Its strange, but I’ve not encountered this type of problem before.
A PC has a failing motherboard, so I agree to install a new motherboard/CPU/RAM, and do a repair install of Windows so that no data is lost.
My first problem is that it appears that its not possible to do a repair install of Vista if it has SP1 or SP2 installed.
That shouldn’t be a problem, just create a slipstreamed Vista DVD, with SP2 included… But it seems that Microsoft have somehow prevented people from creating Vista SP2 slipstream DVDs…
Next step: download an ISO image of a standard VISTA SP2 DVD… But these disks seem very rare, and are usually “cracked”, which leads to other potential problems, despite me wanting to use the image legitimately.
Somehow, I stumble upon the windows sysprep command.
Since the motherboard is still mostly functional, I’m able to start the old Vista hardware, run the sysprep command (I use the GUI, and select the generalize, shutdown, and oobe options).
This tells Vista to forget any hardware specifics (which is what stops it from starting if the motherboard is changed), and to ask the usual questions that happen when the PC is started for the very first time (OOBE = out of box experience).
I now transplant the generalised hard drive to the new hardware, and the system now starts up, and allows me to install the new drivers.
The only problem with this, is that it won’t work if the motherboard fails completely, as its then not possible to “generalise” the Vista installation… In that case, its a backup, and clean install scenario.