I have installed Windows Vista on a computer using ImageX from WinPE. I followed the instructions here for partitioning the hard drive, creating a 300 MB system partition and using the rest of the drive for a Windows partition.

The install has worked perfectly apart from the fact that the system partition has been assigned the drive letter C: and the Windows has been assigned the drive letter D:. I would like the system drive to have no letter and the Windows partition to have the drive letter C:.

I think I have managed to figure out why it is doing this. See my answer below. Can anyone confirm this?


As far as I can see, the System Reserved Partition was only introduced with Windows 7. Which would explain why Windows Vista is assigning this volume a letter.

  • I'm currently also banging my head against the wall of winvista... Currently it looks like we need a sys-reserved partition, because applying the image to c: as first partition, first startup to setup fails in that 'the drive letter assignments are wrong'. – metadings Nov 16 '12 at 17:16
  • so no, winvista already had sys-reserved partition. i believe it expects this partition and is hardcoded to be installed to the second partition of the harddrive. I'll check tomorrow or next week, because i have to move my current second partition. – metadings Nov 16 '12 at 18:23
  • Yeah, I also had a problem installing it without the system partition. I got an error message on boot saying "The system registry contains invalid file paths. Installation cannot proceed. This system image was applied without guaranteeing that drive-letter assignments would match across computers." – robingrindrod Nov 16 '12 at 22:01
  • thanks for posting the en-us version of this error message. now i found a kb article, admitting the paths are hard-coded. basically they say: use setup to install vista. i'm currently building an usb stick for installing WinXP, V, 7 and 8. on success i'll post my experiences in an answer to you; also hiding the sys part like the official setup knows to do... it is nowhere correctly documented, not even on technet (there it is wrong documented)... – metadings Nov 17 '12 at 0:17
  • I had trouble finding documentation too. The image I used was the original install.wim from the Vista disk so there should be no problems with the image. Eventually, I had to resort to installing from the disk. I would like to find out the reason for these problems as this is something I do on a regular basis and would like to streamline. – robingrindrod Nov 17 '12 at 8:49

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