Dual-boot Vista/XP

Last night I took a flying leap into the world of Vista. I’ve meant to install it for a while, but was a bit afraid of losing the ability to run all my old XP applications — I didn’t want to get in a situation where I had to fight with some not-ready-for-Vista piece of software in order to get my job done.

But thanks to Vista’s hassle-free installation that lets you put it on a secondary drive for a multi-boot scenario, I now have a setup that gives me the best of all worlds. I have Vista and Office 2007, and I also still have my old XP configuration any time I need it, with all my software still installed and configured as in the past.

I’m using a Toshiba M4 tablet PC, and here’s the steps I followed to get this configuration done:

  • Flash the ROM to update it (as required by Vista)
  • Install a second hard drive in the multi-function bay
  • Install Vista onto the new second drive (I used the combined Vista/Office build available to Microsoft employees internally)

That’s all there is to it. Now, whenever I boot my laptop, I have two choices: boot “Windows” (i.e., boot Vista from the new hard drive), or boot “Earlier version of Windows” (i.e., boot XP from the unchanged primary drive). Whichever drive I boot from is always drive C:, and the other drive is always accessible as drive D:.

The only drawback to this approach is that Vista boots from a drive in my multi-select bay, so I can’t have the internal DVD drive in place when I’m running Vista. I have an external DVD drive I can use in that situation, though. And after I verify how to install and configure all my applications under Vista, I’m planning to put Vista on the primary drive and have XP on the removable drive, which will give me an internal DVD drive with Vista.

This is a great way to get started with Vista. I’ve given up nothing, and can be back in my old comfortable XP environment within minutes any time I need it, with full access to all the files on both drives regardless of which OS I’ve booted.

Mauricio Ordonez (my manager) helped me get this configuration set up. Thanks, Mo!