Windows 7 Beta and XP Dual Boot Problem

Quite a few readers have reported problems booting to Windows XP after they install Windows 7 Beta. I was curious about how to fix the problem.

I took a Dell Dimension which I just rebuilt with Windows XP. I wanted to install Windows 7 and make this a dual boot machine and see if I can reproduce the error.

Windows XP is on the C: drive and the D: drive is reserved for Windows 7. There are two ways to run the Windows 7 Beta installer, one is booting the system using the installation DVD, the other is booting the machine to Windows XP and run the setup program under XP. I decided to use the first method.

The installation went without a problem. The installer even created an entry for booting to Windows XP on the boot menu. I could boot to the newly installed Windows 7 Beta. I noticed that even I installed Windows 7 Beta on the D: drive, the system now treats D: drive as C: drive.  When I choose XP, the system just rebooted itself and booting to safe mode or choosing last known good configuration did not help. I suspect the problem is caused by the drive letter change.

What I did to fix the problem is to do a repair installation of Windows XP. For those who are not familiar with repair installation, you can google “windows xp repair installation” and you can find step by step instructions on how to perform this. And, no, the repair installation does not erase your files or programs from the machine. After repair installation, I could boot to Windows XP, but I could not boot to Windows 7 Beta.

I installed Windows 7 Beta again, but this time, I DID NOT boot the machine using the Windows 7 Beta installation DVD. I ran the setup program after I booted the mahcine to Windows XP. After installation, I could boot to both Windows XP and Windows 7 Beta. This time, the drive letter did not change and Windows 7 was installed correctly on D: drive.

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  1. you say you instal win xp first then win 7 after that you installed win 7 again wy dont skip the first win 7 install in boot and just install win 7 form win xp…
    btw do you know if theres anyway to get the ntldr becouse i loose it every install i try now this one but by skipping the install of boot greets chris

  2. I tried your other install guide and had the same problem listed here. So repaired XP and tried to install Win7, but since I am using 64bit windows 7 and 32bit XP the install wouldn’t start.

    I’ve tried installing 7 and then XP and that caused an error with ntldr in 7, but XP works fine.

    I am using two separate drives, I’m going to try again with just one drive and see if that works any better. If not, I’m going just disconnect drives to switch OSes.

  3. Just got it all installed using 32bit XP and 7. Worked fine this way on two different drives, 32XP and 7×64 did not work no matter how I tried it.

  4. Hi,

    I have a Windows XP on my drive E:, then I reinstalled my windows vista using my Acer recovery CD, because it is a recovery CD, it doesn’t follow the usual setup of windows vista, it’s like an image of the partition. After the installation, the windows XP is not bootable since it’s not in the vista boot manager, now I tried to follow the steps to add the windows XP on the vista boot manager,
    Name: Microsoft Windows XP
    BCD ID: {ntldr}
    Boot Drive: E:
    System Bootloader: \ntldr

    But still I get the missing or corrupt hal.dll file, I already reinstalled the hal.dll file but no luck.

    I hope for your prompt response, I need my windows XP

    Thanks to all your help.

  5. It’s better to install XP first and then Windows 7. If you install XP now, you cannot boot to 7 again. If you do, you need to use the 7’s installation DVD to fix the boot manager. The process is not easy and there is no guarantee that it would work.

    If you have a fast machine, you can try out Virtual Windows XP.

  6. Try hiding your existing OS partition before installing second OS.

    Set the second drive which you intend to install new OS to as active partition before your install new OS on this partition. you use partition magic boot disk to do this.

    I hope this helps

  7. So i have a problem that is not mentioned but hopefully simple to fix, i installed 64 bit 7 ultimate, then created a 20 gig partition for 32bit win xp. I got the 7 bootloader back and added the menu entry for xp but it wont boot XP no matter what. Something to do with the system partition for 7 not having the 32 bit ntldr on it i think. I dont know that for fact. any ideas?

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