Windows XP Operating System Not Found after Setting up Multi Boot Windows 7

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Cannot Find Windows XP Operating System

If you cannot find the Windows XP operating system when you set up multi boot Windows 7 or multi boot Windows Vista, this is because of the new boot loader in Vista and its successor, Windows 7. The concept of multi boot was made possible from Windows 98SE forward. Before the release of Windows 98, you could have only two operating systems on your computer. With Windows XP, Microsoft introduced a new boot loader (NT Boot Loader, called NTLDR for short). It allows you to setup multiple operating systems on a single computer. Windows 2000 and Windows NT also carry the same NTLDR.

The rule of the thumb is to install the latest operating system first and then its immediate predecessor. For example, you would load Windows XP, then Windows ME, and then Windows 98SE. This makes it easy for the boot loader to understand that you installed another operating system. While it was easy with Windows XP, you cannot expect the same with Windows Vista and Windows 7. As soon as you install Windows Vista to set up a dual boot Windows Vista, your boot loader will stop recognizing Windows XP. There is the same problem when you set up a multi boot Windows 7. As soon as you install Windows 7, you cannot find the Windows XP operating system.

Even though you are following the rule of installing Windows 7 first and then Windows XP, you may not find the latter. The reason for this behavior is that the boot loader of Windows Vista is different from that of Windows XP. It would not recognize Windows XP. As Windows 7 is just a good enhancement of Windows Vista, or rather, a combination of Windows Vista and Windows NT 5.5, it employs the boot loader of Windows Vista. This is the reason why you cannot find Windows XP operating system even when you setup multi boot Windows 7 or multi boot Vista.

The following section gives you a simple solution when you are unable to find Windows XP after installing Windows 7 or Vista.

Solving the Problem Where XP Operating System is Not Found

There is a simple solution to get back the Windows XP. The problem often occurs after you install Windows 7 or Windows Vista as the second operating system (while XP was already on the computer). You can get the boot loader to recognize Windows XP using the following four commands.

To use these commands, invoke the command prompt (in Windows Vista or Windows 7) by typing cmd in the Run menu (Windows key +R). Once you get the command prompt, type each of the following commands followed by the Enter key:

bcdedit –set {ntldr} device partition=C:

bcdedit –set {ntldr} path \ntldr

bcdedit –displayorder {ntldr} –addlast

bcdedit -set {ntldr} description “XP”


The last command will close the command prompt window. Reboot and you can see that the boot loader shows both Windows XP and Windows 7 (Or Windows Vista).

Note: This article covers the problem where you cannot find the Windows XP operating system in cases of multi boot Windows 7 or multi boot Windows Vista.

If you are just running Windows XP and you get an error message saying Operating System Not Found, refer to the Microsoft article.

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