Dual boot - Windows Media Center / Windows 7

ThalamusZen used Ask the Experts™
Hello all,

I was wondering if there was a way to dual boot the same OS.

So, install Windows 7 on my hard drive, then, manually enter a entry into some config file somwhere so I can have the choice to boot into Windows 7 OR Windows Media center.

With Windows Media Center being part of Windows 7, then you can understand why I need to "Boot into the same OS".

Booting into Windows 7 is obviously straight forward. But setting up a manual entry so it boots straight into Windows Media Center... is this possible?
Watch Question

Do more with

Expert Office
EXPERT OFFICE® is a registered trademark of EXPERTS EXCHANGE®
Chris BRetired

You don't make much sense. Why duplicate the OS and waste all that disk space? If you want MC to start by default, just drag the shortcut into startup. If you want to use the PC as a PC, just exit MC.

Chris B

Media Center isn't a bootable OS though, so do you just need a Startup menu to select whether media centre starts up or not once W7 is booted ?



Thanks for your input. The plan isn't to duplicate the OS, but simply have different paramters when booting windows 7. Maybe instead of booting shell.exe, one could boot ehshell.exe. I was wondering if this could be done by editing the boot.ini with particular parameters so when the computer is started you could be presented with a "Dual boot" menu with two options. One which boots windows 7 normally, and one that boots windows 7 but doesn't start explorer and goes straight into WMC. Logically, there is only one operating system. I hope I have made myself clearer.


Thank you for your input. Please see above.

To give you all an understanding of my current technical knowledge, I am a MCP, MCDST (XP & 7), MCTS (7) and MCAD in C#.

I'm not aware of a way to pass parameters into Windows 7 from the boot loader.

If you had an auto-execute app that said "press m for media centre or enter to continue" (for example), perhaps with a time out to a default setting, would that suffice ?

Obviously this isn't done when the computer is started, but shortly afterwards.


That is an option that is worth considering, might have to see if there is an auto execute app around, or I could whip one up. I have found via google that it is possible to boot into Windows Media Center straight from boot up through a particular option in WMC settings, but that just isn't gonna cut it.

Strangely, DELL managed this somehow with a button next to the "power" button on some of their laptops. These laptops also had a "Media" partition that included some data (not entirely sure what that data was). When this "Media" button was pushed, it booted straight into Windows media center, so you could use it like a media center.

Shame Microsoft doesn't make this easier to do for people who want the full functionality of Windows 7 on one hand, and a media center on the other, but using the same operating system and not having to purchase two copies and place them on seperate partitions. This is especially annoying as the PC spec I have whipped up will have a small SSD.

Thanks for your input Yarwell, I might have to go and search some Technet forums to see if anybody has attempted the same thing.

500 points still up for grabs for anybody that can help me solve this seemingly simple but apparently complex problem.
How about a thoough outside of the box and using virtual pc with multiple install of Os on it.

Most Valuable Expert 2013
Top Expert 2009
Two ways to do this, depending on the degree of isolation you want between the "Media Center" boot and the "normal" boot ...

(a)  No isolation.     Just write a short batch file as suggested earlier with a prompt for the medai center vs. normal boot ==> and if media center is selected, you can simply run it before exiting the batch.    This is simple, and works just fine.    It also allows you to have other startup items that are only run for the "normal" case and not the media center case [Just run them from the batch file rather than the Startup folder].

(b)  Complete isolation -- i.e. once you're selected the Media Center option, you're booting to a completely different copy of the OS, with its own startup items, etc.      To do this, you simply make a copy of the OS on a 2nd partition and use a good 3rd party boot manager that completely isolates the other partition.     I'd use Boot-It NG for this -- and simply have a menu that gave you a choice of "Windows 7" or "Win7 Media Center" at the boot menu.     To set this up requires a bit of effort, but it's not hard;  and it's VERY flexible.     The basic process is:  (a) resize your OS partition to a reasonable size;  (b)  install Boot-IT;  (c)  create a separate partition for your data and move all the data to it -- be sure to leave a reasonable amount of unallocated space on the disk [This is not only good for a variety of reasons, but also lets the OS partition be smaller];   (d)  possibly resize the OS partition again to an even smaller size (optional -- whether it's needed depends on just how much data you had);  (e)  image the OS partition (store the image on an external drive or in the data partition);  (f) restore the image to the unallocated space and create a new boot item for it   ==>  you'll now have two different boot items to what's actually the same OS install, but they'll be completely isolated from each other.    You can now just configure the 2nd one as you like -- i.e. to automatically startup Media Center.

Boot-It makes this VERY powerful -- you can have as many fully isolated boot items as you like (subject only to the amount of disk space you have available for the OS's).     I have one system with 16 different boot choices :-)     My main system isn't that over-the-top, but still gives me plenty of choices -- here's it's boot menu:



Thanks Garycase.

Excuse the delay, but I was away on holiday.

Your solution is much appreciated :)

Do more with

Expert Office
Submit tech questions to Ask the Experts™ at any time to receive solutions, advice, and new ideas from leading industry professionals.

Start 7-Day Free Trial