessing the first bit of the initial setup and configuration starts here)


I realize I'm getting a little paranoid with the whole dell OEM video driver angle and I can't think of any where else they'd put it since I already wiped the entire drive including the OEM reserved partition but yeah running windows 7 in safe mode I can actually see what's going on up until the dialog box comes up telling me I can't do the setup in safe mode (I don't get that far booting normally). Reading around dell likes to leave hidden surprises (like the OEM partition) so I couldn't help but assume that another driver is preventing the windows generic video driver from working properly or for that matter even starting up.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

28 Oct 2009   #14
Microsoft MVP


So you booted the disk and didn't run it from the previous OS desktop? The only reason I ask again is because I believe you are saying you chose "upgrade" when you must mean "Custom" if you did the delete/create/format which assures you wiped the disk.

Can you call Dell's tech support? I am not familar with how good they are, but they should be able to tell you what these symptoms mean and maybe help you with a fix. Many manufacturers today will try to discourage doing a clean reinstall or Upgrade using clean install since they are pressured by sponsors to keep bloatware on the machines (which provides their profit margin). But I've heard Dell will continue to support clean installs and maybe even 7 upgrades, so it's worth a try.

Also, where did you get your Upgrade? If it is retail you are entitled to MS tech support. The number is on the disk. It can be as valuable as the price of the disk.

I also frequently call the Geek Squad, sometimes poll several locations. They always give me good tips and sometimes say "bring it over and I'll check it out for ya" which is always free if I can do the fix myself.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
28 Oct 2009   #15

Windows 7 Professional

I never really thought about setting up an operating system from the desktop to be honest. Anyway I did call Dell but wouldn't you know it my warranty expired last month >.> and I don't feel like renewing or spending the extra $50 bucks for a fix. I've tried their tech support before and to make things a little easier I even asked my cases in the past to be elevated and turned up dry. As I've said this isn't the first time I've tried installing another operating system and or dual booting on this machine in the past. So far Windows 7 is the only other operating system that I've been able to run along side the version of vista that came with the machine or for that matter is the only other operating system that I've been able to install onto this machine.

I picked up this copy of Windows 7 Pro from my colleges contract with Microsoft from the MSDN academic alliance servers. I've been able to use the complete W7 Pro for the past 3-4 months but am only installing it now because I didn't have another hard drive with enough space to backup this one computer (2TB+ worth)

As for Geek Squad... I'll be good and won't say anything more...
My System SpecsSystem Spec
28 Oct 2009   #16
Microsoft MVP


Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by CoreFlood View Post
... what I've managed to conclude is that Dell likes to use it's own generic driver for video display rather than use the Windows Standard VGA Compatible Driver that should start up by default.

The reason why I've come to this conclusion is because I tried booting the new install in safe mode and I could actually see the initial setup page. Of course you can't do the post install settings in safe mode so I couldn't go any further.

My question for you guys, is there any way for me to disable the Dell OEM drivers that like to start overriding the generic drivers that come with windows? And if so how?
So if the disk was entirely wiped, how would Dell be providing any drivers as you suspected?

The drivers would all have to be in the installer or delivered by Updates. Unless you provided some during or after the install process.
Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by CoreFlood View Post
I picked up this copy of Windows 7 Pro from my colleges contract with Microsoft from the MSDN academic alliance servers.
You should have MS tech support. The number is on the disk. They might be able to help.

And before I'd put down a simple phone call running it by the Geek Squad, I'd remember that I'm staring at a blank screen. There are times when I use my speed dial to poll the Geek Squad and after 3 calls I've got my fix.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 Oct 2009   #17

Windows 7 Professional

The copy I picked up from the servers were iso files so I don't have a phone number that I can call that came with the disc. I'll review the alliance site when I get to class tomorrow (I can only access it from within the colleges network) But I don't really think this is really a problem that relates to Microsoft or anything like that. I can't help but stare at dell, I know someone that used to work for Dell tech support and not from the... "special" department but from the department where you can actually get results. He has mentioned that due to policy they can't disclose certain information to customers. An example of this is at their BIOS releases for their motherboards, the only thing they tell you about the latest release is that it can now "support new intel cpus". Loads of information eh? That was taken from their website under "Fixes and Enhancements". Again last time I called them about something when my warranty was still active I made no progress despite many phone calls regarding the same issue.

I can't help but think with the inability to even downgrade the machine Dell added something extra that prevents it. I distinctly remember when I ran the install it kept crapping out on the file verification before the OS install even happened but when I tried it on another machine it worked like normal. Another reason why I'm so set on Dell forcing their own OEM driver to override the windows generic. Safe mode will force the generic and safe mode for the thing does work but I can't do anything with it because it tells me that I can't do the "Setting up the computer for first use" setup bit in safe mode, when I boot it normally I get the dead monitor.

Again maybe I'm just acting a little paranoid but bear with me I've been pulling out my hair over this machine for a while and getting a new one right now is tempting it isn't an option for me. I will say this though, last time I ever buy anything from Dell... ever....

I'll consider Geek Squad but I'd prefer to keep it last resort, I might give up before then. Really not comfortable dealing with people where I've had friends who was tearing out his hair trying to remove a virus without reformatting go to Geek Squad to have it removed only to find they just turned it off and left it there... Something he already did himself... I'm not sure how Geek Squad is in the US but in Canada they're not very good >.>
My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 Oct 2009   #18
Microsoft MVP


Possibly feeding to another monitor port? Check this out: Black Screen w/Installation

I don't take my computers to the Geek Squad. I use them like I run questions by the tech boards, to poll and get information until I find a fix. I found that if I post a problem on tech boards, in the time it takes to get my answer, I can call 2-3 Geek Squads, ask a tech if I can run a quick question by them like "What could cause a Dell to freeze at the Startup screen after install, tried reinstalling 3 times," I get several possibilities and sometimes strike paydirt with something like "Oh they have a BIOS block on that model, you have to do this...."

This is the kind of casual approach I would take with Dell, coaxing them into revealing whether they support 7 on that machine, that you are just thinking about doing it, is there a way to do it... If they say they don't support 7, verify that the warranty is still good for hardware, and whether you need to put Vista back on for that. You could even call back and pose the problem as though you have Vista on there. I sometimes call them back 3 times before I find someone who will help me, perhaps someone with a completely different mood or personality than the one before. I always get what I need.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 Oct 2009   #19

Windows 7 Professional

Hmm I don't think it should default to the two monitor setup but I'll give it a try in the morning and let you guys know. It's 1:30am and I have to be up in 4 hours :P

If anyone knows how I'd still like to try installing the actual nvidia driver that dell "approves" of via the recovery console if it's possible.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 Oct 2009   #20

W8 Pro, W7 Ultimate, XP Pro x64, Vista x64, Ubuntu

A couple more questions.
What BIOS version are you on? A06 is the latest for the XPS 720 and there have been a couple "Urgent" BIOS updates since the computer was released. It's generally recommended to always use the latest BIOS revision.

Have you made use of the beep codes and diagnostic lights (Dell Troubleshooting XPS 720 link: Documentation)

Did you try removing and reseating the video card?

Do you still have the Dell Diagnostics partition? If you do, have you run the hardware diagnostics (tap F12 at boot if you still have the diags partition)? If you deleted the diags partition, you can create a bootable CD or bootable USB flash drive with the diagnostics from this link: Drivers & Downloads
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Difficulty Installing Windows 7 on a Dell XPS 720

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