WinXP/Win7 Dual Boot Problem


I have set up WinXP/Win7 on separate drives to dual boot three times before and had some problems each time but was eventually able to resolve them. This time however there seems to be something different and is confounding me.

I'm re-installing a fresh copy of each OS on each drive. I can do both installs but I never get the dual boot menu when I finish (I always install Win7 last). I can set it up with EasyBCD which is fine. It just bugs me why this was necessary this time when in the past I never had a problem getting the boot menu automatically.

Another small issue is when I enter Disk Management in XP, I cannot reassign a drive letter to the HD that contains Win7. But when I'm in Win7, I can reassign a new drive letter to the HD containing WinXP.

I think this may be a clue to the overall problem.

Also, this is the first time I have messed with the HD boot order in BIOS. This may be part of the problem as well.

Here's what I do:
I have a 500 GB drive for Win7 and a 320 GB drive for WinXP. I also have a third 320 GB drive for storing data but don't hook it up until I finish with the OS installs.

1. Connect the 320 drive only and install WinXP off a CD with the CDROM drive set to boot before any HD. At beginning of install I choose the Quick Format option for the entire drive. At this point, the 320 drive is seen in BIOS as a Master and is the only drive in the HD boot order.

2. Connect the 500 drive and install Win7 off CD. At beginning of install I choose Format on the entire drive. Once the install finishes and I remove the Win7 CD, the computer boots to WinXP only. I check BIOS and see the 500 GB drive is a Master and listed second in the HD boot order. If I switch the boot order to first place, the computer boots to Win7 only.

In the past I simply installed WinXP on the first drive, hooked up the second and installed Win7, got the boot menu and was good to go. Why I'm having these problems are a mystery. Can anyone here share or offer some thoughts please?
You can't change the letter of W7 from XP, because W7 is "system".
Disk Management will not allow a letter change of any partition with the "page", "system" or "boot" flags
When you previously installed W7 and it dual-booted XP automatically, it would have put its boot files on the XP HDD and XP would be "system".
Probably a consequence of how you had the HDDs connected each time.
Do you mean "master" ?
master/slave is an IDE concept and merely means disk0/disk1.
Such concepts don't exist on SATA drives, which don't need jumpers.
If you are using IDE drives, it may also be a consequence of how you have the jumpers set.
Hi Terry,
Thanks for your explanations. All hard drives are SATA, yet when you look at them in BIOS they have Master or Slave identifiers assigned to them (same with my CD is SATA, one is IDE with the jumper set to Master). The 500 GB and one of the 320 GB drives have Master, the remaining 320 GB drive has Slave in BIOS.

Last night I finally got things set up the way I wanted but it was really by accident (not a good way to work with computers). Using an old partitioning tool on a floppy disk that recognizes the NTFS file system, I deleted the existing partitions on both HD's and recreated them (one on each drive and set them as Active). I then installed WinXP on the 320 GB drive with only that drive connected. I then connected the 500 GB drive and installed Win7. I did not mess with HD boot order in BIOS.

Once I removed the Win7 DVD and restarted, it booted straight into WinXP with no option menu. I went into Disk Management and found that the Win7 HD was not seen as System so I was able to organize the drive letters to my liking. I then rebooted, entered BIOS and switched the HD boot order to first look at the Win7 HD. Sure enough, the next boot went straight into Win7. I installed my copy of EasyBCD, created the menu and all is good to go.

I still have no concrete answer as to why up until now I was able to install WinXP/Win7 and get the boot menu automatically but I suppose it is as you say...a consequence of how I had my connections set up (which are now different).

Thanks for your time. I hope this helps others in some way. I read the overview of multi-booting in the sticky and found it helpful to understanding this part of the PC hardware setup.