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Windows 7: Multi-booting Windows 7


30 May 2010   #1

Windows 7
 
 
Multi-booting Windows 7

A few months ago I bought my first Apple Mac and pretty soon used Boot Camp to install Windows 7. So now, I can now dual-boot between OS-X and Windows. Along the way there've been a few hiccups so I decided to clone my Windows partition so that I'll have a fallback option if ever the main Windows 7 partition refuses to boot. The Mac's (GPT) partition table now looks like this:-

Code:
PARTITION 1)  EFI primary partition (200MB)
PARTITION 2)  HFS primary partition (88.88GB) - Mac OS-X 10.6
UNALLOCATED)  Free space (128MB) - Needed for Windows on a GPT drive
PARTITION 3)  NTFS primary partition (88.85GB) - Windows 7 (C: Drive)
UNALLOCATED)  Free space (256MB)
PARTITION 4)  NTFS primary partition (88.85GB) - Cloned Windows 7 partition
In order to make partition 4 bootable I assumed that I'd just need to add a boot.ini file to partition 3 (which is currently the Windows boot partition). I created a boot.ini (file in C:\) with these entries:-

Code:
[boot loader]
timeout =4
default = multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(3)\WINDOWS
[operating systems]
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(3)\WINDOWS="Windows 7"
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(4)\WINDOWS="Windows 7 (fallback)"
I also tried a slight variation on that, which looks like this:-

Code:
[boot loader]
timeout =4
default = multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(1)partition(3)\WINDOWS
[operating systems]
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(1)partition(3)\WINDOWS="Windows 7"
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(1)partition(4)\WINDOWS="Windows 7 (fallback)"
However, neither of them is giving me the usual boot menu at start up. Is there something else I need to be doing?

My System SpecsSystem Spec
.

30 May 2010   #2

Windows 6.1
 
 

In windows of 6 series (Vista, Seven, 2008) boot.ini is no longer used. To modify boot options you have to use bcedit.exe command line tool.
But because of different drive letters you will not be able to boot cloned Windows partition anyway (I'm quite sure of this).
Try installing Windows copy to the second partition.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
30 May 2010   #3

Windows 7
 
 
Follow up....

Follow up - I came across this tutorial:-

BCDEDIT - How to Use

which explained that Windows 7 apparently doesn't use the older system with boot.ini etc. I need to use a new utility called "bcdedit". This does seem to make some provision for dual-booting into a legacy OS - and I can even get a boot menu on my screen now - but it doesn't seem to cope very well if I simply want to have a fallback copy of Windows 7 on the same drive.

What am I missing? This was always possible with previous versions of Windows. Surely it must still be supported in Windows 7 ???
My System SpecsSystem Spec
.


30 May 2010   #4

Windows 7
 
 

Thanks Antans, you just beat me to it. I'm astonished that this isn't supported any more. Sometimes I feel that computers take one step forwards and two steps backward!! I think I prefer the older system.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
30 May 2010   #5
Microsoft MVP

Windows 8.1 Pro with Media Center 64 bit
 
 

In a dual boot the actual boot files (boot loader) may not be on the partition windows 7 is installed too. Without the boot files the OS won't load. I can't speak for OS X but I know when dual booting XP and windows 7, when XP was installed first, windows 7 will put it's boot loader on the XP partition basically replacing the boot.ini and other boot files with it's own. It has to do this for the dual boot to work. You could probably put the cloned drive in and do a repair to get the boot loader back. You may still have problems though if the drive letter changes from what it was. A lot of stuff in the registry will be referenced to the old drive letter, so a lot of your programs might have to be reinstalled to fix it. The dual boot adds some complications to what you want to do.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
30 May 2010   #6

Windows 7
 
 

Another possibility then... does anyone know if Windows 7 (or even XP) can be loaded from an external drive (a USB drive, for example)?

If I could install my fallback option onto an external drive it would obviously be excruciatingly slow to use - but than, I'd only be expecting to use it on very rare occasions
My System SpecsSystem Spec
30 May 2010   #7
Microsoft MVP

Windows 8.1 Pro with Media Center 64 bit
 
 

I've seen tutorials on how to install and run XP from an external USB drive. I've never tried it myself but from what I saw it's a lot of work to get it to work. Microsoft never intended for it to be done and some might say they went out of their way to prevent you from doing it. If you Google the right term I'm sure you'll find some info on how to attempt it. I personally just made a System Repair Disk and hope I never have to use it.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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 Multi-booting Windows 7




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