Yet another Win7 WinXP dual boot problem


  • Greetings --
    New here and new to Windows 7 RC. Here's the problem.

    The HD setup is 2 hard drives each partitioned into 2 primary partitions -- ALL formatted in FAT32. I have a dual boot system with Win98SE and WinXP. Both OS's enumerate the drives the same way: Drive 0 = C: and F: and Drive 1 = D: and E:. Win 98SE was installed first on C: Years later I installed WinXP on D:, keeping the FAT32 file system. (This was for compatibility with DOS, which I still use.)

    Recently I decided to give Win7 a go. I wiped C: (and therefore Win98 and, I later realized, all boot information) and reformatted it in NTFS, keeping all other partitions FAT32. I booted from the Win7 DVD and installed Win7 on C:. After installation Win 7 booted fine from C, but there was no dual boot selection menu. (I later came to realize that by wiping the C: drive I lost boot.ini, and ntldr and with them the capacity to boot into XP.)

    Since I need XP on a daily basis, after fooling with Win7 for an hour or so, I reformatted C: back to FAT32 and restored an image backup to C:, thereby returning my system to its earlier state.

    A couple of days later, I figured I'd try to install Win7 again, this time on E: (which is the second primary partition on same physical device where Win XP resides). So I moved everything on E: to F:, and reformatted E: into NTFS. I then tried to reboot into WXP, but halfway into the boot process it dropped into a blue screen (sorry, I didn't copy the error message). After several attempts with the same result, I reformatted E: back into FAT32, and rebooted WinXP with no problem. To confirm that the filesystem discrepancy was the cause of the problem, I repeated the cycle with the same results.

    So, where I stand now is exactly where I was before: dual boot system with Win98SE on C: and WinXP on D:.

    That's by way of background and problems encountered. Here are my questions:

    1. Now that I realize that when I installed Win7 on C: I lost WinXP's boot files, can I reinstall Win7 on C: and then, to achieve dual boot capacity, simply copy boot.ini, and ntldr onto C:? Will Win7 then recognize that WinXP is on D: and create a boot selection menu?

    2. Will there be a problem with C: being formatted in NTFS and D: in FAT 32? That is, will there be an incompatibility with WinXP's boot files being located on C: in the NTFS file system, while the OS itself is located on D: in the FAT 32 file system?

    3. Would I be better off to reinstall WinXP on C: after reformatting C in NTFS (a prospect I dread since I've tweaked and tuned XP to my linking over a period of years)? I assume that would then give me a dual boot system with two XPs -- one on C: under NTFS and one on D: under FAT 32. Then, after getting the newer XP installation on C: into shape, to install Win 7 on D? This way, both OS's would reside on two separate drives, both formatted in NTFS.

    I'd obviously prefer to avoid this last option if possible because of the time and work involved.

    Tuesday, July 14, 2009 9:24 AM

All replies

  • Hi,

    to answer your first question: If you install Win7 on C: without a previous OS, then a small (100MB), hidden partition will be created that contains the bootfiles and the files needed to enable Bitlocker drive encryption. You can copy your XP bootfiles to this partition (not to C:\) if you unhide it first and re-hide it after the copy but Win7 will not recognize them automatically. To enable a dualboot, you need to configure the booting process; use EasyBCD for that (a free software that does similar tasks as bcdedit.exe, but with a graphical UI). After that, reboot and you should be presented a screen that allows you to choose which OS to start.
    Mobile AMD64 3000+, VIA Apollo K8T800 chipset, 1 G RAM, ATIRadeonMobility 9700, 20x DVDRW, C:XPSP3 (55G),D:WIN7 (25G),F:DATA (250G)
    Tuesday, July 14, 2009 10:25 AM
  • Hello again --

    In the week since my last post I have learned a fair amount about Win7 multiboot issues, but I have still not resolved the problems outlined above.

    I have successfully installed Win7 on C:\, manually copied ntldr, and boot.ini on c:\ and created a boot menu with EasyBCD 2.0. The Win7 selection works fine, but the WinXP selection fails -- the boot process starts but invariably drops into a blue screen half way through the booting process.

    Concerning the matter of Win7 creating a small hidden boot partition, I can find no such partition with Acronis Disk Director, probably because there is a previous OS located on D:\. I do see a hidden "boot" folder in the root of C:\ which contains, in addition to a bunch of language folders, the files Bcd, Bcd.log, Bootstat.dat, and memtest.exe. The bootstat.dat file contains a reference to \windows\system32\winload.exe.

    Since the WinXP selection on the boot menu always leads to a blue screen, I decided to bypass the boot selection screen altogether by creating a WinXP floppy boot disk from an image file downloaded from After creating the floppy from the image, I edited the boot.ini file to reference the correct hard drive and partition. The floppy boots, XP begins to load, but it too drops into a blue screen before the boot finishes.

    After multiple tests, I've concluded that an incompatibility between the NTFS file system on C:\ and the FAT32 file system on D:\ lies at the root of the problem. Here's how I reached that conclusion:

    1. With Win7 installed on c:\ (disk0, partition1) formatted in NTFS and WinXp on d:\ (disk1, partition1) formatted in FAT32, whether booting from the Win7 boot menu or the XP floppy boot disk, WinXP always begins to boot but fails and drops into a blue screen.

    2. With an empty C:\ drive formatted in NTFS and using the XP floppy boot disk, I get the same result as #1 above.

    3. With C:\ formatted in FAT32 and Win98 restored to C:\ the multiboot menu successfully boots into either Win98 or WinXP.

    4. With C:\ formatted in FAT32 but empty, that is, nothing at all on C:\, booting from the XP floppy boot disk produces a successful WinXP startup.

    5. Invariably, with C:\ formatted in NTFS, WinXP boot fails; with C:\ formatted in FAT32, WinXP boot succeeds. Conclusion: Incompatibility between a NTFS formatted C:\ drive and a FAT32 D:\ drive causes Win XP on D:\ to fail to boot. Why this is so is driving me nuts!

    Additional points of information:
    ... 2 hard drives, both connected via onboard IDE connectors
    ... drive0 comprising 2 primary partitions, with partition1 switching between NTFS and FAT as outlined above; drive0 partition2 remains FAT32.
    ... drive1 comprising 2 primary partitions, with WinXP on partition1, both partitions formatted in FAT32.
    ... a DVD optical drive sharing IDE channel #1 with HD0.

    Nowhere can I find documentation about such a problem, so I'm stuck.

    Right now, in order to use WinXP, I'm forced to make a current image backup of Win7, then reformat C:\ in FAT32, boot from the WinXP boot floppy and off I go. To go back to Win7, I have to reverse the steps -- Format in NTFS and restore the image of Win7 on C:\ Though inconvenient, time consuming and clunky, this works.

    Question: Any informed ideas about what's going on here and how I can fix this??

    Tuesday, July 21, 2009 2:23 PM