Receiving error System partition is not allowed to be formatted when trying to format C drive in Vista Home

Hello everyone. I have sepnt my weekend like thousands (maybe hundreds of thousands?) of other hapless victims/suckers, trying to downgrade a laptop from Vista Home Premium to XP Pro. I'm well aware of all the problems with upgrading and downgrading Vista, but I am at my wit's end. I am trying to talk my boss into returning this laptop (an Acer) for a Dell running Vista Business or at least the profrssional XP downgrade.

At this point, all I want to do is fornat the C: drive in order to attempt the XP install again, but keep getting an error "System partition is not allowed to be formatted". I don't want to install it on the D: drive (which is 80GB, same as the C: drive), because I think a dual boot system is unlikely (if not impossible) to work w/Vista. I already backed up the factory image of the laptop to DVD, and exported all the drivers in case the XP install works and accepts the factory drivers. Any instructions or advise would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!  
Big_BambooAsked:
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jjreeseCommented:
How are you trying to format the drive?  Are you starting the XP install from within Windows, or booting to the CD?
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Big_BambooAuthor Commented:
Hi JJ and thanks for replying. I've tried to install XP both ways to no avail. I'd prefer to boot from the XP CD to install if possible. I am currently in Safe Mode w/ Command Prompt, since I received a different error when trying the format from within Windows ("Access denied as you do not have sufficient privileges. You have to invoke this utility running in elevated mode"). Thanks again!
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jjreeseCommented:
do you have a 3rd party disk util CD? (i.e. Maxtor, Seagate, WD, etc?) You can usually format a Drive with those...
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Big_BambooAuthor Commented:
Unfortunately no. Do you know of any other way around this? If not I will poke around to see if there are any utilites on the web I can download and copy to disk, even if I have to pay for one. If that's the case, which would you suggest? Thanks again.
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jjreeseCommented:
Make an XP boot floppy - that will have the Format command on it.  Try that and let me know - (no need to spend money for something so simple - We'll get it for ya)
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Big_BambooAuthor Commented:
Okay will do. I'll let you know in a little while how it goes. Appreciate the info.
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Big_BambooAuthor Commented:
Okay I'm an idiot. Didn't realize that the PC I am using (a friends) has no floppy drive, just a reader. Even worse, the laptop has no floppy drive. Do you know of any way to create a boot CD from XP? It's been a while since I've done this, but if I recall correctly, I think the DOS boot floppy, even if created in XP, has no partitioning tools, just the format command. Is this all I need? If so I may be able to get onto a PC with a floppy (running XP).
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jjreeseCommented:
you can boot directly from the Windows XP install cd can't you? Or is that one of the things that was not working?  If not, and you have CD burning software installed, try this:  http://www.help2go.com/Tutorials/Windows/Create_a_Windows_Boot_CD_%10_Rescue_CD.html
 
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Big_BambooAuthor Commented:
The XP install CD will boot the laptop up, but then a minute or two after it starts copying the setup files and inspecting hardware (and before it even gets to the formatting options), the laptop blue screens. Thanks for the link, I will certainly give it a shot and let you know how it goes (though it might not be until later today/this evening). I really appreciate the help.
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jjreeseCommented:
Any Progress on this?
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Big_BambooAuthor Commented:
Hi JJ, sorry for the long delay in responding. I hit a wall even after creating 2 different bootable CD's, and we decided to leave Vista Home on the laptop for now. Thank you very much for all the help. When is Bill Gates going to tell the world he is sorry for Vista??? :)  Have a good day.
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Big_BambooAuthor Commented:
Decided to leave Vista Home on the laptop I was working on (as opposed to dowwngrading to XP).
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