How to dual-boot Vista 32-bit and Vista 64-bit on 1 drive?


I have a Sony Vaio which comes preinstalled with Vista 32-bit and a lot of Sony software I don't need. Like many others, I want to install Vista 64-bit. But for the moment I prefer to keep the Sony Vista 32-bit alongside, until I have worked out everything.

Now after a lot of trial and error I finally achieved the following layout on my single disk:

  • primary partition 1: Vista 64-bit (newly installed by me)
  • primary partition 2: Vista 32-bit (Sony's work)
  • primary partition 3: Windows XP (32-bit, also newly installed by me)
You may wonder why I installed XP. Well there are several reasons, the most important being that my partitioning tools (Acronis DiskDirector & TrueImage) run on it and not on Vista.

It took me me a long time to get there. The steps were (ignoring partition moving and resizing steps which I leave out for simplicity):

  1. Create a working Vista 64-bit installation and save as TrueImage image
  2. With Vista 32-bit installed, create space on the disk for XP
  3. Install XP (replacing the Vista boot process)
  4. from XP create space for Vista 64-bit
  5. restore the image created in step 1 in the space just created
I ended up with an XP legacy boot process; since this will not boot both Vista's I decided to repair Vista from the DVD, which was successful.

Now comes the interesting part. I used a 64-bit Vista Ultimate DVD to repair. As a consequence I was able to boot into Vista 64-bit. From there I installed EasyBCD, and I added XP as an entry. I had to correct XP's boot.ini file since it pointed to the wrong partition but after that I was able to dual-boot XP and Vista 64-bit.

What is now my problem? EasyBCD shows a third, correct entry for Vista 32-bit. However, when I boot into that, after the initial login screen, it just goes black, showing no more than a mouse pointer. Strangely, I can still bring back a screen with Ctrl+Alt+Del, but from there nothing helps. I can only reboot, all else brings back the black screen. This even happens when I press F8 at boot and select 640*480 mode, or even Safe Mode!

So my guess is that the boot process from the 64-bit environment somehow obstructs my (32-bit) video card driver. And there is no way I can think of replacing or re-installing that. Maybe I should repair from a 32-bit DVD but then, how about booting the other two?

Any help is appreciated.
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Hi Helena, welcome to NST forums.
Can you post a screenshot of the disk management from Vista 64, and copy/paste the EasyBCD text from the settings page in debug mode.
Ok here's the screen shot (attachment 1) , unfortunately in Dutch, but I assume the picture is clear, else I will be glad to translate.

I must add that BCD does report a (non-fatal) error, see attachment 2; I have not yet "Reset BCD Storage"

The BCD text reads:
Windows Boot Manager
identifier {9dea862c-5cdd-4e70-acc1-f32b344d4795}
device unknown
description Windows Boot Manager
locale nl-NL
inherit {7ea2e1ac-2e61-4728-aaa3-896d9d0a9f0e}
default {f595e880-b87c-11dd-aa17-f4cd8f2fe21d}
resumeobject {438d67b1-b880-11dd-b863-806e6f6e6963}
displayorder {f595e87f-b87c-11dd-aa17-f4cd8f2fe21d}
toolsdisplayorder {b2721d73-1db4-4c62-bf78-c548a880142d}
timeout 10
Windows Boot Loader
identifier {f595e87f-b87c-11dd-aa17-f4cd8f2fe21d}
device partition=E:
path \Windows\system32\winload.exe
description Windows Vista (TM) Home Premium (hersteld)
osdevice partition=E:
systemroot \Windows
resumeobject {c6635494-b87d-11dd-8300-806e6f6e6963}
Windows Boot Loader
identifier {f595e880-b87c-11dd-aa17-f4cd8f2fe21d}
device partition=C:
path \Windows\system32\winload.exe
description Windows Vista (TM) Home Premium (hersteld)
osdevice partition=C:
systemroot \Windows
resumeobject {438d67b1-b880-11dd-b863-806e6f6e6963}
Real-mode Boot Sector
identifier {f595e881-b87c-11dd-aa17-f4cd8f2fe21d}
device partition=C:
path \NTLDR
description Microsoft Windows XP


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OK, your C: partition (first) is marked "system", so that's where the boot files all are.
I can't see all the flags in non-fullscreen mode, but presumably there's an "active" flag there with it, as well as "boot" (when that's the running system) and a primary label.
(God knows how you've managed to get 4 primaries and an extended on the same HDD, that's supposed to be impossible)
The correct drive therefore for the bootmgr section which says "device unknown" is C:\
Is this the correct BCD ? (when you install Vista on a PC where it can see one already exists, it doesn't create a new set of boot files, it adds an entry to the existing BCD, but you, by cloning systems might have engineered a situation where 2 sets of boot folders and bootmgrs now exist.)
I ask because the BCD you posted calls both systems identical names. Have you not given them Vista64 and Vista32 names to tell them apart in the boot menu ? Does your boot menu give you a choice of 2 Vistas with the same name ?
Do you have copies of a file called bootmgr and a folder called boot on both Vista partition roots ?
OK first the BCD text may not have been very readable so I post a screen dump (att 1). Rest assured, I only have 3 entries in the BCD menu, and I also have only 3 primary partitions and a logical one.

Second, I think I may have to apply "Reset BCD Storage" as mentioned before, but I'll wait for now.

Third, the Vista64 partition (C) contains most if not all system files, see att 2. The Vista32 partition (E) contains no system files at all (which may have caused the problems), but the XP partition (F) does contain some system files, see att 3.


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Those screenshots of C:\ and E:\ show what I thought. You've a full set of boot files on both.
When you boot the system, does your dual-boot menu show 2 identical
"Windows Vista (TM) Home Premium (hersteld)" entries as in your BCD post ?
(ie is that the BCD that's actually being used to boot, or are you displaying the other with EasyBCD ?)
Those screenshots of C:\ and E:\ show what I thought. You've a full set of boot files on both.
When you boot the system, does your dual-boot menu show 2 identical
"Windows Vista (TM) Home Premium (hersteld)" entries as in your BCD post ?
(ie is that the BCD that's actually being used to boot, or are you displaying the other with EasyBCD ?)
Correct I have 2 identical entries.
When you boot the Vista DVD, does it show the 2 Vista systems and ask which you want to repair ?
If so, having repaired V64 semi -successfully (did you do it more than once ? - it generally takes 2 or 3 passes to fix everything, one bit at a time), try another pass to see if it fixes that unknown bootmanager device, and try pointing it at the V32 too, to see if it detects a fixable problem with the post-boot startup.
(I figure, if it sees the 32 bit system and includes it in the list, it must be capable of fixing it directly. I may be wrong (I only have V64), but I don't think it will do any harm if it's giving you the option.)
and finally: success, but...

OK sorry I did not reply before. Actually, I had started experimenting further before I even received your reply.

I have good news and some (possibly) bad news.

The good news that I'm finally running a stable multi-boot system now with:

  • Vista 32-bit
  • Vista 64-bit
  • XP
  • Linux
The "bad" news is:

  • it took me hours and hours to get there, up to high frustration levels
  • in the end I did not use EasyBCD
So what did I do?

There are too many steps involved and I cannot recall all of them. Anyway, I learned more about Vista's boot process than I care to. For example, it seems to me that Vista's boot process:

  • installs itself in about very partition it can find, at least on the primary disk
  • cares little about hidden partitions
so I finally achieved a slightly different layout than before:

  1. partition 1 contains Vista 32-bit
  2. partition 2 contains Vista 64-bit
  3. partition 3 contains XP
Those are the 3 primary partitions, next I also have logical partitions:

  1. a small FAT32 partition
  2. a large NTFS partition
  3. a couple of Linux partitions
So every one of the 3 primary partitions is now able to boot itself and view all other partitions. The key to the solution was: GRUB. I was pointed into that direction mainly by the multi-boot article that was referred to in this forum. So I have installed GRUB into the MBR now, using a configuration file that I created out of the Linux distribution I use (Gentoo).

If necessary I can share more details about this solution...
Glad you've got it working now. If you're using grub, then you should be able to insert hide commands in menu.lst before XP so that it won't see Vista when you boot it (and won't damage Vista's restore points), and unhide commands before the Vista entries (so that they'll boot if XP previously hid them).
That's what HnS does (it's a version of grub too).
(EasyBCD isn't a boot manager, it's a GUI for BCDedit, the MS command-line editor for Vista BCD. HnS is a boot manager in its own right)
Hm I've been thinking about that. I never use restore points, but isn't this solved when I limit the creation of restore points for each of the 3 Windows-versions to its own C-drive (and one of them gets to guard the remaining partitions)?

Another matter that could lead me to reconsider easyBCD is hibernation. Currently, for example nothing prevents me from booting XP when I've put one of the Vista's into hibernation. I've no idea what effect that will have on the partition in question and I don't want to find out.

If I use the boot manager of one of the Windows-versions in the MBR it will prevent that problem.

Do you have any thoughts on the matter?
Sadly, if you tell each of the systems just to maintain restore points on its own partition, XP will still reset Vista's. The only way it leaves them alone is if it can't see the partition at all.

I never use hibernate or sleep (it was so buggy in ME that it was more or less guaranteed to leave the system unusable and difficult to get straight again. I was so put off, that I just used very agressive power options to turn off my disks and monitor, and that's the way I've run XP and Vista too) so I have no expertise to pass on on that subject, but I'd be surprised if bootmgr would let you boot one system while another was dozing.

Others on here might have more experience of hibernate they can pass on to you.
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