Setting up Dual Boot XP 32-bit and XP 64-bit - Set up Multi Boot on a Computer

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Is It Possible to Set Up Dual Boot for XP 32 Bit and XP 64 Bit on the Same Hard Disk?

Absolutely yes! You can set up dual boot for XP 32 bit and XP 64 bit and even put up multi boot for Windows Vista 32 bit and Vista 64 bit as well as Windows 7. And for the matter, you can also set up multi boot for previous versions of Windows as well. This may sound confusing but the boot.ini file of XP can take care of multiple boots: not only the dual boot Win XP 32 and Win XP 64 but also previous (up to Windows 2K) and later versions up to Windows 7.

The only conditions to be considered are:

A) There should be a separate partition for each of the operating systems you wish to install - be it dual boot or multi boot.

B) The older version should be installed first.

Reasons for above conditions:

[A] The reason for having a separate partition for each of the operating system is simple: you won’t want your copy of Windows XP 32 bit to confuse program files (My Programs) and data folders (My Docs etc) with program files of XP 64 bit. Even you too can differentiate among these folders easily if they are located on different partitions.

[B] The boot.ini file is resident on the system folder, which is on the C drive in most cases. The boot-loader file, NTLDR, studies the boot.ini to interpret the location of system files. If you install a newer version of Windows first and then an older version, the NTLDR may not be able to interpret the location of older operating systems and will eventually lead to a system crash. In other cases, you do NOT get any dual or multi boot. Only the default (latest) OS is available on the computer.

OFFBEAT: There is no NTLDR for Windows’ versions prior to Windows 2000. Even then, if you wish to create a multi-boot including Win 98SE, you can have it. The only thing is that you won’t be able to incorporate more than two operating systems when working with 98SE as primary OS. The boot-loader in 98SE cannot handle more than two OS at a time in most cases.

MULTI-BOOT COMPUTERS: In a multi-boot scenario, you can install Win 2K first and then Win XP 32 bit, then Win XP 64 bit and so on. This way, you make sure that boot.ini has all correct pointers that help NTLDR locate the system files to load the OS you want to use. In other words, if you start from Win2K, you can get a healthy, working multi-boot system. If you want to multi boot Windows 7, you have to reverse the process as its boot loader will not recognize XP after you install Windows 7.

Setting up Dual Boot XP 32 Bit and XP 64 Bit on Same Computer

As said in the above section, for a system of dual booting XP 32 bit and XP 64 bit, you need two different partitions and a 64 bit processor. As there are no other versions of Windows involved here, you can start with installation of Windows XP 32 bit. Once you have installed Windows XP 32 bit, I would recommend you stop for a while. Most people tend to customize their copy of an OS as soon as they install it. As you are setting up a dual boot for XP 32 bit and XP 64 bit, you better wait until the installation of the dual boot system is complete.

Once the 32 bit edition is installed, insert your Windows XP 64 bit CD into the drive and reboot. Boot from the setup and when it asks about location, select another partition. Other processes of installation are the same as that of 32 bit Windows XP. After the 64 bit Windows XP is also installed, reboot to see if you get both operating systems under the boot menu. If you get it, you were able to set up dual boot for XP 32 bit and XP 64 bit: proceed with installations of programs and customizations as you want!

Note: The hardware and software on your computer should be able to work with the 64 bit operating system. The main benefits of setting up a dual boot for 32 bit XP and 64 bit can be noticed when you run games on both versions - the latter, default one - offers you a greater gaming experience.

This post is part of the series: Multi Boot Windows 7 and other Types of Multi Boot - Problems with Multi Boot

This series aims to cover types of multi boot, including Windows 7 multi boot, dual boot Windows XP 32 bit and XP 64 bit. It also covers Dual boot Home Server. Often, multi boots also create problems. This series will cover how to fix multi boot problems under different scenarios.

  1. How to Multi Boot Windows 7
  2. How to Set up Dual Boot for XP 32 Bit and XP 64 Bit
  3. Is it Possible to Dual Boot Windows Home Server?
  4. Windows XP Wont Boot After Windows 7 Install: Troubleshooting Windows Dual Boot Problem
  5. Where is Windows XP? I Cannot Find My Windows XP Operating System after Setting up Dual Boot Windows 7