Friday, April 10, 2009

Dual Boot Windows XP And Windows 7

Configuring your PC to dual boot between Windows Vista and Windows 7, or even Window XP and Windows 7 can be a bit of a challenge if its not done correctly. Most beginners make a few common mistakes which can leads to nothing but headaches and hassles.

Today Microsoft has released a new video that should help elevate some of the stress of trying to setup that dual boot system. Note you need silverlight installed to view the video below

Get Microsoft Silverlight

Before you being:

One of the assumptions the video makes is that an earlier version of Windows already exists and that you will be installing a newer version of Windows (like Windows 7). This is one of the most common mistakes I see users make. Whichever operating system is installed last will create it's own boot mechanism and in the case of Windows XP it will not work correctly with either Vista or Windows 7. So you want to make sure that you are installing the older operating system first and then adding in the newer OS.

The key to multi-boot configurations using any operating system after Windows XP is the Boot Configuration Data (BCD) store. Windows XP and prior OS's utilized the boot.ini file which was fairly easy to manage. That is not so with Vista, Windows 7 or Server 2008. The BCD is the new location of all your boot options and configuration settings.

In the event that you have Windows Vista or Windows 7 already installed and you would like to install Windows XP, you'll need to check out this article. This article applies to both Windows 7 as well as Windows Vista. If you aren't comfortable using the command line then I recommend using EasyBCD or VistaBootPro. Both are very user friendly with nice graphical interfaces.

If you want to learn all of the details of the bcdedit tool, check out:

BCDEdit Command-Line Options

and then of course you'll want to check out the faq as well:

Boot Configuration Data Editor Frequently Asked Questions

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