There's a right way and a wrong way to install Windows on a friend's PC or laptop, as our Helproom Expert explains.

QUESTION I installed Windows Vista on a friend's PC by installing his hard drive in my machine via DVI (I didn't have a spare VGA cable). All seemed well when I returned the drive to its correct home, but the PC boots as far as the Windows logo then enters a cycle of reboots. Autoschediastic

HELPROOM ANSWER During the installation process, Windows configures itself for the specific hardware on which it's being used. This means that only the device drivers and settings relevant to your machine would have been installed. It's unlikely that you're both running the same hardware, and if Windows can't find the drivers for key components such as the disk controller then it will be unable to read the hard drive correctly and crash.

The best solution would be to obtain the correct monitor cable and install the operating system directly on to your friend's PC. If you insist on completing the type of installation you describe, however, you need to use the Windows Automated Installation Kit. This is available as a free download from Microsoft.

Use the kit to create a generalised installation of Windows, which will configure itself the first time it starts up. It's the same method by which many new PCs allow you to set up users, networks and product keys the first time you turn them on. You can also use this kit to set up additional programs, which will be installed along with Windows.

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