Dual boot Vista to XP

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Thread Starter
Jun 8, 2007
you have just bought a new computer and it came with Vista only...and you started to install some of your older but still well used software only to find that it wont work...there are still alot of compatability issues with Vista (hopefully service pack 1 will sort alot of this)

but heres a solution that can solve the worries for now...dual boot....if you had XP installed and wanted to dual boot to vista the installation is stragith forward...but the other senario, if u have Vista installed and want to dual boot into XP...here is a guide to do this

You will need your XP and Vista installation discs!

Step 1 - Partition the Drive:

Vista comes with a nice partitioning tool, so i'll be using it instead of partition magic this time around.
-right-click computer under the start menu and choose "manage"

-right-click the drive you want to partition, and select "Shrink Partition"
-The amount you shrink the partition is the amount of space used for the XP partition, so i would suggest making it at least 3-4GB in size, as a full XP installation will take 1.5GB on it's own.

-now right-click the unallocated memory and select new basic partition

Choose NTFS file system, this will save formatting before installation.
-name the drive anything you like
-click next on the rest of the screens and finish.

once the formatting is finished you will have something like this

Step 2 - Install XP:

wait while XP installs (I won't go into detail, there are many tutorials on this, and it is reasonably straight forward)

Now that XP has installed, it attempts to boot for the first time... all goes fine, video settings, networking, then the lovely
welcome screen as usual.

You restart, expecting a boot loader screen... followed the tutorial this far, and now you seem to only have XP...but wait...

here lies the only real issue with installing XP after Vista, but it's a quick fix if you have your Vista CDs/DVD handy.
The problem is that Vista and XP use different boot loader utilities in the MBR (Master Boot Record) of your hard drive. XP does
not recognize Vista, but Vista will recognize XP, so we need to remove the boot loader that XP just put in with the old
Vista boot loader. So restart once more, but this time with your Vista disc in the drive.

Step 3 - Fix Boot Loader:
Vista will load the GUI files, and then display the loading splash screen.

-Click "Next" on the first screen
-Once the "Install Now" menu (do not click Install Now) choose "Repair Your Computer":

You will be prompted to choose the OS to repair. Don't worry if Vista is the only OS that shows up, even after a search

click "Next"

-I realize there is a "Fix Startup" option, but it's been my experience that it doesn't work, and this method will.
-choose to open a "Command Prompt":

type in the command prompt the following 2 lines (separatly):
Bootrec.exe /fixMBR
Bootrec.exe /fixBoot

close the prompt and restart
-now that Vista controls your boot loader, the process is mostly finished, now we need to inform Vista that XP is installed, as to enable the boot loader selection screen.

Step 4 - Edit boot.ini:

In Vista, the boot.ini is not editable directly, as the file itself is hard to locate, so we will be modifying it through "Boot

Configuration Data Store Editor" bcdedit.exe:
(Just as an explanation, the loader type for XP is an NT Loader, hence the use of ntldr)

-first open a command prompt with administrative privilages (right-click and choose "run as administrator")
*Note the following 2 answers from bcdedit for each item are acceptable:
"The Operation Completed Successfully"
"The Specified Entry Already Exists"
Be sure to type each line carefully (replace C in the first line with the drive containing your Vista installation):
bcdedit –set {ntldr} device partition=C:
bcdedit –set {ntldr} path \ntldr
bcdedit –displayorder {ntldr} –addlast
bcdedit -set {ntldr} description "Microsoft Windows XP"

The completed bcdedit file should resemble this:

-This will correctly add XP to your boot sequence, and even name it properly instead of "Earlier Version of Windows"
-the displayorder line also allows the entry to be visible under the advanced settings of your computer properties.

Vista is the default boot, if you wish to change this to XP it can be done by setting {current} to addlast, or under the computer

-> properties -> advanced settings.

If all done properly, XP and Vista will dual boot properly!
William Wilson
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