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General discussion

Dual boot system using Windows 7 and Windows XP

by Eugene I / January 17, 2010 3:00 PM PST

Can anyone assist me in putting together a dual boot using Windows 7 on a Sata drive and using Windows XP on a IDE drive.

Dryzone had a method to do some editing on the boot.ini files in XP and Vista. I started to do this process, but I was not sure where to copy the boot.ini from XP. Also Windows 7 does not have a boot.ini now but instead it is called bcdboot. In order to edit this file you use a application called Bcdedit on the command line, but again where is this command line in Windows 7.

So has anyone setup a dual boot system using Windows7 / Windows XP? Any answer but above would be greatly apprecated.

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Any answer but above is what you wanted
by Steven Haninger / January 17, 2010 6:58 PM PST

If I was doing what you wish, I would only handle this by switching between drives at BIOS level and keeping Win 7 and XP totally independent. One other thing you might consider is to make sure your Win 7 is not an upgrade from the XP installation on the other drive using it to qualify for that upgrade.

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Reply to Steven
by Eugene I / January 18, 2010 12:03 PM PST

I already do this now and before when I had Vista installed on the Sata drive. I kept the XP on the IDE and upgraded from Vista to Windows 7 on the Sata drive. I already do this now when I want to use the XP drive, I have to do changes in CMOS then reboot into XP. This is just a hastle at times and it would be easier to be able to boot to drive A to XP or drive B to Win7. Appreciate your opinion and thoughts in this matter.

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Further thoughts
by Steven Haninger / January 18, 2010 8:07 PM PST
In reply to: Reply to Steven

I've done similar with my main rig which allows me to just press F8 during BIOS check. I don't have to actually go through the screens. I get a listing of available drives and select the one I want. I don't find this to be that much of a hassle. MS tells how to set up multiple boot with XP here

and I expect you've already read all there is to know about this.

You asked for my thoughts and opinion and I need to stick with the one of total separation of the operating systems even though there's an extra step every time you want to change. There is some sort of "pecking order" that goes with multiple boot systems and that's something I don't want to deal with. Others will have differing opinions and hopefully some will respond here.

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In short...
by John.Wilkinson / January 19, 2010 4:33 AM PST

1.) Install XP to the IDE drive.
2.) While the IDE drive is attached, install Window s7 to the SATA drive.

Windows 7 will automatically detect XP's presence and create a dual-boot setup. Note, however, that if you install XP after Windows 7, Windows 7 will fail to boot until you run Startup Repair for the Windows 7 DVD.

-> Alternative methods exist, but this is the easiest approach.

Hope this helps,

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Installation of Xp First
by Eugene I / January 19, 2010 11:49 AM PST
In reply to: In short...

I did this at the begging. I installed WinXP on the IDE drive. Then with the drive still plug into the mother board I installed Win Vista and it did not setup a dual boot option. I have edit a file in XP to get the screen for a dual boot option, but when booting to Vista it was a hardware problem or confict.

I installed Win7 and it did not setup a dual boot optiion.

I do run Win7 all the time and sometimes I have to go into CMOS and change the order of the drives and boot into XP. This is a hassle that's why I wish I had the answer to have the dual boot option screen and it would boot into Win7 or Xp. Unfortuntely I will keep searching for the right answer. Thanks

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Tell us more...
by John.Wilkinson / January 20, 2010 4:32 AM PST

1.) What file did you edit in XP? Such modifications should have no effect on the Windows Boot Loader used by Vista/7 unless you used a third-party tool to modify the BCD store.

2.) What kind of hardware conflict are you referring to? Did a specific error message appear? And, if so, when and where?

The third-party VistaBootPRO, which is still free from some sources, can be used to easily modify the BCD store to correct the issue, but clarification of the details would be helpful.

Let us know.

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Reply to John
by Eugene I / January 21, 2010 2:19 PM PST
In reply to: Tell us more...

The computer store edit for me and I did it myself under WinXP. They showed me to go into Control Panel - System - Advance - Startup and recovery and edit the boot.ini file.

They add another line similar to signature or as follows:
default=signture and so on with that line
[Operating System]
signature (6f9f6)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\Windows="Microsoft Windows Xp home Edition" /no execute=optin /fastdetect

copy that line and this time start with disk(1) and the use Windows="Microsoft Windows Vista" rest of the line above.

When I boot up this gave me the dual boot option. I boot into XP great with no problem.

If I chose Vista the error message below:

Windows could not start because of a computer disk hardware configuration problem.
Could not read from the selected boot disk.
Check boot path and disk hardware.

This error message is the hangup from booting into Vista or now Win7.

I know the IDE drive is considered as 0. Disk (0)
But is the Sata drive considered as 1 Disk (1)

This could be where the prolem lies. What do you think?

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The problem is bad advice...
by John.Wilkinson / January 22, 2010 4:58 AM PST
In reply to: Reply to John

In short, Vista and 7 do not use the file boot.ini at all, so editing it does not facilitate the expected dual-boot. (It actually tells NTLDR to look for a copy of Windows 9x/XP that does not exist, which is why you receive the error message.) The solution is to do one of the following:

A.) Install Windows Vista/7 after Windows 9x/XP.

B.) Boot to your Windows Vista/7 DVD and, after selecting your language and keyboard options, click the "Repair my computer" option in the bottom left corner, then choose to run Startup Repair.

C.) Install a program such as VistaBootPRO and use it to reinstall the Windows Boot Loader and then create an entry in the BCD store for Windows Vista/7.

Hope this helps,

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sorry for interrupting but could any of you be kind enough..
by stalkeRific` / January 20, 2010 8:24 PM PST
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A completely different solution
by cowshill / January 23, 2010 1:18 AM PST

There may be reasons why you specifically need dual boot, but have you considered instead running XP as a virtual machine inside Win 7? I am using Sun's VirtualBox software to do this (download free from If you're techie enough to set up a dual boot system, VirtualBox is a breeze to install and configure. I run Win 7 and have both XP and Ubuntu installed so that I can run either or both inside Win 7. Each runs in its own window just like any other app and can go full screen if you want. The VirtualBox software seems incredibly robust - and did I mention easy to use??

I can have all 3 OS's running simultaneously and have never had any problems with it. Goodbye to having to shut down and reboot if I need to do something in the other OS. You'd probably want a minimum of 2 Gig of RAM to do this, but other than that I've yet to come up with any way that dual boot beats this solution.

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What are virtual machine limitation?
by bwsantana / January 23, 2010 9:56 AM PST

I am weighing the advantages/disadvantages of dual booting Win7 Pro_64-bit and Win XP Pro_32-bit on a recently purchased computer. After reading this thread, it appears that booting to the different OSs via the BIOS would be best, but running XP in a virtual box would sure be nice. I decided to make the leap to 64-bit on this Win7 machine so that I could start replacing older software as the applications move to 64-bit versions. Several of my applications are reported to only run in a 32-bit environment and others will run, but can't take advantage of memory beyond 3GB. Also, I have a legacy scanner that will only run under Win XP and there is no plan for updated drivers.

Is it possible that a virtual machine will run the scanner with 32-bit XP drivers? Thanks for your comments. This is an interesting learning experience.

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Dual Boot Windows 7
by jrap30 / January 24, 2010 8:25 AM PST

As some people alluded to...Windows 7 and Vista does this automatically. When the RC came out in May there were articles on Tech Republic describing this scernio and then how to delete it. As long as XP is installed and you have another drive or install W7 in the other partition and it creates the dual boot enviroment. The Windows 7/Vista boot manager is completely different so it does not overwrite the XP boot manager. I installed W7 RC twice with no problems it automatically created the dual boot enviroment....did not have to specify anything at all. Just remembere you know need to have the complete version of W7 since you will be insatlling in a seperate location.....not the upgrade version.

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multiboot tutorial
by TaraS_WinTeam / January 25, 2010 4:46 AM PST
In reply to: Dual Boot Windows 7

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