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How To Install Windows XP on a Windows Vista Machine (Part 4)

Step 4: Editing the Boot Configuration Database (BCDEdit)

These are the final few steps that you will need to perform in order to allow you to boot from both Windows XP and Windows Vista on the same machine, without having to switch back and fourth between drives in the BIOS. Hopefully, you still have your Computer Management screen up and an Administrative Command Prompt. If not, just refer back to STEP 3 to open those again, if you don't recall how it is done.

Administrative Command Prompt with NotepadIn the administrative console (command prompt), unless you had to open it again, type c: or whatever the drive letter is that corresponds to your Windows Vista installation. You will probably be in c:\Windows\System32 so we will want  to change the directory to the root of the drive. To do this, simply type 'cd c:\', replacing c with your drive lettter for Windows Vista, and removing the quotes, then hit enter. Now we will need to edit the boot.ini file which we copied to your Vista drive. Type 'notepad.exe boot.ini'.

Original Boot.iniHere is where things get a little bit confusing. We need to tell boot.ini on which drive Windows Vista lives, even though we use this file to boot Windows XP. This is because the bootloader is located on the Windows Vista drive and is not accessed from the Windows XP drive. You will have to look at the partition table again on the management console. You now need to find the Drive number that Windows Vista is installed on. In our example this drive was drive 1 and Windows XP was on drive 0. Because the bootloader is on the Windows Vista drive, we need to tell boot.ini to find the loader on the first partition of the same drive that Vista is on. If your Windows Vista installation is on drive 0 then you shouldn't have to make changes, but if it is on a different drive number then we will need to change the value of rdisk in the boot.ini file. In our example, the Vista installation is on drive 1 so we will have to change the boot.ini values of the rdisk to 1 in both the default and operating system sections. If you don't change both values, then you will get a second bootloader option for Windows XP, one working and one not, so make sure to change both rdisk values if you have to. As I mentioned, though, if your Vista is located on disk 0 then you will not have to make these changes. You should end up with a boot.ini file that looks like the following. Make sure you save your changes, if you had to make any, and exit notepad.

Edited Boot.iniAs you can see in the image above, we have changed the value of rdisk from 0 to 1.

Now we come to the final steps of the installation. Here you have to perform a series of commands in an administrative console which will install Windows XP into the Boot Configuration Database. BCDEdit is a handy little tool which will allow you to enter the values needed to create a multiboot environment. You can use this command to install a Linux boot partition or any other boot partition, however that is beyond the scope of this article, so we will stick with Windows XP.

BCDEdit CommandsBack at the Administrative Console, and at the root of your Windows Vista hard drive (c:\ presumably), we need to know two things. What would you like the bootloader to display as the operating systems name? and What hard drive letter does Windows XP reside on? The following commands (duplicated in the image to the left) need to be issued in order to install the OS into the BCD.

bcdedit /create {ntldr} /d "Windows XP"

This command installs only the name of the operating system that you wish to add to the BCD. You can replace Windows XP for whatever it is you want the OS to show up as in the bootloader. Make sure to note that you need braces around ntloader and you need quotes around the OS description. Next command.

bcdedit /set {ntldr} device partition=g:

This command tells the booloader where to find Windows XP. You will have to replace g: with the hard drive letter corresponding to the hard drive that holds your Windows XP installation. Don't forget to add the colon after the drive letter, and do note the space between device and partition. Next and final commands.

bcdedit /set {ntldr} path \ntldr
bcdedit /displayorder {ntldr} /addlast

The first command tells the Windows Vista bootloader where to find the ntldr file. The second command tells the Windows Vista bootloader to list Windows XP as an entry and to place the Windows XP entry at the end of the available operating systems list at boot time - this step is not optional, Windows XP will not show up in the list if you do not issue this command.

You can now close all of your windows, and reboot your machine. You should be greeted with a menu that lets you choose your operating system and will be able to boot into either Windows Vista or Windows XP. Enjoy!



How To Install Windows XP on a Windows Vista Machine (Part 3)

Step 3: Transferring System Files

You should now be able to boot into Windows XP and work in that, but you don't have any access to Windows Vista, save maybe being able to see the hard drive in Windows XP. Now we have to undo all of the stuff we did in the BIOS which will allow you to be able to boot back into Windows Vista, however, you won't be able to boot into Windows XP yet. Refer back to Part 2 to refresh you memory about the changes we made in BIOS. Basically, the most important change we have to make, is in the Hard Disk Drive area on the Boot tab. You will need to reorder you hard drives so that the Vista boot drive is again at the top. Check your device boot priority and make sure either the CD/DVD drive or the Vista drive is in the top of the boot order. (Note: It is handy to leave the CD/DVD drive at the top and the Windows Vista drive second in case you want to boot from a bootable CD such as a Live Linux distribution, Norton Ghost, or an OS Installation CD). Verify you have your boot information correct and then save and exit from the BIOS setup. You should now test to see that you will boot into Windows Vista. If you don't boot to Vista, double check your settings and try again.

Now that we are back in Windows Vista, you will need to open up your management console and take a look at where everything is located in respect to how Windows sees it. To do this simply click start then right click on Computer in the right pane of the start menu and click Manage. Because this can affect system wide settings, you will need to confirm the action to UAC by clicking Continue.

Windows Vista Managment ConsoleYou should now have a window on your screen that is similar to the image on the left. Here you need to remember a few things. First you need to remember the drive letter that Windows XP is installed on. If you didn't label the drive specifically, the Windows Vista drive should be the one that says Boot beside the healthy status. It may say a few other things, such as page file, etc, as well, but boot should be in there somewhere. Now you should have the letter of the Windows XP hard drive, in the example here, this will be 'G:'. You will also want to note which physical identifier the hard drive has. Below the list of drives you will see the partition bars labeled Disk 0, Disk 1 and so on, for all of your physical drives. Our Windows XP installation resides on Disk 0, so we will also want to remember that.  Yours may be on Disk 1 or another drive, so just make sure you know which number corresponds to your installation.

Administrative Command PromptMinimize the Management console and open up an Administrative Command Prompt. To do this, click Start, All Programs, Accessories and right click on Command Prompt then click Run As Administrator. Again, you will need to authorize the action via Continue on UAC. This will open up a black command prompt window like the one pictured on the left.

Administrative Command Prompt With CommandsNow that we have an administrative command console open we will have to execute a number of commands to grant us access and change the visibility of some files we will need on the Windows XP hard drive. First off, to make sure you are on the right drive, type the letter of the drive which holds Windows XP then a colon and hit enter. So for our example this would be: 'G:' (without the quotes). Now we have to set some attributes of the needed system files on the Windows XP hard drive. We need access to three specific files; ntldr, and boot.ini. There are few system files on that hard drive at the moment so we can just globally modify the files. In the Command prompt type 'attrib -s -h *.*' and then hit enter. Now, should you do a 'dir' you will be able to see these files. We now need to copy those three files over to the hard drive that holds Windows Vista, this should be c:, but sometimes it can be different, although highly unlikely. So, we now have to copy those three files. Type the following commands, replacing <drive> with the corresponding drive letter for your Windows Vista installation, don't forget the colons after the drive letter.

'copy ntldr <drive>:'
'copy <drive>:'
'copy boot.ini <drive>:'

We have now made copies of the files we will need in Windows Vista in order to make the Windows XP installation bootable, although we are not wuite done yet. Before we continue, let's change the attributes of those files back to hidden system files. This time we type 'attrib +s +h *.*' to reset the system and hidden attributes. We are now done this part of the process, only one more step remains.



How To Install Windows XP on a Windows Vista Machine (Part 2)

Step 2: Changing your BIOS

This step is rather quirky, as we can't give you exact information on what to do here due to the number of different BIOS and motherboard manufactures. We can, however, show you what we did on our test rig which has an AMI Bios. This is definitely one of the more widely used BIOSes, and almost any machine in the modern world should have options to allow you to do the same thing. This does not, however, guarantee it will be in your particular bios. If you find that you can not set the exact hard drive you wish to boot from in your BIOS, then you will be forced to open up the case and disconnect your Vista hard drive, and make the secondary hard drive bootable. We won't be discussing how to do that here, however, as I mentioned before, almost all modern BIOS have a means to choose which hard drive should be considered the primary drive, so you should be OK. Remember the changes you make to your BIOS as you will have to reverse these settings later on! If you have to write the changes down to remember, do so!

AMI BIOS ScreenTo get into your BIOS you will generally have to hit either Delete, F2 or F12. If none of these work for you, you will have to check with your motherboard manufacture, or pay attention to what the power on screen tells you. It will generally say something like "Hit (key) to enter Setup" or "Hit (key) to enter BIOS Setup", replacing (key) with the key you need to strike to get into the setup screen. On our test rig, the key to hit at power on is the Delete key. When you've entered into the BIOS you should have a screen that looks similar to the image on the left. This should tell you what hard drives you have installed, what CD/DVD devices, floppies, etc. If you have a RAID device, a series of several hard drives that are utilized as a single device, they may not show up here and you may have to configure your RAID device BIOS instead. For example, our test rig has two RAID devices, each made up of two physical hard drives, set up, one SATA and one PATA, however we have to go into the Fastrak BIOS to configure those. Those four hard drives do not show up in this BIOS, only the solo Western Digital shows up here. You will see your RAID devices listed later on, though, usually named something like TX Array 1 or some such.

AMI BIOS Boot TabNow that you are in your BIOS, you should be able to access a boot tab, or similar area, in your BIOS. On our rig, the boot tab has all of the options which we will have to change in order to make the computer think that the solo Western Digital drive is the primary hard drive, rather than the RAID array we normally boot off of. Essentially what we will be doing here is changing how your computer sees your hard drives, and which one should be considered the hard drive that we want activated as the bootable hard drive. This will not affect your ability to boot into Windows Vista, or, at least, not permanently. We need to do this step in order to make sure that the Vista bootloader and Master Boot Record (MBR) are not affected.

AMI BIOS Drive SelectionFor us, using the BIOS we have on our test rig, we need to go to Hard Disk Drives and hit enter. We are presented with our current hard drive order; that is, the order that the computer sees these devices. At the moment, the computer sees our first RAID Array (the SATA RAID) as the primary boot device and the Western Digital solo drive as the secondary drive. Our PATA RAID doesn't even show up on this screen as we never need to utilize it as a boot device, so we removed it from this screen altogether. What we need to do is basically tell the computer we want to see the Western Digital hard drive first, and any other drive or RAID device second, third, etc.

AMI BIOS Set Secondary DriveTo do this, you simply have to hit enter on the First Disk drives name. Select the drive you wish the system to see as ordered as your first hard drive available on the system and then hit enter. This drive should be the drive you want to install Windows XP on, not the hard drive you currently have Windows Vista installed on. As a precautionary measure, we have also set the second drive to disabled, which basically means at boot time, the computer will not even recognize this hard drive as a bootable hard drive. The operating system will still have access to the hard drive, and it will still be available, however, you will not be able to write an MBR on any of the devices not shown on this screen. This is a good thing to implement, as you don't want to accidentally write to your Vista MBR.

AMI BIOS Device PriorityNext we need to select our boot device priority. If we try to boot off of the hard drive we are going to install Windows XP on, chances are our system will not boot, as we are assuming you are using a blank hard drive. We now need to tell the BIOS that we don't want to boot from that hard drive, but from the CD/DVD drive. Hit ESC to go back to the Boot Tab from the Hard Disk Drive section of our BIOS and then go to Boot Device Priority and hit enter. Here you may see that your blank hard drive is the first in the priority. You must change this to boot from the CD/DVD drive instead. To do this, hit Enter on the device beside 1st Boot Device and then use the arrow keys to select the CD/DVD drive you want to boot from, hitting enter to make that selection. As we can see below, the hard drive automatically goes down the list to becoming the second in queue to be booted, and the CD/DVD drive becomes the first to boot. If a bootable record isn't found on the CD/DVD media in the drive, or if no media is present, the computer will automatically boot the hard drive next.

AMI BIOS Boot Priority Switched

AMI BIOS Save and ExitThe final step we have to do in our BIOS is to save the configuaration and exit. Most BIOS use the F10 key to savem, but not all of them, so you might have to go to a Save and Exit Tab or hit the appropriate key. Make sure you save your changes, as we don't want to be able to boot to Windows Vista. Test this theory by leaving your CD/DVD drive empty and try to boot from the blank hard drive. You should not be able to boot, since the hard drive is empty. If this is the case, all is well and good.

Now that you have tested your configuration, put your Windows XP (this works for 2003 and Media Center as well) media in the CD/DVD drive and boot from the disc, install Windows XP, boot into it, get your service packs, drivers, etc all sorted out then meet me back here for part 3 when you are finished.



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!