WinXP Boot problem


I had some problems trying to create two new small partitions on my dual boot hard drive. I finally figured it out and then ran into another problem. XP doesn't want to boot. Here's the gist of whats happening and what led up to it.

Using Acronis Disk Director
Suite I had to first delete all previous efforts and return the drive to
its original two partitions. I then increased free space taking it from
the XP partition and added that free space to the Vista partition.
I then increased free space taking it from the Vista partition and partitioned the new free space into the partitions I wanted and formatted them.

There was a lot of attempts at resizing, moving, creating, deleting and other steps as I learned how to use the Acronis Disk Director Suite to perform its magic.

After I finished the final step in Acronis DDS, it had to reboot to make
the changes. That apparently went well, however now there are problems
with XP booting.

After a final reboot after the changes Xp tried to boot (it is my
default boot). Everything goes fine untill the blue Windows XP screen
appears (light blue in the middle with "Microsoft Windows Xp Logo),
letter boxed with dark blue top and bottom). Then a dialog box opens
identifying itself as Windows Installer and saying that it is preparing to
install. After a few moments the dialog box disappears. Then the
screen begins to occasionally flash and blink. When it flashes you see
a dialog box opening but it closes before you can tell anything except
that it was a dialog box. In between the dialog box flashes, the screen
blinks once in a while. It stays in that mode and appears to never want
to complete booting.

I did a hard shut down and on restart booted to Vista. It booted OK. I
opened EasyBCD and told it to rewrite the MBR. No help.

I rebooted to XP and when the installer dialog box appeared I clicked on
Cancel. It cancelled and then went into flashing and blinking mode again.
Is there a way to actually read the boot file to find out what is
happening? EasyBCD will show me the boot.ini file but nothing else.
I've tried to reboot into XP Safe mode, but that appears to be
impossible. As soon as you tell the boot menu to boot to XP it is too
late to tell it Safe mode.

If I tell it to reboot to Vista, and go into EasyBCD and tell it to
uninstall the Vista Bootloader (use to restore XP) I wonder what will
happen. If that allows a boot into XP, can I install EasyBCD in XP and
maybe get it to rewrite the Vista Bootloader and that will fix the
problem. What will happen if it does *not* allow a proper boot
to XP? How would I get Vista back?

Until the partition boondoggle everything booted and rebooted as advertised using either iReboot or the Start menu options.

Latest Info: Just downloaded the latest build of EasyBCD 2.0. Installed it and ran the tool to auto-configure boot.ini. No help.

I can always use my slipstreamed install disks and reinstall
everything, but I would like to figure this out if for no other reason
than to figure it out.

Anybody got any idea what is trying to install, why it doesn't install and how do I fix this mess so I can get back to dual booting?

If you want to try safe mode, "last good..." etc. select XP from the Vista boot menu, and then immediately hold down F8 before the bootmgr chain to NTLDR can complete. That should get you into the XP extended boot menu.
From what you describe, it doesn't sound like you've got a boot problem, but a corrupted XP installation, which you might need to fix with an XP "repair install"
If you do this, the Vista boot will be regressed and will subsequently need to be fixed with a "startup repair " from the Vista DVD.
At that stage, if the Vista repair hasn't automatically detected your XP system, you can use the EasyBCD 2.0 latest build to add the XP system automatically.
If you want to try safe mode, "last good..." etc. select XP from the Vista boot menu, and then immediately hold down F8 before the bootmgr chain to NTLDR can complete. That should get you into the XP extended boot menu.

Thank you. It did. Unfortunately, it didn't help. Still hung up. I am now seriously thinking it is a boot problem. I really do not want to reinstall anything if I can avoid it, so will play around a bit more and see what I can find. One person suggested that a BartPE boot disk would have some useful tools. I'll check that out before I reinstall.

More info: Tried both SAFE mode and the Last Good... neither helped. Now trying normal with bootlogging enabled. Maybe that will write something I can read.

Last edited:
If you're getting to an XP screen, you're past the boot stage.
Fortunately XP lets you do a "repair install", a feature they removed from Vista.
It's effectively a repair of any broken system files it finds which leaves all your user data and installed apps untouched, a bit like an upgrade from W98 to XP with less to do.
If you're getting to an XP screen, you're past the boot stage.

DUH! I should have said "isn't a boot problem".

Apparently, something, somehow has added to or corupted the registry or other system files accessed during launch. The only things done since the last successful boot was a debacle trying to create two new small partitions. I can not fathom a guess what that might have done to XP, but apparently it did something.

I got a good chuckle from the KB article on installing and running the recovery console:
(**emphasis added**)

"To recover your operating system when your computer does not start correctly or **does not start at all**, you may want to install and use the Windows Recovery Console."

"To install the Recovery Console, follow these steps:
  1. Insert the Windows XP CD into the CD-ROM drive.
  2. **Click Start**, and then click Run."
If your OS does not start at all, how are you supposed to click Start? :lol:

After reading through the list of commands available in the console I don't think it will be productive to install at this time. However, once things are fixed I will go back and install it "just in case".

Both my XP and Vista installs are "clean". Very little has been added or changed. I think it will be easiest to just do a new install of both, with XP getting done first and then Vista.
That sequence will avoid any problems with XP taking over the boot process. I'm sure everyone here knows how picky Vista is about being in charge of such things. :smile:

I would like to find out what actually happened to create this problem, but I don't think it is practical or even possible to access the file(s) involved. I suspect it was corruption caused by the partition snafu but don't know how it occured since the tools I was using are supposed to be "safe" for partition work.

Thanks for the assistance. I've learned a few things. If I learn anything more, I'll report back.

That's the point. You can't install recovery console on the hard drive unless you've got a working boot of XP or earlier. However, you can use recovery console straight from XP's cd, without need to install it, which I'd recommend anyway if you're dual-booting with Vista. In this thread I described some of the complications that can occur when you install recovery console with Vista present in a dual-boot.