Dual booting w/ Vista and XP


Hello everyone. I have a friend who has a 64bit Vista installation on his single hard drive. He wanted to dual boot Vista and XP. When he came to me, he had two partitions. The first was Vista 64 Business Edition and the second was a HP recovery partition.

I followed the directions here:


The first thing I did was boot to a Vista 64 boot disk and shrink the Vista partition. I then booted to an XP 64 disk and installed XP. I then used EasyBCD to restor the Vista bootloader. I then booted into Vista and used EasyBCD to create an XP entry in the vista bootloader. I did so without changing any drive letter in BCD. I just went to add/remove > selected the Windows tab > selected NT/2000/XP from the drop down and selected save(I followed the directions above to a T).

Upon reboot, it wouldn't boot to Vista or XP. So I booted to the Vista CD and restored the bootloader. I rebooted into Vista and tried this time to select maybe drive F (In Vista, the XP partition is drive F. The Vista DVD stated the XP partiton was drive D. I dont' remember what XP called it's own partition when I was booted into XP).

At this point, I can't remember what the first error I got was when I booted into XP but it wouldn't boot (This was 8+ hours into the adventure with MANY obsticles along the way because of not being use to working with a Vista 64 version. i.e. serial drivers, not having a 64bit boot disk ect...) Last night, I tried messing with the boot.ini file changing the partition to 2 then 3 then 4 with no luck but I think I did get a different error of /ntldr missing with a hex address. Right now, when the PC boots to XP, it will say Boot.ini error then give me an NTOSKRNL.exe error. I tried copying over all the XP root critical files from the Vista partition to the XP partition with no change.

I also noticed, in EasyBCD, when I go to view settings, the legacy OS path just says /ntldr. Shouldn't it say /windows/system32 ?

So, since I can't remember the exact chain of events, I don't relly know what I'm asking here. I guess I what I was to know is if I am doing things correctly? Are the directions from the link above mainly for people with two physical hard drives in their PC? Do I need to do something different since he has one hard drive? Does the boot.ini and all the other XP critical files belong on the Vista partition?

Thank you ladies and gents...
Hi thearm, welcome to NeoSmart Technologies.

The BCD configuration is correct. /NTLDR is right and all the indications are that the configuration is correct.

When you see the NTOSKRNL message that means that you've done everything right and the only step is to now keep on playing with the values in boot.ini until you get a setup that works.
If you post your boot.ini and a screenshot of disk management, we'll take a look if you can't figure it out.
Thank you for replying with my limited amout of information. When I get home, I will post my ini here.

Question: So are you saying I need to keep changing the partition number in the boot.ini file until it boots?
Yes. HnS can automate the procedure and protect Windows Vista's system restore points from being deleted every time you boot into XP.
Ok. Thank you sir. I will try it tonight.


Here is the Boot.ini

;Warning: Boot.ini is used on Windows XP and earlier operating systems.
;Warning: Use BCDEDIT.exe to modify Windows Vista boot options.
[boot loader]
[operating systems]
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(4)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Professional" /NOEXECUTE=OPTIN /FASTDETECT

Here is the Boot (no file extention. Backup maybe?)

[boot loader]
[operating systems]
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(4)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Professional" /noexecute=optin /fastdetect

Screenshot of Disk Management:


Detail view in EasyBCD:

Windows Boot Manager
identifier {9dea862c-5cdd-4e70-acc1-f32b344d4795}
device partition=C:
path \bootmgr
description Windows Boot Manager
displayorder {b7adf97d-2bb0-11dd-9b70-8cd479ff90e9}
timeout 30
Windows Boot Loader
identifier {b7adf97d-2bb0-11dd-9b70-8cd479ff90e9}
device partition=C:
path \Windows\system32\winload.exe
description Windows Vista (TM) Ultimate (recovered)
osdevice partition=C:
systemroot \Windows
resumeobject {4ba0504f-2b92-11dd-b539-806e6f6e6963}
Real-mode Boot Sector
identifier {b7adf984-2bb0-11dd-9b70-8cd479ff90e9}
device partition=C:
path \NTLDR
description Microsoft Windows XP 64

So far, I've tried to set the partition to 2, 3, and now it's on 4 with no luck. I would think 2 would be correct since it is the second partition. I'll try that program soon(once my girlfriend is in bed).
Last edited:
Windows numbers primaries first, then the extended, then the logicals inside the extended.
That would in theory make your XP = 4, but since you've tried that, I assume that it's reserving 3 for another primary, which would make your XP logical disk p5
The equivalent logical on my system is 5, but I do have 3 primaries. I've never created logicals while I've still got a primary spare, but I have a suspicion that the extended might be 4 anyway.
Last edited:
I can't see why it would be 5 but I'll try that now.


I tried 5 and 6 as partition number in the XP boot.ini file. Neither worked. Still getting the invalid boot.ini file then the ntoskernl.exe error.
Last edited:
Are you editing the boot.ini on your C:\ disk ?
That's the one which is being used (on the "system active" disk) not anything on the XP disk.
Yes. I am editing the Boot.ini and the boot file.

In EasyBCD, should the drive letter say C:/ for Vista and XP installations? Is there any way to see what partition XP is on so I know for sure to troubleshoot the ini further or to move to something else?
Last edited:
It says C: for both because that's where all the boot files have to be (the system active partition, which in your case is Vista (c:\)).
When you select XP from the Vista menu it hands control to NTLDR (which must be in the same root on the system active disk) which reads boot.ini (same root again) to find out which partition contains XP.
The folder "boot" on the system active root is Vista's folder containing the BCD. You shouldn't have a boot file with no extension !
I don't know whether that's causing a problem.
but if you're definitely editing c:\boot.ini and not f:\boot.ini, then I can't see why you're still getting problems.
Ok. I am sure I'm editing the boot.ini file on C. Well that's ok. I tried. My friend will have to live with Vista then. I hate Vista.


I just deleted the XP partition and merged it back with Vista. Thank you for your help everyone.
Last edited:
I was just about to post that you can use the Windows XP cd to automatically re-create boot.ini (without hurting anything else) with the "bootcfg /rebuild" tool.
Well, the boot.ini is a pretty simple file so I'm thinking there is something else wrong. I'm careful when I edit it. I have quite a bit of experience with computers, I've just sort of ignored the initial boot process in high detail. I know a lot about it, but some of the boot process, I still need to learn. Thank you for your help thus far.

A final question if you don't mind. Is it easier to dual boot Windows and Vista with Vista already installed or with XP already installed?
Oldest first, newest last is MS preferred. (Vista is backward compatible), but if you do it the other way round, the only extra step is the repair of the Vista bootloader after XP installs. (XP is not forward compatible, doesn't recognize Vista, and can't boot it)
The repair is automatic, by booting the Vista DVD, and quite painless, so the real choice is what you want the final configuration to look like, (both OS called C:\ , or lettering consistent but different across boots)

If you're going to start again, I too followed the APC guide (Vista first), with some modifications (I pre formatted my partition layout with a bootable floppy rather than installing Vista to the whole disk then shrinking it e.g.) and I had no problems getting the dual boot to work.
I came to this site last year to get help with solving the "hide Vista from XP" problem which MS workarounds failed to fix. (fixed in minutes here btw)

If you do start again and have more problems, post back a bit earlier this time. I'm sure we should have been able to get you working last night, but I suspect that something got broken in the 8 hours that you played around first time which we weren't able to spot from the info we had before you gave up.

Have a good read through the wiki about the whole subject of dual booting, especially the XP and XP troubleshooter sections. Every problem you're likely to see is listed there, with the fix.
Last edited:
XP already installed, because boot.ini is already configured.

Anthony, boot.ini is deceivingly simple. There are so many ifs and buts that it's really difficult to figure out what it should look like without a ton of practice.
If my friend want's me to wipe his hard drive and try again, I'll post in here. I don't think he will care since he jsut got the machine. Thank you gents.
Terry, i'm not saying that you are totally wrong. But in some cases, boot.ini and the other boot files for XP are stored on XP's partition. I know this because I dual-boot XP and Vista on my laptop and XP's boot files are at the root of XP's partition (not Vistas'). Of course, I installed my OSes in logical order (that is, oldest first).