xp-32, win7-32, win7-64 triple boot

#1
hello. I've been using a dual boot system for two years with xp-pro and win 7-pro 32bit os. I mostly work in XP because of old software that will only run well in that os. But I'm getting to the point where it's time to replace mobo/cpu/ram and am trying to migrate to win7 predominantly. The new hardware will make it easy to run win7-64. Before I invest in the hardware I want to run a trial ver of win7-64 on a new partition. If I install it on the same hd that already has xp and 7 partitions, will the new w7-64 partition now contatin the master boot loader for everything? Should I run easybcd from there? Thanks for the help.
 

Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#2
The new install (you are sure your current h/w supports x64 ?) will add its boot information to whichever partition is currently active.
The 32 bit BCD will already be there, and the new install will add a triple boot option to the existing BCD (unless you set the x64 partition active before starting the install, in which case you'd need to add BCD entries for the other systems to the x64 BCD which will remain with the OS.)
 
#3
Hi Terry. Thanks for the help. I'm a little confused. originally I had XP alone on this drive. I subsequently added W7-32 and ran into dual boot trouble; that's why I installed EasyBCD in the first place. I think it was ver 1.71. Anyway, that cleared up my problems. But W7 took over all the boot files.  XP is actually my first partition, and the only one marked Active; doesn't matter what OS I use. The XP partition is always active and the boot record is on the W7 partition. Whichever OS I boot becomes the C drive. I've since upgraded to the current ver 2.1.1 Easy BCD. I can only make adjustments with it in W7, which disk manager tells me is NOT active but IS the boot drive. If I add a new partition and install W7-64 on it, will I be able to control everything from EasyBCD on the W7-32 partition? AFAIK most of my hardware is 64bit compatible, but there's only one way to find out for sure :smile:
 

Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#4
Don't be confused by Disk Management "boot".
"boot" in Linux = "active" in Windows. It means "where the MBR will go to look for the boot files". It's the only physical flag actually present on the HDD in the partition table of the MBR, a single bit with different names in different OSs.
In MS-speak, "system" = "where the boot files which started this OS live", "boot" = "this is the system you're running"
These are not physical flags, just logical ones, just information from the OS about the disposition of your files.

You should find when running W7 that XP is "active" and "system" (this is where I'll look; oh good! I found them), and W7 is "boot".
When you run XP, it will be all three, but (even more confusingly) it doesn't say so. XP isn't explicit like Vista/7/8. It implies one with another if they're not in different places.

You can install and run EasyBCD on any or all of your OSs (you don't need to install on more than one, it's portable so you can just exec it on one from wherever it resides on another). It will look for the BCD on the active partition.
 
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#5
Thanks again Terry. I think I'm getting it. Everything I see in Disk Manager corroborates what you told me. The primary partition,  which has XP, is System and Active. The thing that throws me off (and was my original problem two years ago) is that the bootloader resides on the partition that has W7. EasyBCD shows that both OS's point to the W7 partition for the Bootloader Path. So is this different than the where the files actually reside? At any rate, I feel more confident about trying the new OS install and getting it all to work.
 

Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#6
XP had (has) a bootmanager/loader (NTLDR). The manager portion used boot.ini as its data store and the BIOS as the map to its menu choices, then it continued to initiate the loading of the kernel.
Vista/7/8 have a boot manager (bootmgr) and a boot loader (winload.exe).
bootmgr is on "system" (XP in your case) and uses the BCD as a replacement for the functions of boot.ini and the BIOS.
It chains to the legacy loader (NTLDR - also on "system") for legacy OSs.
It calls winload for Vista/7/8 from its home in the Windows\System32\ folder.
There's (normally) only one manager ("system"), but every Vista/7/8 partition has its own loader.

I say normally, because if you do as I mentioned in my first reply, and move the active flag at install time, each install will be independent with its own full set of boot files, and unaware of the other systems till you inform it, with EasyBCD of course.
 
#7
Thanks again. I am getting a clearer picture now. Once I booted in W7, I was able to view all those files on the XP (active) drive, but they're invisible if you are running XP. That added to my haze. Appreciate all the help. I'll let you know how the triple install goes.
 

Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#8
#10
Terry60- I followed ur directions and installed W7-64 w/o a hitch. I made the partition active as well. Now I have 3 OS partitions- the XP is active and the first; w7-32 is logical and second; w7-64 is active and last. Currently W7-32 is my most used OS. Can I make that partition active now, or does it have to be before the install? Shortly I will be migrating that W7-32 partition to an SSD. Can I just make that an active partition before the cloning? Thanks again.
 

Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#11
The only restriction still left over from the old days of DOS based OSs, is that the active partition must be primary. Since XP the OS can reside on a logical drive, but not its boot files.
Why did you make the second logical ?
You only need an extended partition if you intend to have five or more total partitions,
 
#12
A couple of years ago when I installed win7 there wasn't so much info on how to do a dual boot with XP. I had so much important work on the XP drive that I NEEDED to keep it intact. So I followed the only tutorial I could find to install W7 safely over XP as a dual boot and that's just how it turned out. I guess I didn't understand then that you could have more than one primary.