Strange Windows dual boot

I have two hard drives, each has two partitions, XP is on C and Windows 7 is on the second hard drive. XP was installed first. then 7 in a dual boot. When I am in XP I can see all the hard drives like normal. When I am in Windows 7 I cannot see the C drive with XP. Windows Explorer only gives several folders on C, none of them Windows. Is this normal and do others have the same thing? Or is something amiss with my computer.

Also, can I install programs to the same place for both systems? I tried a couple small ones and they seem to act all right. I am installing my programs to the second partition of my second hard drive. (Windows 7 is on the first partition). Is this ok to do or will I run into problems.


Excellent Member
Microsoft Community Contributor
Normally the OS you boot into becomes the C: partition. If you want to check, use disk management to see what you system does when booted into XP or Win 7.

I used manage to look at the drives in both XP and Seven. Well, this is embarrassing. I don't know how many times I have looked at this. I could see the drive that XP was on, using Manage. But Explorer would never show my C drive. And just now I discovered why. For some reason, Seven did not put a drive letter on my C: boot drive. And the files I was seeing on "C" was from a different partition. Soon as I shuffled drive letters, C: boot came back. Like I said - embarrassing :) But with your help I discovered the reason.


Excellent Member
Microsoft Community Contributor
I have been looking at the drive letters for a while and have still not figured out exactly how they are determined. I know the registry holds the information for where your programs are installed, so the OS you boot to has to use that drive letter, and I suppose the others just line up.

Glad you got it done.

If I remember correctly that long ago, Dos assigned drive letters. Windows lets you put or rename any letter you want. But I'm not sure if this is a superficial mask on the surface while the assigned drive letter is still there underneath, or what. But one needs to realize that one has to put a drive letter there :) Don't tell anyone of my goof up and they'll never know :)


New Member
Welcome to the forum Jane, don't worry your secret is safe here.:p
To answer your second question I have a dual boot setup as well with XP on the first partition of my HDD and Win 7 Home Premium on the last. I have several (4) Linux distros in between plus a large Fat32 partition of shared data (shared between all OS's).
In addtion to the Fat 32 partition I have a large NTFS partition for my larger MS programs like MS Works and programs like Intervideo's Win DVD and Avast!. When initially installing these programs from either Win 7 or XP I point the installer to a folder on this NTFS partition I named "Program Files". The programs work great from either Windows OS.
I also have several standalone programs installed on sub partitions of this "Program Files" folder.
These include so called Portable versions of Firefox 3.6, Thunderbird 3.0 and the latest portable Open Office.
These programs don't need instalation like traditional programs, that is no registry entries etc.
They reside completely on folders of their own and I have desktop created desktop shortcuts to their executables.

I have also moved my My Documents folder from XP and the equivalent from Win 7 to this partition.

The result is a smaller footprint for either XP or Win 7 on their respective "C" partitions.

FYI below is a link to John Haller's Portable apps site.
All these apps are designed to be installed and run from a USB flash drive and are completely standalone.
They can of course be installed on a HDD as I've done with the advantage being that I can create copies of each apps folder to be used to restore the original in case of disaster.
You simply copy the back up folder to the original location. - Portable software for USB drives

These apps can be downloaded as a suite or individually.

Below is a link to a screenshot of what you would typically type in the install to field when you run a Portable app installer.
The installer will create the (in this case) Firefox folder etc.

BTW, these portable apps can be automatically updated just like their "installed" counterparts, in fact they are almost identicall to the "installed" counterparts.
John Haller is a genius IMHO.

If you install these apps on a USB flash drive you can run them from any Windows computer as they were intended to be run.

Below is a link to a screenshot of my U:\Program Files partition.
You can see the shared Word and other Works folders and all the other shared program folders.
Any updates are done to these locations automatically because I've instructed both Win 7 and XP to install these programs here.

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