The Windows Vista installation DVD is bootable and self-installing, so you need only put it into your DVD drive and reboot, and the installation program will launch. (See Figure A-1.)
To configure your computer to boot off a DVD, you'll need to use your system's BIOS setup utility. When you first power on your machine, you'll see a text screen with a summary of your motherboard, processor, and installed memory. (If you see only a logo, try pressing the Esc or Tab key.) Here, you typically press F2, Delete, or some other key combination to "Enter Setup." (Refer to your PC's documentation for specifics.) Once you've entered the BIOS setup utility, go to the boot section and change the "boot device priority" or "boot sequence" so that your DVD drive appears before your hard disk. (Some computers offer a boot menu, usually accessible by pressing F12, which lets you choose to boot from CD/DVD without having to enter the BIOS.) Exit the BIOS setup screen when you're finished.
Figure A-1. Choosing your language, time and currency format, and keyboard
You'll be prompted to type in your product key (find it on the DVD case or the retail box). Then you need to accept the license terms. You'll now come to a screen with two optionsto upgrade, or to perform a "Custom" install, which is the choice you'll make for a clean install. (See Figure A-2.) If you boot from the install disc, the Upgrade option will be grayed out. (For more details about doing an upgrade rather than a clean install, see the next section.)
The next screen will allow you to choose a drive and partition on which to install Windows; in most cases, you'll have only a single drive and a single partition. Here, you'll have the option of installing onto an existing drive, making changes to your partition table, and formatting or deleting a partition. It's important to note that if you delete a partition that has data on it, all of the data will be erased.
If you're installing on a clean system (with a new, empty hard disk), you'll want to create a new partition using all of the available space (or several partitions, as desired).
If you're installing on a hard disk with data on it and you don't want to erase the data, simply select the desired partition (usually the first one, C:\). Note that if you've backed up your data, you can safely choose to delete your partition, create a new one, and install fresh. Although this does require the additional work involved in restoring your data, it results in a cleaner, usually faster, and more reliable installation.
Figure A-2. Performing a clean install
Choose the partition and click Next. The rest of the installation process should be fairly straightforward. Your PC will restart, possibly more than once; don't remove the DVD from the drive when it reboots, because your PC needs the DVD to complete the installation. If you run into a problem, see "Potential Problems During Setup," later in this appendix.
The first time Windows Vista starts, you'll be prompted to choose a username and password to create a user account (Figure A-3), then a name for your PC. You'll also be asked for other information, such as your time and date settings and your computer's current location (home, work, or a public location). Then Windows will finally run for the first time.