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Install and Dual-Boot Vista and XP on the Same Machine

written by: Mark Muller•edited by: Rebecca Scudder•updated: 5/20/2011

Have you been asking yourself can I run Vista and XP on the same machine? Are you thinking about upgrading your system from Windows XP to Vista, or are you looking for a way to run Windows Vista side-by-side? Here’s all you need to know about upgrading and configuring a XP/Vista dual-boot computer.

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    Introduction

    Have you been wondering whether you can run Vista and XP on the same machine by means of upgrading XP, or are you looking for a way to switch between Windows XP and Vista because of issues with legacy software, look and feel, testing, curiosity, etc.? In this article you will find useful information about upgrading from XP to Vista. This information is also valuable if you are running Windows XP and want to install Vista beside XP in a dual-boot configuration.

    In a dual-boot configuration you install Vista side-by-side with Windows XP, or vice versa. Upon booting your computer you can decide which operating system to start. You will be shown how to setup a dual-boot with XP installed first, how to dual-boot Vista and XP with Vista installed first, and how to revert a dual boot configuration back to Windows XP or Vista only.

    Important note: Before you upgrade your system to Vista or implement a dual-boot configuration you must make a backup of your entire computer configuration including all programs and data. Store the full system backup somewhere else than on your local computer.

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    Upgrading

    If you are considering upgrading your computer from Windows XP to Vista download the Windows Vista Upgrade Adviser, a small program which is helpful to you in determining whether your computer is ready for Windows Vista. The tool scans your computer and produces a comprehensive report of your system’s hardware and software Vista readiness including drivers. Any compatibility issue detected has a tip of how to resolve it, and the Windows Vista Upgrade Adviser tool makes a recommendation which edition of Vista will best suit you.

    Here’s the link to the overview of the Windows Vista editions along with their price tags. Check out the Vista upgrade paths from previous versions including Windows XP along with the available installations options: A clean install by means of transferring programs and data manually always works, but some upgrades can additionally be made by means of in-place installations.

    Please note by the way that with Windows Anytime Upgrade you can upgrade Windows Vista to a more powerful edition of Vista any time later when you need the better version. In case you have special hardware and you are unsure whether it works with Windows Vista check the vendor’s website or visit the Windows Vista Compatibility Center.

    You find the different Vista editions’ varying hardware requirements including RAM, processor speed and hard disk capacity in the “Windows Vista recommended system requirements". As a rule of thumb you should at least double Microsoft’s “minimum" requirement for good system performance and acceptable user experience.

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    Dual-Boot Configuration

    In a dual-boot configuration you install Vista side-by-side with Windows XP, or vice versa; upon booting your computer you can decide which operating system to start. In order to configure your computer for dual-booting Windows Vista and Windows you have to have one partition for each operating system. You will be shown how to create free space for a second partition without third-party tools in the sections below. We then install the second Windows onto the free space, thereby creating the second partition.

    Please note that

    • in a Windows XP/Vista dual-boot setup programs need to be installed once again for the second Windows, be it either XP or Vista.

    • although data on either partition is being shared, you may opt to create a third partition for data only to facilitate removal of XP or Vista.

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    How to dual-boot Vista and XP with XP installed first

    If your computer has XP installed make sure that your system is Vista ready as outlined in the section Upgrading above. Because Windows Vista creates a lot of temporary files during setup we will have to free up approximately 16 GB of disk space.

    1. Boot into your CD/DVD ROM drive with the Vista installation DVD inserted

    2. Proceed with the installation until you see Type your product key for activation

    3. Press Shift + F10

    4. Type Diskpart

    5. Type List Volume

    6. Type Select Volume X; X being the NTFS Partition you want to shrink to create free disk space

    7. Type shrink minimum=16000

    8. Type Exit

    9. Continue the setup, and install Windows Vista onto the unpartitioned space

    10. When Vista has been installed download and install the Microsoft .NET Framework Version 2.0 Redistributable Package (x86)

    11. Download and install EasyBCD

    12. Launch EasyBCD

    13. Click Change Settings

    14. Rename Earlier Versions of Windows to Windows XP Home or Windows XP Professional, whatever you have

    15. Click Save Settings

    16. Exit EasyBCD and restart your computer

    The Windows Boot Manager now lets you choose between XP and Vista at boot time.

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    How to dual-boot Vista and XP with Vista installed first

    1. In Start Search type diskmgmt.msc. Alternatively you can boot into the Vista DVD and start DISKPART as outlined in the previous section.

    2. In Disk Management right-click a partition and select Shrink Volume. Enter the amount of space to shrink in MB (approx. 10 GB) and click Shrink. Then close Disk Management.

    If you use DISKPART:

    a) Type List Volume

    b) Type Select Volume X; X being the NTFS Partition you want to shrink to create free disk space

    c) Type shrink desired=10240

    d) Type Exit

    e) Click the cross on the top right corner of the install screen.

    f) Click Yes to confirm that you want to cancel the install. Eject the Vista setup DVD

    3. Boot your computer with your Windows XP setup DVD and install XP onto the free space

    4. Download and install the Microsoft .NET Framework Version 2.0 Redistributable Package (x86)

    5. Download and install EasyBCD

    6. Launch EasyBCD

    7. Click Add/remove Entries, and then change the drive to the partition where you installed XP. In Type change the dropdown menu to Windows NT/2k/XP/2k3

    8. Change Name to Windows XP Home or to Windows XP Professional, whatever you have

    9. Click Add Entry, and the click Save

    10. Click Manage Bootloader. Select Reinstall the Vista Bootloader. Click Write MBR

    11. Exit EasyBCD and restart your computer

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    How to Revert a Dual Boot Configuration Back to Vista or Windows XP only

    If you no longer want Windows XP

    1. Open EasyBCD

    2. In Manage Existing Entries select Windows XP, and then click Delete. Click Yes. Click Save

    3. Exit EasyBCD and restart your computer

    4. Free up the disk space of the XP partition with Vista diskmgmt.msc, or, alternatively, use Diskpart’s extend command

    If you no longer want Vista

    1. Open EasyBCD

    2. In Manage Bootloader, select Uninstall the Vista Bootloader (use to restore XP). Click Write MBR

    3. Exit EasyBCD

    4. Boot into your CD/DVD ROM drive with the Vista DVD inserted

    5. Continue the “install" until you see Type your product key for activation

    6. Press SHIFT + F10

    7. Type Diskpart

    8. Type List Volume

    9. Type Select Volume Y; Y being the Partition you want to extend

    10. Type Extend (All of the free contiguous free space on the disk is used)

    11. Type Exit

    12. Click the cross on the top right corner. Click Yes to confirm that you want to cancel the install. Eject the installation DVD

    13. Restart your computer

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    Reference

    Author's own experience






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