Dual Boot Problem - W8 on SSD, W7 on SATA

#1
Special Note: I disabled Fast Startup in W8 before I installed second OS and it is still disabled.

I have a new Dell XPS8700. It came with Windows 8 installed on an SSD with an empty SATA drive. I updated the Windows 8 to Windows 8 Pro.

Then I installed Windows 7 Ultimate on the SATA drive. I won't go into all the details except it was nightmarish. What might be important is that I had to convert the SATA drive from GPT to MBR before partitioning. It has 3 volumes (D., E, F.) and I installed W7 on E: [Windows 7 would not install when the SATA drive was a GPT drive]

upload_2015-2-24_20-58-39.png


However, after the installation, there was no boot menu. (And,yes, I had disabled Fast Startup in Windows 8.1) So I downloaded EasyBCD and used it to create a boot menu for Windows 8.1 and Windows 7. When I select Windows 8.1, I boot into Windows 8.1 without any problem. When I select Windows 7, all I get is a bunch of symbols across the top of the monitor and the computer hangs. (see my p.p.s at bottom)

If, after shutting down the computer, I press F12 for advanced boot options and select Legacy Boot from the SATA drive, I get a different boot menu (still a text menu but not the BCD menu). If I select Windows 7, I get into it. If however, I reboot and again select Legacy Boot from the SATA drive and, from the boot menu, select Windows 8.1, I get an error that there is a problem with Windows 8.

SUMMARY
1. I have two drives. The SSD is a GPT drive; W8 is installed on it and was installed by Dell. The SATA drive is an MBR drive that I partitioned and formatted. A bare-bones W7 is installed on the E: Partition.
2. If I do a legacy boot from the SATA drive (F12) and select W7, I can log into W7. If I select W8, I get an error.
3. If I simply reboot/start up (no F12) and select W8 from the BCD menu, I get into W8 OK. If I select W7, it freezes with a single line of junk at the top of the screen.

Obviously, I want to be able to boot into either OS from a single boot menu that appears when I turn on the computer or reboot the computer.

Please, please help

P.S. I don't know if this is relevant, but at the moment I've got almost no drivers installed for Windows 7. Basically there's enough to log in but, for example, the installation did not install a network driver or video driver or anything. One Dell document cites that the Intel Rapid Storage Technology Driver and Wireless or Local Area Network drivers are key but I'm not sure how either of them could be related to this boot issue.

p.p.s. I'm guessing that maybe I have two boot menus, one on each drive? Also, what's odd is that last night after using Easy BCD to create a boot menu, I did test it and was able to get into both OSes. But today I couldn't: from cold start went into W8, restarted and couldn't get into W7.
 
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mqudsi

Mostly Harmless
Staff member
#2
Can you post a picture of the "line of junk" you get after choosing Windows 7?

It sounds like you have Windows 8 using EFI and Windows 7 using MBR, you cannot by definition have a single boot menu that will boot you into both. What I would recommend is use EasyBCD from Windows 7 to add Windows 8 to the (MBR) boot menu or EasyBCD from Windows 8 to add Windows 7 to the boot menu. Try doing the latter, use EasyBCD 2.3 beta: http://j.mp/EBCD2
 
#3
Yes, I think the problem is indeed that W8 is using EFI and W7 is using MBR (because I simply could not run the W7 installation from the DVD otherwise).

But I did install EasyBCD into Windows 8 and created the boot menu there. As you can see from my other message where I listed the contents of the EasyBCD menu. It shows both options, but, as I said, I can't boot into W7 from it.
I will try the beta.

But you seem to be saying that it is nevertheless impossible to have a single boot menu for a mixed GPT disk/MBR disk environment?
 

mqudsi

Mostly Harmless
Staff member
#4
No, what I'm saying is that you'll need to not only install EasyBCD on Windows 8 but also create a new entry for Windows 7 using EasyBCD 2.3 while under Windows 8. Those conditions are to ensure you end up with an EFI entry for your Windows 7 OS.

I'm hoping your Windows 7 is 64-bit, otherwise it's a no-go as Windows 7 x86 will not, no matter what, boot under EFI.
 
#5
No, what I'm saying is that you'll need to not only install EasyBCD on Windows 8 but also create a new entry for Windows 7 using EasyBCD 2.3 while under Windows 8. Those conditions are to ensure you end up with an EFI entry for your Windows 7 OS.

I'm hoping your Windows 7 is 64-bit, otherwise it's a no-go as Windows 7 x86 will not, no matter what, boot under EFI.
Yes, the Windows 7 is Windows 7 Ultimate x64.

Well, this is curious.

I downloaded and installed the EasyBCD 2.3 and added another Windows 7 entry. (It still had the earlier entries and I couldn't figure out how to get rid of it). Slightly different name this time.
I rebooted and selected the "new" Windows 7 entry and booted into Windows 7.
BUT I ended up in the same place that started this whole mess: no keyboard or mouse. Impossible to log in to W7.

So if I could figure out why there's no keyboard or mouse I might be able to go back to my starting point and install W7 on a GPT drive.

I realize your concern is simply the EasyBCD software but can you speculate on what's going on here. Something about the EFI entry?

I really don't understand. We're simply talking about 2 different hard drives, one is an SSD, one is a SATA. Same computer, same keyboard, same mouse, etc.
 

Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#6
Do you have legacy USB enabled in the BIOS ?
 

mqudsi

Mostly Harmless
Staff member
#7
The way the OS communicates with the hardware changes dramatically between EFI and BIOS. If you're using a bluetooth or wireless mouse/keyboard, use a standard USB one instead. But more likely, your USB drivers don't support EFI. Either grab a PS/2 keyboard or boot into Windows 7 via MBR, then install the latest UEFI drivers, then reboot and boot into it via EFI once more.

Try Terry's suggestion first, though. That might save you some trouble.
 
#8
The way the OS communicates with the hardware changes dramatically between EFI and BIOS. If you're using a bluetooth or wireless mouse/keyboard, use a standard USB one instead. But more likely, your USB drivers don't support EFI. Either grab a PS/2 keyboard or boot into Windows 7 via MBR, then install the latest UEFI drivers, then reboot and boot into it via EFI once more.

Try Terry's suggestion first, though. That might save you some trouble.
Terry and Mqudsi,
Thank you both.

The keyboard and mouse are both from Dell, came with the PC, and are both USB. I took the precaution of installing them in the USB 2.0 ports. I also tried some older keyboards, also USB, that worked with previous Dells, but not difference.
I had actually considered a PS/2 keyboard, since I've got one or two floating around, but the 8700 doesn't have a PS/2 port.

Also, I've been using a Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 DVD which is supposed to be UEFI aware and should, also, "know" about USB 2.0.

I've decided to try starting from scratch, wiping out the SATA drive, converting it back to GPT and trying the Dell OEM Windows 7 Pro SP1 DVD. I hadn't want to use it because Pro doesn't have bitlocker (which I need to access some USB backup drives). But I could live with it. Also, after much reading, it appears that one error I may have made was to create the volumes on the SATA drive before launching the installation rather than letting Windows create the GPT volumes. Assuming, of course, that with the Dell DVD I can get past the "no keyboard, no mouse situation".

QUESTION RE EASYBCD BOOT MENU
Will EasyBCD (installed under W8 on the SSD) automatically see that no other OS exists or should I do something with EasyBCD before I delete the volumes on the SATA drive?
 

Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#9
The redundant entries in the BCD are of no consequence.
They only have significance if you select them from the boot menu.
You can tidy up the entries whenever it's convenient. (though don't delete any entry you didn't create yourself)
Did you check that legacy USB was enabled, before going to all this trouble to reinstall ?
 
#10
The redundant entries in the BCD are of no consequence.
They only have significance if you select them from the boot menu.
You can tidy up the entries whenever it's convenient. (though don't delete any entry you didn't create yourself)
Did you check that legacy USB was enabled, before going to all this trouble to reinstall ?
If I understand the relationship between legacy and uefi bios, this won't help much. I would, presumably, have to enable it each time I wanted to boot into W7, go back to UEFI each time I wanted to boot into W8 and what I want is what I've always had: a simple menu that lets me choose at bootup or restart which OS to go into (and, TBH, I've pretty much relied on ireboot in the past so as to make this pretty much automatic).
I don't want to have to fool around with F2 or F12 boots to get me into the right OS.

In other words, if I understand things correctly, the beta EasyBCD gets me to Windows 7 (which is a major improvement) but can't solve the underlying problem. All I want to do is what I've always done, select which OS I want from a simple boot menu at startup or restart. In fact, I've always relied on ireboot so I don't even have to deal with that hassle. I just decide which OS I'll want before I shutdown/restart.

Editorial comment here: I've been dual-booting OSes since Windows 95 and Windows 98 and I have never had any trouble. But my Google searches reveal a large number of "Windows 7 freezes at startup screen in dual boot situations" with almost no answers and, so far, not a single good one. For what seems to be a common problem, the lack of answers (and these issues go back to at least 2011) if frustrating.

No reflection on you or mqdudsi who have been the only ones to date who have given me reasonable things to try.
 

mqudsi

Mostly Harmless
Staff member
#11
We're saying try legacy USB and see if it gets you into a working Windows 7. If so, we're one step closer to finding out why this is happening, which means we're closer to figuring out a real, workable solution that doesn't involve a format. Your call.
 

Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#12
Enabling legacy USB is not the same thing as switching to legacy BIOS via the CSM
 
#13
Enabling legacy USB is not the same thing as switching to legacy BIOS via the CSM
Sigh, I think you may be right about the lack of support for the USB keyboard/mouse - but there is no BIOS option for legacy USB. I can enable or disable the USB ports, but that is all.
OPROM is enabled - which I think is related to legacy?
There are two UEFI boot options
Windows Boot Manager
UEFI OS
I'm not sure which is the default or if either could make a difference.
Since the Windows Installation freezes at the first screen, I don't see how I can load current drivers during the startup. And the only storage driver Dell shows for this computer for Windows 7 is
Foxconn Icon Manager Application
This package provides Foxconn Icon Manager Application and is supported on XPS 8700 running the following Windows Operating systems: Windows...
Foxconn Icon Manager Application
I know this isn't an EasyBCD problem but I do appreciate the help.
 
#14
Sigh, I think you may be right about the lack of support for the USB keyboard/mouse - but there is no BIOS option for legacy USB. I can enable or disable the USB ports, but that is all.
OPROM is enabled - which I think is related to legacy?
There are two UEFI boot options
Windows Boot Manager
UEFI OS
I'm not sure which is the default or if either could make a difference.
Since the Windows Installation freezes at the first screen, I don't see how I can load current drivers during the startup. And the only storage driver Dell shows for this computer for Windows 7 is
Foxconn Icon Manager Application
This package provides Foxconn Icon Manager Application and is supported on XPS 8700 running the following Windows Operating systems: Windows...
Foxconn Icon Manager Application
I know this isn't an EasyBCD problem but I do appreciate the help.
PROGRESS!!!!!!!
Well, your suggestions made me focus more on the USB side of the equation. I had taken the trouble to install the mouse and keyboard in the 2.0 ports and figured that would be good enough. Still, I posted on a Dell forum. Responder suggested that should be good enough but response included suggestion to disable the USB 3.0 ports. That seemed a bit difficult since in my BIOS they are simply labeled front, rear and top - and the rear ports include 2.0 and 3.0, but I gave it a shot. Disabled the front and top. And I was able to log in to Windows 7!

Since the BIOS options presented in the above answer differed from mine, I checked and discovered that my XPS8700, built theoretically in Dec. 2014, had an April 2014 BIOS. And there have been two updates since (Summer 2014 and Dec. 2014). So I am going to update the BIOS, disable the USB 3.0 ports and start the W7 installation process from scratch.

I will let you know how things turn out. And, I know it isn't much, but I bought another copy of EasyBCD and ireboot in appreciation.

Thank you.
 

Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#15
In my ASUS EFI BIOS It's simply an option under "advanced" > USB Config > Legacy USB support enable/disable (and Legacy USB3 support enable/disable)
 
#16
In my ASUS EFI BIOS It's simply an option under "advanced" > USB Config > Legacy USB support enable/disable (and Legacy USB3 support enable/disable)
Sorry for the long delay in responding. I'm posting more detail than you may need in case somebody runs across a similar issue.

The problem with my initial attempt to dual boot W8 and W7 was due to the USB 3.0 ports.

To briefly re-iterate, when I initially tried to install W7 on the SATA drive, it froze at the first screen. So I changed the drive from GPT to MBR and used a legacy boot. That worked. But then I couldn't select which OS I wanted. Using the beta BCD, and thanks to your suggestions, it became clear that the W7 installation DVD was freezing because of the USB 3.0 ports.

The BIOS in my Dell XPS8700 Special Edition (shipped end of Dec. 2014) has only 3 enable/disable USB options:Top, Front, and Back. All have USB 3.0 ports. But the back has USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports. I disabled the Top and Front USB ports. That was enough to make the W7 DVD run properly.

From my W8.1 SSD drive I wiped the SATA drive, changed it back to GPT and partitioned it. (It turns out that it is not a good idea to let the W7 installation program do the partitioning. It handles partition space weirdly so I was losing much more than I needed just to house the OS.) Then I installed W7, updated the drivers, including USB 3.0 drivers and all is well.

I can't thank all of you enough for the time you spent with me. If not for the Beta BCD, I might never have been able to get to the root of the problem.