Vista + 2 XP installations, second won't work

I have been working with Microsoft for a solid week on this issue. So let me tell you a story. But, lest I forget, let me say thanks for letting me register here. This looks like a GREAT forum, and I am definitely going to add it to my favorites. This is my first post, so be nice, OK? If you want to skip the story, just go on ahead to "THE PROBLEM...." below..

Anyway, I have a big personal, home-built quad machine with a P35 motherboard by Gigabyte. It has 3 deparate boot disks (2 SATA and 1 IDE) In addition, I have 3 separate external storage disks, 2 internal storage disks, and 2 DVD drives. That said, you can see its complicated.

My machine was running fine with XP on two boot disks. But then, I got crazy and decided it was time to go with Vista. But I had to have Vista 64 (just because) and so I bought Vista 64 Business. Of course, before I did all this, I backed everything up (whew)

But then the fun started...Silly me, I fully believed that I could multi-boot from Vista to my XP machines with no problem. But when it got done, it was really screwed up, and that's when I called Microsoft. Actually, they have devoted TONS of time to my problem, (like 8 hours solid on the phone from India) They took control of my machine, installed EasyBCD, and proceeded to try to fix my problems. At one time, they wiped out my disks. The whole time, the guys (bless their Indian hearts) you could tell were reading their way through the problem. In short, I finally told them I would figure it out myself and that's when I decided I needed some non-Microsoft help! So I came here!

THE PROBLEM.... At this point, I have it working (sort of) But there's one little wrinkle that just won't fix itself. I boot into the Vista boot menu and can boot into only ONE of my XP hard drives. That's the main issue. I can add another BCD boot entry just fine, but the other XP boot drive won't boot. If I choose the OTHER XP drive from the boot menu, it will only boot into whichever drive is second on my BIOS boot order list!

For example, if I want to boot into my SATA XP drive, I must put it second in the BIOS list. Even if the third disk in the boot order list in the BIOS is the IDE drive, it will boot into the SATA drive. It doesn't matter what the Vista boot menu says. The second and third entries (after the Vista entry) will only boot into the second drive in the BIOS!

What's odd in the BCD entries is that the second and third disk BCD ID # is the same. So I figure that is why the disks are mixed up. But I can't figure out how to change that. Here is a sample BCD listing.

Entry #1
Name: Microsoft Windows Vista
BCD ID: {current}
Drive: C:\
Bootloader Path: \Windows\system32\winload.exe
Windows Directory: \Windows
Entry #2
Name: IDE XP
BCD ID: {5d1adfd2-872d-11dc-805d-001a4d4c80a9}
Drive: C:\
Bootloader Path: \NTLDR
Entry #3
BCD ID: {5d1adfd9-872d-11dc-805d-001a4d4c80a9}
Drive: C:\
Bootloader Path: \NTLDR
So, if you can steer me in the right direction, you guys will be trumping all the Microsoft engineers in India! :happy: Thanks in advance, and I look forward to chatting.
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Mostly Harmless
Staff member
hey moodman, welcome to NeoSmart Technologies!

So right now you have Vista booting and another XP, but not the second XP? No problem!

  1. Delete one of the XP entries (keep the one that works)
  2. EasyBCD | Tools | Edit Legacy Entries
  3. That should launch notepad with boot.ini open in it. You need to add a second line in the [operating systems] section that points to your second XP install. Directions on modifying boot.ini can be found at Windows XP - NeoSmart Technologies Wiki
You can't boot directly into either XP from the Vista bootloader, you'll have to go through the NTLDR boot menu as well as explained in the link above.

(BTW, did Microsoft tech support actually install EasyBCD all on their own!?! For real!?)


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YAY! You nailed it for me. Microsoft could have given me this simple answer (if they weren't hobbled to reading scripts as they try to help) They never did know the relationship between the BCD and boot.ini. If I had known that, it would have been a simple matter, but then, Vista is new to me. But SURELY the people who make the software and their engineers would know that?? Apparently not.

But, to their credit, they surely do TRY hard. They keep calling me from India when they say they will call, and they stay on the problem until its solved. Nevertheless, I just ran out of patience feeling like a guinea pig.

And yes, they did install EasyBCD for me. However, they couldn't get it to work! :lol:

Thanks so much for solving a vexing problem.