How to: Install the Vista Bootloader on Windows XP

Ever since Windows Vista came out, a lot of hype has been going around the new bootloader. That’s the hype that drove us to create EasyBCD, and that’s the same hype that’s been driving people to ask all around the web: “Is it possible to install the new Windows Vista bootloader on a non-Vista machine? Can I get XP to use the new Vista bootloader? How can I install the Vista bootloader on my XP-only machine?”

First, a disclaimer: In order to use the Vista bootloader, you’ll need some licensed Vista files. The only legal way to get these is by already having Windows Vista legally installed on another machine and grabbing the files from there. Kapish? Second, the answer: Of course you can. And here’s how!

  1. Go to a Vista machine and zip-up the C:\Windows\Boot\ folder.
  2. Extract those zipped files to the same location on your XP machine. (i.e. you should now have a C:\Windows\Boot\ folder on your XP machine, too).
  3. Download and install the latest version of EasyBCD.
  4. Run EasyBCD. When you first start it, it’ll tell you what you already know: the Vista bootloader isn’t installed! It’ll ask if you want to repair it – (obviously) click yes.
  5. When prompted for the letter of a Vista drive, give it the same drive letter as your XP partition – the one you copied those files to earlier. When asked for the boot drive letter, give the letter of the drive with boot.ini and ntldr (most likely C:\).
  6. Let EasyBCD “repair” your bootloader and wait for it to finish.
  7. Once it’s done, you’ll have a (non-working) entry to boot into Windows Vista – delete it from the “Add/Remove Entries” screen and instead add a new entry for Windows XP.
  8. Reboot & Enjoy!

5 easy steps (never mind the numbering), and you’ll have the Vista bootloader up and running in no time. What you do with it after that…. well, that’s up to you.

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  • 45 thoughts on “How to: Install the Vista Bootloader on Windows XP

    1. I am looking for a tool like EasyBCD that will work on all systems from Win98 to XP for my old MS operating systems until I junk them and replace them with Linux. It would be nice if it also worked with Linux and Mac X. I am using Partition Magic (old) and (old) Ghost to capture the OEM image, dumping Vista, installing XP, ripping out all the junk and making my changes and saving the “system” I want. I think Vista sucks.

      If you happen to know of a product like this would you please send me the info. at the address listed above. I am looking for a tool that will let me make the changes I want and both Parition Magic (new version) and Ghost (new version) are increasing blocking my attempts to capture a system snapshot building image libraries and multi-boot systems. I am surveying a copy of system commander now and BartPE now.

      Thanks, Mike

    2. thanks alot..

      i could install VistabootPro on the XP, and i also installed .Net freamwork 2.0 before i install the VistabootPro, but the problem was when i go to the System Bootloader tab, and select “Windows Vista Bootloader” in the first section and “All Drives” in the second section, then there is no “Install Bootloader’s button” to click.. and also all the tabs are like this”without any buttons under the options”

      were u talking about this problem? and is EasyBCD the solution for this problem?


      Que, KL, Malaysia

    3. I have a new laptop that came with vista preinstalled (drive C). I have installed WinXP on a separate partition (drive D).

      What I’d like to know is if I install the Easybcd’s bootloader in XP will I set the the vista drive as “C” or do I follow the instructions above to add the vista boot folder to my XP installation?

      Also, more importantly, if I use XP to install the bootloader will it automatically recognize the vista install on drive C or will I have to reinstall vista again?

      I had tryed using Easybcd in the Vista installation but when I selected the XP os from the bootloader screen on startup I would get a “/ntldr missing” message. When I added the files as instructed per this website, and then selected the XP os from the bootloader screen I would get a very brief “loading windows from drive C:” message and then the screen stayed black and would never load any os.

      I’m afraid to keep reinstalling XP. I’ve activated it twice in three days and I’m certain MS will be after me for a phone call if I continue reinstalling the software.

      Thank you for your help.

    4. I have a new Dell Dimension E521 computer that came with vista preinstalled on(drive C). I have installed WinXP on a separate partition (drive D).

      What I’d like to know is if I install the Easybcd’s bootloader in XP will I set the the vista drive as “C” or do I follow the instructions above to add the vista boot folder to my XP installation?

      I’ve tried boot repair CD’s to fix my Vista startup problem but the screen stays black and won’t go to the Vista Desktop. XP is so erratic that I’m afraid I’ll mess IT up and then I won’t be able to use by NEW computer!!

    5. I have a new Dell Dimension E521 computer that came with vista preinstalled on(drive)C but it is Windows Vista Home Premium, version 6 with SMBIOS and nVIDIA technology. I mean the display resolution is like, 1900 something by 1100 something. Which EASYBCD version will work on my vista?

    6. Hi!!
      I looking for someone utility how EasyBCD but for Windows XP..
      I wish add to my XP bootloader my Ubuntu, Kubuntu and Edubuntu (and yes Iam Ubuntuadict!! =P) but with East BCD I need the Boot vista files
      its correct?? or i can add my linux Distros to my XP boot loader with EasyBCD??
      Greetings!! =P

    7. I have an hp compact presario sr5030nx. It’s a year and a half old, and came with vista basic originally installed. It came with no vista installation disks. It came with sata, no slave/master. I installed a second sata harddrive. On the new drive, I installed xp pro on the first partition, using an xp boot disk. The new drives 2nd partiton is unallocated. I never got the dual boot screen. Status at this point, XP boots (see FIRST ATTEMPT).
      Then, I tried various things: selecting either drive using the escape key’s boot screen, I get XP; Computer, properties, advanced, had only one selection for boot.ini file; Unplugging either drive or switching sata board plugs, etc. Eventually couldn’t get into either drive.

      Then I read about EASYbcd. I reinstalled XP. I Configured EASYbcd in XP. In “manage bootloader” “reinstalled Vista Bootloader” then “write MBR”. In “ADD/Remove Entries” selected XP, and added entry. Still no dual boot screen. Now Vista boots, but XP won’t. I have access to its files through the Vista drive. Selecting XP drive in Boot menu/escape I get, “error loading OS”. My boot setting priority in Bios I’ve never changed are, 1-floppy 2-cd/rom 3-harddrive group-1)Vista 2)XP. This is where I’m at now(see CURRENTLY).

      I have read to, and also not to, change the boot order in the bios. Scary! EASYbcd is installed on both drives and I figure all I have to do is configure it on the Vista drive. Please advise!

      Additional info:
      I plan on updating xp/vista bios and installing missing xp drivers. I may split the new drive’s unallocated partition, one for Umbutu, and one for data. If this is going to complicate the current situation; then I can skip it.

      Computer Management
      (top section)
      compact c: partition – – healthy(system) 141
      D: partition – – healthy(boot) 117
      E: partition – – healthy 1.91
      recovery F: partition – – healthy 7.09
      (Bottom section)
      VISTA |
      disk0 compact C: |recovery D:
      basic 141gb |7.0gb
      149gb healthy(system) |healthy
      online |
      ……………………………………………………………. XP PRO
      disk1 D: |
      basic 117gb |
      233 healthy (boot) |116gb
      online |unallocated

      Computer Management
      (top section)
      F: simple – – healthy(active, primary partition) 117
      j: simple – – healthy (primary partiton) 1.91
      compact c: simple – – healthy(system,boot,page,active,crash 141 dump,primary partition)
      Recovery d: simple – – healthy, (primary partition) 7.09
      (Bottom section)
      VISTA |
      disk0 compact (C:) |recovery D:
      basic 141gb |7.0gb
      149gb |
      online |
      healthy(system,boot,page,active, |
      crash dump,primary partition) |
      XP PRO
      disk1 (F:) |
      basic 117gb |
      233gb healthy(active, primary |
      partition) |116gb
      online |unallocated
      disk3 (J) |
      removable |
      1.9gb |
      cd-rom ) |
      dvd (E) |

      EASYbcd properties in VISTA
      There is one entry in the Vista Bootloader.
      Bootloader Timeout: 30 seconds.
      Default OS: Microsoft Windows Vista
      Entry #1
      Name: Microsoft Windows Vista
      BCD ID: {current}
      Drive: C:\
      Bootloader Path: \Windows\system32\winload.exe
      Windows Directory: \Windows

    8. Why would I do this?
      come on If I bought a mac I’d buy it for it’s OS If I wanted XP i’d use my lappy.

    9. I instlled xp first, vista second (separate partition’s) crashed the winXP and reinstalled xp , now I cant boot to vista.
      I tried easyBCD 1.7.2 but it wont load from xp (the application failed to initialize properly (0x0000135) error

    10. I have XP SP3 on lappy with a hidden linux on two other partitions. The problem is that i can’t repair the GRUB using CD/DVD since my drive is broken. I’ll try using this software with the above tips. Wish me luck 😉

    11. Hi,

      is it necessary to go online to download .net framework there any other way i get the dump files…

    12. i actually have to disagree
      im a novice and i just installed vista onto an xp machine
      what i did first may have been why though, i ran vista from desktop
      i clicked on install,,now interestingly it downloaded and installed files (my guess would be the bootmgr files needed )
      then it asked for it to then be ran from disk,ie reboot and install
      i did this and it all went fine,,,she has vista running on her xp machine without me taking files from my vista machine
      so yer ,maybe xp users could give this a try also

    13. All works OK until I install EasyBCD in XP. I get error message, so tried installing in Win 7 and it worked.

    14. My registry hive is corrupt and no matter what I do I get an error message that says Missing OS or unformattede active partition.

      Can I use Easy BCD to fix this? Can I put the easybcd.exe on a cd and boot the file from a cd?

      Also I tried the Vista Recovery Disc .iso, but get the same message.

      I’d be extremely grateful for any help.

    15. If I use EasyBCD as a Windows XP boot loader can I configure the loader to boot into XP as the default without input making Windows 7 the option?

    16. Can the different OS’s be on different physical drives? If they are, so I even need the software, or should I just choose my boot drive from my bios?

      I will be booting XP and Win7.


    17. Hello Mahmoud Al-Qudsi!

      I’ve used your tool and I think its very good, I just would like to know if its possible to do the same that is explained here (Install vista/7 bootloader on XP) but only with Microsoft tools (bootsect, bcdedit) from a WinPE environment.

      Thanks in advance

    18. hey hey… maybe you could give me a link of a vista boot folder so i could download it and try this tweak… thanks

    19. Will this work for XP inside a VHD?

      I understand native boot vhd is only officially supported for Win 7 and later guest OS, but I’ve read Vista SP1 and later can also be native booted inside vhd. Of course, the Win 7 bootmgr must be installed on the “outside” host and the bcd must be configured also on the outside host.

      What is the easiest way to native boot vhd with XP inside?

      Thanks in advance

    20. hello

      to use the Win7 bootloader on a XP-only machine is the same procedure as with Vista bootloader? and EasyBCD can handle it? i want to use the one of Win7 because it’s the latest one. or is there no difference between Vista und Win7 bootloader?

      thanks! 🙂

    21. hi Mahmoud,

      I have installed windows 7 on c: drive and XP on D: drive. Now the pc loads only the XP by default. I have downloaded EasyBSD and installed it on using XP partition i.e. D: drive. But when I click on the the icon start EasyBSD, it says failed to load the application. How can we install EasyBSD on XP and then change the boot files? Please help.


    22. I want to be able to run Ubuntu, DesktopBSD, and W/7; which order should I install them to my HDD?

    23. @Stone
      Any Windows OS always need to be installed first, then any distribution of Linux.
      So in this particular case: first Win7, then DesktopBSD, then Ubuntu.

      I don’t understand why you need DesktopBSD if you going to install Ubuntu, Ubuntu is much more advanced, completed and with huge community than DesktopBSD.
      If you want DesktopBSD for the user interface (KDE) similar to windows, then you only need Kubuntu, this is the same reliable Ubuntu but with KDE user interface.

      Good luck!

    24. hi maybe ur funny tool has changed a bit since 2008 against ur instructions here. am trying to install it on windows xp only machine, following ur instructions. i.e. it has .net 2.0, it runs, and it has on ide drive c: a valic ntldr, and valid and booting windows xp install. likewise, i copied the \boot directory with contents to the windows directory.the whole drive c is ntfs.
      upon first start, the tool will by no means ask to repair a boot install for vista. it will have the backup/repair button, which will only return the error message it is only available on vista and windows 7. aha
      then it will have bootloader setup, where u can install bcd (to c does not work because it is the instance in use, and i suppose it is only for external media anyway), plus u can write a vista/win7 or an xp bootloader to mbr. the choice of the vista /win 7 boot loader will mess up the mbr, saying bootmanager missing on boot, meaning it has to be returned to normall using fixboot from recovery console.
      the write win xp bootloader to mbr has no effect on an xp install.
      either way, if then i try to edit boot menu, which may show windows 7 / vista, to the effect that i am using add new item, for windows xp, it will both on automatic and on selection of C: claim it cannot find a valid windows nt/xp2003 install (regardless of wheter i wrote a vista 7 loader, none or am certain the current xp loader is intact.

    25. it worked. using version 1.7 from download page it did the repair and also add an windows xp to boot menu which it had refused before

    26. Hello! Got a big problem: I have Vista on my Pc, and tryed to install Xp and Win98 on it too. Started with Xp on a second Partition of the same hard disk. It got well untill the install was finished. Now i can´t boot any Windows. I erased the second partition again, but nothing chanced. so i checked the internet and downloaded easybcd on a boot-CD. But i don´t know how to use it! I boot from the CD and get to dos. Now i don´t know what to do. Can someone help me,please.

    27. I think the above tutorial is outdated: on my XP (SP3) machine when I run EasyBCD for the 1st time, I do NOT get prompted to repair the bootloader (i.e. step 4 does not happen). Too bad.

    28. I am having a similar experience, to DD above, in which I

      ; copied my Windows 7 \Windows\Boot folder, to my Windows XP SP3 PC

      ; installed EasyBCD 2.1

      ; ran EasyBCD

      and got the following:

      “The boot configuration data store could not be opened.
      The system cannot find the file specified.

      Would you like to manually load a BCD registry for EasyBCD to manage? Please note that EasyBCD requires the Windows Vista/7 bootloader, and will not work in XP-only environments.”

      This would indicate to me that perhaps the \Windows\Boot folder did not make the hop from my Win7 box to my XP box, yet all files do seem to be there. Which file is “the file specified”? Perhaps that will be the clue I need. Thanks!

    29. I’ve been using Easy BCD for a long time (happily). Yesterday the hard drive containing windows xp crashed, so I replaced it and had to re-install xp. But now Easy BCD won’t boot. Did I wipe out the win 7 loader on the C partition?

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