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30Dec/080

How To Install Windows XP on a Windows Vista Machine (Dual Boot)

This is one of the questions I have been most asked recently: How can I install Windows XP on a computer that has Windows Vista installed, while keeping my Vista installation. While this isn't necessarily a simple fix, it is something that is easily achieved with a bit of ingenuity and know how. This first tutorial will help those that have access to more than one physical hard drive. We will put together something later on that will help those with a single hard drive. What you will need for this tutorial is a basic knowledge of your BIOS and how to get into the BIOS at boot time on your computer. You will also need to know how to set certain parameters in your BIOS. If you are unfamiliar with  any of this, we recommend that you visit your motherboard manufacture and get a soft manual or pull out your motherboard manual to refer to while working with this tutorial. As there is a vast variety of BIOS and motherboard manufactures, we can not offer you any help in this area. Additionally, you will need to know how to set up Windows XP on your own.

Backup System and the obligatory Disclaimer

Before we continue, you are going to want to make absolutely sure your software is completely backed up. You don't want to accidentally overwrite your valuable data or operating system. Make sure you have completed a full backup using Windows Vista's backup tool, or one of your other favorite tools. We take no responsibility for what you do to you computer. If you choose to continue reading this article and follow the steps we will guide you through, that is your business, but we can not be held liable for anything you do to your system that renders it unbootable or for any loss of data that you may incur while performing these steps. We try to keep things as simple and accurate as possible, however, I will repeat, we can not be held responsible for damage to your system should you follow this tutorial.

Step 1: Verifying Your System

You have now completed your backup and are ready to get that system up and running with a dual boot operating system. Windows Vista introduces a new bootloader which is not compatible with older Windows operating systems. The new method of booting offers a nice security layer to your system, however, it also is a bit harder to work with than the older bootloader. If you install an old version of Windows over top of Windows Vista, you will find that you are no longer able to boot Windows Vista, as you cannot boot Windows Vista from the boot.ini file or by using ntloader. This makes running a dual boot system a bit more difficult. There are third party loaders which will facilitate this, but why pay for something you can do on your own?

In this step, you should verify that you actually do have more than one physical hard drive available. In these days of terabyte hard drives, you may find that you only have one physical hard drive split into two partitions. To verify this you can either go into your systems BIOS and check for the existence of two physical hard drives. Alternately  you could crack the case open and visually confirm that you have two hard drives. Once you have determined that you have two hard drives you should download all of the drivers that you will need in order to install Windows XP on your system. Some of the newer motherboards are not natively supported in Windows XP, of special concern are SATA and SATA II controllers and RAID devices. If you boot the Windows XP installion CD/DVD, and do not see any hard drives listed, you will need to get these drivers and inject them into the operating system before you can install Windows XP. Generally this is a trivial matter and you can put the drivers on a flash drive or on a floppy (GADS! What's a floppy?!?!).

Alright. You have verified that you have two hard drives, have the drivers you need unzipped, in hand and ready to go and you know how to get into your system BIOS; time to get the show on the road!

PART 2

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