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Windows 7: Exactly how does the W7 destroy the XP bootloader? Repair options?

09 Feb 2011   #1

Windows 7 Pro 32bit
Exactly how does the W7 destroy the XP bootloader? Repair options?

Exactly what does the W7 do to the XP bootloader/manager and how do I repair it?
And why does W7 freeze my bios (? or just it's own boot manager?) on startup?

Whenever I can I keep separate OSes on separate HDDs and choose what HDD to boot from at startup. The whole household is now in the process of migrating from WXP to W7 (mostly bypassing Vista) - only the kids realise some old beloved games won't work under W7. So multiple OSes on each computer is a necessity. No problems, really, HDDs are cheap and computers have vacant bays.
Now, I refurnished an old desktop for one of the kids - and used upgrade media to install W7Pro 32bit to a new HD - the only option I had at this point was to install it from inside XP (which is residing on the original HDD).

As predicted, W7 screwed up the XP boot loader, leaving the XPdisk unbootable, only I had hoped to be able to use the W7 boot loader and boot XP from that. Now I got a problem I hadn't reckoned on.

The w7 boot screen comes up with both alternatives (XP and W7). ONLY I cannot chose. The computer does not respond to Tab, Enter, Up/Down Arrows, Esc or even F8. (It lists all those possibilities but it does not respond.) It never does.
It's not a keyboard problem since I've used multiple different old and new keyboards (multiple different connections) with the same result. I have to wait the default 30s before the default OS W7 kicks in. (I can access all files from the XPdrive when inside w7.)

So I've disabled the XPdrive right now, to get rid of the useless boot manager. That works. If I only want to use W7.
Only I want to boot the XPdrive - which I plan to have as no 1 in the boot order and hit Esc at startup to choose whether to boot from the XP or W7 HDD (or some Linux-y stuff on a future third HDD). That should make me indepoendent of the W7 boot manager.

So either - can someone help we work around the mysteroius W7 BMS freeze, OR, preferrably, explain (or point me to a good tutorial about) exactly what does W7 do to my XP boot (when installed from inside XP) and how do I repair it?

When I google options some recommend a XP repair, others discourage that and suggest a XPreinstall instead. Any suggestions? (I'm backing up of course, but I would prefer not having to wipe and format the and reinstalling everything again.)
Back in the XPdays, I handled a couple of NTLDRmissing-incidents, but this is obviously something different and worse.

I would prefer a solution that did NOT include EasyBCD or GRUB.
I'm not 'fluent' in BCDEdit.

Many thanks in advance.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
09 Feb 2011   #2
Bare Foot Kid
Microsoft MVP

W 7 64-bit Ultimate

Hello anki, welcome to Seven Forums!

As there seems to be some contradictions, may I ask a couple questions to get this started?

1) Did you try to install Windows 7 from within XP?

2) You mention using a BIOS managed dual boot but what you seem to describe is a Windows managed dual boot; did you have all other HDD disconnected and booted the Windows 7 DVD to do the installation?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
09 Feb 2011   #3


Why do you think the only option you had was to install Win7 from within XP? This is not correct. You should boot the Win7 installer to install to the target HD with the XP HD unplugged. Leave the Product key blank during install and afterwards do the quick registry workaround allowed to clean install Win7 without another OS on the system: Clean Install with a Upgrade Windows 7 Version

Afterwards plug back in the XP HD and boot it using the one-time BIOS Boot Menu key which every computer and mobo has. This keeps the HD's independent to come and go as you please.

If you need the Windows-managed Dual Boot screen which will interlock the HD's and make XP harder to remove later, install EasyBCD 2.0 to easily add XP to Dual Boot Menu - accept offered boot files, it will autocomplete, Save, restart.

Or boot the Win7 DVD to install and it should configure the Dual Boot if you leave XP HD plugged in. Wipe the target HD first to rid of conflicting boot code: SSD / HDD : Optimize for Windows Reinstallation

If you ran the 7 install from XP then it should have placed 7's boot files on XP partition, so it would be Win7 which needs repairing to start on its own. But we need to see which OS partition is System Active to know for sure, so please post back a screenshot of your full Disk Management drive map with listings using SNipping Tool in Start Menu.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

09 Feb 2011   #4

Windows 7 Pro 32bit

Thank you, BareFootKid, will clarify:

1) Did you try to install Windows 7 from within XP?
I DID install from within XP - as I said, that was the only option with upgrade media at least on this old computer (baring a registry hack, which I prefer to avoid), and thus the original HDD (with XP on it) was connected and in use.
But I installed to the correct partition on the new HDD etc, and 7 isn't as stubborn as XP about homing to C of course, and I appreciate that.
But of course I suspected W7'd do something to my original XPinstall on C. It would hardly leave it alone, would it, I mean we're talking *Microsoft* here, not Linux. (Sorry, rhetoric question, no intention whatsoever to be rude.)
Just a question of what it'd do, how bad it'd be, and how to repair it.
One can hardly progress without experience.

2) You mention using a BIOS managed dual boot but what you seem to describe is a Windows managed dual boot; did you have all other HDD disconnected and booted the Windows 7 DVD to do the installation?
Please see above.

I'm not 100% sure if this is a Bios or a W7 boot manager problem. (That's why I added the "?")
I *believe* it is the W7BM.
The freeze I am referring to occurs when the "DOS-like" W7BMscreen appears, giving me the options to load w7 or XP or start in F8 mode, but not responding to any command on the keyboard i e Enter, Esc, Tab, UpDown Arrows, F8 (tried with several different keyboards). I just sit it out and wait for the default W7 to start.
(Changed boot order causes a few hiccups before computer finally discards the possibility of XPHDD-boot and goes for the w7HDD and the W7BMS screen instead.)

Technically that should be the w7 BM (not the bios) even if the full w7 GUI hasn't loaded yet.

The bios has, however (it's an old one and MSI do not provide bios upgrades for that old mobo) been a bit slow or quirky or unwilling to respond to the keyboard during startup ever since I threw in the new (2nd) HDD and installed W7 on it. Thus the "?".

(W7 does some funny things, it acts different from XP, and that takes some time to get used to.
I can't see how it should be able to influence the bios, though.)

I hope either 'unfreezing' the W7BMS OR repairing the XP boot will solve my problem, but I intend to fix both to be sure. And Your help is truly very much appreciated.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
09 Feb 2011   #5

Windows 7 Pro 32bit

Thank You, gregrocker.

RE : Why do you think the only option you had was to install Windows 7 from within XP? This is not correct. You should have booted the Windows 7 installer to install to the target HD with the XP HD unplugged.

Well, actually, that's exactly what I tried to do. I read both that and a similar tutorial (the other one didn't promise success with upgrade media, but said it was worth trying).
As far as I reckon, using upgrade media to perform a clean install is a bit of a gray area legally and nobody can therefore promise you that it will/should work. Right? (Local MS support wouldn't touch it with a bargepole, they made clear I shouldn't even contemplate it.)

But even so, no, that option was not available. The DVD just wouldn't start if I tried to boot from it, I used two different internal DVD players and two external usb ones (all have worked to satisfaction previously).
Just for the h-ll of it, I tried the same procedure on another (much newer) computer - DVD booted but I never got as far as to the product key screen.
From within XP, worked like a charm. With side effects.

So, no. Sorry, but no. Tried. Didn't work.

Right, I could have plugged in any old ready-to-discard HDD with XP, or done a clean XPinstall to a new HDD and then installed W7 from inside either, afterwards swapping it for the old XPHDD that I wanted to use, and probably ten other more-or-less complicated shenanigans, but J-sus, how much workarounds should one be willing to allocate time for??????

And in the end, you know, with the greatest respect for your experience, knowledge, and willingness to help; and not meaning to be rude, but while 'what I should have done' may be very helpful to others (which is a very good thing), it won't change things for me and therefore won't help me much.

Here we are. Any suggestions on how to proceed instead?

My System SpecsSystem Spec
09 Feb 2011   #6


Still awaiting the requested screenshot to help you more.

Millions of beta testers and others have clean installed Win7 Upgrade using the workarounds. It was given out by MS for the first year as a courtesy to beta testers who had deleted their old OS, those who wisely want to wipe their HD before Upgrade install, or who don't want to bother reinstalling the qualifying OS just to install Win7 Upgrade.

Under the EULA you only have to have the qualifying Vista/XP on hand and not use it again during the time it is qualifying for use of Win7 Upgrade version. So it isn't even vaguely questionable legally.

Leave the Product Key screen blank during install.

How to boot DVD/CD
My System SpecsSystem Spec
11 Feb 2011   #7

Windows 7 Pro 32bit

RE: Millions of beta testers and others have clean installed Windows 7 Upgrade using the workarounds.
Yes, I'm very happy for them.
And there are good tutorials out there to assist them. Yours, winsupersite, optimizingpc…. You can’t boot off the dvd, none will help.

Only, as stated above about five times already, that did not work form me since I couldn’t boot from the W7 dvd (it simply wouldn’t even start, something the XPCD did just fine).
Not with either of four optical drives (two internal dvdr/dvdrw two external dvdrw), all have worked to satisfaction for installation procedures before. And no, it wasn’t as simple as boot order, I always put all the optical drives on top of the list, this being no exception.

I just did a trial boot faking install in another, newer computer, and as I can go as far as the product key screen there, I believe it would have worked fine – on THAT computer. But sorry, not on this one.

To further prove the point, I tested this yesterday on the old computer : XPPro CD (boots perfectly) , VIsta DVD (won’t start), Win7Pro upgrade media (won’t start), Win7HE (won’t start).
So my troubles probably reside in the old mobo with the old bios (for which MSI no longer supply upgrades), and that's not detected by the win7 upgrade advisor.

I am actually not providing the snapshot you requested since it would come in either Finnish or Swedish. I took the liberty to presume that you would prefer English. ;-) But this is what the relevant piece of Disk Management looks like from inside W7. Oh, and both are simple disks. Anything else you need?

Disc 0

Win7pro [E:]
[size roughly 98 GB, NTFS]
(System, Boot, PageFile, Active, CrashDump, Primary Partition)

Unallocated space
[size, roughly 368 GB]

Disc 1

Win XP [C:]
[size roughly 298 GB, NTFS]
(Active, Primary Partition)

Unallocated space [9 MB]

Since I can access the XP files on C, I checked "Last Modified" dates: the relevant ones should be boot.ini. boot.ini.saved BOOTSEKT.BAK pagefile.sys and the catalogue Boot.
Is it the boot.ini.saved that should replace the current boot.ini in order to boot the XPdrive ?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
11 Feb 2011   #8


Since a CD will boot, try burning a Win7 Repair CD to boot and run Startup Repair on Win7 HD with XP HD unplugged. Startup Repair - Run 3 Separate Times
System Repair Disc - Create

If this fails, try writing the Repair CD ISO to flash stick using Win2Flash: YouTube - How to install Windows 7 from USB (WinToFlash). Boot flash using one-time BIOS Boot Menu key or in BIOS setup/Boot Order under USB or HD's.

Next, with all other HD's unplugged and target HD set first to boot in BIOS setup, use free Partition Wizard bootable CD which will autostart to wipe the HD from Disk tab. Free Download Magic Partition Manager Software - Partition Wizard Online

This will cause the Win7 DVD to autostart so you can begin install to the wiped HD.

If not then try install from flash stick: install UltraISO trial version, on File tab open DVD, on Bootable tab Write Disk Image, Format flash stick, Write. Boot under USB or HD's in BIOS BOot menu or BIOS setup.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
11 Feb 2011   #9
Microsoft MVP

Win 7 Ultimate x64

I tested this yesterday on the old computer : XPPro CD (boots perfectly) , VIsta DVD (won’t start), Win7Pro upgrade media (won’t start), Win7HE (won’t start).
Sounds like an old socket A system I have here, and did exactly the same thing as you describe. Let me guess, started too boot and threw up an error code 5. If so try the solution posted here in post #26,

Boot error code: 5
My System SpecsSystem Spec
12 Feb 2011   #10

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient


My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Exactly how does the W7 destroy the XP bootloader? Repair options?

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