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Windows 7 on a Dell Inspiron 531... are they compatible? Most info says YES...

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Hi Dell Forum readers,
For links on this page, I noticed that on these forums pages, usually the links work, but sometimes they don't... if one just copies and pastes the link into a browser tab, then they work... try just clicking first.
I found some information that indicates that this Dell Inspiron 531 computer WILL be compatible with Windows 7 on the Microsoft website and in the system information of the control panel of this computer.
But then I have found some other information on the Dell website that indicates the opposite.
Please follow me carefully here, this took a while to compile this info.
First lets eliminate what would be the easiest solution that I have already tried, which would be the "Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor" located at this URL:
On this webpage there is a little program to download and install that is supposed to tell me if this computer is compatible with Windows 7 in processor speed, RAM, graphics card, etc., and attached peripherals, automatically... unfortunately, it does not work... I installed it and it stopped with the message, "Windows 7 advisor has stopped working" so that program and this option are useless.
This is the "Windows 7 system requirements" list of information... it shows that I need at least a 1 GHZ or faster processor, 32 bit... this Inspiron 531 has a 2 GHZ processor and is 32 bit. This page says I need 1 GB of RAM... it has 1 GB of RAM. It says I need 16 GB of available hard disk space, it has a 138 GB main C hard drive that will be wiped clean when Windows 7 is ready to be installed. And it says I need a "DirectX 9 graphics card (with WDDM1.0 or higher driver)" ... that last part in parenthesis is the only part I'm not sure of, but my system info through the control panel shows most of this information as being adequate.
Go to this URL:  to see the online Dell Inspiron 531 appendix page and click on the link near the top titled, "Specifications" or just scroll down a little bit to see the specs... there, in the 4th category down titled "Video" it shows the "Nvidia integrated video (DirectX 9.0 Shader Model 3.9 Graphics Processing Unit)". This seems to match the "DirectX 9" info listed above from the "Windows 7 system requirements page.
I have several screen shots highlighting different parts of these webpages to make this easier to follow, but this forums interface will only allow one attached file that has to be 64k or smaller, so I can't include those screenshot images.  
But then there are 2 Dell webpages that indicate that this Dell Inspiron 531 is only supported by Windows Vista and Windows XP... see this URL for the first webpage (you will have to navigate to the correct Inspiron 531 desktop model via the little interface that says, "Choose a model - Select model" it shows the Inspiron 531 only supported by Windows XP and Vista...  
It shows, after you scroll down just a little, a list of current Dell computers that will support Windows 7... the Inspiron 531 is not on that list, but it then says,"Don't own a computer on these list? Click here to shop for a new Dell !"...bad grammar aside, this line that I've pointed out and the short list of Windows 7 supported models may just be trying to sell me a new Dell whether I actually need it or not!
I know this is a lot to go over... it took me a while to compile this info, but I'm trying to make sure before I go to do a clean install of Windows 7, when the disk gets here, that I won't wipe the hard drive clean only to find out Windows 7 doesn't work on this machine.
I'm only trying to fix this computer for my mom... Windows Vista lost it's sound ablility, no sound, a month ago and I've spent over 15 hours on phone support with Microsoft techs and exchanged over 80 emails in each direction and they have given up... we've tried everything and this Vista software is very corrupt... one of the tech support managers took pitty and is sending a full install Windows 7 ULT disk, gratis, and I'm hoping it'll work... probably with 4 more weeks of set-up time if it does.
I'm a Mac user and have never been through anything like this in 20 years of using Macs on the job and at home.
Sound Hardware Test:
In spite of incorrectly published information on the Dell website about where to find a Hardware Diagnostic test within this Dell Inspiron 531, I managed to find other information in the instruction manual (an HTML version of the instruction manual since Windows Vista can't open a PDF file) that told me the correct partition where I could find the Diagnostic test to run.
This was even in spite of a Dell tech support guy that I emailed who didn't know where this Diagnostic test was actually located on the Utility partition, I still found it.
This Diagnostic test, actually called the "Pre-Boot System Assessment (PSA) Diagnostics and Error Codes For Dell Computers" has quite extensive capabilities for testing the Dell hardware and functions of the computer. I found something called, "Symptom Tree" that allows you to pick a certain symptom or problem and run several tests to check things like having "no sound", for example.
I ran the analog sound test and the speakers played a little song, once on each channel, then on both channels, and then it asks you if you heard the song... I heard it... it played the song!
This proves that the sound board, the speakers and any other actual hardware or firmware on this computer is working correctly and the sound should work, if it weren't for the messed up Windows Vista OS.
ALERT: Dell Forums Users Say, "Yes"

But now, directly contradicting Dell's information, I have exchanged communications with people on the Dell Forums website, and they state the Windows 7 surely DOES work on an Inspiron 531 computer... on their own Dell Inspiron 531s... see the URL below:  Sometimes you need to COPY & PASTE these links  into a browser window, sometimes you can just click on it, ???... (for some reason it doesn't go to the page if you just click on it all the time.)  then look at the 3rd posting down and you'll see the letter that I am referring to...

Also, see the pasted in responses below that I found on the same Dell Forum.


holgermetz replied to Re: Dell Inspiron 531: Windows 7 Professional 64-bit (final) in Desktop General Hardware Forum.


I haven't had the slightest problem with Windows 7 32-bit on my Inspiron 531.

Good luck!


The Insprion 531 is fully compatible with Windows 7.  All the drivers come from Windows 7, if you got the 32bit route, so you don't have to worry about Vista drivers.  If you go the 64bit route, only one device is not supported.  The Away Mode device, but there is a solution for that and I can give it to you if you decide on going to 64bit.

Upgrading is the easiest way, but doing a clean install is the best way.  Unfortunately doing a clean install will mean you loose all your data and programs.  So a backup of you personal data would be necessary and you would have to reinstall all your programs.  I've done both and hands down a clean install of Windows 7 runs much better.

As far as Dell not giving you an upgrade, Vista Basic doesn't qualify no matter when you bought the system.  I would also recommend you upgrade to at least Windows 7 Home Premium.  It's a much better OS then the Basic version.


So I think this is indisputable evidence, in spite of what Dell themselves have published, that Windows 7 will run on a Dell Inspiron 531 with a 2 GHZ processor and 1 GB of RAM, etc., etc., as described above... but nothing, especially with Windows, Microsoft or Dell, is a sure thing, so please give me your input on this.
Please give me your input... I'd sure appreciate it.
All Replies
  • Quite a post!!!! Keep in mind that when Dell says that an OS is not supported on a particular system it simply means that they will not issue drivers or give Tech. support in that instance. It certainly does not mean that it absolutely will not work. Rather just that the users are on their own.

    Jeff Beer

    XPS 8100 i7-860(8MB Cache, 2.8GHz), 8GB Dual Channel DDR3 SDRAM @ 1333MHz, 750GB SATA 3.0GB/s 16MB Cache, nVidia GeForce GTS2401GB GDDR3, Dell ST2310 Full HD Widescreen Monitor, AverMedia G2 Combo hybrid TV Tuner, dual 16x DVD+/- RW dbl layer, Microsoft LifeCam Cinema HD, Running Windows 7 Home Premium, 64 bit. 

    If your question is answered here on the forums; PLEASE post back! It may help another user.              

  • I don't mean to discount the work you put into this post, but consider this:

    When Dell says that an OS is not "supported", it simply means that they have not tested it and developed drivers (if/where necessary) for that OS on that machine.  They also do not "add" support for an OS on a machine that will never ship with it.  So, if the 531 was discontinued before Windows 7 started shipping, then they will never add a Windows 7 section to the Drivers and Downloads page.

    That said, just because Dell does not "support" Windows 7 doesn't mean it won't run perfectly well on it.  Take my old XPS Gen 4 ... almost 6 years old, Dell definitely does not support Windows 7 on it, but it runs lots better with Windows 7 that it did with XP - and it was awesome with XP!  Same with the Latitude D830, and Optiplex 755.  When upgrading to an OS that the manufacturer says is not supported, ask and believe the users.  Not because the users know more than Dell, but because Dell has not tested it and/or are not prepared to provide support to assist those trying to install it.

  • Thanks Jeff,

    That makes me feel a little better after all the duress that I've been under for the last month.

    Your input is similar to an email I just got back from a Dell response tech who indicated that same thing... they don't list this Inspiron 531 model as compatible simply because they haven't tested this model with Windows 7.

    Microsoft has a huge database of drivers that I found for older peripherals that is building all the time for 7... as long as Windows 7 has the sound that this OS has lost, can handle email and a browser, oh and the printer that I already found the Windows 7 driver for, my mom will be happy.

    Thanks again,


  • Thanks Flash,

    That makes me feel a little better after all the duress that I've been under for the last month.

    Your input is similar to an email I just got back from a Dell response tech who indicated that same thing... they don't list this Inspiron 531 model as compatible simply because they haven't tested this model with Windows 7.

    Microsoft has a huge database of drivers that I found for older peripherals that is building all the time for 7... as long as Windows 7 has the sound that this OS has lost, can handle email and a browser, oh and the printer that I already found the Windows 7 driver for, my mom will be happy.

    Thanks again,


  • Hello Flash, Jeff, Jsktx,
    Here is a copy of an email that I sent earlier today to the MS techs after finally getting going again with Windows 7...__________________________________________________________________________________________________________
    It has been a strange week after trying to finally install Windows 7 and having it fail, indicating it was a defective installation disk.
    When I tried to install W7 a week ago today, and had been trying to fix all the spiraling problems in Windows Vista for the previous 33 days or so, since 8/29/2010, it was a great disappointment to get the installation disk and have it fail.
    I had been trying to mainly fix the no sound problem in Vista, installing failed Realtek drivers from every Dell and Realtek download pages, I think 6 various installers with different publish dates in all, and nothing would work.
    Even Alok and Ashish, my two main MS techs, gave up after two failed in-place upgrade attempts, multiple fix-it program tries, multiple corrupt drivers besides the audio driver, around 50 error messages collected in screenshots, multiple ongoing service failure messages popping up constantly, crashing, computer commas, start-up repairs, restore points, Vista system disk “fix my computer” processes and general disaster and mayhem when it came to my mom trying to use her computer, and me trying to fix it.
    I had been on 5 different “answers forums” first trying to fix Vista, then trying to make sure W7 would work on this computer... contrary to Dell’s website information, I found that W7 should work on this Inspiron 531 model.
    Ashish had finally took pity on me and ordered me a Windows 7 ULT installer disk... after it arrived I was gravely disappointed to have it fail as a “defective media installer”.
    Last Thursday night, after the W7 installation failure, I tried in desperation to reach Alok by phone since the installation department with MS phone support had nothing else to say except, “uh, you have a bad installer disk”.  I spoke to 2 different MS installation experts and 3 different customer service people and finally got a guy who was able to leave Alok a message on the support tech exchange and Alok called me back.
    I had spent so much time on the phone and email with Alok previously, not to mention Frank Xu and Candice Wang on email, and Ashish calling me, that at that time I wanted Alok’s input on the failed W7 installation. Since I had blanked out this hard drive after backing up important files to the D drive and to a DVD, I was not able to email anyone because there was no operating system to do anything... just a blank C drive.
    Alok said he would call me back the next day, on Friday to make sure it was just a bad installation disk, and I appreciated that, though I was upset about one more failure with Microsoft Software... remember I’m a Mac guy, I love Macs, and up until today, I’ve always disliked Windows anything and everything Microsoft... accept maybe Windows XP was okay if I just had to use Windows to check email and check webpage production on a Windows machine to see how a page that I produced would appear in a Windows browser.
    The next day, October 1st, Alok called and we went through a process that ran from the W7 installer disk to get to the C prompt to run a lengthy test on this hard drive.  The test proved there was no problem with this computer or it’s hard drive, so Alok ordered me another replacement W7 installation disk.
    Since that was on a Friday, or course, the new disk wouldn’t be shipped until Monday or Tuesday and I knew I’d have to wait another week at least to try this W7 installation, since I had tried it 5 or 6 times and it would always fail in the second stage, “expanding files” somewhere between 20% and 60%.
    So this Monday, October 4th, I called to see if the new W7 installation disk had been sent out from the MS replacement parts department and the guy told me it was being sent either that day or the next day, Tuesday. I called back Tuesday and found that it had been shipped out Monday... but no possibility of overnight shipping, and a strange process where the MS orders department sends their packages via FedEx and then FedEx takes it to my local post office... it meant I was in for another long wait.
    When the disk didn’t arrive today, and the prospect of “3 to 10 business days” for shipping meant the disk would be here anywhere from tomorrow to a week in the future, I just couldn’t stand it anymore, so I tried the Windows 7 installer disk again, for the 7th time, just expecting it to fail again as it had the previous 6 times.
    Remember, this is me fixing my mom's computer... not my Macs back home... all of this is to fix my mom's PC nightmares.
    But I thought to myself, “why does it fail at different points in the “expanding files” process... like I said sometimes at 20% and other times at 60% ?”
    So I booted to the boot menu, put in the defective W7 installer disk and started the installation process again... once more formatting/blanking the hard drive, and began the process... it got to 20%, then 50%, then 60%, then 70%, then 80%... further than it had ever got before... I just knew it was going to fail again, after all, it had failed 6 times before and everyone there at MS support agreed it must be a bad installation disk... then to 90%, then it finished the “expanding files” process!  Could this be possible?
    Then I was sure it would fail through the “installing files” process or the “installing updates” process, or even during the “completing installation” phase it would surely fail... but it didn’t... it finished and here I am.
    Windows 7 seems like a dream after all the mind splitting problems that I went through with Vista, it’s inability to install it’s own major Service Pack #1 or #2 updates and it’s habit of destroying itself with other 3 party software updates... the Vista nightmare is over after only about 39 days of mind numbing problems and failures.
    As for the replacement disk for the original replacement disk, it'll get here I'm sure, but it will be sure to have the same product key number, so it'll just serve as a back-up disk.
    I needed to download, install and configure Windows Live Mail because somehow W7 does not come with a built in email program, nor did it have any Adobe Acrobat reader installed... I needed to read some of the instruction manual that I had already downloaded for W7, also NOT supplied by Microsoft, that I had found elsewhere online.
    How does an operating system come with no email program and no Adobe Acrobat reader?... good question!
    Those two problems aside, I’m actually kind of liking Windows 7 as I set it up and prepare it for easy use for my mom.
    I had pre-purchased ESET’s NOD32 antivirus software that I still have to install, but since it has a good reputation, industry expert recommendations, and it IS NOT made by Microsoft, I figure it’ll be okay... also, ESET automatically sends a 2nd back-up installer disk when you order a disk by phone, so I shouldn’t have to worry about another defective installation disk.
    I had been told earlier in this 39 day ordeal not to install "free" versions of anitvirus software.
    So why would the Windows 7 installation disk fail 6 times but work on the 7th try?... you tell me!  When I was on the phone with the ISP service tech and he was giving me the few settings that I needed to make the new email program operational, he said he had had the same experience, where Windows installers would fail several times, then inexplicably install successfully out of nowhere.
    After all the bad Vista experiences, I still have a habit of saving an email that I am writing every 8 or 9 words that I write for fear of crashing, but I can tell that this Windows 7 installation went well and I haven’t had even one failure message or crash so far in about 6 hours of working with setting things up... thankfully I have this W7 instruction manual that was NOT provided by Microsoft... I figure it should be correct.
    Strangely, the Windows Update panel, that which I fear the most and caused all the problems on Vista, shows “44 Important Updates” and “39 Optional Updates” available for installation!... a dizzying array of W7 updates totaling 112.6 MB in the “Important Updates” category and 114.5 MB in the “Optional Updates” category recommended.
    And in the “Optional Updates”, believe it or not, it is showing the “NVIDIA display adapter” driver update and YES, the “Realtek HD audio” driver update, both of which were corrupted by the auto updates that were performed in Vista... do you think I should install these?!... don’t even answer that... I know enough now not to trust Windows Auto Update and I have it set to only allow me to decide what to install.
    Does it make sense for me to ask which of the 44 important updates to install and which to leave out?... and the optionals too?... that’s a tricky question.
    Thanks to Alok and Ashish, plus Candice and Frank for all of your help, as frustrating as it was... and I’ll still be in touch with any other questions or problems that I have with W7 while breaking it in... knock on wood.
    PS:  All hardware tests run in the Dell PSA diagnostics and through the Windows C prompt interface, checked okay, so I knew this was all Vista problems... 7 seem great so far... ultimately, I want Mac and PC in my arsenal at home now since this Windows 7 seems pretty slick.