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I wish to install multiple, probably 3, copies of Windows on one hard drive. I envisage setting up 4 partitions, one for each OS and a shared data area. I intend to ghost the empty, formatted drive using LANDesk so that I can reuse it for other drives on the network that will have the same layout.

The version of Windows on each disk will be the same, i.e. one disk will have three slightly different variations of XP, another will have three Windows 7s, etc.

  1. What would be the best boot manager to use in this situation? I'm considering GAG.

  2. Can the boot manager be installed before installing the first OS?

  3. My understanding is that I simply install the OS on each of the three partitions and then use GAG/whatever to select which one to boot at startup. Is it this straightforward or am I missing a pitfall?

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Firsty - Why! Anyone who multi boots without a very good reason is just asking for trouble later on. I would highly advise you look in to virtualisation, or, if you need raw performance of a real OS for gaming or similar, consider using VHD booting.

That being said, the above does not answer your question.

  1. I would recommend just using the standard Windows Boot Manager

  2. Technically yes on all of them, but, easier just to let setup do it if you want the Windows Boot Manager.

  3. That is pretty much it - you seem set on GAG and I can't really help you further with that, but, if you went down another approach such as Windows Boot Manager, it should add each installation to the boot menu for you.

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If you install GAG before installing Windows, it may be overwritten by Windows installer. But just like William said, Windows' boot manager is sufficient. A second installation should recognize previously installed Windows. Also it is quite simple to edit boot.ini for Windows XP or use EasyBCD for Windows 7 BCD. – jeffgao Sep 7 '11 at 17:41
Thanks. The reason I'm multibooting is that this a test setup and I need the OSes in various states of repair. Also, I need to be sure that I'm using graphics drivers as they are in the field, hence, a VM is not an option, e.g. we've seen vmware fail because it's driver isn't up to the job. – gdawg Sep 7 '11 at 17:50

Just use Windows' built-in boot manager (although GAG is perfectly fine for your need). Also, be sure to check out EasyBCD for configuring Windows 7 boot manager. It is free for non-commercial use.

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