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My current development PC has it's original WinXP bootable hard drive installed as a D: drive. Rather than, powering down, swapping the jumpers and restarting, can I boot from that drive like a virtual machine?

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By D: drive I assume you mean secondary? I've had Windows installations referring to their own partition as being the D: or E: drive, even though the system hard disk was primary. In other words, a D: "drive" can also be a partition on the primary hard disk. –  oKtosiTe Dec 13 '10 at 18:17

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You can use VMware vCenter Converter (free) to turn that disk/partition into a virtual machine that you could use with any VMware virtualisation hypervisor, including VMware Player (free).

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The main problem I foresee is a lack of drivers. In some cases Windows will refuse to boot altogether.
Instead of just risking breaking your installation, I would recommend making a full backup (image) of the hard disk first.

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Your problem is the master boot record on either drive doesn't know the OS on the other drive currently exists. So you've been master / slave swapping to change the boot order.

You could use a boot manager like (http://gag.sourceforge.net/) to allow you to boot on different partitions on any disk.

You could also edit your boot.ini to reflect the OS on the second disk. (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/289022)

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How does that affect booting the second hard disk in a virtualization product? It would still see it as the primary disk, just like when the jumpers are switched. –  oKtosiTe Dec 13 '10 at 20:16
    
Well when he said boot to it like a virtual machine I assumed he wanted to be able to boot to either machine. You are probably right in assuming he wants to do a p-to-v. –  Chris Harrod Dec 13 '10 at 21:22

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