Replacing XP with Windows 7 Dual booted with Vista

Many months ago I was successful in adding Vista as a Dual Boot with XP, and using VistaBootPro to manage the startup. Several months later, on a new computer with Vista already installed, I attempted to add XP and found that to be a tedious and an almost insurmountable problem although I eventually got everything to work properly.

Now I am ready to replace XP with Windows 7 on the first computer hoping to keep Vista unchanged and still dominant. Remembering the past experience with the computer delivered with Vista I would like to get some detailed procedures on how to set up the necessary files so that after Windows 7 is installed and running the first time( a clean install on the XP disk), I can still get back to Vista and have it be the dominant OS with an option at startup to go to Windows 7. Any assistance here will be much appreciated.

A side note: On the first computer with XP first and Vista second, each was on a separate drive. On the second computer with Vista first and XP second each was on a separate partition of a single drive.

Thank you,

Raymond Zachary
Hi Raymond, welcome to NST.
Don't mention VBP round here ! That's a inferior EasyBCD knockoff. Wash your mouth !
Your problems adding XP to Vista were because the OSs are backward compatible not forward.
You're always OK adding a newer system to an older, but doing the opposite regresses the boot to a state which doesn't recognize the existence of the newer system.
That required a repair of the Vista boot and adding an XP entry to the repaired BCD, then copying the XP boot files to Vista and editing boot.ini to point back to XP again.
If you'd used EasyBCD 2.0, everything after the BCD repair would have been done for you automatically, and your "tedious and almost insurmountable problem" would have been "Easy".
Windows 7, being the newest, will have no problem recognizing Vista and/or XP.
One thing to bear in mind. If you install W7 to a pre-defined partition, it'll do what you expect and install with everything in the one place.
If you present the W7 install with an undefined empty space and let it do the allocation and formatting, it will create a "secret" boot partition containing the boot files, not "hidden" as such, but "unlettered" and therefore invisible to Explorer.
It does this because it's the "Ultimate" version with bitlocker, so keeps the boot files separate in case you want to encrpyt your C: drive.
EasyBCD 2.0 latest build can even handle the "secret" partition for you (if you're trying to multi-boot XP from it, which I don't think you intend to do), but you might want to avoid it if you're not intending to encrypt your systems.

If you clean install W7 on your XP HDD independently of Vista, you'll end up with a BCD on each disk, each system booting itself if placed 1st in the BIOS, and unaware of the other.
Using EasyBCD from either booted system to add an entry to the other system will give you a working dual-boot, and whichever one is 1st in the BIOS you can still make either of the choices "default".

If you add W7 in a way where it can see Vista as it installs, it should dual-boot automatically.

Have a read of the link in the 1st point of the sticky thread for useful background information about the whole dual boot process. For Vista you can read "Vista or W7". They both use the same boot architecture.
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My Mouth is Now Washed Out

Terry, thanks for your instructive comments. As a matter of fact, I checked and did in fact use EasyBCD v2 on the last dual boot that I did. The previous forward dual boot was done with EasyBCD v1.7.2. I had the other product installed but now that I remember I did not use it. I am not sure how I could have made the adventure easier by using EasyBCD differently. I had been warned that Vista followed by XP was the wrong order and was more difficult.

Needless to say that problem is done and over with and everything works well. I cannot remember the stumbling repeated orgy of steps and late nights I spent trying to do that.

You instructions would indicate that is past so I will proceed with EasyBCD v2.
If I understand you correctly, inasmuch as the "system" and "active' flags apply to the XP drive, if I do a clean install of Windows 7 over the XP drive, then when I start up System 7 I should see the choices of Windows 7 and Windows Vista at start up. Is that true? If true than I think I am home free. If not, do I need to install EasyBCD v .2 in System 7 to get to Vista? This is where I had problems before.

Thanks again, Ray Z.
Hi Ray.
Sometimes Win 7 automatically adds existing Windows systems to the boot menu, and sometimes it doesn't. You'll just have to see...
In any case, even if it doesn't automatically add Vista to the boot menu, you can easily add a Vista entry to the Win 7 BCD with EasyBCD 2.0 Beta (since it has more features than the 1.7 release). Just open up EasyBCD (after installing it in Win 7), go to the Add/Remove Entries page, select "Longhorn" in the Type drop-down menu, select the drive letter your Vista partition is seen as from Win 7, and you'll be home free as you said. :smile:
Since your XP partition is "system", though, it may not even create its own BCD if it detects Vista's there already. So it'll probably add itself to the Vista BCD, and you wont have to do anything. But if not, that's what EasyBCD is for...:wink:


EasyBCD 1.7 didn't have the addition of XP automated the way 2.0 does. You had to do the manual steps I described.
Each build of 2.0 adds more features to make life easier. The auto copying of the XP boot files was only added a few days ago. Make sure you've got the latest download to get all the new features.
Excellent Advice and Results

Terry and Jake,

Thanks for your advice and help. I did as you said and everything worked perfectly. Windows 7 Ultimate (RC) is now Dual Booted with Windows Vista Home Premium.

By the way, I used EasyBCD 1.7.2 as access to v2 looked like there might be a problem with Windows 7 since both are not truly released products.

Nevertheless, all is well.


Ray Zachary
Most of the new features of 2.0 are for automating XP and for compatibility with latest Linux releases which changed grub syntax and became incompatible with 1.7, and to include OSX support which also stopped working with EasyBCD with its last release.
If you're doing none of the above, Easy 1.7 is fine, but don't be tempted to ignore 2.0 because it's Beta if you need to any of the aforementioned. The rest of the world moves on, and EasyBCD has to move with it.