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Two months ago my motherboard died, so I bought a used computer that came with Windows 7. I have since installed my old hard-drive, which had Windows XP on it, in this system.

What I am trying to do now is to figure out a way to migrate the settings from XP's BOOT.INI into 7's boot-loader.

Below is the BOOT.INI I used in XP (I have reduced the strings and updated the disks to point to the new location of the old HD. Oh and I am not clear on the drive letters. In XP, I could boot the recovery console or MS-DOS from a file in C:\ that contains the boot-sector. I am not sure what drive letter it would be called now—I had to manually change all the drive letters of the old partitions in Windows 7 because it auto-assigned them all wrong/differently).

[boot loader]

[operating systems]
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(1)partition(1)\WINDOWS="XP" /fastdetect
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(1)partition(1)\WINDOWS="XP (Safe)" /safeboot:network /sos /bootlog /noguiboot
C:\CMDCONS\BOOTSECT.DAT="Recovery Console" /cmdcons
C:\BOOTSECT.DOS="MS-DOS 7.10" /win95

I have looked around, and have only been able to find some bcdedit commands to add XP to the boot-loader, but none that include information on setting safe-mode for it (or changing any of the XP load options for that matter). Not surprisingly I suppose, I have not found anything on adding the XP recovery console or DOS to the Windows 7 boot-loader.

(Yes, I tried EasyBCD, but that did not help; it had no options for XP, and the best I managed was to get a choice of booting 7 or normal-mode XP—choosing XP didn't even give the old XP boot menu.)

Can anyone please tell me how to export the entries in XP's boot.ini to 7's boot-loader so that on boot, I can choose to load the following:

Windows 7
Windows 7 (Safe-mode)
(Windows 7 (The Win7 counterpart of the Recovery Console))
Windows XP
Windows XP (Safe-mode)
Windows XP (Recovery Console)
MS-DOS 7.10
share|improve this question
You would boot into Windows 7 and use bcdedit.exe to add additional items. BCDEdit is a little confusing, and there are a lot of wrappers around it like EasyBCD. – vcsjones Dec 26 '10 at 3:50
Like I said in the question, I have already tried BCDEdit and EasyBCD. I am looking for specific instructions on migrating the BOOT.INI entries. – Synetech Dec 26 '10 at 6:51
See this article, not specific to your question but is a tutorial for using bcdedit in – Moab Dec 26 '10 at 22:37
Yes, I know; I've seen that article and used the same commands to add an entry to load XP, but that's not sufficient. I want a safe-mode XP option, an XP recovery console, and a DOS option (or whatever else could have been booted with BOOT.INI). – Synetech Dec 27 '10 at 6:49

First of all when dual booting Windows 7 and Windows XP it is Windows 7 boot manager(bootmgr) which must have control of the booting. Windows XP boot manager is ntldr.

There are 3 "must have" entities to boot either OS (XP or Win7)

  1. MBR code
  2. PBR code (PBR=partition boot record)
  3. a) ntldr (and and boot.ini file

OR 3. b) bootmgr with \boot folder (with BCD store there).

In a dual boot scenario (Win 7 with XP) you must have on FIRST disk ACTIVE partition:

  1. Windows MBR
  2. bootmgr with BCD having an additional entry for XP.
  3. ntldr and
  4. boot.ini

When computer starts BIOS code is executed which does some tests and then loads MBR from FIRST disk. MBR code loads PBR from ACTIVE partition. Then PBR code loads bootmgr. bootmgr reads BCD data and displays boot menu.

When you select Windows 7 - control is transfered to winload.exe which loads Windows 7 proper. When you select XP boot menu entry control is transfered to ntldr (ntldr displays another boot menu based on entries in boot.ini)

For a complete display and editing of BCD contents you can use Visual BCD Editor.

For finding the exact ARC Path (multi(0)disk...partition() thing) of your XP installation and disks configuration you can use "ARC Paths" utility. You have to edit your old boot.ini replacing "old" ARC paths with the "new" ARC paths.

Hope this helps.

(Note: The active partition in Windows 7 can be the hidden "System Reserved" partition - to map it with a DOS drive letter use Windows Disk Management or some third party disk manager/editor.)

share|improve this answer
Thanks, but unfortunately I have already read all that information and even with the DOS/XP being the first active partition, it still doesn’t work. Booting DOS just causes an infinite looping system-speaker beep and booting the Recovery Console returns an error about ntoskrnl or something not being found. But thanks for the links to the programs, they look useful. – Synetech Mar 23 '12 at 17:17

If you are talking about the Windows Advanced Options Menu for XP, it is still there, select XP from the boot menu when it loads, then immediately after that tap F8, you have to do it fast.


"Should I replace the code that used to work with Boot.ini to now use BCD on Windows Vista? No. You will need to alter your code so that it uses Boot.ini for the older operating systems, and so that it uses BCD on Windows Vista."

Sounds like there is a way to use the old bootini.


share|improve this answer
Yes, I know, but that's not what I am asking about. I am asking about entries in the BOOT.INI menu (as per the question title and contents). – Synetech Dec 27 '10 at 6:48
Check my edit above. – Moab Dec 27 '10 at 16:38

The Windows 7 bootloader will NOT boot XP, and you do NOT migrate your boot.ini settings to the Win 7 BCD. The Win 7 bootmanager WILL transfer execution to the XP bootloader, which uses its own settings (in boot.ini). EasyBCD is really the way to go with this; many many thousands of people have set up their dual-Windows boot systems with it. Check out their documentation, knowledgebase, and forum for help.

share|improve this answer
By ‘migrating’, I didn’t mean specifically moving boot.ini to the BCD, just getting the 7 bootloader to boot XP and DOS. Like I already said, I have tried EasyBCD and could not get it to do what I have asked in the question. – Synetech Jan 1 '12 at 19:34

Try getting the easybcd to load:

multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(2)\WINDOWS="SXP64" /FASTDETECT /NOGUIBOOT /SOS /NOEXECUTE=ALWAYSOFF

share|improve this answer
I noticed that as well (it looks a lot like those Windows “loaders”). However you can still edit the boot.ini file that it creates. – Synetech Feb 16 '12 at 20:05

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