Computer Tips and Tricks
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Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Configure Windows 7 64 Bit & Media Direct on Dell XPS M1530

Last year I treated myself to a nice new Dell XPS M1530 Laptop.

Specification: Intel Dual Core Duo 2 2 GB CPU, 2 GB of RAM, 250 GB HDD, 256 MB Graphics, Blue Tooth, Wireless, Finger print reader etc.

It came with the dreaded Windows Vista Home Premium 32 Bit. By this time I had already used Vista at work and was NOT a fan. It was slow and clunky, used way too many system resources and was full of annoying bugs.

Admittedly Vista Service Pack 1 did solve a few of these issues and Vista ran smoothly on the XPS M1530.

However 18 months later I got my hands on a copy of Windows 7. By this time I had upgraded to 4 GB of RAM (of which only 3.5 GB was used by 32 Bit Windows) and Vista had started to run slower than normal.

Bring on a nice new sparkling 500 GB 7200 rpm Seagate Momentous with 16mb Buffer Hard Drive (A bargain from Amazon.)

With 4 GB of RAM and nice new high speed HDD I was ready to venture in to the world of 64 Bit Windows 7.

I wont go through the installation of windows 7, as it is simple enough (just boot from the DVD.) However I did have one small issue with my Dell Configuration. The Dell XPS Laptops are shipped with "Dell Media Direct 3.3." This is a cyberlink product customised by dell to be a cut down version of Media Centre. This can be launched from within windows and can be booted in to from a powered down state via a second power switch. This enables you to boot in to Media Direct without booting windows so you can use your laptop as a music or video player. The trouble is in order to have Media Direct work in this fashion, your hard disk must be correctly prepared with a reserved 3 GB, hidden partition before you install any operating system.

After a little research on the Dell site I discovered this is far simpler than it sounds.

First I installed my new Hard Drive in to the system.
  • Removed the four screws from the bottom
  • Removed old Hard Drive
  • Removed Front plate from old Hard Drive (two more screws)
  • Fixed front plate to New Hard Drive
  • Inserted new Hard Drive in to the system
  • Replaced screws

Next step was to prepare the Hard Drive for Media Direct. To do this I booted from the Media Direct installation disk.

When the Media Direct Installation menu appeared I was given two options to partition the Hard Drive.

Option 1 on the menu was to use all of the hard drive for the operating system installation. This is the most common selection and is how the laptop was originally shipped, unless you specified an operating system partition size at the time you ordered your computer.

Option 2 is used if you wish to designate a size for your operating system and have a data partition.This will allow you to specify a size for the operating system partition, leaving the remainder of the hard drive configured as a “data” partition (D:).

I used Option 1. This process created separate sections on the hard drive. One for the Media Direct software to be installed after the Operating System is installed and one for the Operating System itself.

Once this was done, I exited the utility, removed the CD and placed my new Operating System disk in the drive. In my case Windows 7 64 Bit.

This installation took only about 20 to 25 minutes, I just had to remember to use the default selected partition (created by Media Direct) and the OS installed without any issues.

Once Windows 7 was installed I needed to finish off the Media Direct installation. Swapping install CDs once more I ran through the setup wizard from within Windows and let the it work its magic. It took a good 10 minutes to finish the installation and reboot my system. Upon launching Media Direct from within windows I was asked to update. This is a manual update and pulls an install file from the web to your hard drive. I saved it in my downloads folder and ran the executable. This installation only took a couple of minutes and had to reboot again. In order to finish the update, the laptop MUST then be powered down and rebooted using the Media Direct power switch.

There we have it, a basic install of Windows 7 64 Bit and Dell Media Direct 3.3, now upgraded to version 3.5.

Now to configure the new Windows installation:

Windows 7 is renowned for its abilities to find and install drivers. I was not disappointed. I recommend that you DO NOT install any drivers on the XPS until afetr you have run a FULL windows update. There are a few patches to install and drivers for the Wireless card, LAN card and the NVidia graphics card.

Only when all updates are installed do you need to install any missing drivers. Upon looking in System Device Manager I discovered that the SD Card reader and the Finger print reader (no surprise there) were the only hardware objects NOT installed.

Easily solved: contains drivers for the Dell XPS M1530. All you need to do is select 64 Bit Vista under operating system and download whatever you need. Although I found it to be unnecessary before I began I downloaded them all and burnt them to a CD, just in case I had driver issues with my LAN cards and couldn't get back out on the Internet straight away.

NOTE: The finger print reader drivers are best downloaded from the UPEK Website as they have Windows 7 64 Bit drivers and are more up to date than the Dell site. However you WILL need to pull down the Finger Print software (from dell) in order to configure the reader later on.

In addition to these I also installed the Mouse pad drivers, the Web Cam Application and Dell quick set Application. Everything else including the once elusive blue tooth drivers, were installed and working correctly.

One last thing. After installing the drivers, I rebooted the laptop and ran the Windows Rating wizard. Found by right clicking the Computer icon in the start menu and selecting Properties. Then clicking "System Rating is not available" link.

This enabled Aero and made use of my 256 MB Graphics as well as giving me a system rating (differs from the image above.)

All in all everything went smoothly and I highly recommend upgrading to Windows 7 64 Bit on the Dell XPS M1530. It's faster, fresher, more secure and has some great tools included. Including Hardware Virtualization.

Just remember to back up all of your personal files and make sure you have all the installation disks before you start.



Dan Voller said...

This will only set up Media-Direct within Windows7! But: You can NOT start your Laptop by pressing the Media-Direct button as you will get "NTLDR IS MISSING" screen. In that case, simply Power Off and hit again Media-Direct Button and then you can start Windows7. Only use the normal Power On switch to avoid that issue.
Windows 7 uses its own Bootmanager. The Dell Media Direct Install Disc assumes that you're going to install Vista...

Emalf said...

Actually Dan, No, this will set up Media-Direct "Outside" of Windows too.

This walk-through is a complete step by step of what I did to get Windows 7 and Media-Direct working together properly. Yes they use separate partitions as stated above, and use different Boot managers.

My Media-Direct Button boots Media-Direct, and the normal power button boots Windows.


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