How to Dual-boot Windows 7 and XP; Add Windows 7 to Windows XP Boot Manager (Vista Solution, too)

September 9, 2010, By Fouad Bajwa

If you have ended up messing your boot loader, want to use a dual-operating systems or just want to play around for learning purposes using Windows 7 and Windows XP, here’s how to add Windows 7 as an option to the Windows XP boot manager.

Dual Boot Windows 7 and XP

Sometimes while playing around with multiple versions of Windows you may end up overwriting the OS boot loader load options — finding out that only one OS is being listed. This can be a major pain as the boot loader is responsible for loading the main operating system for your computer and if modified or overwritten, you may not be able to start it.

Using the Windows 7 Repair Install Feature

One of the most preferred methods to alter the boot manager of you computer so that both operating systems (Windows 7 and Windows XP) are displayed, is to make use of the Windows 7 installation DVD in order to enter the Windows 7 repair function.

Place your Windows 7 DVD into your computer’s DVD ROM and reboot your machine. In the event that you have not configured your computer to boot from your DVD ROM, enter your system’s BIOS, change the primary booting device to boot from the DVD and restart; don’t worry, it won’t mess up your date, although it looks like you’re installing a new system on your computer.

When the DVD runs and the system will boot, the installation process will initiate so select your preferred language and click “Next”. Make sure you select the “Repair Your Computer” option and then “Startup Repair” on the screen that pops-up next.

How-to Adding Windows version 7 option to Windows XP Boot Manager

How-to Adding Windows version 7 option to Windows XP Boot Manager

Be sure to follow the on-screen instructions carefully in order to re-install the Windows 7 boot manager. Since Windows 7 can easily identify Windows XP (it’s actually automatic), your Windows XP installation will be automatically included into the Windows 7 boot manager.

What about Windows Vista Users?

Use Windows Vista Boot Options through BCD (Boot Configuration Data)

The afore mentioned method only applies to adding Windows 7 to XP’s boot manager, but in case you are running Windows Vista, we suggest you to employ the operating system’s built in BCD (Boot Configuration Data).

Why is this process a bit different for Windows Vista? Well, Microsoft re-engineered the boot environment for Windows Vista to address the increasing complexity and diversity of modern hardware and firmware by introducing firmware-independent data store features that contain configuration data influencing the boot process.

Microsoft also introduced a detailed technical paper (available on its website here) in order to understand this new booting environment. The BCD adds a BCD Edit Command Line tool to modify the boot loading options in Windows Vista and is easily accessible through the Start Menu > Run > CMD > BCDEdit command.

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