Install Windows XP on Dell Laptop with Windows 7 for dual boot

Posted on 2010-01-01
Last Modified: 2012-05-08
I want to install Windows XP in a separate partition for a dual boot configuration onto a Dell Laptop with Windows 7 preinstalled. Other posts suggest that to do this I must restore the Windows 7 boot sector after installing XP. Does anyone know if I can I use the Dell OS re-installation CD/DVD that comes with the machine to do this? I suppose another option is to repartition the drive, install XP, then reinstall Windows 7.  Could I do this with the Dell re-installation CD? Which method is better?    
Question by:wildgolf
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    Assisted Solution


    If the machine is anything like the Dells I have been working with recently, the reinstallation media contains a full, standard copy of the Windows 7 installation, rather than simply acting as some form of backup. I would always start with the oldest OS installed first during a dual-boot scenario; I've had problems getting Windows 7 to properly start after loading XP to another partition.

    Partition the drive up, install XP first, then throw in your Dell reinstallation DVD and install Windows 7. This will give a clean, fresh install and should cause you minimal hassle.


    Author Comment

    Looks like a very complete tutorial and EasyBCD a great tool.  I'll try doing it as recommended. Not quite ready, but will try soon. Thanks for the help.
    LVL 38

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    I just ran 5 Dell Latitude D-830's through my workshop for a customer who wanted dual-booting XP/7.
    Basically, I did exactly what tigermatt posted.
    Formatted the HDD, created 2xOS partitions of 20GB each.
    Loaded XP, then loaded Windows 7.

    Something to note - all of the XP drivers had to be loaded manually ... NONE of the Windows 7 loads required any driver activity by me - a very cool thing.

    The advice I have always followed for dual-booting is "Oldest OS gets loaded first".
    LVL 70

    Accepted Solution

    Agree that simply installing XP first, then Windows 7 will let you have a reliable dual-boot XP/7 system.

    However ... just to toss in a bit of counterpoint ==>  this approach will result in several things that may not be entirely desirable ...

    (a)  XP will by default destroy your Windows 7 restore points [this behavior can be fixed by hiding the Windows 7 partition(s) ];

    (b)  the two OS's will be able to "see" each other -- which can result in undesired interaction by ill-behaved programs;   and

    (c)  Windows 7 will likely create an extra 100MB partition that can complicate maintenance/booting if you ever want to modify the dual boot structure;

    There's an easy way to eliminate all of these -- use a 3rd party boot manager that completely hides (not just as a "hidden partition" the other OS's.    As the other experts know, I prefer Boot-It NG for this [ ].    If you install Boot-It NG (a $35 program), you can then completely isolate the two OS's from each other (and in fact can install as many other OS's as you may desire).    Windows 7 will also not create the 2nd 100MB partition as long as you first create a partition for '7;  then install it with only that partition visible to it (and no free space on the drive).    This makes it MUCH simpler to move '7 to another drive;  expand (or contract) the partition it's using; image the OS; restore from an image; etc.

    If you use this approach, simply install Boot-It on the drive (to its own partition);  create a partition for XP; a partition for '7; and a partition for all your data (you'll want this partition to be "seen" by both OS's).     Then just install the OS's & you're done :-)    There are several tutorials you can watch on the Terabyte site, but if you need any assistance just ask.

    As an example of the "power" of this utility, here's the boot menu for my main system:

    LVL 22

    Assisted Solution

    If you have Windows 7 Pro and above, I don't think you will need to bother with having to install a dual boot unless you have a compelling reason.
    You may not be aware that Windows 7 comes with a new feature called XP Mode, which is basically XP running on Windows 7 seamlessly. It's fast and the nice thing about it is that all the applications that you have installed on XP Mode will run in Windows 7 transparently to the user (as if they were originally installed on Windows 7)...
    You might want to take a look at the videos at the bottom of the page on this link..... they are very interesting.
    When you buy Windows 7 Pro, you get to download a fully licensed copy of Windows XP to run in XP mode.
    LVL 38

    Expert Comment

    @garycase - great advice and I didn't know the downfalls of doing it the way I did. Fortunately, I have time to get 5 more Boot-It NG licenses and do it right.
    LVL 70

    Expert Comment

    Vic -- there's not really anything "wrong" with simply using the Windows boot manager for a simple dual boot setup, such as XP and '7   ==>  there are simply a few things to be aware of when you do it that way.    As long as you're aware of the potential pitfalls, it's fine.   I just like the total isolation you can get with Boot-It that completely eliminates those issues.

    Personally, I can't imagine setting up a dual-boot system any other way -- although I did do it for one system a couple months ago so I'd know what folks were talking about r.e. the "extra" 100MB partition Windows 7 creates ... I had previously only installed it under the control of Boot-It and had thus never encountered the issue.    [Note that you don't actually have to use Boot-It to avoid that extra partition -- you simply have to install it to a pre-existing partition and not have any other unallocated space on the disk it can use ... in that case '7 will install to the single partition.]
    LVL 38

    Expert Comment

    Gary  - OK - great comment.
    I did 20GB each for the OS's and 80GB for data (three partitions on 120 GB HDD's) so there was no unallocated space left.
    I think I'm safe on that.

    Rather than (continue to) Hijack this Q, I'm going to post a separate one about some interesting peripherals ... watch for it.

    Author Closing Comment

    Thanks to all of you for your help.  I can't accurately grade the responses yet and won't be ready to implement any solution for a week or so, but you have all provided valuable information.  
    Note to BitsBytesandMore:  I want a real dual boot setup for my business in Tech Support.  

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