Windows XP Users: Don't Boot Vista, Dual Boot Instead

Tuesday Feb 26th 2008 by Ronald Barrett
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Not quite ready for the move to Vista? We’ll show you how to ease your way into Vista and keep that XP system you’ve come to love.

You probably know the feeling of owning a really comfortable pair of jeans that seems to be ready to be tossed just as they start to fit right. Many XP users are feeling that same emotional tear as they start to consider what to do about their XP system that they just can’t seem to part with.

In spite of the many improvements in Vista, many users are – to say the least – less than excited about the news that at the end of June 2008, Windows XP will be going away for good.

This news has many clamoring to buy systems before the cutoff and hold tight. Even many of my own clients who raved when I was mentioned as one the “Vista Masters” in the books Tricks of the Windows Vista Masters by J. Peter Bruzzese, have shown an overwhelming resistance to moving to Vista in the near or distant future.

But is it really necessary to start thinking about scrambling to make a new purchase before June’s deadline (or bunker down and refuse to lose that four year-old Pentium 4 PC), simply to avoid Vista?

No, there is another more palatable solution to the Vista or XP question, and it is this: You don’t have to choose between them – you can have them both. We’ll show you how in this article.

Have your cake and eat it too!

One of the many improvements in Windows Vista is the ability to repartition disks on the fly and create new volumes. This little utility will help make it possible to create the dual boot environment.

Of course before we begin, a full backup should be made of the Vista system. Depending on your version you can back up your files and data (or for Business, Enterprise and Ultimate) users you can do an image-based backup. Once your backup is completed begin by doing either of the following:

1. Right Click Computer and choose Manage – Storage – Disk Management or Click the Start orb and type diskmgmt.msc. UAC will then prompt you to be sure you want to proceed. Press Continue (Although you may have turned this off, after all it is probably the most hated new feature of Vista).

2. Next you’ll need to choose your Vista volume and either right click or choose Action – All Tasks – Shrink Volumes from the menu. After a short disk query you will be asked to enter the Amount of Space to Shrink in MB. While Microsoft recommends 1.5 GB for an XP install, it is important to note that you will need to leave enough room for updates and for additional software and files you want available in XP. For example, to create a 20GB partition type 20,000 (MB’s) and click shrink.

3. Right Click the new partition and choose new simple volume. Follow the disk wizard and assign this volume a drive letter. When prompted, format the drive using NTFS. Once the format is done you can change the drive letter assignments if necessary.

a. Right click or choose Action- All Tasks – Change Drive Letter and Paths

b. Choose add (if no drive letter is assigned) or highlight and choose change

c. To re-arrange drives either assign a temporary drive letter or work from last to first (e.g. G:, F:. E: etc.)

d. Click Ok and close Disk Manager

4. Now insert your XP disk and reboot your system. When prompted press any key to boot into the XP setup disc. Follow the XP installation steps and choose your newly created drive when prompted for the installation location. At the disk formatting screen you can choose “Leave the current file system” and finish the installation.

5. Upon reboot the system will by default boot to Windows XP, so we need to create our startup boot menu. Insert the Vista DVD and reboot the system. When prompted click next.

Next, click Repair your Computer (be careful not to choose install). At the System Recovery Console select Windows Vista and click next. Then choose the command prompt option.

7. At the command prompt type the following:

bootrec.exe /fixMBR – press enter
bootrec.exe /fixBoot – press enter

Close the command prompt and reboot.

8. Once the system restarts it will boot into Windows Vista. Click the start orb and type cmd.exe and then click Ctrl+Shift+Enter; this will open the command prompt with elevated privileges. If you are prompted by the UAC, press continue. What follows next is a series of commands that should be type exactly as shown below. After each command is typed you should receive a message of “The operation completed successfully” or “The specified entry already exists”. Either response is fine. {Note: If Vista is installed on a drive other than c:, first change the command prompt to the drive Vista is installed on, then type the commands.}

bcdedit -set {ntldr} device partition=C:
bcdedit -set {ntldr} path ntldr
bcdedit -displayorder {ntldr} -addlast
bcdedit -set {ntldr} description "Microsoft Windows
XP"

And that’s it. After your next reboot you will be prompted to choose between Windows Vista and Windows XP. Select the OS you want and you’re ready to go.

Customize the boot menu

By default the system will boot to Windows Vista if no option is chosen, but this too can be rectified. Boot into Windows Vista. Right click Computer and choose properties. Choose advanced system settings. And under Startup and Recovery, click settings.

Here you can choose the default operating system, as well as how long (in seconds) the boot menu will allow for you to choose an operating system.

Is it really worth the effort?

Some may wonder if it’s worth the trouble of creating a dual boot environment. After all, news of Windows 7 has already begun to spread like wildfire.

I had someone recently ask if Windows Vista is going to turn out to be the next Windows Me disaster, which many viewed as the prelude to Windows XP. But Windows 7 is only in its infancy stages and those who are optimistic say it will come sometime in 2010. This release will also build on, not abandon what has been done with Windows Vista. So in the meantime continue to enjoy those comfy jeans…err.. Windows XP, but have Vista around so you can break it in and eventually Vista will grow on you.

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