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The little Notebook that could, again!


I was excited when I was able to repartition (thank you Parted Magic) the hard drive on my Fujitsu P7010 Lifebook several months back and install the  first Windows 8 Preview. While a little buggy with the dual-boot thing and getting audio/video to work on my relic, it was still refreshing to know that I might not have to delegate my little friend to eBay at a rock bottom “collectors” price.

So when the second (current) Windows 8 Release Preview became available, I was equally disappointed when the Win 8 Installer advised that my CPU was not compatible with this new version. Disappointed, but not surprised. Although my Lifebook met minimum specs; 1 GHz CPU (1.2Ghz actually) and 1GB RAM, I was a bit concerned about the Direct X9 thing along with this new BIOS requirement. You see, my Lifebook is no youngster. Actually, I purchased it on 12/17/03, nearly 9 years ago. In tech age, a true dinosaur. At $1,379 and with its impressive specs for the time, it was a marvel of a machine. It was never, what I would call zippy. But it got the job done.

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Fast forward to this past week. In preparation for Windows 8, I decided to repartition one of the Compaq workstations at the office to see if our Pentium 4 – 3Ghz XP machines would work with the new OS. Yes it did, and quite well I might say. I did the same to my desktop workstation the next day and ran Win 8 only, the rest of the week, only needing to boot to XP one time to check a configuration setting.


With all this Windows 8 excitement running through me I really wanted to know if my 2004 MPC (home) Desktop, also a Pentium 4 – 3GHz XP machine would accept a Win 8 install. Started with Part Magic but as my machine was configured with a RAID Controller and two 80GB drives merged into one, it would have no part of it. I wasn’t prepared to try a complete fresh install as I hadn’t started cleaning up/backing up my old machine in preparation for the new OS. I decided to try a W8  Install from within Windows and stop it “before” the install started. As I had feared, I got the, “your CPU is incompatible message”, meaning my BIOS was probably outdated. Decided to do one more search for a fresher BIOS and found it on Intel’s site. Crossed my fingers and started the EXE. Computer rebooted and I got a “disc drive can’t be found” message on a black screen. Not sure what happened (surely something to do with the RAID thing) but every attempt to read either drive or format them while connected to another machine failed. As did any attempt to install Win 8 or use my recovery discs.  After all the attempts, I called it at 8:07 PM on 10/11/12. My MPC was dead.

Back to the Lifebook. About a month ago the machine froze up (did I mention the dual boot thing was not working perfectly) so I reformatted and reinstalled the original XP build (took about 5GB of updates to get XP current). While playing with my MPC, I decided to give Win 8 another try on my Lifebook. Since the rebuild, there was nothing on the machine so I didn’t have anything to lose. I tried doing an install from within XP and got two errors, “your CPU is incompatible” and “your CPU does not meet minimum requirements”. Ok, I understood the first one had to do with the BIOS thing, but I have a 1.2GHz CPU. What’s with the minimum requirement error. When I checked System Info my machine was reporting a 600KHz processor. How did that happen! It was 1.2 GHz last week. Maybe somebody smarter than can can explain how an Intel Centrino can report half its speed. Don’t think they were doing dual core in 2003.

Anyway, I said what the heck. Let me try a fresh install. I really wanted to see if I got the same message. So I rebooted the machine, Windows 8 started installing and, to my surprise, it worked! Don’t know what changed but I am a happy camper. My 9 year old machine is now booting up in less than 15 seconds (the dual boot thing would take 45 to 90 seconds at least). IE 10 is a pure joy (IE 8 on this machine was sluggish as hell) and the whole machine is zippier. Not a single error message since doing the install this past Tuesday. And audio/video works perfectly. Win 8 enthusiasm aside, I believe this 2003 P7010 Lifebook is running better than it ever has. Honestly. Thank you Microsoft. It will be well worth a $39.00 Upgrade.

Actually, as my desktop is dead, I am writing this article, taking screen shots, and editing photos from my relic. Sure, its not the fastest fish in the pond and now has specs equal to a $279 Netbook, but that’s a few hundred dollars I don’t have to spend any time soon to have a very usable Notebook in my bag when I need it. Oh, and speaking of desktops, I pre-ordered a Windows 8 –  ASUS CM6830 – i7-3770 3rd Gen 3.4GHz with 8GB RAM and  1TB HD. That should keep me current for a while. I take possession of it on 10/26/12, the same day I pickup my SurfaceRT. It’s gonna be a hell of a day.

So what’s the moral of the story. Never give up. Blow the dust off that old XP, or buggy Vista, machine and load up Windows 8. A $40 hard drive and $39 Win 8 upgrade might just give your dinosaur a new life. Somebody could use it.