Unusual XP Installation

This a somewhat long post but possibly it might help someone with the situation that I had.

Firstly, I saved my Win 7 installation as an image with Acronis 2016 to an external HD. Then, with Win 7 Pro 64x installed, I attempted to install XP Pro on a HD separate from the system HD C:. I followed the instructions from the EasyBCD PDF manual for installing XP after Win 7. This failed when the installation tried to reboot and resulted in an error that stated, "Windows\Root\system32\ntoskrnl.exe is missing". At this point, the only action possible was either a hard Reset or Ctrl/Alt/Del. This seemed to indicate that the system would only tolerate an installation to C:\. Since I knew that I can restore Win 7 whenever I wish, I formatted HD C: and installed Win XP Pro 32x streamlined with SP!, SP2, and SP3. The installation went flawlessly and Win XP came up after the final reboot. I did not install EasyBCD to Win XP as suggested. I have four hard drives, 3 with 500GB and 1 with 2TB. These are labeled C, D, E(2TB), and F. Since only F: was empty, I used Spotmau Powersuite Golden to clone source C: to destination F:. Then, I cleaned C: with Spotmau, made a new volume on C:, and formatted it to NTFS. I checked drive F: and sure enough Win XP was there but I made no attempt to open it.

I have used Acronis as a backup for a number of years and it never failed me. Acronis can make a bootable CD or DVD to use for restoration when a system cannot boot from its system HD. I reset the computer and booted from a optical drive with the Acronis boot disk. When Acronis came up on the screen, I turned on the external HD and restored Win 7 Pro to C:. I restarted the computer after removing the boot disk and Win 7 Pro came up exactly as it was three hours before. Now, I installed EasyBCD to Win 7 and added the Windows NT/2K/XP/2k3 entry but I neither added nor changed anything else in EasyBCD. When I restarted, there is the choice to boot to either Windows 7 or Windows XP. I can boot to either without any problem.

I admit that this is not the first time that I tried this stunt without success.


Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
This failed when the installation tried to reboot and resulted in an error that stated, "Windows\Root\system32\ntoskrnl.exe is missing".
When installing Windows, you need to make sure that the BIOS is set to boot from DVD before HDD.
It's not sufficient to override the BIOS boot sequence using F8 if that's what you did.
That will start the Installation, but it will fail at the first automatic reboot when the system will attempt to boot the incomplete new OS rather than continue the installation from the DVD.
Setup will always place the boot files in the "active" partition on the first HDD in the BIOS boot sequence. It's the MS design architecture which enables newer Windows to dual-boot themselves automatically with older versions. (It's also why installing older after newer borks the dual-boot).
You can use this behaviour to your advantage though, by judicious switching of the "active" flag before starting an install.
If you set the XP target partition "active" before starting the install, it's possible to get XP into a partition alongside W7/8/10 without damaging the existing boot on the same HDD. XP will not be aware of the other WIndows.
When the installation has completed, the "active" flag can be switched back to the staus quo ante and the original W7/8/10 boot will resume unchanged, also completely unaware of XP's appearance. XP can subsequently be added to the BCD with EasyBCD to complete the dual-boot. It can also be "stand-alone" booted by flipping the "active" flag again, should the 7/8/10 partition become unusable.
Not your situation I appreciate, but useful to know how Windows setup "thinks" to understand why things don't always work the way you want.