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Windows 7: Dual Boot Installation with Windows 7 and XP

14 Dec 2011   #1580

Windows 7 32bit professional and XP

Hi There

Firstly, thanks for these guides - they are invaluable.

My Dad is in the process of upgrading to Win 7, but still wants to retain use of XP, probably as a safety blanket more than any real need.

Anyways, my intention had been to remove his current XP installation HDD, and install a clean version of Windows 7 32 Bit on his new SSD. Once that was installed, I was then going re-attach the XP HDD, and hopefully set up a dual boot system from there.

Is that possible? I think from reading the above it should be okay, but it may be preferable to use the Bios to switch between the hard drives rather than the microsoft software option. I think my Dad would prefer the latter, though.

Am I right in thinking that Easy BCD should enable me to add XP to the boot menu on the Win7? Any potential problems with that?

Any help gratefully received!



My System SpecsSystem Spec
14 Dec 2011   #1581

64-bit Windows 10 Pro

Hello Paul, and welcome to Seven Forums.

You could do that, but you could also do OPTION ONE in the tutorial to be able to select XP or Windows 7 at boot for which one to run at startup instead. It would be a lot less complicated. :)

Hope this helps,
My System SpecsSystem Spec
14 Dec 2011   #1582

Windows 7 32bit professional and XP

Thanks for the reply, Shawn.

One thing I forgot to mention was that he has bought an upgrade version of Win7 rather than the full version. He has other copies of XP he can 'retire', but he wants to retain his current installation - that comfort blanket thing, I guess.

If I followed Option One, would the upgrade version want to delete that XP Installation if it was still attached when it was installing?

Thanks again for the speedy reply.


My System SpecsSystem Spec
14 Dec 2011   #1583

64-bit Windows 10 Pro


Since it's a upgrade copy of Windows 7, you would need to use the method in the tutorial below to install it on the other HDD to dual boot instead once you get to step 6 in this tutorial on page 1. As long as you select the other HDD to install to and not the XP HDD, you'll be fine. :)

Clean Install with a Upgrade Windows 7 Version
My System SpecsSystem Spec

24 Dec 2011   #1584


Hello - I a new to the forum and it's really hard going through 159 pages of posts, so I hope you don't mins me asking this, and perhaps someone can answer. Thanks in advance.

Basically, I have an XP laptop that I want to add Windows 7 to, while keeping the XP system. My understanding is that you must first create a new partition, make sure it has an independent drive letter, and then use the Windows 7 DVD to install the system software in the new partition.

Here's where I am a little surprised. I would then think that, when making a choice at rebooting as to which OS to use, that the second un-booted drive comes up for full use by the active system. In other words, if I already have Office 2007 installed on my XP partition and now I want to boot up from Windows 7, that Office 2009 would be available to me to use.

But, from what I understand, you basically have to install all new copies of your XP software onto the Windows 7 partition for it to work, and vice versa. So, each drive partition should be viewed as completely independent hard drives that operate as their own little universe.

Data files would certainly be usable from one drive to the other, would they not? Or is the other partition not even mounted at all?

This being the case, how (if at all possible) do I best utilize the hard disk space to make this work best?

Am I going to have to install 2 complete copies of Office or Adobe CS to have them work on both partitions? How would this affect the serial number scheme - would I be using two installations, or is it computer based, meaning that it would view this still as one installation since it is on the same computer?

Does it make sense (and is it even possible) to have 3 disk partitions: one for only the XP system, a second for only Windows 7, and a third for all installed software and documents? Would that setup allow me to have only one copy of everything?

Just thinking logically on this, I can't imagine the third partition idea would work, insofar as Windows programs require entries into the registry, and whatever program (i.e. Office) installed on the third partition would only be known and registered on the OS partition that was active at that time. Also, all the Windows DLLS they install only get loaded onto the active WINDOWS folder.

It would seem to make sense that the OS would be smart enough to say, I have two valid OS partitions, when a program gets installed - write the install registry data to both registries, and copy all the files to both WINDOWS folders.

I guess that a dual-OS machine isn't something Microsoft wants to support that well, so the only way is to essentially have 2 drives that operate separately from each other. I did notice some discussion on just going with Windows 7 and then using that XP-boot option when needed. Is this another alternative, or if I want a real XP experience, do I need to continue along the lines of separate partitions?

Anyway, many thanks for someone to help me as I have the laptop ready for the operation, I just need a skilled surgeon for some good advice.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Dec 2011   #1585


To my earlier post, it looks like the virtual XP option from within Windows 7 is a little bulky and definitely not foolproof. The truth is that I have a very large hard drive, and at the end of the day the programs only takes up around 10 Gbyte, so it would seem the easiest thing to do is create a second partition. The only issue I would have is how Adobe and Microsoft would view the installations, since I don't want to waste the serial number if it counts as a separately-counted install. Does anyone know how this would work?

Any other thoughts would be greatly appreciated!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Dec 2011   #1586
Microsoft MVP


You can share your files from whatever drive they are on, or place them on a third drive linked to Win7 thusly: User Folders - Change Default Location

You have the basic idea down, but need to see the two more as separate Systems which require their own software. There are some softwares (CCleaner, Steam) that will run from their .exe on the other partition but this is the exception.

Shrink XP using free Partition Wizard bootable CD - you needn't partition or letter it as Win7 will do that simply by choosing it for Install and click Next, into the future.

Clean Install Windows 7
My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Dec 2011   #1587


If I'm going to be using the HD equally between Xp and 7, doesn't it make sense to just split the HD into two equal partitions? And if I can use the Win7 DVD to create the partition before install, does it just take the space from the free space of the existing XP partition, or must I first do something in XP to take the free space and un-allocate it first so that Win7 sees the space as available for the new partition? In other words, if I have 300 Gbyte free on my HD and start the install process of Win7 and select new partition, will it let me just take the 300 Gbytes and go from there, or will I have to first do something in XP to get that 300 Gbytes available for that purpose, and how would I do that? Thanks!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
25 Dec 2011   #1588
Microsoft MVP


The installer will not shrink XP. As stated in my post above you'll need to use free Partition Wizard bootable CD to shrink XP partition safely to the size you want, then Win7 installer will create and format the partition there when you select it during booted Custom Install.

Do not forget to boot the installer, not run it from XP. Clean Install Windows 7
My System SpecsSystem Spec
28 Dec 2011   #1589

Windows 7 Ultimate (HTPC) and Windows 7 Professional (Desktop PC)


I'm having bit troubles with doing this. I am using option 2 (Windows 7 already installed).

I get to step 5 ("Select the partition (step 1) or hard drive that you want to install XP on using the arrow keys and press Enter."), the XP installation reboots the computer then I get the "Error loading Operating System" message and the XP installation doesn't complete. I've followed the tip about using bootrec, follow the rest of the guide to Step 12, but when I restart the computer, it just boots straight into Windows 7 and doesn't give me the option to finish the installation of XP.

I've used Bootsect.exe and Bcdedit.exe to create a dual boot that looks like this in EasyBCD:

There are a total of 2 entries listed in the bootloader.

Default: Windows 7 Home Premium
Timeout: 10 seconds
EasyBCD Boot Device: C:\

Entry #1
Name: Windows 7 Home Premium
BCD ID: {current}
Drive: C:\
Bootloader Path: \Windows\system32\winload.exe

Entry #2
Name: Windows XP
BCD ID: {ntldr}
Drive: E:\
Bootloader Path: \WINDOWS\system32\setup.exe
But when I select Windows XP on the boot selection screen, it just goes blank. Am I pointing it to the correct place to continue the installation? Am I on completely the wrong track? I just want it to finish installing!!!

Any help would be really appreciated, as it's for my dad's business and it I don't get it sorted within the next 48 hours, it'll be a couple of months before I'm around again to help him.

My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Dual Boot Installation with Windows 7 and XP

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