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Windows 7: Dual Booting Win7 HP 64 Bit and XP MCE - Two HDDs, Both OS Installed

03 Jun 2012   #1

Windows 7 Home Premium 64 Bit
Dual Booting Win7 HP 64 Bit and XP MCE - Two HDDs, Both OS Installed

Just what the title says, how do I set up dual booting between Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit and Windows XP MCE 32 bit, with both OSes already installed on two separate HDDs. It has been suggested that I use EasyBCD to add the XP MCE entries to the Windows 7 boot menu. It has also been suggested that when I want to boot into the XP MCE drive, that I change the boot order in the BIOS.

Would this still screw up the MBR for Windows 7?

My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 Jun 2012   #2

Windows 7 Pro x64 Windows 10 Pro x64

Yes you can and no it won`t.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 Jun 2012   #3
Night Hawk

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

The best reference when setting up a dual boot of 7 with XP would be looking over the guide for this. Dual Boot Installation with Windows 7 and XP

If you performed a clean install of each version while the other drive was unplugged each Windows installation would be a "stand alone" install where you can simply bring up the boot device menu at post to select the non default boot drive or you can opt to use a 3rd party BCD editing program like EasyBCD following the guide there to see a boot entry for XP added into the 7 boot configuration or BCD store.

When dual booted across two separate drives the XP boot files would need to be copied to the root of the 7 drive however along with an edit of XP's boot.ini file since the line under "Operating systems" will have to see a slight change there. If the "rdisk(0)partition(1)" is seen that will work since the 7 had been unplugged as long as the 7 drive is Disk #0.

On the other hand if the XP drive is Disk #0 the 7 drive would be "rdisk(1)partition(1)" pending on the partitioning of each drive and the Windows install on each was seen. If you have a recovery partition at the front of the XP primary for example you would then see "rdisk(0)partition(2)" instead.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

04 Jun 2012   #4
Microsoft MVP


Cleanest method is to set preferred OS to boot first in BIOS Setup, then boot the other using one-time BIOS Boot Menu key at boot.

If this is not to your liking, set Win7 to boot first, boot in to install EasyBCD, add XP on Add OS Entry tab, accept offered boot files, autocompletes, reboot to Boot Menu.

If you didn't install these OS's on this hardware then they might not start up without first SysPrep to move HD to another computer, or running an XP Repair Install
My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 Jun 2012   #5
Night Hawk

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

Since the boot loaders are totally different between XP and the newer versions of Windows you wouldn't be able to add an entry in the XP boot options for 7. With the EasyBCD program you can still decide which will set as the default OS however if you elect to use a 3rd party program for this.

What gregrocker is pointing out about the boot device menu being a one time session boot is once you restart the system the default boot device/drive will load. The post screen will generally show which F key like F2, F4, F8, F11, or F12 key has been assigned for this. That depends on which bios is used for the make and model main board you have. Award, Phoenix, AMI, or other.

The one time boot option is also preferred when going to boot live from any disk such as going to install Windows or booting from any other live cd/dvd. Once the setup files are copied over to the destination drive during a Windows or other OS install the designated default boot device will load upon the restart. This saves unnecessary repeat trips into the bios setup.

One other thing about the XP boot.ini file or boot configuration file there is that it will open for viewing with NotePad when double clicking on it. You will need to right click on it and uncheck the read only box if you need to make any changes there and then when going to save the changes while in NotePad select the "save as" as "all files" not "txt" the default to see it overwrite the copy you have on the 7 drive.

Most will prefer the gui option with EasyBCD will some here simply prefer to select the other then 7 drive or device from the boot device menu at post time. The EasyBCD program does however include the option to restore the 7 mbr in the event you have any accident as well as setting the display time for selecting which version to boot into and setting which will be the default OS.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Dual Booting Win7 HP 64 Bit and XP MCE - Two HDDs, Both OS Installed

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