Vista/XP Dual Boot Problems

We’ve been playing around with the MSDN release of Vista recently on our new Shuttle SN26P. We installed it on a separate partition to our main XP install.

When the PC starts up you’re greeted with two boot managers – one for Vista, and, after selecting ‘Legacy Windows’ to start XP, the usual XP boot manager. Trying to get the Vista boot manager to default to XP, so that the PC booted to that by default was a nightmare. It appears that Vista uses a new boot manager, doing away with XP’s ‘boot.ini’ file.

In case anyone else has the same problem, you need to use ‘bcdedit’ which is located in the ‘system32’ directory of your Vista install. It’s a command-line utility so you’ll need to open a command prompt first, and navigate to the ‘system32’ directory. Typing ‘bcdedit’ will display a list of the current settings. Type ‘bcdedit -?’ to show the various options – the one you’re probably interested in is ‘default’. Type ‘bcdedit -? default’ to get the details of how to set the default OS – most likely, you’ll need ‘bcdedit -default {legacy}’.

The utility could use a GUI front-end. Perhaps the final release of Vista will have one – in the meantime, I hope this helps someone solve the problems we had.

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