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* Dual Boot Information *

Dual Boot Problems (From CNET forum)
If you remove the one hard drive and connect the other to install Vista you will not be creating a dual-boot system. Instead you will be creating two completely separate bootable hard drives. That in itself is OK and you can connect both hard drives at the same time without issue. However, you won't be able to easily launch Vista.

With a standard XP/Vista dual-boot setup you'd be presented with the Vista OS chooser from which you could choose Vista or a previous version of Windows. If no decision is made within 30 seconds it would choose the default OS, whichever you had previously chosen. (Vista by default.)

In your proposed setup you would never be presented with a choice of OS. Your computer would look to your primary hard drive and only see a reference to XP, so it would boot XP with no option for Vista. When you would want to boot Vista you would have to go into your system BIOS and change the boot order so that your second hard drive is the primary boot device, then reboot so that you could load Vista. Then, when you want to boot XP, you'd have to reverse the process.

In short, what you propose will work, but it will add an extra step whenever you want to switch OSes, something that you don't have to endure when using a true dual-boot setup.

Personally, I'd backup the data on the primary hard drive (something you should do anyways, just in case something goes wrong down the road) and be careful to select the correct partition when you install Vista. However, the choice is up to you and both methods are valid.

The boot.ini file on a previous installation cannot be used to boot Vista.

When you install Vista on your computer, regardless of whether or not it is to be the primary or secondary OS, its Windows Boot Manager overrides the old NT boot loader. So, when you boot your system, the Vista Windows Boot Manager is considered first and depending on the default setting, or user-selected option, based on the BCD store, either Vista loads or it progresses to the old NTLDR, which gives you the choice of booting an older version of Windows.

Now, in regards to boot.ini, it is being utilized by NTLDR, which is incapable of booting Vista or launching Windows Boot Manager. Thus, no amount of editing boot.ini will enable you to boot Vista using the standard Windows NT boot loader. There are third-part downloads you can use to modify this to a certain degree, but by default you're not given much to work with.

I tested this myself and found it to be true...With a quadruple-boot system (XP Pro. SP2, Vista, XP Pro. SP2, and XP Pro. x64) I was first asked by Windows Boot Manager if I wanted to boot to Vista or an older OS...I chose the latter. I was then presented with the list of options in my boot.ini file via the NTLDR. I had modified it so that each partition with an OS installed was accounted for, including Vista. I was able to boot Windows XP normally, but when selecting Vista nothing happened...the screen went blank and the boot process did not proceed. That confirmed that you cannot boot Vista using NTLDR and boot.ini.


Vista will log you in automatically under two conditions:
1) You only have one account that is enabled.
2) There is no password on your user account.

1) To disable an account instead of deleting it, go Start->Control Panel->System and Maintenance->Administrative Tools, launch Computer Management, expand Local users and Groups, select Users, right-click the username, select properties, and check Account is disabled.

2) To remove the password, go Start->Control Panel->User Accounts and Family Safety->User Accounts and click Remove Your Password.


More Boot Configuration Data Editor Frequently Asked Questions

Different Vista Editions

* Repair XP Pro - (Great program) The most comprehensive system repair tool
                                on the market. We use this program.


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