Dual-booting all versions of Windows and Linux
Install Triple-Boot of Windows Vista + XP + MS-DOS 7.10 on Windows Vista computer (Vista installed first)
Last reviewed: June 2013
This guide shows how to correctly and safely create a natural triple-boot of Windows Vista, Windows XP and MS-DOS 7.10 on a computer with Windows Vista already installed. You can then run any of those three operating systems by selecting one from a Windows Vista menu during bootup. No data loss will occur and no third-party boot utility will be used.
You need to shrink the Windows drive to make room for MS-DOS and XP neither of which can be on the Windows Vista drive. Windows XP can be a Logical or Primary drive anywhere on the first or other hard disk. While DOS 6.22 needs to be on the first physical partition of the first disk, DOS 7.10 can be on the first FAT32 Primary partition which can be located anywhere on the first disk; non-FAT/32 partitions are ignored by DOS 7.10. Using a second disk for MS-DOS is not an option.
32 and 64-bit versions of Windows Vista were used in testing Windows XP Pro SP2 & SP3 and MS-DOS 7.10 were added. The computers used were:
Following these instructions correctly should always succeed. However, any change to your computer should not even be considered unless you have a rescue plan. This guide also contains that rescue plan - just in case!
This procedure is suitable for experienced computer users.
Important Installation Notes
Full Installation CD/DVDs. The Windows you are adding cannot be installed from Recovery or Repair CDs or DVDs provided by some OEMs. You need the full installation to install a Windows.
ATA Mode. Many users will have a SATA hard disk and that's not a problem in itself. However these users may need to set the BIOS to ATA mode (vs AHCI) for MS-DOS usage. This possible problem was not encountered during tests with SATA.
Hidden Active Partition. Many Windows Vista users will have a small Primary disk partition(s) that's marked active and is hidden (but is visible under Disk Management in Windows Vista). This must be counted if you want to create a new Primary. Any partition not marked as Primary or Logical can be ignored.
Shrinking a Windows 8, 7 or Vista drive. You should use Shrink in Windows' Disk Management to resize the Windows partition. You can read Shrink the Windows 8. 7 or Vista Partition for instructions on completing this task successfully. Use the free GParted Live CD to gain disk space only if you must - read the page Use GParted to Resize the Windows 8, 7 or Vista Partition to learn how.
Formatting. It's best practice to install another operating system on an unformatted (preferably Unallocated) area of the hard disk. All partitions should be Formatted when installing that OS to ensure compatible file system versions. Avoid formatting Windows partitions with GParted or any other third-party partitioning utility.
EasyBCD. The highly-acclaimed EasyBCD is a free editing utility that allows any user to easily edit the Windows 8, 7 or Vista boot menu (the BCD or Boot Configuration Data). EasyBCD runs in Windows 8, 7 and Vista, but also in Windows XP if you first install Microsoft's free .NET 2.0 Framework.
Prepare to Install Windows XP & MS-DOS 7.10 on Windows Vista computer
Installing other operating systems on your Windows Vista computer may invalidate your warrantee.
Make your preparations
Make free space and create new partitions
Always note the size of each partition and also label each (this guide uses vsta, doos and w_XP).
MS-DOS 7.10 must be installed on a Primary drive on the first hard disk. XP can be on a Logical drive.
A 1 TB disk's partitions could be like this with the DOS created FIRST and Formatted to ensure it's a Primary:
Installing the Operating Systems in this Windows Vista Multi-Boot
These pages show how to install each operating system in this multi-boot and how to use EasyBCD.
You can install the OSs in any order you wish but you should have already prepared as described above. Installing an older OS first is suggested as this facilitates its easier removal if you decide not to continue with it.
The Windows Vista boot menu will then boot Windows Vista,Windows XP or MS-DOS when selected.
Please remember that you alone are responsible for the consequences of any changes you make to your computer hardware or software.
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