Scenario: You want to install Vista on your PC alongside your XP installation, on the same drive. You have already installed XP.
Tutorial Summary: We’re going to use the DISKPART utility on the Vista DVD to shrink the Windows XP partition on the hard disk and create enough space for an installation of Vista. We’ll then install Vista and use the EasyBCD utility to modify Vista’s bootloader to get XP loading properly.
This is an updated tutorial,based on our first Windows XP/Vista dual-booting workshop. The main difference is that we’re covering using both the latest version of GParted and DISKPART to shrink the Windows XP partition.
DISKPART can shrink NTFS partitions and it’s certainly the more convenient option, but on some systems using DISKPART to shrink the volume will fail, with an vague “Access is denied” error.
This may have something to do with different disk controllers, as this was a problem on the AcerPower test system which has a SATA hard drive, but not on the VMWare system which uses a virtual IDE controller. So we’ll cover both processes
EasyBCD has also been updated since the first tutorial was written.
This tutorial was tested on a VMWare Workstation 6 virtual machine and an AcerPower SK50.
Get Started – Using GParted
We assume that before you start this tutorial, you have backed up the drive (partitions and data) that will host the two operating systems.
Your first step will be to modify the Windows XP system partition to make space for Vista using GParted
The GParted Live CD ISO is available here – burn it to CD and boot the system from the disc. The version we used was 0.3.4-7.
Boot the Linux machine from the GParted LiveCD. Depending on your system, you should just need to select the auto-configuration boot option.
During boot, press Enter twice when prompted to select the keymap and language settings.
When the main GUI loads, right-click on the main Windows XP NTFS partition (depending on your setup, probably /dev/hda1) and select Resize/Move.
XP & Vista – Resize Partition
Use the slider to reduce the partition size and free up enough room to instal Vista (at least 10GB) and click Resize/Move.
XP & Vista – Resize Partition 2
The changes haven’t actually been made, they’ve just been scheduled to run. To commit the changes and resize the partition, click Apply. GParted will ask to confirm the changes – hit OK and away you go.
Get Started – Using DISKPART
Boot the machine from the Vista DVD. Select the appropriate language and then “Install Now”.
XP & Vista – Load Vista
On the produt key page, press SHIFT + F10 to launch a Windows PE 2.0 command window. Then type in DISKPART and press enter to get into the DISKPART utility.
XP & Vista – DISKPART
Now type in LIST VOLUME – this gives you a readout of the volumes available on the system. Select the main Windows XP volume (probably Volume 0) by typing in SELECT VOLUME 0.
XP & Vista – DISKPART Volume
Now type in SHRINK. Vista will reduce the size of Volume 0 (the selected Volume) by around 50%.
XP & Vista – DISKPART Shrink
Once that is done, type in EXIT and EXIT again to get back to the Vista installation window.
Now Install Vista
If you used the GParted LiveCD to shrink the XP partition, you’ll need to reboot the system from the Vista install DVD. If you’ve used DISKPART then you just need to continue the installation.
Once the install gets to the install location, there should be at least two options: a partition marked as Primary and unallocated space. Select the unallocated space and click Next. The install will then commence.
XP & Vista – Install Vista
The Vista boot manager will take over the system completely, and Windows XP effectively loads via Vista. It’s all pretty seamless though, and you shouldn’t encounter any technical problems.
Modify Vista’s Bootloader
Once Vista is installed and the system reboots, you’ll be presented with a boot menu with two options: “Microsoft Windows Vista” and “An Earlier Version of Windows”.
XP & Vista – Boot Menu
This is perhaps a little bit bland, so you’ll probably want to change it. Here’s where one of the new features of Vista comes in, and it’s not so terrific. In Windows XP if you want to modify the bootloader, just right-click on My Computer, select Properties, go to the Advanced Tab, and click Settings under Startup and Recovery, then click Edit. This opens a local file – boot.ini. It’s just a standard text file and you can change pretty much anything. Unfortunately it’s not that easy in Vista – you can still navigate to the Startup and Recovery settings, but all you can do is select which operating system is the default and modify the timeout settings.
To edit Vista’s boot manager you have to use the command line BCDEDIT utility. To access BCDEDIT, run the Command Window as an administrator and type in BCDEDIT.
Unfortunately BCDEDIT isn’t an easy tool to come to terms with, especially as it’s purely command line-driven. So, a great tool to use here is EasyBCD by NeoSmart Technologies. EasyBCD offers a GUI frontend to BCDEDIT, and makes life much easier.
Once Vista is installed, call up the browser and navigate to the EasyBCD download page – download, install and launch the application.
To configure the bootloader go to “Configure Boot” – you’ll see the two entries, for XP and Vista. To change the name of Windows XP, just overwrite “Earlier Version of Windows” with “Windows XP” and click Save Settings.
XP & Vista – Modify Boot
Reboot the system and the changes are visible. You have a dual-booting Vista and XP system. That’s all there is to it.
XP & Vista – Changed Boot
Open up Windows Explorer and there’s two hard drives – the primary disk running Vista and the secondary disk with XP installed. Restart the system and load up Windows XP, and the XP disk is now the primary, with the Vista partition running on the secondary D: drive
If you decide that dual-booting Vista and XP is not for you, EasyBCD lets you wind back the clock.
All you have to do is remove Vista’s boot manager – go to “Manage Bootloader”, select “Uninstall the Vista Bootloader” and then “Write MBR”. Restart the machine and that’s it – the XP boot loader is the only one left on the system and XP loads. You can then delete the Vista partition and use GParted to re-extend the partition to take up the entire disk, or the Extend command in Vista DISKPART.