So You Want to Add XP to your Vista Installation

I'm loving my Vista installation, but there was one piece of custom low level software that wouldn't play nice with Vista. I set forth on a quest to add an XP partition.

My first option was to use Microsoft Virtual PC 2007. It's free and it supports both hosts and clients in Vista. That worked fine but my app wouldn't run in a Virtual PC environment. That meant I was going to have to dual boot.

The first problem is that you're typically supposed to install multiple OS's from oldest to newest, but I didn't want to wipe my Vista install. All the instructions are for installing XP first. Here's the path I took. It may or may not work for you, but hopefully it gives you some things to try.

Setup: Two 250GB drives. Drive 1 is partitioned in half with Vista on the system partition. Drive 2 only has one partition.

  1. BACKUP! I used the new complete backup feature of Vista Ultimate to create an image of my Vista partition and I stuck it on my second drive. Don't skip this step! I actually had to use this at one point because I accidentally formatted my Vista partition. By popping in the Vista DVD I was able to restore the image in a few minutes.
  2. Using the awesome new disk management features in Vista, I shrunk the partition on the second drive and made a second partition for XP. When I booted to my XP SP2 disk, it complained that I was trying to install XP on the secondary drive.
  3. I headed back into Vista, deleted that new XP partition and expanded the single partition on my second drive to refill the whole drive. I then shrunk a partition on my first drive and made a partition for XP.
  4. I booted to XP and successfully installed it on that new partition.
  5. The problem now is that you'll only be able to boot to XP because it overwrites the Vista bootloader. The second problem is that the Vista bootloader and the XP bootloader are completely different.
  6. I booted to the Vista DVD and selected the Repair option. I told it to fix my startup problems and that got me booting back into Vista.
  7. I figured from there I would be able to use VistaBootPro to dual boot my machine. Wrong. I think the problem stems from having Vista on my system partition and XP on a simple partition. Also, in Vista my XP partition shows up as drive F and in XP it showed up as drive J. Whatever the reason, I couldn't get it going.
  8. I booted back to the XP disk, chose Repair and booted into the recovery console. Once at the command prompt, I typed fixboot. That wrote the bootloader to send me into XP.
  9. I booted into XP and inserted the Vista DVD. I opened a command prompt at the Vista DVD and ran these commands: 
    cd \boot
    bootsect /nt60 c: /force
    cd \windows\system32
    bcdedit /create {legacy} /d "WinXP"
    bcdedit /set {legacy} device boot
    bcdedit /set {legacy} path \ntldr
    bcdedit /displayorder {legacy} /addlast

Actually when I tried to create the new legacy partition, it said that one already existed from my work with VistaBootPro. I had to run bcdedit /delete {legacy} to remove that and start over.

That worked and I'm now dual booting XP and Vista. It seemed like way too much work and I probably should have just wiped everything and installed XP FIRST.

Sources: VirtualPC2007 Beta, VistaBootPRO, bcdedit commands

 [UPDATE 3/8/07] If this doesn't work for you, check out Part 2.

Comments (11)

  1. Anonymous says:

    WOW tnx man, you totally nailed it

    tried all the rest but your solution is the only thing that worked.

    tnx a lot.

    How did u find this? 🙂

  2. Anonymous says:

    THis I thought would work. It didnt work. I have xp on my first partition and vista on 2nd. Only way to see vista is to use an erd and set xp partition inactive. Then vista boots up fine. i tried to use vistabootpro too and no luck. So when i log in to xp and type these commands, the first portion of the cmds work but one part says the update may be unreliable since the vol could nto be dismounted during update. then as i try to continue i get bcdedit is not recognizable as an internal blah blah blah  . i change drive letter to E: which is vista and all commands execute successfully. But still i cant get any options at start up and xp boots..

  3. Anonymous says:

    In the first post , I laid out what seemed to be a full plan for installing XP after you install Vista

  4. Anonymous says:

    It worked for me!!! You’re my life saver.

    I had XP installed on first partition(C:) and Vista over second partition(D:), but later I had to reinstall XP which hosed my bootup manager provided by Vista.

    I was kept on trying mbrfix, bootcfg etc. didn’t work. Later I found that bcdedit is the tool that I have to play with when it comes to Vista boot manager.

    Luckly my XP partition became D: after reinstall and Vista somehow took C:, which made my case almost same as yours. I ran the bcdedit command you provided, and now I have my XP over startup boot menu again!!!

    Thanks a million.

  5. Anonymous says:

    My problem is that Vista Ultimate went corrupt.. Now i’m stuck with a broken pc…

    I’ve got two partitions, wich both are NTFS formatted… The first partition is still containing XP MCE, and all my personal files are also on that partition.

    Since the installation of Vista an other bootloader is installed, and i can’t boot XP because the new bootloader isn’t containing XP.  

    Are the commands as shown above working for my problem? I want to write XP in the new bootloader!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Thank you. I tried EasyBCD and many other command prompt commands. Adding the legacy boot commands was the only thing that worked!

  7. Anonymous says:

    o tu schizadda ha yaar…

    bolay to cheeta

  8. Anonymous says:

    Pues a mi si me funciono el vistabootPro, el caso es que tenia para mi confusion 2 particiones:la de vista "C" y la del restore "D"(que es algo que no se considera en el manual rapido dan el sitio de descarga, porque en mi caso no viene oculta) entonces hize,

    1.- Reducción de partición de vista

    2.- Cree la nueva partición sin asignarle aún letra.

    3.- Recorri la letra de la unidad de restore a "E" (para que la nueva viniera a ser "D")

    4.- Ahora si asigne a la nueva partición la letra "D" y montas el volumen o partición …( esto del montado solo si no lo hace automaticamente esto el sistema al asignarle letra, aunque creo que si, pero por si las dudas)

    5.- Meti mi cd de instalación de xp y normalito instale windows xp en la partición "D".

    al reiniciar, obvio ya no funciona el boteo de vista solo hacia windows.

    Al terminar de instalar xp , instalé el VistabootPRO y hago los pasos como dice el manualito de su pagina, solo que aquí viene el detalle, windows XP no aparece como opción, solo el restore y vista….y según comprendí,despues de como 4 reinstalaciones, usé la opción de agregar nueva entrada de sistema operativo, en "MANAGE BCD OS ENTRIES"

    OS Name: "XP"

    OS Type: "Windows Legacy"

    OS Drive: "C:"  

    Nota: Donde "C:" es tambien la unidad de booteo del XP, cosa que no recordaba.

    …al anexar me manda varios errores al modificar..pero no les hice caso…

    Solo checa talvez que en "VIEW SETTINGS", La entrada para "XP", quedé:

    NAME:       XP

    BCD ID:     {ntldr}

    Boot Drive: "C"

    System Bootloader: ntldr

    ..ojo..en los intentos me troné el arranque del Restore..haber si alguien me dice como regenerar ese…quiero pensar que es algo similar al de xp…o no?..porque el registro de vista aunque el arranque es de "C" igual que el booteo de XP, es diferente su información en el registro.



  9. Monserrat says:


  10. Anonymous says:

    Microft must have installed some sort of rootkit that survives format c:

  11. Anonymous says:

    Hi benmartens.. ur the grt dude. its working fine. with those simple steps followed, all my r&d came to an successful ending. thanks and hope u will keep helping ppl in all mean..

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