Recovering from my own stupidity in a Vista install

I recently installed a new build of Windows Vista on my day-to-day laptop using a network install, which is very cool. Just boot to the network, point to an image server, kick off the install, and you're good.

The problem I had was that I didn't think about the fact that I wanted to keep the ability to boot into Windows XP*...which is totally doable, so long as you plan for it. Unfortunately, since I hadn't planned ahead, I ended up with my machine booting directly into Windows Vista, with no option to boot back into my existing XP partition. D'oh!

What made it more challenging is that Vista introduces a new boot manager, which doesn't use boot.ini to store its info. So I couldn't just use notepad to repair my goof.

Thankfully, a quick MSN search did the trick. I found a forum post that had the info I needed. Basically, I was able to use the bcdedit.exe command-line utility to activate the boot manager entry that loads a legacy OS. The relevant commands were:

bcdedit /create {legacy} /d “Description”
(I didn't need this one, as the {legacy} entry already existed, though it wasn't active)

bcdedit /set {legacy} device boot

bcdedit /set {legacy} path \ntldr

bcdedit /displayorder {legacy} /addlast

Once I ran those commands and rebooted, I was back in business, and blogging this from my XP partition.

* It's a good idea when you're dipping your foot in the beta OS waters to dual-boot at first. That way, if your beta OS turns out to have issues, you can still boot back into your "safe" OS to get important tasks done. Of course, ideally, you should only install beta OS and/or software on a spare machine that you don't count on for day-to-day use, but it's also true that lots of folks don't have that option.

Comments (2)

  1. Joe Brinkman says:

    Or… you could just use a virtual machine.  I heard a couple of good options were just made available for free. 😉

  2. DEvHammer says:

    Hmm…running Vista in a VM is kinda like shoving a Hemi into a Dodge Neon…sure, you can do it, but you’re not really getting the most out of the experience. 😉

    But you’re right that for many beta scenarios, a VM is the right choice. In this particular case, I’d like to have the eye candy too, which just isn’t possible inside a VM.

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