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Windows 7: multiple boot

07 Feb 2011   #1

Windows XP Home (x86)
multiple boot

Hello all. This is my first post on Widows Seven Forums. I recently was given access to a Microsoft website through my academic institution. This website has allowed me to download a wide range of Microsoft products for free. Two of the things I have downloaded are WinXP Pro(x86) and Win7 Pro(x86). I have always been interested in dual booting a machine. Recently thought I have gained interest in learning and playing with Linux as well.

As you will see in my profile I currently am running a 160 GB SATA drive. However I recently got a 1TB and a .5 TB Western Digital drives. So that 1.5 TB combined with my 160 GB and I have an additional 80 GB that I was considered putting the Linux OS on.

If someone would be so kind, I have searched a lot of websites (i.e. Wiki and other forums) and I can't exactly find a good explanation on how to do this and what exactly my limits would be. I don't totally understand how a dual boot works when it comes to how the files share between OS's. I am more or less looking for a simple and basic explanation of how a multiple boot works and how to do it.

And while I know this is not a Linux forum if anyone has any insight in to a good version of Linux OS to start with. I don't actually know anything about Linux at all but I am looking to learn and play because this is the field I am growing into. I am currently in the process of completing a dual associates degree for Software Development and Information Systems Technology at my local community college.

Thank you for any assistance anyone can provide.


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

W 7 64-bit Ultimate

Hello Tom, welcome to Seven Forums!

If you are interested in dual/multi booting and learning at the same time, here are a couple suggestions for you to work on as you progress.

First, slipstream SATA drivers into XP installation media so it can be installed as AHCI mode, which you will have to set, if it is not already set, in the PC BIOS so that Windows 7 can be also installed in AHCI mode when it is time to do that part of this.

SATA Drivers - Slipstream into Windows XP CD

After you have that done, leaving only the 160GB Hard Disk Drive connected to the motherboard and set as the second boot device after the CD/DVD drive install Windows XP to that and get it booting good.

Then power down the PC and disconnect the 160GB and connect the .5TB to install Windows 7 to that HDD, after Windows 7 in installed and booting good, leave that as the first boot device in the PC BIOS, power down and reconnect the 160GB XP HDD, then to start XP you would use the BIOS one-time boot menu hot-key specific to your mobo (listed below) to select the XP OS/HDD when you start the PC instead of letting Windows 7 auto-start.

Then later we can discuss adding Linux to the 80GB in this same manner above.

I'm sure you have plenty of questions and a lot of people will be glad to help in your quest as you go along, this is just the very basics, giving you an outline of the best way to go forward, as you have questions be sure to post back to this same thread and we will be glad to help.
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My System SpecsSystem Spec
07 Feb 2011   #3

Windows XP Home (x86)

Thank you! and Thank you for your quick response. This sounds like an interesting way to go about this, and yes I would love to learn and understand more about the process. I do have three question/comments thought.

-You never mentioned what to do if anything with the 1TB drive.

-I have a lot of stuff on my 160 GB, I have it partitioned in thirds and have ripped a lot of my audio books and music (that I purchased) on the the drive for easier syncing with my MP3 player.

- And Lastly, I am curious in advance how my programs with react with the different OS's for example if I install Office 2007 where should I install it, XP or Win7. I also have a few computer games I like to play in my spare time, thought I think those were made for XP so I figured I knew the answer to that one.

Please excuse my ignorance. I just want to know as much as I can before I start... I must say I read over that Slipstream and that is pretty cool!
My System SpecsSystem Spec

07 Feb 2011   #4
Bare Foot Kid
Microsoft MVP

W 7 64-bit Ultimate

Hello again and you're welcome.

The HDD(s) you use are up to you; one comment though, save yourself some issues and don't try to install Windows to large partitions as .5 & 1TB, create 100GB partitions to do the installs to, we're seeing some issues if/when people try to install to such large partitions/HDDs.

If some of your games work better on XP then run them there though there's always compatibility mode.

How to Run a Program in Compatibility Mode in Windows 7

The Office activation keys are good for as many installs to the same machine as you need, if you want Office on Windows 7 and XP there should be no issue with that.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
08 Feb 2011   #5

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient


1) Put all Data you do not what to lose on to one HD.

2) Remove the Win XP Hd, your Data Hd, & put in a SAFE PLACE.

3) With all your other HD's, you can do all your learning.

4) With Linux keep your installs to one HD only. DO NOT MIX OS ON THAT HD.

A bit more reading:
Dual Boot Installation with Windows 7 and XP
Dual Boot Windows 7 and Ubuntu
SATA Drivers - Load in Windows XP Setup on Dual Boot
SATA Drivers - Slipstream into Windows XP CD
SATA Driver - Load in Windows 7 or Vista Setup
My System SpecsSystem Spec
01 Mar 2011   #6

Windows XP Home (x86)

Alright, I finally received my memory and got it in the machine. I have upgraded from 1 to, now 4 GB and the BIOS recognized it all and xp recognized 3GB (its MAX from what I read). So I am finally able to start moving forward with this. After I verified that, I took out the disk that I had all my files on it currently (160 GB).

I then installed the 500 GB drive and instered the Win7 PRO disk. I used the Win7 installation disk to make my partitiions.
  • D:\ - 25 GB - Win7 (when I created this partion it automatically made a 100MB partition of its own.)
  • *C:\ - 100 MB System partition
  • E:\ - 20 GB - Win XP
  • F:\ - The remainder into a final partition.
*It seemed like it forced me to make the "automatically created partition" the C: drive. And I think this was part of my problem.

After Win7 installation (on D:), I let the OS start up and get its up updates, I then shut down the computer and booted to the XP Pro and ran my install (on E:). After I restarted I began getting the "Error loading OS" msg.

I am at work as I type this so I can't do anything this moment, but I plan on starting from scratch when I get home, because once this happened I being playing with a lot of diffent commands and trying many different things that didn't work (i.e. bootsect/nt60 /all, */e:, diskpart, bootpart) Basically just screwing around and trying to learn. But because of this I fear that some wires could be crossed now and I mean what does it really take to install two OS's 30 minutes...

In any case, here are my questions.
  1. I did not have any issues with SATA drivers when installing XP. Is that because I am installing XP Pro w/ SP3 and the drivers are already included? OR Is it because I installed Win7 Pro first? OR Is it something totally different?
  2. Why did Win7 Patitioner create that 100 MB system partition? Why did it make it drive C:? and Is there a way to move it or stop it from creating that I didn't see?
  3. Should I use a bootable 3rd party partitioning program? If so suggestions?
  4. Are my partitions a fair enough size for the OS's as listed above?
I know I had more questions than this but I can't think of them right now. I will be headed home to work on this around 5:30pm EST. If anyone has any answers, please do your best to explain your answer becuase I am totally new to this and trying to learn as much as accomplish a goal. Thank you all for your time

My System SpecsSystem Spec
01 Mar 2011   #7
Bare Foot Kid
Microsoft MVP

W 7 64-bit Ultimate

Hello again Tom.

First your questions.

1. SATA drivers, probably because the BIOS is set as IDE mode, more later.

2. It got created because you started the Windows 7 install to an "unallocated" HDD / RAW, no partitions; I would suggest you use/create the "System Reserved" partition and will show you how to intentionally create it.

3. No Windows will do all you need.

4. I would suggest you start with at least 100GB for Windows 7 as a beginning.

If you really want to learn, let's do this one step at a time, ok?

First power down the PC to disconnect all HDDs except the one you want to install Windows 7 to, leave that connected to the #1 SATA port on the motherboard and set it as the second boot device in the main BIOS after the CD/DVD drive.

Boot the Windows 7 DVD.

Use Step One of this tutorial at the link below to do the clean all, secure erase to the HDD, when that finishes use the outline in Step Two #3 to first create the System Reserved partition and then create a second partition to install Windows 7 to, follow the steps exactly.

Follow this tutorial and be sure to post back with any further questions you may have and to keep us informed; we'll pick it back up when Windows 7 is booting good all on its own.

SSD / HDD : Optimize for Windows Reinstallation
My System SpecsSystem Spec
07 Mar 2011   #8

Windows XP Home (x86)

Hello again, and thank you for all your help BFK! This weekend I finally managed to step through the "Optimizing HDD" tutorial and get all 1.5 TBs optimitze and partitioned. Afterwards, I shut down and disconnected the 1 TB and changed by BIOS to AHCI mode (which I still don't totally understand what it does) and I got Win7 installed, it started up and ran its updates without a hitch. Suprise suprise I have some more questions:
  1. I did a little searching on the net but could not find a simple explaination of AHCI mode and the difference from IDE. Can you explain it to me?
  2. When I entered my BIOS to switch to AHCI mode there was no "IDE mode" that I saw to turn off, did I miss something?
  3. The "system reserved" partition - first off what is it for, what does the system use it for? Also does it have to be created first? I didn't create it because I couldn't see the little snip-it on my printed page.
The experience so far has been awesome, thought I have had to repeat steps and back track a little, it has already caused me to learn more than I ever thought I would installing OS's!! Thanks again BFK are we ready for the next step yet?!?

My System SpecsSystem Spec
07 Mar 2011   #9
Microsoft MVP


It's best when you have multiple HD's to install each OS to it's own HD, while the others are unplugged. Set it to boot first (after DVD drive) in BIOS setup.

After install to Dual- or Multi-Boot plug back in the other HD's, set the preferred OS HD to boot first in BIOS setup, to boot the other(s) use the one-time BIOS Boot Menu key as explained in BareFoot's first post.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
07 Mar 2011   #10
Bare Foot Kid
Microsoft MVP

W 7 64-bit Ultimate

Hello again.

Here's some info for you, more later.

Note   Note

AHCI Advanced Host Controller Interface makes NCQ Native Command Queing along with hot-plugging or hot swapping through SATA Serial-ATA host controllers possible; Vista was the first to offer this feature. The issue with AHCI is it needs to be enabled in the BIOS prior to OS installation;
My System SpecsSystem Spec

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