Dual Booting Made EasyBCD

February 18, 2011, By Christian Cawley

Installing or switching to Windows 7 can be quite a wrench for some users,  who might find that they prefer to be able to access older Windows XP applications and software that they had installed on that operating system.

While virtualisation and the Windows compatibility mode can all help with this, another option is dual booting.

Dual booting means that you install two Windows operating systems (or indeed a Windows and a Linux, etc.) to two different disk partitions so that you are able to choose which OS you want to boot from when you start your PC.

Dual Booting with EasyBCD

Unfortunately it isn’t always as easy as this. While installing Windows to two separate partitions should be pretty easy to do, being able to choose between them requires some configuring of the boot manager, otherwise only the second operating system to be installed will be available.

Thanks to free utilities such as EasyBCD, however, this is no longer a problem.

What EasyBCD Does

Because both operating systems have been installed, both have written to the bootloader on the primary hard disk partition. Even if you have installed Windows XP onto disk C: and Windows 7 onto disk X:, the bootloader is overwritten by whichever operating system was installed last – which is why you can only boot into that OS.

EasyBCD provides a means of editing this bootloader, allowing you to specify a default OS as well as a timeout, not to mention forcing the addition of undetected operating systems.

Downloading and Using EasyBCD

To get started with EasyBCD visit neosmart.net; the latest version is 2.0.2 and this will allow you to boot from USB, Network, ISO images, WinPE and even virtual hard disks. Installation is straightforward – once installed run the utility from Start > Programs > NeoSmart Technologies > EasyBCD.

On the View Settings screen you will see that you probably only have one operating system entry listed in the bootloader. To change this, go to Add New Entry and choose an operating system and the drive it is on. For instance if you’re adding Windows 7 as described above, select Windows Vista/7, give it a Name and then choose the drive that it is installed on, then click Add Entry.

Return to the View Settings screen and you will see that you now have two entries in the bootloader. Some edits can be made in Edit Boot Menu; here you can decide which is the default OS as well as set a timeout to boot into the default after a specified delay.

With these options configured and applied, all you then need to do is restart your PC. The changes made in EasyBCD will cause the operating system choice screen to be displayed, and you will be able to boot into your favoured OS!

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