Dual-boot problems - Vista does not recognize XP upon Vista install


May 24, 2008
Yesterday I had both Vista and XP installed in a dual-boot config using the Vista bootloader and everything was fine. Tried to play Halo 2 Vista, but would not run (in Vista) even after reinstalls and driver updates, so I decided to reinstall Vista. Boot up the CD, reformat the Vista partition, installed Vista there, booted up no problem, but the bootloader does not show - just boots into Vista. Used EasyBCD to create an XP entry, but said that the ntldr and such files were missing. Downloaded them off the EasyBCD website, put them on the Vista drive (putting them on the XP drive had no effect), added the entry. Attempting to boot into the XP entry gets me an invalid boot.ini error, now attempting to boot to C:/WINDOWS (which is Vista, XP is E:/) and then a black screen. After attempting multiple fixmbr's and fixboot's from the XP recovery console, I used bootcfg in the XP recovery console. Now I should note that when first booting up the XP Recovery console , it does give me a choice of which windows install I want to fix, C:/WINDOWS or E:/WINDOWS - anyways I type in bootcfg /list, no entries listed. bootcfg /rebuild tells me that it found 1 Windows install, C:/WINDOWS, and asks whether I want to add the entry. Now being the idiot that I am I did, following the instructions in MS Support article Q330184 which I figure has nothing to do with my problem, but I added C:/WINDOWS as an entry. Vista bootloader comes up, select the XP entry, and now instead of invalid boot.ini now attempting to boot to C:/WINDOWS it just skips that and gives me the black screen.

So a couple things: 1) I really don't want to reinstall XP/format my XP drive because it's a real pain in the ass to get everything installed on that drive again. 2) I'm still wondering why the Vista DVD didn't see the XP install for the bootloader automatically, all the guides on the internet say I should be able to just install Vista and it will see XP and boom it will work. 3) I am wondering how I can go into my XP drive, E:/, and manually edit the boot.ini file so that it reads E:/WINDOWS and see if that fixes it, as in, find it in explorer, open it in notepad, and edit it and save - can't just edit the XP boot.ini from a Vista MSCONFIG or anything can I?

Unless you guys have a better suggestion on how to fix this?

edit: I should've probably mentioned, the prior Vista install was 64-bit but when I reinstalled I put a 32-bit version on (same CD-key), and other than the fixmbr's, fixboot's, and bootcfg stuff nothing has been done to the E drive.

pat mcgroin

Nov 21, 2007
Im not sure why vista isnt catching on but here is a article from the windows secrets news letter that should be of help. Its a little more than you need but you should start around step 7

Make your computer dual-boot Vista and XP

By Scott Dunn

It's getting harder to buy a new computer with Windows XP installed and — after Microsoft stops selling XP on June 30, 2008 — it will become nearly impossible.

Fortunately, you can have your XP cake and eat your Vista, too, by setting up your system to boot between the two operating systems.

Add an XP option to your new Vista system

If a new computer arrived in your recent past, or you plan to buy one in the near future, chances are it will come with Windows Vista installed. Although some manufacturers still give you the option of getting XP on your new system, that option is likely to dry up for most consumers later this year when Microsoft stops selling Windows XP.

If you're not ready to dive into Vista all at once, there is an answer: set up your Vista computer to dual-boot between Vista and XP.

In this article, I'll tell you how to make your PC give you a choice between Vista and XP every time you start up. In a separate article coming soon, I'll give you some additional tips that save disk space on a dual-boot system.

Although some sources, such as Computer Shopper Magazine, advise that you need an add-on product like VistaBootPro to dual-boot, you can accomplish the same thing without any additional software other than the two operating systems.

Before starting, make sure you have your Windows XP install discs ready as well as your Windows Vista DVD. In addition, it's a good idea to make a complete system backup before beginning an operation like this.

Once you've laid that groundwork, you're ready to go to work:

Step 1. In Vista, click Start, type diskmgmt.msc, and press Enter. Click Continue if prompted by User Account Control.

Step 2. Right-click a drive and choose Shrink Volume. Specify the amount to shrink, which in this case is the amount you want for your XP partition. At a minimum, you'll need around 2.5GB for XP Pro SP2. I suggest you select a larger partition to leave room for updates and other files that may need to be on the same drive as XP. Because I wanted a 5GB partition, I typed 5000 (representing 5,000 megabytes) in the available box. Click Shrink.

Step 3. Right-click the newly available area and choose New Simple Volume. Follow the steps in the wizard to assign a drive letter now, or wait until the next step. When prompted, check Perform a quick format to format the volume with NTFS.

Step 4. When the wizard is done formatting the new volume, you can assign or rearrange drive letters as needed. For example, changing drive letters may also put your CD/DVD drive in a more logical order.

To do that, right-click a volume or the CD/DVD drive and choose Change Drive Letters and Paths. If a volume hasn't got a drive letter yet, click Add. Otherwise, select the drive icon in the dialog box and click Change.

If you're rearranging the letters on existing drives, you may need to change the drives in a particular order. Or you may need to give a drive a temporary letter (such as Z) to free up a letter for another drive; you would change the Z drive to something else later. Make your selection and click OK. Repeat for other partitions or drives until you have the order you want.

Step 5. When you're done with your partitioning chores, exit Disk Management. Insert your XP disc into the drive and restart your system, booting from that disk.

Step 6. Follow the steps to install XP. When asked for the target drive, select your new partition and press Enter. Because you already formatted this partition with NTFS, you can skip the formatting step. At the appropriate screen, arrow down to Leave the current file system intact (no changes) and press Enter. Continue the installation process until it's finished and XP has started.

Step 7. Your system now boots to XP, so we'll need to do some fixing to set up a boot menu. Insert your Vista DVD and restart the computer from it. Click Next in the first screen.

Step 8. Don't click Install when prompted! Instead, click Repair Your Computer in the lower-left corner.

Step 9. When the System Recovery Options dialog appears, make sure Microsoft Windows Vista is selected and click Next. In the next dialog box, select the Command Prompt option at the bottom.

Step 10. In the command-prompt window, type the following commands and press Enter after each one:

bootrec.exe /fixMBR
bootrec.exe /fixBoot

Step 11. Close the command prompt and click Restart.

Step 12. When your computer has booted into Vista, click Start, type cmd.exe, and press Ctrl+Shift+Enter to make the command window open with elevated privileges. Click Continue, if prompted by User Account Control.

Step 13. Type the following commands in the command window, one at at time, pressing Enter after each one. After each command, you should get the response, "The operation completed successfully." A response of, "The specified entry already exists," is OK, too. If not, retype your command to make sure you've entered it correctly. If Vista is installed on a drive other than c:, change the first command below to use the proper drive letter. The curly braces around {ntldr} in each command must be typed exactly as shown:

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

That's it! The next time you restart your system, you should be see a prompt that will let you choose between Vista or XP. Select the one you want and press Enter.

How to customize your boot menu

When you start your dual-boot system, the menu will appear for a few seconds. If you don't press any keys, eventually Windows Vista will start. Fortunately, you can change this if you don't want Vista to be your default operating system. You can also customize the waiting period before the default kicks in.

Here's what to do:

Step 1. Click Start. Type systempropertiesadvanced and press Enter. Click Continue, if prompted by User Account Control.

Step 2. Under Startup and Recovery, click Settings.

Step 3. At the top of the dialog box, select the operating system you want to start by default.

Step 4. In the box to the right of Time to display list of operating systems, specify the number of seconds for the options to stay on screen. Click OK.

Microsoft provides documentation of Vista's bcdedit command and its parameters in an article in the Windows Vista Technical Library


May 24, 2008
no such luck. After I did the bootrec.exe /fixboot, I typed in /? and saw that it had a /RebuildBcd option which listed all the Vista bootloader compatible OS's that it saw - zip. Later I'm going to manually change the drive letters so the XP boot.ini that points to C:/WINDOWS will try to boot an XP install, not a Vista install (and thus not fail and give me a black screen.... hopefully) and of course manually edit the bcd with the command prompt because it looks like that does something with the ntldr file that EasyBCD didn't.


May 24, 2008
If I can't fix this by Wednesday I'm just going to reinstall XP - driver glitches are just too annoying in Vista, can't even play a round of TF2 without the gun textures glitching and the game randomly crashing.

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