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William_Wilson 03-21-2007 10:00 AM

How to Dual Boot Windows XP and Vista (XP already installed)
Installing A Dual Boot with Vista:

You likely have XP installed... If you don't, I would question if your computer is ready for the Vista jump.
Vista System Requirements:
*As listed by Microsoft's Website

If you are an avid computer user you probably have it setup just the way you like it, and you may not be ready to give up your Precious Windows XP for Vista just yet, then this is for you.

Overall Minimum:
-800 MHz processor and 512 MB of system memory
-20 GB hard drive with at least 15 GB of available space
-Support for Super VGA graphics
-CD-ROM drive

Suggested Minimum:
Home Basic:
-1 GHz 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor
-512 MB of system memory
-20 GB hard drive with at least 15 GB of available space
-Support for DirectX 9 graphics and 32 MB of graphics memory
-DVD-ROM drive
-Audio Output
-Internet Access

Home Premium/Business/Ultimate:
-1 GHz 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor
-1GB MB of system memory
-40 GB hard drive with at least 15 GB of available space
-Support for DirectX 9 graphics with:
* WDDM Driver
* 128 MB of graphics memory
* Pixel Shader 2.0 in hardware
* 32 bits per pixel
-DVD-ROM drive
-Audio Output
-Internet Access

*I have placed items which are not critical to the installation in italics, but are nice to have for any computer experience

**You can get away with a little less space for the installation, the OS takes about 7.5GB all together, but it is not recommended in most circumstances. If you are installing to a partition or have multiple hard drives, then less space is alright, but you really should have 15+ GB just for your Vista Installation to be safe.

Choosing a Vista that is right for you:
You will first need to decide which version of Vista is right for you. This can be a tricky choice with cost, performance, and additions to the software eac playing a role, but Microsoft has done a good job of laying out the pros and cons of each version, you can read details on each version or see a side by side comparison.

Once you have decided, and have purchased your software, it's time to get to work. You want to keep your XP in tact, so you chose not to upgrade, but to dual boot your XP and Vista on the same machine, I don't blame you since I did the same thing.

*NOTE: for this explanation I am installing Microsoft Windows Vista Business Edition. I am using the DVD version as well. There are essentially no differences if you are using the 5 CD version, just that you will be swapping discs often.

Step 1 - Partitioning:
I prefer to use Partition Magic, but if you have another partitioning tool you prefer, go ahead, there is a free Partition Magic trial available if you are not familiar with partitioning. The full version is expensive so if you are not constantly using this product this will be enough.

When you run Partition Magic, you will have something like the screen below for your drive (don't worry if yours only has 1 long segment, this is just a comparison)


-click the image
-from the left hand menu select create a new partition
-click next twice more
*Be sure the new partition will be created after the Partition C:\ where your XP installation is.
-click next again
-click next once more then you will get to choose the size of this partition. (7.5GB - 15GB is your aim)
*NOTE 1GB = 1024MB
-click next
-here you can name your drive anything you want
-click finish

It will now show you what your new drive will look like, before you go ahead with the changes.


-click apply in the bottom left corner and your computer will restart to apply these changes.
-once finished it will then likely restart again, and load into Windows.

WinXP - XP installation
WinVista - Vista installation
* - Linux Ext
* - Swap
XP-Extra - Storage Partition

Now the important things to take from the image of the partition are:
1) It is approximately 15GB
2) It is directly after my XP partition
3) There can be other partitions after Vista, but it is not necessary
*Do not worry about the 2 un-named partitions, they are simply a Linux Ext partition and a swap space. Neither of these are necessary, and they will not affect the installation.

With your partition successfully created, it's now time to install Vista!
Restart your computer with the Vista CD1 or DVD in your drive. You will be prompted to press a key to boot from cd/dvd, so press a key.

*If this option does not appear, you must go into your bios and change your boot order to include your cd/dvd drive before your hard drive.

This can be accomplished by pressing delete or ctrl+alt+esc when the reboot first starts, or the equivalent for your hardware. Most computers will display the correct keys to press on the screen during the first few seconds of booting.

Step 2 - Loading the Setup:
You will then be greated by a boring, but somewhat informative loading screen:

Once the bar reaches all the way across you will have to wait just a little longer, with one of many screens like:

Now to fill out all that information to setup your comptuer.

Step 3 - Basic Information:
You will be prompted by the language information first:
simply choose the appropriate information for your computer and click next.

Very nicely, the installer now informs you that you are about to install Vista, but don't be fooled, there is much more information to be entered, before that actually happens.
click install now.

...Again you wait:

Product Key time:
enter your key located on the case of your Vista into the field provided. There is no need to enter the - characters, it will add them for you.

Once accepted, you now must agree to the Microsoft License:

Step 4 - Installation Specific Information:
With all the boring stuff out of the way, now comes a few questions specific to your installation.

Install Type:
since I rebooted, upgrade is not an option, especially since the goal is to have XP and Vista in the end.

Choose Custom (Advanced).

Where do you want to install Windows:

Notice how i named the partition WinVista since the Vista installer can read the names of the partitions, this saves me all the work of ensuring the correct partition. Select your soon to be Vista partition and click next.

Step 5 - Installing Files:
There isn't much to do here, but wait

You may even want to take advantage of this time to go do something, you have 15 - 30 minutes to waste here.

Once finished your computer will reboot for the first time:
you can wait the 10 seconds or if you are impatient, click Restart Now

Step 6 - Vista Installation:
For the first time in this installation we finally are (somewhat) without the disc.
The boot screen is lame, i know...

Just as boring is the ever informative first boot screen:

...and the ever popular, please wait:
...but this looks a little more like an operating system at least.

Again the installer essentially lies to you...
we are no where near finished, but hey no reason you can't be optimistic.
*It also warns you about several restarts we've already had 1, and there is only 1 more to look forward to, but perhaps 2 is several.

Step 7 - Boot Option:

A sign of progress:
2 options under the boot manager
*Do not change the choice, we have not finished with Vista yet.
Once again our friend the loading bar.

Step 8 - user Account Information:
fill in your information, and click next. a computer name and background image (i've gone with the standard image so that my pictures go together).
Vista is not a perfectly secure package yet, so i suggest choosing the recommended settings for now. The warnings are annyoing, but they slow down once you have isntalled all of your favorite next
Set your date and time (or don't), click next.
choose your computer's location.

That's it:
Finally the information collection is finished, and the actual installation can be completed!
click next

Step 9 - Finishing Installation:

Just for interests sake:
I like how the progress bar is well into installing even though it was still collecting information. It really has been installing Vista, but this bar is a little misleading about the amount of data collection.

You are greated by a Performace Bar:

This step shouldn't take to long 10 - 15 minutes, sit back and watch as MS displays it's Vista features, or again feel free to do something else.

Step 10 - Login:
Type in your password from before, and press enter or click the arrow.
Vista nicely greets you.
then prepares your desktop.

There you have it!
It was a long process, but not a difficult one. Enjoy your dual boot of Vista and XP!

*Total Time for installation: approximately 2 hours (pending your computer and your attention to the installer)

Questions/Comments: [email protected]
-William. § (marvin_gohan)

desbest 04-05-2007 02:45 PM

Vista may not be compatible on your pc!
Microsoft has a free tool you can download so you can test before you buy vista.
Windows Vista: Upgrade Advisor

Unregistered 06-12-2007 01:30 PM

This is the best tut. I've seen!!!!!!!!

Thanks for taking the time!!!


jrtaylor1952 07-07-2007 06:21 PM

I have just purchase a new Gateway Computer with Vista, I was told that I might be able to take my hard drive from my old Gateway and install it in the new one, the old computer has XP on it. Is this possible?

Unregistered 08-05-2007 06:26 PM

Same deal but on 2 separate physical drives
What would be the process for this but using 2 separate physical drives.

I have 1 sata drive all setup with XP. I would like to purchase another sata drive and install Vista on that drive.

Should i physically swap them, or is it possible to have both drives hooked up and pick the OS to load at boot up?

thank you

Unregistered 08-27-2007 08:05 AM

thank you very much
just can't thank you enough for preparing this nice tutorial.a very good job.

almostvistafan 11-07-2007 02:47 AM

nice tutorial
Thanks for the tutorial. I have an issue and looking for help. I have XP Pro installed on a 40 GB disk on a laptop (IBM think pad T43). There is also one other thing that may be important but do not know. My XP installation has a disk encryption loaded on "safeboot" . I use partition magic 8 to resize the partition to 15 GB that has XP installed. I verify that XP still boots fine after the resizing is complete. While in XP I use Disk Management to create a new partition (name vista,D:\, NTFS, Primary, quick format, ~18GB). I then restart XP, still works. I start the vista install, boot from DVD (OEM version of Business), select install now, custom install, select disk named vista (18GB, D:\) and start getting the normal install stuff. I never get to point where the bootloader shows both "earlier version of windows" and Vista. Vista installs and low and behold when vista starts up (loads great), the vista install renames the 18GB drive to Vista, c:\ - completely erasing my XP stuff. I have tried this on a desktop, dual boot works fine (so I know the procedure works). Thanks for your help... :)


William_Wilson 11-08-2007 09:54 AM

your xp partition is likely still there. The drive labels (C:\) are relative to each OS. XP would say that it's OS drive is C, and vista is D perhaps, while Vista would inform you of the reverse. Since applications do not (in general) work across OSs, the naming convention is of little concern :)

A key thing to note is that it lists the drive as 18GB which is a good sign that the other partition is there, just potentially invisible.
*Or are you able to see the 2nd partition?

there are a couple things i would suggest:
steps 3 and 4 of this tutorial.

almostvistafan 11-08-2007 05:12 PM

Thanks. I still see the XP partition, but it shows all the space is available for that partition. I thought since it has formatted NTFS that vista would/should show at least contents (space used for XP). I do not even see the the bootloader screen to select which OS to load. This is the reason I thought the XP data was erased. Is it as simple as editing my vista bootloader to redirect the xp to use the new drive name?

Thanks again.

joseph.ruskin 06-23-2008 11:38 AM

Dual Boot Vista & XP Ghosted
Hello, I separately installed XP and Vista on HD1 in partition 1, activated, and created Norton Ghost images. I did this because I didn't think MS provided a way to dual boot them. I've followed each of your well written tutorials for XP/Vista and Vista/XP installation order. Neither one works. With XP/Vista, XP won't boot and Vista says it's missing some files (see below). With Vista/XP loaded Vista works fine, but XP won't boot at all and my machine reboots too.
I'd appreciate any suggestions.

Vista Messages:

The procedure entry point SdbGetAppCompatDatasize could not be located in the dynamic link library apphelp.dll
Error loading C:\Windows\system32\mscories.dll
The specified module could not be found.
IE Per User Initialization Utility has stopped working.
User profile wasnot loaded correctly. You have been logged on with a temporary profile.
Changes made will be lost when logging off.

xAxrules 06-27-2008 05:21 PM

ahhh help!
ok, i installed vista with xp and it wouldnt give me the boot screen and went straight to XP Pro, so i installed Acronis OS Selector, so that worked nicely etc, etc

about a wekk later i tried to boot into vista and it said it couldnt read the BCD so i re-installed and fixed that but now i cant boot XP :eeek: acronis can see my xp installation but when i boot it it goes to vista (i do know whic is which
) both boot to Vista, PLEASE HELP!! :confused: :confused:

Dlira 09-29-2008 08:59 AM

Your Tutorial

New here but ran across your this Tutorial and I must say that it was EXCELLENT! I only wish that I had join here before installing my Vista Home Premium and being a NEWBIE at this stuff (installing and technical stuff) I could have used this!

I was wondering IF at all possible that you could check out my post regarding somewhat of the same subject. Here is my post, it was in the last 24 hrs. or so, so it is still shown as a new post.

DUAL BOOT SYS - XP to Vista Home Premium

I messed up and was looking for a fix to my Stupidity! :eeek:

I might add that with your Tutorial even I could have done a better should be a teacher!

Desparate in KS.
Dlira :)

dinesh_ag2006 10-04-2008 07:20 AM

Dual Boot XP and Vista
Dear William,
I installed vista in dual boot mode with XP(With XP installed first) as you instructed in the tutorial. but when i tried to boot XP an error message comes
"ntlr" not found.
What should i do?

bruce55 04-17-2009 08:25 PM

A little Different
I have installed Windows 7 on a second Drive,
I have XP Pro on my Primary Drive, I have been trying to figure
out how to dule boot, Although all the post I have read are very
informative, None quite have the info i need or if it is even possible.
I am getting tired of swaping my Sata cables around :(
Any Help ?


lurkswithin 04-17-2009 08:44 PM


Originally Posted by bruce55 (Post 14535)
I have installed Windows 7 on a second Drive,
I have XP Pro on my Primary Drive, I have been trying to figure
out how to dule boot, Although all the post I have read are very
informative, None quite have the info i need or if it is even possible.
I am getting tired of swaping my Sata cables around :(
Any Help ?


I take it that your two drives are each individually bootable by their self. If this is right then:

Google for GAG boot manager. (Free program)
Remove all but one operating system. Follow the directions to installing the GAG boot manager. Once it is installed then shut down your computer and install the other harddrive...leaving the other one in place. GAG will install itself to the dive's lead-in (first 8mb of drive space) and then ask you to set up the preference as to which drive you will like to boot to.

While in one operating system then you will be able to share files and folders but not applications and programs. You may use the applications from each operating system but you may not transfer them from one to the other...

Have fun!

sjohn 06-25-2010 01:15 AM

First of all you can create Partition your hard drive. In Windows XP, using the $50 Partition Magic the free GParted Live CD, create a new primary partition to install Vista on. Make it at least 20 gigabytes in size and then Install Vista on the new partition. Pop in the Vista CD and point it to your newly-created partition as the installation destination. Installation will restart your machine at various points.
and then Choose your operating system on boot. Once Vista is installed on your newly-created partition, on boot up, you'll get a choice to start XP or Vista. The default is Vista. However, this can be changed using Vista's boot manager.

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