Saturday, March 18, 2017

Upgrading an Aging XPS M1210 to Windows 7

Don't throw that aging laptop away!  I upgraded mine to WIN7 for only $57.00!

A Beloved Machine

I have been using my DELL XPS M1210 for at about 10 years now.  I like it.  Here's what it looks like:

Perfidious Vendor

But I have a problem.  The operating system running on my DELL XPS M1210 is Windows XP.  Recently, certain vendors (Dropbox) have stopped supporting Windows XP.  Because Dropbox is crucial to my business, I have been given no choice.  I must upgrade.

The Upgrade

So I went online and found a China-based purveyor of Windows licenses, who sold me an OEM version of Windows 7 for $40.00.  At the same time, I bought a RAM upgrade from a different vendor, who charged me $17.00 for 2 x 2Gb RAM (DDR2/667Mhz/5300), which is the kind of memory that is compatible with the DELL XPS M1210:


Here's what the 2Gb SODIMM RAM sticks looked like.  I received two of them.

Here's the bottom of the DELL XPS M1210:

Here's the DELL XPS M1210 with the RAM cover removed:

Here's the DELL XPS M1210 with the 2Gb SODIMM installed:

Here's what the removed 1Gb SODIMM looked like:

Here's what Windows XP says about having 3Gb of RAM installed:

Here's what the DELL XPS M1210 looked like with the top bezel removed:

Here's what the DELL XPS M1210 looked like with the keyboard flipped forward:

Here's what the DELL XPS M1210 looked like with the internal 1Gb SODIMM removed:

Here's what the DELL XPS M1210 looked like with the internal 2Gb SODIMM installed:

Here's what the DELL XPS M1210 BIOS says about having 2 x 2Gb SODIMM installed:

Here's what Windows XP says about its having 4Gb of RAM installed.  Unfortunately it can only address 3.25Gb of RAM due to the architecture of the onboard 32-bit memory controller and RAM allocated for video memory.

Here's the Windows 7 license I bought for $44.00

Here's the Windows 7 activation key...

...which worked!

Installing Windows 7

Here's how the Windows 7 the installation process went on the DELL XPS M1210.

First, I inserted the CD-ROM...

 ...and rebooted the machine.  After pressing <space> to boot the DVD, here's what I saw:

I clicked on Next:

I clicked on Install now:

Setup started:

I accepted the Microsoft Software License terms:

 I accepted the default partition scheme:

 The Windows7 installation proceeded as expected...

 And proceeded...

and proceeded...

...and eventually asked for a restart:

After another restart and status screens, I was asked to confirm my timezone, the date and the time. Once all of that was done, I was presented with a Windows 7 desktop:

There was only one hitch during the installation, and it happened post-installation.  

For whatever reason, Windows 7 told me that I had supplied an invalid activation code during the installation process.  I found this out by right clicking on My Computer and choosing Properties.  At the bottom of the Properties screen I looked at the Activation Status where I saw that I had been given a three day grace period to activate the machine. I clicked on the Activate Now link, entered the activation code that was printed on my OEM Windows 7 packaging, and after a while the magical seal of approval appeared:

Overall, the installation process went smoothly and without surprises, except for the activation hiccup, which was easily finalized.  

The DELL XPS M1210 works just fine with Windows 7.  Windows 7 will be supported by Microsoft until 2020.  If you amortize my hardware and software investments over the period of time until Microsoft stops supporting Windows 7, I will have paid just under $20.00 a year until I will have no choice but to upgrade once again.  At that point, I will switch to a 64-bit machine and a 64-bit operating system (happily) because I will have extracted all of the value possible from my beloved, but aging DELL XPS M1210.  If I upgrade earlier than that, I will have a spare machine in my DELL XPS M1210, as an insurance policy against unforseen circumstances, for less than $2.00 a month.


UPDATE (2017-03-19):   The webcam does not work.  I have learned from online sources that Windows Vista drivers might work under windows, so now it's a matter of hunting down 32-bit drivers that will work on my Windows 7 implementation.  I tried to download drivers from the DELL website, but they both told me that I was trying to install 64-bit drivers in a 32-bit environment.  What that means is hunting down drivers from a different vendor, or simply doing without that particular device.

UPDATE (2017-03-29):  I found the hard disk performance on the machine a bit slow, so I installed a SANDISK 120Gb SSD that I got on Amazon for $53.00, bringing the total upgrade cost to $110.00.  Here's the unit I installed:



  1. tu procesador es X64 compatible con sistemas a 64 bits y hoy en dia tambien puedes instalar windows 10

    Es posible adaptarle tarjeta grafica externa gracias a pci express
    Es posible adaptarle un disco duro solido

    los chinos te vendieron una memoria la cual no es kingston kingstone lleva impresa la marca en los chips y ese sticker se ve dudoso, aun asi es bueno que funcione

    tambien puedes instalar mas de un sistema operativo como por ejemplo linux o android

    bonita notebook Saludos

  2. Appreciate your tutorial. I've recently bought a Dell M1210,and put Linux Peppermint on it,with SSD,4gb,& ram. She's happy. I like the ease of changing hard drive in these,over having to tear the dang thing apart.