You have a computer that you want to install a second Operating System on.
Say you have Windows XP installed and want to test Vista or Windows 7 / 8 /10 before you upgrade to
the new OS.
With out buying a new computer or say having a Virtual Computer you would set up
your computer to boot in to another OS. It is called a dual boot
or multi boot
How would you go about making your computer a multi boot system?
Well it takes a little work but in the end you will have two (or more!) operating
systems on your computer.
What you need to do Dual/multi boot for your
When you want to do a Dual Boot System you need to install the
The reason is that the older OS will not know about the newer OS's boot
loader. If you load the newer OS then the older OS. The older OS will overwrite
the boot loader for the new OS and you will have to repair the Boot Sector for
the newer OS to load. Then you will have to modify the Boot Loader to see the
older Operating System.
To get around this load the older OS then the newer OS, this will save you
some time and work.
Space for the new OS, if it is Vista or Windows 7 / 8 / 10 you need a minimum
20 32 gig on your hard
drive. You could go higher, say 32 50 Gig. This has to be open space not already allocated as a drive because the OS
needs a raw partition to create the boot sector.
If you are a VM Ware user and want to experiment with the XP / Vista dual
boot start with XP then load Vista or Windows 7 / 8 / 10. If you have Vista loaded then load XP on
another VM Drive it will over write the MBR and needs to be recovered before
Vista will boot.
Dual Boot with VM Ware:
If you have XP installed and want to install Vista to experiment then before
you install Vista you need to create the virtual drive you will be using. Then
with XP loaded open the Disk Manager, then select your new drive and create a
partition, you don't want to format or add a drive letter, just create the
partition. Vista or Windows 7 can't see a raw partition that is a VM Ware virtual drive. I
made my partition 15 Gig because I am only do the load for an experiment, it
will not have any applications loaded on it.
To install Vista or Windows 7 with an existing XP installed OS I suggest you back up your
hard drive partitions. I suggest you make an image of the XP OS and any
associated partitions with either Ghost,
Acronis True Image, or any other drive
With a hard drive that doesn't have enough open space to install Vista:
Some other techs would say using some thing like Partition Magic to resize
your hard drive partition's to make room for a Vista or Windows 7 installation.
When I have
use these types of programs I ran in to problems with the installations of
various OS's so what I do when I need to make a partition that an OS resides on
larger or smaller I make an
of the installed OS then delete the partition.
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Then I make the new partition the size I want it to be, using DOS or the
Install CD make the new partition bootable, replace the image back on the new
partition. Now you are ready to install Vista or Windows 7 on the empty space.
Before installing Vista or Windows 7 on the empty space start XP (you will want
to do this
anyway to make sure the OS image is good).
Go to Drive Manager, on the drive you
resized make a partition the size you need (for Vista or Windows 7, I suggest a minimum 20 Gig
or up to 32 Gig- Note: Windows 10 will complain if the partition is less than 50
GB however it will install on the 32 GB partition). Do not format or assign a drive letter to the partition, Vista
or Windows Seven / Ten
will reformat it when you install the OS.
Installing a new hard drive for the Vista install:
Normally Vista or Windows 7/8/10 will see the raw partition and will install with out problems
but if you start the install and get to the point where you select the new drive
and the installation process will not allow you to go forward. In this case I
would use the same method above.
Once installed on any of the above scenario's you will see this screen when
starting your computer:
One of the neat things about Vista/Windows 7 / 8 /10 boot manager is the Diagnostics
So what does the Vista/Windows 7/ 8 / 10 boot.ini look like?
Sorry it doesn't have one. You
need a special file called a boot manager to modify the boot settings. The boot
manager is named bcdedit.exe. This is a command line editor with the normal MS
syntax (commands) that take a degree in Geekdom to use. I recommend a program
such as the one listed below.
What about Windows Seven/Eight / 10 (Win 7/ 8 /10)?
Well it is pretty close to Vista with a few changes -
This is a Dual Boot for your computer with Win 7 and XP.
If you press F8 then you get this menu -
The notable additional lines are -
Repair your computer
The lower seven lines are for Beta Testing and will not survive to the
production environment when the product is released for sale to the public.
If you select Repair Your Computer you will get the following screen.
You need to have a user ID that has Administrator's rights to log on.
Enter the User ID and Password.
The you will be at the Repair and Diagnostics menu.
What can you do with this menu?
- Startup Repair
- System Restore
- System Image Recovery
- Windows memory Diagnostics
- Command Prompt
Note: The above image is the same menu you would get if you used the
Windows 7 / 8 / 10 Backup program to create an Emergency Repair Disc (ERD). However if
you look at the list you can't do much with this ERD, see this page for more
information on making a:
These are the changes that Win 7 / 8 / 10 is bringing to the boot menu.
You need a special program to view the contents, it is not a text file, one
of these will let you view and modify the Boot Configuration Data store.
Using a commercial program to accomplish the dual boot for
VistaBootPRO (Note: You will need .net for XP, the install program will open the
download page for you)
Vista screen shots:
OS Entries, this is where you can change the startup sequence and a few
Note: I recommend you backup the registry before you do any modifications!
If you do not backup the registry you may find yourself reloading not just Vista
but your other OS also, trust me!
This dual boot manager works with
Windows 7 also,
but you have to back up the registry before YOU modify the boot settings!
Dual Boot for your computer instructions
To add another OS to the boot.ini for your OS besides Vista you have
to modify the boot.ini for the original install of XP to read:
Normal Windows NT / 2000 / XP boot.ini:
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Professional"
Notice that I have added on a Windows 2000 and a DOS partition to show you
how the boot.ini would look for more than two Operating Systems.
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Professional /fastdetect
multi(0)disk(2)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows 2000
If you want to have a boot menu when your OS starts you can
use this for an example, this is not a dual boot but a normal boot where you can
select the startup the same as pressing F6:
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="XP Pro Normal" /fastdetect /noexecute=optin
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Safe Mode" /safeboot:minimal /sos /bootlog
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Safe Mode Networking" /safeboot:network
/sos /bootlog /noguiboot
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Safe Mode CMD Prompt" /safeboot:minimal(alternateshell)
/sos /bootlog /noguiboot
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="XP Pro Debug" /debug /sos /basevideo
The menu, as you can see the different ways you can start your computer:
Pressing the F8 will bring up the 'Safe Mode' menu:
As you can see it is possible to have more than one or two different Operating
Systems on your computer.
If you are having problems getting in to the Safe Mode because your computer
startup is too fast to get the the F6 key you can add this to the boot.ini to
bring up the startup menu just above this line:
This will load the menu then you can select what you want to do instead of
restarting multiple times trying to get the F6 key to bring it up. Once you have
done what you need to do you can remove it if you don't want the menu to come up
all the time.
I will make a recommendation:
Backup your hard drive before you make any modifications for your
dual boot for your computer, an
image of the partitions is the best way to do this.
Update 02/12/20 - At this time there is not an alternative to Dual
Boot Pro or Vista Boot Pro that will work with Windows 10, Dual boot Pro will
work with Windows 7, installing it then installing Windows 10 will cause
problems with the boot sequence. So personally I use what Windows 10 provides
for booting to my older installations...