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Windows 7: Dual Boot with WinXP over Win7, without messing up

13 Jan 2011   #1

WinXP 32bit and 32bit Win7 Business
Dual Boot with WinXP over Win7, without messing up

Starting point:
A (tablet) notebook Lenovo comes with Win7 pre-installed. The HD (Sata 2.5 by WD, 250MB) has three partitions, as default, two of them hidden.

Problem and aim:
A lot of software that I use does not run in Win7. XP mode is too slow. I'd like to install win XP (in my specific case Win TabletPC SP2) side by side Win7, so to make a choice in which one boot up. I do not want though to risk to mess up my Win7 partition & boot up.

What I learnt:
a) WinXP installation will destroy the Win7 boot sector. So as a consequence,
b) after installing WinXP, I will not able to boot in Win7 (that should be repaired with Win7 DVD that I do not have). Plus:
c) Possible problems with the first hidden partition, which is shown sometimes in XP partition and the need to use EasyBCD (under Win7,once recovered the partition) to make the initial dual boot menu: Win7 --- WinXP.

My attempt:
Since I do not want to mess up my HD, with a *direct* installation of WinXP (TabletPC in my case), I thought the following. 1) Make a new partition in my HD. 2) Remove physically the HD and attach a different external USB HD. 3) Install WinXP in the external USB HD. 4) Make sure it works, add SATA drivers, etc. (in my case WinXP is the default Lenovo installation) 5) Remount the original Sata HD, 6) Copy (or if necessary clone with Acronis/Ghost/and alike) the WinXP files/folders I installed from the external USB HD into the new partition of step 1 above, 7) Make the correction with EasyBCD in Win7 to add the dual-boot window at startup: Win7 --- WinXP.

Is my attempt completely silly? Or could it work and is it worth a try? If so, how sould be accomplished step 6. Can you simply copy the files or Acronis/Ghost are necessary? Does Acronis/Ghost cloning/transfer write in the MBR HD sector (or in boot sector of the *other* partitions), as it does a direct installation of WinXP? In this case I would be back to square 1, with problems a) and b) above -- the thing that I want to avoid!

Thank you for any advice or feedback.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
13 Jan 2011   #2

Windows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1

What are your system specs? XP Mode and Virtualbox should/would run at near native speeds on a proper system, especially on that supports VT.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
13 Jan 2011   #3

WinXP 32bit and 32bit Win7 Business

Thanks for inquiring.
It is a Lenovo ThinkPad X200 Tablet. Intel Core Duo 1.4Ghz, with 2.5GB of RAM.
I am running VirtualPC 2007 in my DesktopPC, which is much more capable, and in my case it does not run with the same speed at all as the native system (still a WinXP). Plus:
a) In my workflow I have many portable (ThinApp built myself) applications that only run on WinXP/WinTabletPC, not Win7, which is useless.
b) I guess that I could not install WinTabletPC in Win7 as XP mode.
c) I am probably wrong, but Win7+WinXP (mode) eat up RAM and CPU spasmodically, much more than it does WinXP (or TabletPC) alone.
This is why I would prefer a separate WinXP boot-up
My System SpecsSystem Spec

13 Jan 2011   #4
Microsoft MVP


You cannot install Win7 to an external.

If you can't run XP mode, Virtual Player or Virtual Box to run XPired, then create a partition, install XP, add Net Franework to install EasyBCD then Add Win7.

If this fails, boot Win7 Repair CD to repair Win7 and install EasyBCD to Add XP. You 'll need to make sure Win7 partition is marked Active first then run Startup Repair up to 3 separate times. Partition - Mark as Active
Startup Repair - Run 3 Separate Times
Dual Boot Installation with Windows 7 and XP

What was the exact concern about the hidden partition - that it is System Active which might need to be changed to XP or Win7 to manage the Dual Boot? Please post back a screenshot of your full Disk Mgmt drive map with listings using Snipping TOol in Start Menu so we can have a look.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
13 Jan 2011   #5

WinXP 32bit and 32bit Win7 Business

Sorry, probably I was not clear enough: I do not want to install Win7 externally. It comes already pre-installed in the (internal) Sata HDD.

I want to installed WinXP externally, so to not affect the win7 boot sector, which in turn makes the Win7 partition (hopefully, temporary if one holds the Repair CD) unaccessible - that is why I want to remove the internal HDD, while installing WinXP.

Then I want to "transfer manually" WinXP file/folders to a new partition of the Internal Sata HDD.

On the hidden startup partition, I read several complains that once installed WinXP, (and once you boot up with WinXP) this small hidden partition becomes the C drive and there is no obivous ways to change it.
I do not have screenshots from my laptop, since I did not try yet to install WinXP.

I was just curious to know if my proposal could have a chance of success or it is just a waste of time. Thanks.

PS: how can be so difficult to make a dual boot, that one needs a PhD in computer science -- if it is enough! With other OSes, if you have a new partition you can make it on the fly.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
13 Jan 2011   #6

Windows 7 Home Premium x64

there is really no way to have windows 7 then install windows xp. my suggestion is to install windows xp first then install windows 7
My System SpecsSystem Spec
13 Jan 2011   #7

WinXP 32bit and 32bit Win7 Business

my suggestion is to install windows xp first then install windows 7
Very difficult, in my position. As I state in my first post, Lenovo does not include the CDs of Win7. So delete the pre-installed Win7 is not an option. I would also avoid to make images and then reverse them back. In my case, Lenovo has included the Recovery WinTablet SP2 CD, if I want to make a downgrade. I want to use this CD to make a dual boot.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
13 Jan 2011   #8
Microsoft MVP


You can't install XP to an external either. Your best bet is to use Option Two of this tutorial: Dual Boot Installation with Windows 7 and XP

XP when installed should take the System Active flag. What I would do then is mark Win7 Active from XP, reboot into Win7 Repair CD to run Startup Repair 3 times to start Win7 and then install EasyBCD 2.0 which works better from Win7 to add XP.

Backup a Win7 backup image externally so you have a path back.

We need to see a screenshot of your Disk Mgmt drive map and listings to advise you on the possible boot partition conflict.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
14 Jan 2011   #9

WinXP 32bit and 32bit Win7 Business

Thanks for the feedback. I enclosed a snapshot of the disk management, as it came from OEM (Sorry it is in Italian). As I said, no operations have been carried out up to now.

Thanks also for pointing out the Guide of Dual Boot Installation. I was aware of it, yet there is always the risk of messing up with the new WinXP installation the MBR-boot sector of Win7, that I would prefer to avoid.

If no WinXP installation is possible to external disk, as you say, would "My attempt" (See first post) be possible if at step 2, instead of an external USB disk, I would insert *another* internal SATA 2.5 HDD in place of the original, install WinXP in it and proceed with the other steps, i.e. "move" the WinXP file/folders from this disk to a new partition created in the original SATA HDD, which contains also Win7 Professional, etc.
Thanks again for any feedback

Attached Thumbnails
Dual Boot with WinXP over Win7, without messing up-disk_mgmt.png  
My System SpecsSystem Spec
14 Jan 2011   #10
Bare Foot Kid
Microsoft MVP

W 7 64-bit Ultimate

Hello science2002, welcome to Seven Forums!

Using separate Hard Disk Drives to dual boot is the preferred method to dual boot between separate Operating Systems, this way the OSs aren't dependent on each other for the boot files needed to start Windows, making it very easy to remove one or the other OS/HDD without boot issues.

Disconnect the Windows 7 HDD data cable from the motherboard and leave it disconnected for the installation process, set the 'new' HDD as first boot device after the DVD/CD drive, when XP is booting good on the second HDD, power down and reconnect the other HDD data cable to the mobo and restart the PC to set the preferred OS/HDD as first boot device in the BIOS, then you can use the BIOS one-time boot menu for your specific PC to select the other OS/HDD to boot when needed.

I think you would use the blue Thinkvantage button to access the Levono one-time boot menu and be sure to post back with any further questions you may have and to keep us informed.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Dual Boot with WinXP over Win7, without messing up

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