WIN 7 PRO & WIN XP PRO "semi" dual boot?


Senior Member
Windows 7 Pro and Windows XP PRO “Semi Dual boot”

My question is labeled “”Semi Dual Boot” because I have a situation involving WIN 7 Pro and WIN XP Pro on the same computer.

Background --How I got to where I need to make this post

I had a WIN XP PRO, SP3 system installed,(100% genuine Microsoft product key). Desktop system, single hard drive, with 4 partitions, C, D, E, F with C the active boot partition. Works great, boots with no problems, but hardware and XP PRO beginning to show it’s age.
I decided to UPGRADE to WIN 7 PRO. Bought a new motherboard, new processor, a new hard drive and a 100% genuine Microsoft WIN 7 PRO install disk. I wanted to have all of my XP PRO data files, email files, etc available for accessing, so I left the XP PRO hard drive attached to the system, but changed the “C” partition to NON BOOTABLE”.

I installed the NEW hard drive, partitioned into C, D, E, F and set “C” to the boot partition. Install WIN 7 PRO to the NEW hard drive. Got all new hardware installed and working with no problems.

The system now boots to WIN 7 PRO and functions as expected; internet through router and cable modem, printer access, wi-fi access, installed programs working, etc. When system boots, BOTH hard drives are listed; the NEW drive has partitions C, D, E, F, as expected, and the OLD XP hard drive has partitions G, H, I, J, as expected. All the OLD XP partitions are accessible eg, I can start the (installed on NEW hard drive) Excel program in WIN 7 and then open an Excel data file in partition H, no problem. OF course, none of the program files in the OLD XP hard drive will execute.

The “semi dual boot” question. I know you can “ Dual Boot” the WIN 7 PRO and the XP PRO systems, but all the instructions call for a fresh, new install of XP PRO, (assuming XP PRO is being added to the installed WIN 7 and the second part of the Dual BOOT).

Since my “OLD XP Drive” has a fully bootable XP system installed on partition G (which is currently set to non bootable), is there a way to modify or create a boot manager or boot INI that will, at boot time, give me the choice to boot WIN 7 PRO or WIN XP PRO (from partition G by changing it to a bootable partition?

I am new to WIN 7, but willing to learn, and have been told WIN 7 does not have "boot.ini."

Would appreciate suggestions, instructions and/or tips on how to solve my problem



Excellent Member
Microsoft Community Contributor
Probably the easiest thing for you to do would be to download and run EasyBCD, the latest version, to set up your boot. There are manual ways to add a Legacy OS to the BCD store, which Windows 7 uses, but it can be a little difficult.

Whenever you install an OS, you need to know which drive was showing as the default in your bios. Since Windows 7 will put its boot files on the primary drive, you might want to take a picture of your Disk Management Window using the snipping tool and attach using the paperclip on the advanced replies page. It would be good to confirm your exact configuration.

The normal suggested install for your situation, would have been to install Windows 7 with Windows XP already installed. That would have picked up the XP install and set up the dual boot for you.


Senior Member
WIN7 disk mgmt screen shot(010613).png


Thanks for your comments, sorry for the delay in my response holiday season takes it's toll on computer time.
Attached is screen shot of my WIN7 disk management screen. For information, disk 0, (C:) partition is the WIN 7 boot partition; Disk 1, "DRIVE C (G:) is the location of the previous XP Pro bootable partition.
I have looked at the EasyBDC information. I am just getting started with EasyBCD but seems I will need to add 4 or 5 lines to the EasyBCD setup to make the "dual boot". Can you suggest a "EasyBCD beginners tuitoral" link or website? I do not want to make a mistake and lock out or ruin the XP partitions on Disk 1.
One question: for the dual boot, Disk 0, (C:) will need to be set to "boot", as currently shown. Also Disk 1, "Drive C, (G:)" will need to be set to "boot" for the XP. Seems like I will need to install/run the EasyBCD and set up the dual boot and then use the Disk Management to also set Disk 1, "Drive C, (G:)" to "boot". If I remember correctly, the way my system is currently only 1 partition can be set to "boot". Is that correct?

Thanks for your help and reply.


Excellent Member
Microsoft Community Contributor
One thing we need to address is how do you have the current SATA controller configured. Most new motherboards will show AHCI as default. If you installed Windows 7 with that setting, then XP, and I am assuming it was installed using IDE, will not boot unless you return the controller to IDE.

There are ways to change XP to the AHCI controller, and if this is the situation, you might be able to change the controller to IDE and use the Boot Device menu to boot into XP. I am not sure what you did to make the XP install not bootable, but the partition still shows as active, so it may still be able to boot.

When you use EasyBCD to add a Legacy install, it will ask where the OS files are. It is basically asking where to point the boot.ini file it creates. It will add the XP files necessary to the Windows 7 System partition, or possibly arrange things in another manner so as to allow an XP boot. You could just use the boot device menu, as I do, to pick which OS you want to boot into, if the other situation is corrected.

On an MBR system, the boot occurs in the first active partition encountered during the boot. That is why it is necessary to set your boot drive as Primary in the bios. This can be changed, temporarily, by using the Boot Device Menu.


Senior Member
I did some cheking decause I thought I got rid of IDE drives some time ago. Here is some information I collected. At boot time I used the F8 key to display the Bios "Boot Select" screen, shown below

Please Select Boot Drive

SATRA SS: Hitachi HDS723020BLA
SATRA PM: ST31000340AS

I assume the above listing means the boot order is to look at the DVD drives first, then the Hatachi hard drive, then at the ST hard drive. Not sure what " COCO", "PS", "SS", "PM" stand for.

The Hatachi hard drive has the WIN7 system installed, that's what boots now, and the ST drive is the "OLD" WIN XP drive.

I believe I could move the ST hard drive to position 3 and the Hatachi hard drive to position 4 and see if the system will boot into WIN XP ? Correct?

Thanks for your help.
Last edited:


Excellent Member
Microsoft Community Contributor
If you are getting that list from a Boot Device Menu which may be an F8 or something similar, just pick the XP drive. If it is a boot priority list in the bios, then yes, select the XP drive to boot before the Windows 7 one.

Let us know what messages you get.


Senior Member

Good news ! I followed your instructions; F8 to bring up the boot menu, then used the down arrow key to select the SATRA PM: ST31000340AS line (the hard drive with XP installed) and pressed enter.

XP started to boot with no error messages! It took about 5 minutes and a lot of disk activity, but at the end, my "old XP desk top " was displayed. I did some quick checks, and as far as I could tell all the programs seemed to work, except access to the internet.
Could not get on line. Error message kept saying, " could not find NIC card to configure". That is probably correct, because on the previous motherboard I did have a NIC card. With the new P8H67-MEVO motherboard, the WIN7 install was setup to use the internal NIC motherboard function. So I believe the first troubleshooting will be to reconfigure XP to use the internal P8H67 internet connection. Do you have any instructions on how to set up XP to use a motherboard internal internet connection? Would appreciate information or links.

Thank you, again, for your help. You mentioned that since I had changed motherboards, but using the old hard drive XP install, a whole new set of drivers would need to be installed for XP to boot. Any comment as to why XP would boot to the new motherboard with no error messages?Just curious.
I will do the internal internet set up and additional testing on my other programs. So far looks GOOD.

Thanks again!!