Triple Boot Mystery - XP, Vista & 7 - winload.exe

#1
I have tried so many combinations and still I am having an issue with my triple boot setup. The computer is an older model Dell laptop (XPS Gen 2). Initially I tried creating a single primary system partition (C:smile: of 3.5 GB (due to the fact that I am installing Vista and 7 via USB key and the partition needs adequate room) followed by an extended partition containing 4 logical drives. This is all on a single 250 GB hard drive. C: is flagged as "active". Installed XP to D:, Vista to E: and 7 to F:. The XP/Vista dual boot works as it should, but when I add 7, it gets through the first stage of install and then upon reboot throws up an error about winload.exe code 0xc000000f. I have never been able to accomplish a triple boot on this laptop. I suspected given that the BIOS is Dell's, that may be an issue, but I am not sure. If I install all primary partitions, XP on c:, Vista on e:, 7 on f: I get XP and Vista in a proper dual boot, but then installing seven breaks XP. I get an ntoskrnl error. I ideally want to be able to use the "System Reserved" partition if possible (as opposed to installing XP on C:smile:. I have been attempting to get this to work for days now and each time I have an error, I have used Easy BCD to make sure that the MBR is correct and it always is. Please help!!
 

Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#2
Did you alter anything in the BIOS between installing Vista and installing W7 ?
 
#3
Hi Terry, no, nothing has been changed and because it is a Dell system, the BIOS makes no mention of an OS boot order at all. I have tried every permutation to get this to work, but the error is always either winload.exe, ntoskrnl.exe (if I install XP last) or "Windows could not start because of a computer disk hardware configuration problem. Could not read from the selected boot disk. Check boot path and hardware." depending on how I configure the partitions (system reserved partition) or the os install order. Something about adding the third OS ALWAYS breaks the ability to boot into the new OS. If I install the most basic triple boot, XP (C:smile:, Vista (D:smile: & 7 (E:smile:, then the XP/Vista dual boot becomes a Vista/7 dual boot and XP is lost. Adding it to the MBR via Easy BCD has no effect on it. If I had to guess at the problem, I would say that something is happening to the "System" partition, whether dedicated or not, that causes the files not to all play nicely together. Please provide some help on how to fix this if possible. I can provide error reports if need be. Also, I have tried to troubleshoot the corrupted winload.exe and ntoskrnl.exe issues, but the suggested troubleshooting methods don't seem to work. Very, very frustrating. Disk is being cleaned with "clean all" in DISKPART as well. Thank you for any help you can provide.
 

Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#4
What exactly are you doing with EasyBCD ?
You don't add anything to the MBR.
Don't whatever you do use "write MBR" except in the sole situation that XP has been installed after Vista/7 and has overwritten the boot. Only then do you need to "install Vista/7 bootloader".
If you have a working system, all you need to do to multi-boot any missing OS is "add new entry".
That's it.