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Windows 7 SATA with XP IDE Dual Boot Multiple Disks

6,596 Expert 4TB
There is a lot of confusion and attempts to resolve the Windows 7 (and Vista) multi-boot issue (some good, some not so good). I'll do my best to clear things up a bit.

1) When you install Windows 7 on a second (SATA in my case) drive from the DVD while running XP (DON'T BOOT FROM THE DVD), the installation will automatically create the correct boot info on the drive that was active at the time of the installation, and WILL NOT put boot info on the newly created Windows 7 system disk.
2) In this case the MBR is not run by ntldr, but by a secretly installed Vista (Win7) Boot Manager, so don't go looking in boot.ini for solutions, clues, etc.
3) You can see the boot record info with a nifty freebe called EasyBCD, which runs on XP with .Net Framework 2.0 installed and later OSs. Have no fear that this program is a bit dated and says that it's working on Vista - It works fine on Win7 as well. Here's a typical Dual Boot Record:
There are a total of 2 entries listed in the Vista Bootloader.
Bootloader Timeout: 30 seconds.
Default OS: Windows 7

Entry #1

Name: Earlier Version of Windows
BCD ID: {ntldr}
Drive: C:\
Bootloader Path: \ntldr

Entry #2

Name: Windows 7
BCD ID: {default}
Drive: \Device\HarddiskVolume4
Bootloader Path: \Windows\system32\winload.exe
Windows Directory: \Windows
The fun begins when you decide that Window 7 is the greatest thing since XP (true for NT advocates) and you are now brave enough to breath some new life into your old XP installation. I my case, I re-ran my SP3 installer and got a two-fold increase in performance (63 updates later - no sweat with a 10 meg connection).

4) Your boot record gets reset by the XP install precess. Microsoft's answer is to re-run the Win7 install DVD, but by now you are gun-shy about inserting disks from those guys into the tray (or have removed the DVD player, as I did).
5) If you did take the precaution of make the Win7 recovery CD, you put that in, run the recovery option (A COUPLE OF TIMES - Microsoft is reported to have "screwed this one up"), go into your BIOS and set the SATA drive to a) be a boot drive and b) boot before the IDE drive and get your Win7 to boot again (which may get you thinking "how come SATA was not set to be a boot drive").

So, by now you googled for hours trying to figure out how to dual boot into XP from Windows 7 running BCDEdit (this may work if you know all the secrets - I'll be working on this in my spare time) and have finally found this post. I an assure you that if you
"15. In the upper right section under Bootloader Installer Options, select (dot) Reinstall the Vista Bootloader, then click on the Write MBR button."
on EasyBCD's Manage Bootloader screen under XP, you will get your boot record set back to before you reinstalled XP. If you did change your BIOS settings, you'll need to go in and set the IDE drive back (usually #2, after the CD/DVD). I kept the SATA drive as a bootable device and can use F12 to switch beween OSs in an emergency.

Hope this helps - Let us know your experience
Feb 28 '10 #1
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