Installing Windows Vista x64 on a ThinkPad T61p

windows vista ult Here are my notes on how I install Windows Vista Ultimate x64 to a Lenovo ThinkPad T61p.  There are a number of features present in Windows Vista I do not install or use.  Therefore, you will need to make changes to the procedures where applicable for things like BitLocker partitioning, domain joins, etc.  The focus of the following notes are to have a machine that will run lean and mean, allow for access to Microsoft's corporate network via VPN, and be the starting point for application installs.

The reason you see me disable a number of features below is to free up resources for the virtual machine environments I run.  You can certainly experiment with some of the adjustments I make below and decide for yourself. 


You will of course need media.  I use the Windows Vista Ultimate retail media.  I also set a few BIOS setting the way I prefer.  Here’s the setting preferences I have:

Config | Display | Brightness = High

Config | Serial ATA = AHCI

Config | CPU | Intel Virtualization = Enabled

Although I am recommending the AHCI setting above, please note there is a bug associated with that setting if using an Ultrabay hard drive adaptor and second hard drive.  In that situation until the bug is fixed, you must flip the Serial ATA setting to Compatibility and add the second hard drive to the boot order of the machine.  If you don't, you will see one or more bugs we've already identified and reported to Lenovo.  They are working on BIOS fixes at present.


I use retail media for all of my installs.  I want to see what you see.  The following installation is based on the full Windows Vista Ultimate DVD kit.  I am of course using the x64 disk and product key that comes with it.

  1. Boot the T61p from the Vista DVD.
  2. Answer the language question.
  3. Do not enter a product key.  Turn off auto activation.  The reason is simple.  You have 30 days to see if the applications you want to use work.  I already have a pretty good list started.  You can extend the evaluation period if you get in a bind at the end of the 30 days.  This should however give you plenty of time to evaluate your printers, applications, etc.
  4. Select the Ultimate sku when prompted.  Answer yes to the “I have selected..” question.
  5. Accept license terms.
  6. Click Custom for the type of installation.  It’s your only choice.  This is a "clean" install.
  7. Partition your drive appropriately.  I use the entire drive and don’t currently use Bitlocker.
  8. After installation is complete when you are prompted, specify a userid and blank password.  A password will be added later.
  9. After you get logged in, you’ll have wired but no wireless networking.  That will be solved in the next section on downloads.


I only install a small subset of all of the available drivers and software for the T61p from Lenovo or Microsoft.  My reasons are multifold.  I want to squeeze as much performance out of the machine as possible in order to run my applications and virtual machines.  I also tend to reinstall my world every few months.  I was doing weekly installs during the Windows Vista development cycles.  I am also getting ready to install Windows Vista SP1.

Don't let this concern you.  I have actually installed everything via the nice Lenovo System Update client.  Lenovo does a great job of testing the drivers before they put them in the Support and Download area.  I trust the drivers there more than I trust the drivers coming off  In fact, if I see a driver pop up in Windows Update, I will check the Lenovo area before I install it.  If it isn't on the Lenovo/IBM site, it doesn't get installed.

  1. Go to  If prompted, turn on the IE7 phishing filter.
  2. Click the Support and Downloads menu item.
  3. Fill out the filter for ThinkPad T61p and Windows Vista.  They do not have a filter for Vista x64 and x86.
  4. Download the following:
    1. NVIDIA 64bit video driver (7/11/2007) 7kd634ww.exe (71meg)
    2. Intel Pro 4965agn wireless driver (9/14/2007) 7kwv24ww.exe (27meg)
    3. Power Driver (7/10/2007) 7kuu06ww.exe (1.3meg)
    4. Power Mgmt Application (10/1/2007) 7ku423ww.exe (12.3meg)
    5. Intel Chipset Support (5/17/200) oss704ww.exe (2.4meg)
  5. Install the above drivers.  Keep in mind that the exe’s above just unpack the drivers to c:\drivers.  Install from there in the following order and manner.  I know it's five reboots but I like to make sure the update sticks before moving on.  Here you go:
    1. Intel Chipset.  Reboot after install.
    2. NVIDIA video.  Reboot after install.  Set preferred resolution and turn on Aero Glass.
    3. Power driver.  Reboot after install
    4. Power Mgmt application.  Reboot after install.  Review power gauge options and turn the gauge off on the task bar.
    5. Wireless driver:
      1. Run c:\drivers\win\wlanint2\vista\app\v64\iProInst.exe
      2. Select the Custom installation option.
      3. Only install the “Wireless LAN Adaptor Driver”
      4. Reboot.
  6. Time to install all of the updates from Microsoft Update.  Go to Control Panel | Windows Update.  Check for updates.  There are 83 updates as of 11/10/2007.  Hide and do not install the following updates:
    1. Soundmax audio driver.  Sound is already working and I had issues with this driver on previous installs.
    2. ThinkPad Bluetooth and Enhanced Data.  I only use a Bluetooth mouse so the inbox drivers that come with Vista are good enough for my needs.  If you want to use file transfer, tethering, etc., then you should probably ignore me here.
    3. NVIDIA video update (10/8/2007).  I had issues with this driver on one of my machines.  I also had issues with a NVIDIA update on a desktop machine during this same timeframe.  I'm a little gun shy on video updates and the one referenced above from Lenovo works very nicely.
    4. Languages not used.  There are a bunch of available languages now but I only install English.
  7. Have the Microsoft update client download and install the remaining 47 updates.  This will take about 30 minutes on a good connection.
  8. Reboot after updates are installed.


As I mentioned at the beginning of this, my goals for the installation of Windows Vista are to run lean and mean.  In order to accomplish that, I modify or disable several services in Windows Vista.  I am trading functionality, for a reduction in disk I/O, disk space conservation, and reduced CPU load.  I want to make sure I give as much performance as I can to the virtual machines I run on a daily basis for my job.  The Lenovo ThinkPad T61p is a very powerful machine and you should consider running Windows Vista with it's default settings before you start disabling functions.

Here are the modifications I make:

  1. Turn of Sidebar and don’t start it on Windows start.
  2. Turn off the Welcome Center and disable it from starting on each login.
  3. Start| and right click Computer.  Select the Manage menu item.
  4. Go to the Services list and make the following services changes:
    1. Disable and stop the Windows Search service.
    2. Set Superfetch to manual and stop.
    3. Set Offline Files to manual and stop.
  5. Start | Computer | Properties | System Protection (Tasks list on left side).  Turn off System protection for drive c:\.  This is a space conservation measure.  I backup my machine weekly to external disk and before major installs.  If you aren't in the habit of doing frequent backups, and testing restores, you are asking for trouble.  Hard drives do fail.
  6. Start | Administrator tools | Task Scheduler application and disable the defrag task.  I turn on the visibility of the Admin tools on the Start menu properties.  Since I do pretty frequent reinstalls of the OS and Apps, I don't have a big need for routine defrags of the hard drive.
  7. Start |  Administrator tools | Local Security | Local Policies | Security Options and set the UAC:Switch to Secure Desktop to disable.  Secure desktop messes with LiveMeeting for my webcasts.  This is the only UAC setting I change. 
  8. Start | Control Panel | Folder Options | View tab and turn on the Always Show Menus checkbox.  I like those menus and they are a necessity for the change I make in the next few steps.  Unless of course someone knows a shortcut.
  9. Start | Control Panel | Network and Sharing Center | Manage Network Connections task
    1. Advanced Menu Item
    2. Advanced Settings
    3. Adaptors and Bindings tab
    4. Move the LAN Connection above the wireless connections.  I run wired a lot so I want to make sure the LAN card is being used instead of a slower wireless card.
  10. Use the NVIDIA control panel applet to control multiple monitor or projector mirroring, cloning and extended desktop settings.  This is also the place to set LCD scaling which is important when doing multimon demos using a projector.  LCD scaling settings are important if you want a lower resolution VM to stretch and fill the screen.
  11. Start | Control Panel | Power to change the laptop lid close behavior.  I set mine to do nothing on a lid close.  I also make lots of other subtle tweaks to the power settings.  If you install the Lenovo Power Management application, it does a great job of conserving power on battery.
  12. FN+PgUp in a dark closet.  Grin.

That’s how I install things.  It’s a core OS install and I’m sure there are a number of other applications you might be interested in like the fingerprint reader.  You’ll find before you start installing applications that the T61p is fast, very fast.  Pay close attention to performance hits from other software and applications.  I would recommend a Complete PC, Ghost 12, True Image or some other backup before you start installing and changing the configuration above.


Your operating system is ready at this point for application installs, domain joins, etc.  Before installing applications, I enable the administrator account and set a strong password for it and the ID originally created above during Vista installation.  I use the admin id for my application installs.  After your application installs are complete, you should consider disabling administrator.  I rarely if ever use it again after doing the installs.

I hope you find this information useful.  Enjoy.

Comments (16)

  1. Anonymous says:

    This is pretty much what I did with my Thinkpad T60 a few months ago, although I am crippled with a Core Duo and not a Core 2 Duo, so I could not get any 64-bit goodness. I have been looking at eBay auctions of Core 2 Duo chips and they are very tempting

  2. Rob says:

    You set it to do nothing on a lid close?  Not even turn off the LCD?  That’s my standard preference as you don’t burn the battery on a display you can’t see.  Help quite a bit on heat also.

  3. Keith Combs says:

    No worries.  The LCD screen does not stay on.

  4. Rob says:

    Have you looked?  (not as easy as it sounds sometimes)  It probably does eventually go off due to the display timeout but is it running in the meantime?  It definitely will be unless you tell it to turn off on close.  Not a big deal but it’s something I’ve run across alot since I use old laptops as servers for my farm.. 🙂  My main web server is a Thinkpad T30.

  5. Keith Combs says:

    The T61p LCD goes off at about 1" before lid closure and contact.  Now setting the webcam in the frig in order to prove the light goes off is another subject entirely.

  6. Hey that’s cool! I receive an T61p next month when we get new companylaptops 🙂

  7. Peter says:

    Did you have any luck finding a TPM driver for 64bit?

  8. Kizzy says:

    These are some damn fine tips!

  9. Hi Keith,

    Nice overview of your installation. One week ago I reinstalled my T60p notebook and used your notes to get the Windows Vista up and running.

    One thing to mention for others is that disabling "Windows Search" service might not be an option when using Office 2007. Searches in Outlook and OneNote won’t work anymore. So maybe small note in your orginal post on this.

    Cheers, Ivan

  10. Keith Combs says:

    Searches still work in Outlook, they just work slowly.  I haven’t tried OneNote.

  11. pete says:

    Good Writeup

    what were your reasons for disabling superfetch?

  12. QB says:


    Thanks so much for helpful blogs.

    I am hoping if you can help me a little.

    I ended up to your blog a while I am googling for WINDOWS 2003 SERVER ENT ON THINKPAD T60.

    I just got a new T60 laptop with xp hom on it and would like to upgrade it to Windows 2003 server.

    However I am faced with these IBM settings like security and hardrive AHCI..etc.

    Those things are all new to me.

    I owned several Dell Latitude notebooks but first getting Thinkpad.

    I booted up the thinkpad with windows 2003 CD and got an error saying it can’t find the HD.

    Anyway, I would think steps will be pretty much similar to install for VISTAE or XP.

    I would appreciate if you can give any advise.

    Thanks much.


  13. Hrvoje Crvelin says:

    I pretty much agree with your steps except that I had to apply sound driver.  Without it mic support is broken (required by my VoIP application).

  14. Anonymous says:

    I've just got a shiny new Lenovo T61p to replace my Dell D820 but it hasn't been an entirely

  15. joanindo says:

    if you want to install windows 2000, xp, or 2003, you just go to bios and change serial ata config from ahci mode into compatibility mode. this applies to any thinkpad models which have vista pre-installed.

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