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Windows 7: Win7, XP Dual boot- Install OS's to logical or primary partition? Pro

16 Nov 2010   #11
Microsoft MVP


of what?

My System SpecsSystem Spec
16 Nov 2010   #12
Bare Foot Kid
Microsoft MVP

W 7 64-bit Ultimate

Weren't you saying you hadn't seen an example of XP making the "System Reserved" partition the C: partition and XP being the "next available" partition?

If not, what were you referring to in what I quoted?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
16 Nov 2010   #13
Microsoft MVP


Unlike Windows 7 which "hides" the partition older OS's "see" the partition as "C" which may freak out certain apps, or cause install problems. This is likely to cause operator error and or confusion.
I haven't seen an example of SysReserved when installed correctly without a drive letter confusing apps on older OS's as to where they should be installed.

When installed correctly last and from boot I believe Win7 will always see itself as C and have only experienced that the other multi-booted OS's see themselves as C when booted into them - thus presenting no problem for applications needing install in the booted OS.

I'm not sure why the SysReserved in the screenshot is lettered C. My experience is the default during Win7 install is that no drive letter is issued to SysReserved. It was once required to give it a letter to use EasyBCD, but no longer. So there is no known reason to issue SysReserved a letter, and if an older OS does so it should be ignored.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

16 Nov 2010   #14
Bare Foot Kid
Microsoft MVP

W 7 64-bit Ultimate

I wanted to make sure so I just wiped the SysResv, repaired Vista so it would be "System Active", deleted/recreated/formatted the XP partition and installed XP and XP did not install itself as C:; every time I've installed XP it always takes the next available drive letter when installed second after Vista/W_7 and has never created itself as C: that I have seen.
click to enlarge
Win7, XP Dual boot-  Install OS's to logical or primary partition? Pro-vista.jpg
Win7, XP Dual boot-  Install OS's to logical or primary partition? Pro-xp.jpg

My System SpecsSystem Spec
16 Nov 2010   #15
Night Hawk

W7 Ultimate x64/W10 Pro x64 dual boot main build-remote pc W10 Pro x64 Insider Preview/W7 Pro x64

Unless custom installing the same edition of the same version of Windows twice each installation will see itself as C when booted into it. Other installations will be provided the next available drive letter automatically by Windows unless needing to be initialized.

If you run the Windows installer for 7 as one example while booted in Windows to install to another partition or drive and boot into that it will see it self as D. For XP there was a registry edit available for the older version to change the D back to C when this was seen. This is due to both installations using the exact same boot loader and why the second install is automatically given a different letter as it sees itself.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
17 Nov 2010   #16
Bare Foot Kid
Microsoft MVP

W 7 64-bit Ultimate

The above is a clean install booted from the XP installer and it is an XP SP3 integrated ISO from TechNet.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
11 Nov 2011   #17

Windows XP Professional x64 & x86, Vista Home Premium x86

I didn't realize that this thread was so old, but I still decided to put my two cents into the conversation.

I've recently been trying to install Win XP x64 onto a motherboard RAID 10 with a dedicated boot partition which could eventually contain the Vista and Win 7 bootloaders for multi-booting. Initially I was planning on adding two versions of Linux to the Windows bootloaders for chaining to grub, but besides not knowing what I'm doing, it turns out Linux has issues with my AMD SB710 Southbridge chipset, so I need to readjust my plans.

Anyway, after some off and on researching over the past two weeks, and two days of trial and error, I found that I could install XP on a logical partition, but never as the "C" drive letter designation. Besides the fact that logical partitions cannot be marked as being "Active," the starting point of a logical partition could be viewed more as dynamic and not static or physical, based on research, which the XP installation process doesn't like. Research also suggests that Vista and Windows 7, as well as 8, supports a more intelligent installation process where the System/OS drive receives the "C" designation, regardless of partition placement or type, which I hope is true very soon.

Now I've reviewed a number of tutorials on dual and multi-booting with XP, including with installing XP on a logical partition, and most failed for me when I attempted to implement them. In the cases where Linux was required, there were either problems with the RAID, or the steps were either too vague or I missed something. When I worked within just Windows XP's installation, which is what I wanted, I found that the "C" designation is always given to the partition marked as being "Active," regardless of placement on the hard drive. I did review the tutorial someone linked to in this thread, but I didn't read that information, at least not in terms I could easily understand. It is possible to make the future System Reserve or boot partition look like how it will appear in Vista or Win 7 after the installation has completed. I just copied the necessary boot files, removed the drive letter and marked the partition as "Active." At one point I needed to modify the boot.ini to add a switch for AMD's Power Now, and suddenly all the files in the boot partition were Write-Protected, but I manually disabled that per file to resolve it, but apparently I cannot remove the "Hidden" attribute. Sometimes Windows won't let you remove the drive letter, but that's because the System Reserve or boot partition is marked as being active and a drive letter is already assigned. If I marked the XP partition, C: Drive, as being active, rebooted, then Disk Management identified the C: Drive as being the system drive, and I could delete the boot drive's letter, mark it as now active, and reboot to successfully simulate a Vista or Win 7 configuration.

As to programs and confusion, from what I've just experienced... Any attempt to install an older Windows OS on a logical partition will cause it to designate the active primary partition as being C, and the System partition as one or more following letter designation, based upon previously existing accessible operating systems. And since a logical partition in an MBR based environment cannot be an active boot partition, based on what I've tried so far, the installation on a logical partition can never be "C," before Vista from what I've read. Vista is my next step. Since you can select which primary partition is Active for installation, you don't really need to modify the registry, and changing mounted devices by itself doesn't always work. I changed the boot partition from C to B, and the system partition from D to C, and after rebooting, Windows was attempting to copy files and folders to the B: Drive, which still doesn't make sense to me. Using a hex editor, and modifying every instance I could locate for drive letter designations, only caused Windows to hang during startup. Now I can't say without certainty, but from my testing, aside from the boot.ini, it appears that both a volume/partition ID and letter designation need to be modified correctly, otherwise programs and applications can indeed appear confused.

After all the time I've spent over the past two weeks, it's actually much quicker and easier to install an older OS on a Primary partition, and mark that partition as being Active, if you want the "C" designation letter when running that OS. It's so much easier to modify the dedicated boot partition afterward. However, MBR partitioning has its limitations, so if it's just dual or multi-booting with XP, and you really want XP to be designated the C drive letter when running it, a Primary and not Logical Partition is perhaps the simplest method to choose from for installation.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
30 May 2012   #18

All versions

Yes an old thread, but still shows up in google, first page. :)

Here's a few direct answers toward the OP's question, which I don't think have been said directly yet:

1) No. You can't ever remove or hide the "boot" partition from view, in a running instance of XP. If XP uses the 1/200 MB partition as its "boot" drive, its required to have a drive letter.

It effectively has open files and the drive is accessesed in a way that requires it to be treated like a normal drive with a drive letter. XP has a classic "boot" drive and "system" drive concept, which can be the same lettered drive.

Also to help you remember, if you think of the advanced boot options tab in "computer > properties", it allows you to open the boot.ini in notepad, which would have to be on the "boot" drive and thus the boot drive would have to be visible, and thus XP expects the boot drive to be visible. This is no different than if you had two XP installs and no 100/200 MB partition, where the active "boot" partition containing one XP woudl have to be visible to the second.

2) Yes. You can work around this by making the XP partition the active partition and then making it capable of being the boot loader.

This is effectively the same as if you had installed XP first and then installed some other OS, even if the other OS is XP. "Windows 7 or not" really has nothing to do with the OP's original question.

3) So... if the goal of the OP was to not have to re-install everything, and end up with an XP install that could be its own C drive, *and* where windows 7 is still loadable without resorting to Grub or any of that kind of thing, here is an example.

If you had a new factory windows 7 install, being the common senario, and you end up with all primary partitions of:
a) 200 MB partition (active) (windows 7 boot loader doped)
b) Windows 7 partition
c) maybe manufacturers recovery partition
d) maybe manufacturers bios tools partition

You need to get to something like
a) 200 MB partition (windows 7 boot loader doped)
b) Windows 7 partition
c) Windows XP partition (active) (windows 7 boot loader doped)
d) maybe manufacturers bios tools partition

This makes the a) partition basically a useless artifact, unless you later install grub in order to allow the bios to effectivly redirect to either a) or c) each of which would have a working Windows 7 boot loader. Skipping the whole Grub thing, the benifit of the "useless" 200 MB partition is that you can later whack the c) partition and mark a) active, and reboot and go right back to normal and still have a working OS.

4) No. You can't have XP in a logical partition and ever have a singular "boot" and "system" partition for the XP install.

In this case, you will always have a extra "boot" drive letter thats not same drive letter as the XP system partition. The issue of logical versus primary is mostly irrelivant to the OP's core issue, as demonstrated above as those were all assumed to be primary. It does come into play however, in that the active partition needs to be someitng other than the logical partion, and thus the boot and the system can never be the same and wil always result in two unhideable drives, once you are booted into XP.

Hope this helps future travelers.

There are many articles about using partition managers, Grub, Windows 7 recovery tools and partitioning which should help with the rest.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Win7, XP Dual boot- Install OS's to logical or primary partition? Pro

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