How I was able to triple Boot with existing Vista install


Sorry long post but I hope somene can benefit from it.
My triple boot project. I am starting with a former dual boot machine running XP 64 and Vista 64. Originally, when I set up this system, I loaded XP64 first, then loaded Vista. This allowed both OS's to land on C: during their install. One issue to watch for is the recovery console. Both OS's will see each other's recovery image as a corrupt version of their own and delete them. To avoid this problem, I simply turned off recovery in XP. I then ran a second hard drive and created a folder for each OS. In the folder I placed the My Documents from each. This drive could be seen by each, and all went well. Until the fateful over clock that blew up XP.

My new project was originally to take an existing Vista Install, and load XP under it, but still with dual boot. When I tried to load XP, the section where it would allow you to choose a partition, the installer would see the Vista load as C:, and then assign XP to another letter, F or so. Simply booting after the install would knock out the Vista booter. This was resolved by a quick boot from the Vista disk, and a start up repair. Now the machine would boot into Vista, and skip over XP.

To resolve this problem I installed Easy BCD. This handy little program writes the Vista boot sector to allow the loading of another OS. Unfortunately, what I wanted to avoid happened. Now booting into XP, the drive still showed as F. I then tried deleting the XP partition and trying again but with the same results. I tried to move the Vista image in XP from C to another letter, but Windows did not allow. From there I deleted the XP image again and started over.

I tried a number of partition programs with the intent of forcing the XP image to install lower. This technique was not successful. I then tried Acronis Disk Director, to hide the Vista partition. The theory was that if the Vista partition was hidden, XP would install as C. After several tries, Acronis was not the right tool for this job. At the time XP would partition the drive, Vista would still show, and indicate it was hidden, then force XP to F. Keep in mind that every install attempt resulted in another deletion of the XP partition and repair of Vista boot from the CD. Eventually I found the trick.

Vista Hide and Seek to the rescue. This program puts up a new boot manager after the BIOS. Once this program was installed, I used Paragon Partition Manager.

Select the Vista partition and set it to hidden and inactive.

I then created two partitions out of the free space and labeled them as XP64 and XP32, and formatted them properly. This left no free space on this disk.

I then booted from XP64 disk and it installed properly as C on the designated partitoin.
I then fired up Paragon Partition Manager and choose the new OS install and marked it as hidden and inactive also.

Time for XP32 which installed on it's designated partition as C also.
Then reboot with Paragon Partition Manager and set all partitions as active and not hidden. From here things went down hill. No OS would boot, and Vista Hide and Seek did not launch. I tried the Vista CD but it laid an egg. In desperation, I tried to hide and inactivate the other partitions except for Vista but had the same problem. I then tried to free up about 1 gig of space in the front of the drive. I figured perhaps Vista Install disk needed some space to re-write the boot sector. That did not work either.

The resolution was to boot from the Vista CD again and choose the command prompt. I then entered:
bootrec.exe /fixmbr
x:\boot\bootsect.exe /nt60 all /force
Where X is my CD drive with the Vista Disk.
This did the trick and returned Vista's ability to boot. Once Vista booted all the way, I ran Easy BCD again, and authorized my XP64 and XP32 partitions, and mapped them properly. This is where my next problem came in. Outside of Vista, regardless of which XP OS I chose, the machine would boot into XP32. I then tried various combinations of hiding and inactivating the XP partitions but had not luck. Note that at this point, Vista Hide and Seek was no longer running. I then went back into Vista and removed Vista Hide and Seek. I then ran the program again to activate, this second run I was able to select which partitions were Vista, and which were XP. After a reboot, Vista Hide and Seek took control of the boot from there. The first screen showed 3 options, 1 for each OS. Selecting either XP allowed it to boot properly and it mounted as C:. Choosing Vista brought up a second window, the normal dual boot Windows menu. From this second menu, selecting Vista allows it to boot properly.

All told, I loaded my OS's approximately 11 times and spent around 20 hours on this project. I hope this little story helps out the next guy.
Hi Doyling, welcome to NST.
Glad you found the tools and the information here to help you achieve what you wanted.
Where it all went wrong in the middle

".....set all partitions as active ......"

you must remember that the "active" flag is effectively a signal to the MBR to "start here", so only one partition can be "active" if you want the system to boot; the partition containing the boot files, the "system" partition.

Vista won't harm XP system restore points, only vice versa.
Vista is fully backward compatible. (If that's what you meant by

"One issue to watch for is the recovery console. Both OS's will see each other's recovery image as a corrupt version of their own and delete them".)

That's why HnS hides Vista from XP, but not the other way round.

Your problem with trying to boot 2 XPs from the BCD is a problem of the MS architecture. The Vista bootmgr sub-contracts the loading of legacy OSs to the XP boot manager/loader NTLDR, which has its own boot menu where you must make the choice between multiple XPs.

HnS circumvents this architectural restriction because it's a custom version of Grub4Dos, which only uses the BCD to load Vista, not XP. It does the chaining to NTLDR itself and is therefore able to use multiple copies and achieve a single level boot menu, which use of the BCD (with or without EasyBCD) cannot do.

I admire your persistence and independence, having a similar tendency myself to plug on with a problem till I find a solution, regarding the whole grind as a learning process.
However, don't be afraid to ask a question in future if things are dragging on with anything further you might want to try. There'll generally be someone around before long, who'll have seen the problem before and might save you a few hours research (and avoid a few reinstalls).
I first came here nearly 2 years ago (before HnS) with the "restore point problem" and Guru provided the information I'd spent days trying to find, literally within 5 minutes of my registration.
Stick around now you've joined, and maybe you can help out when you see others having problems you've solved.
Thank you for filling in the blanks. Your explination really helps me understand what I was running into. Great software you guys have, donation on the way.

I have Win 7 on pre-order, so when that comes, it will be time to add antoher OS. Hopefully it will go better than this attempt.