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Is there a reliable and correct way to find if VISTA/W7 is installed in a partition? Please note, Searching for folder names is not reliable as one can manually create such paths in a partition and these can also be changed during the installation.

So, are there any paths which can not be changed during and after installation or any other reliable way?


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Any files that get created by Windows could easily be manually created just as easily as any folder. – heavyd Mar 10 '10 at 6:45
and thats true for all OS. :) – akira Mar 10 '10 at 7:05
What kind of environment are you trying to determine this in? If you're writing a program in .NET, I think there's a way to detect the OS version. If you want to figure out what OS it is manually, just run winver.exe. If you want to figure it out without booting the OS, boot to a Windows 7 install disc and select the repair option, and it will list the installed Windows versions. – TuxRug Aug 15 '10 at 3:12
up vote 1 down vote accepted

short answer: no

long answer: you have to test for a number of things until your threshold of 'mhh .. this reaaaaly look like OS XYZ' is reached:

  • is there a ntfs-filesystem?
  • is there a "WINDOWS" folder?
  • is there a boot.ini?

etc. all the files on any OS are just copied. if someone wants you (or your program) to think that this or that partition is a OS1 and not OS2 then it can create a filesystem and create folders and files until your program has reached the threshold.

the only way to know for sure if there is OS XYZ in a partition is to boot the thing and see if it comes up as you would expect it.

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Once you find the correct OS partition, you can use the reglookup linux utility to find the exact OS name and version. – MA1 Jun 21 '11 at 7:17

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