Dual Boot Windows Vista and XP

This tutorial will show you how to install Microsoft Windows Vista in a dual boot option with Microsoft Windows XP. This is great choice when you first migrate to Vista. If there are any problems, you can simply boot into XP and get important work done.

In order to install Windows Vista in a dual-boot configuration along with Windows XP, you need to have either a second partition on your existing hard disk or a second hard disk in your system. You will want to have about 20 GB of free space. You can create a new partition on your existing drive using software such as Partition Magic or Partition Expert (which I recommend), both are available online.

Once you have your second partition or second hard disk operational, just insert your Windows Vista disk and restart the machine. Then you will want to boot from CD (or DVD). You should see a screen letting you know that Windows Vista is loading.
Dual Boot Windows Vista and XP

The default settings are set for English, click next to continue.
Dual Boot Windows Vista and XP

Now select the Install Now button .
Dual Boot Windows Vista and XP

Now you will need to enter your Microsoft Windows Vista serial number. By default Windows Vista will activate you copy after installation, you can unselect this option is you wish. I recommend un-checking the box, simply because Microsoft may lock your serial key if it is activated too many times, this could happen if you are experimenting and have to reinstall Vista, or if you decide to install Vista by itself later on.

Dual Boot Windows Vista and XP

At this point in the installation, you’re prompted to type in your product key for activation.
If you decide to disable the automatic activation routine, you will receive a warning. Click yes to continue.
Dual Boot Windows Vista and XP

If you didn’t enter a serial key, the setup will prompt you for the version of Microsoft Windows Vista that you are using. Select the correct version for your license.
Dual Boot Windows Vista and XP

Now you must agree to Microsoft’s Terms. Of course they are completely absurd, but you have now choice.
Dual Boot Windows Vista and XP

On the Which Type Of Installation Do You Want Page click the Custom (advanced) button.
Dual Boot Windows Vista and XP

On the Where Do You Want To Install Windows? Select your second partition or second hard drive.
Dual Boot Windows Vista and XP

Once the select a partition or disk and click Next, the rest of the installation will continue as it normally would. As such, I won’t follow the installation procedure any further in this article.
Once the installation is complete, you’ll see the Windows Boot Manager screen, you can now select which operating system you will boot into. Select Microsoft Windows Vista
Dual Boot Windows Vista and XP

You can change the boot manager settings if you would like, if not then you can stop reading. Go to Control Panel, System, Advance System Setting link in the Tasks pane and confirm though the UAC prompt. When you see the System Properties dialog box, click Settings in the Startup and Recovery panel. You’ll then see the Startup and Recovery dialog box.
Dual Boot Windows Vista and XP

In the System Startup pane, you can change the settings.

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  • Savvas

    What about the oposite problem? install dual windows system by installing windows XP on a system with windows vista preinstalled?
    Any suggestions?
    My problem is the follwing:
    I am trying to install windows XP on an HP dv 9393 laptop with windows vista preinstalled and configure a dual booting system. I have prepared a second partition on my C disk (drive 0) but when I reboot the system in order to proceed withthe windows XP installation I am receiving the message “… the setup didn’t find any hard disk drives installed on your computer and should be closed…press F3 to cancel installation e.t.c…”
    Can anyone help?

  • @ Sawas

    I have not had any experience with that problem. Hopefully one of our readers can help you out.

  • Sajid

    Hi guys,

    I have installed XP on C and Vista on D drives of same harddisk. When setup copies the file and restarts my notebook I CAN load the OS means XP I installed previously but CAN’T load the OS I just installed means Vista. Same case I’m having if I install Windows 2000 on C and Windows XP on D.

    Any help will highly be appreciated. Thanks

  • Vista has alot of bugs & troubles. Enjoy the clarity of bugs.

  • Maurice

    i have tried different tutorials and one of which was the install xp on a computer with a preinstalled version of vista, i create my partion to install XP on and have everything ready, wheni boot the xp cd, it runs the blue screen loading processes it gets to the point where it says starting windows then the blue screen of death (the screen with the words windows has shutdown to prevent damage.,..) appears, i have tried several times over and over to get it to go and with different cd’s why wont it let me install XP on the new partiton i have made?

  • Install windows xp first, then vista. Do you know what error you are getting on the blue screen, could have a hardware issue.

  • Carl

    I am having the same problem. I have a new laptop that came with VISTA on it. Most of my apps will not run in VISTA and I am trying to find a way to dual boot by adding Windows XP on a system that has VISTA pre-installed. Any help would would be grate (FYI I do not want to remove VISTA to do this).

  • Shabyn

    Carl u can use VM ware Workstation From that u can run widnows XP in vista but it would be lil slow…………………….i think bt it wil work

  • Praveen

    I too hav the same problem…. i cant install xp on my Vista laptop…wat should i do if blue screen with ‘no hard disk can be detected’ appears

  • Hemanth.V

    While installing Vista on my PC, after the setup copies & expands the files & restarts for the first time, I see a blue screen saying that the OS cannot be installed because of viruses or hard drive corruption or any hard drive controllers.I have formatted my hard disk, but it didn’t work. I also see an error message.
    Stop:0*0000007B (0*83808BA0,0*C0000034,0*00000000,0*00000000)
    Can anyone please help me?

  • jonathon

    use th M$ virtual PC Tool.make a HD,then put XP on the virtual disk.

  • peewee

    Hemanth.V said,

    on August 18th, 2007 at 6:02 am

    While installing Vista on my PC, after the setup copies & expands the files & restarts for the first time, I see a blue screen saying that the OS cannot be installed because of viruses or hard drive corruption or any hard drive controllers.I have formatted my hard disk, but it didn’t work. I also see an error message.
    Stop:0*0000007B (0*83808BA0,0*C0000034,0*00000000,0*00000000)
    Can anyone please help me?

    me to how u get past that? fix it

  • i love lohan (666)

    i had vista installed, i installed xp sp2 x64 on another partition used vista dvd
    to fix vista boot, then i used vistabootpro to add xpx64 to vista boot options.

  • Rakesh


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  • matthew

    Yeah im having the same problems. Read everything i can on the subject with no luck. just get the message ” the setup did not find any hard disk drives on your computer and should be closed” unforntunately virtual pc 2007 isnt an option as i need to run sound and visual apps. i tried using a better partition manager but no luck… any help would be much appreciated.

  • MandyApril4

    I have a new computer with vista home premium on the hard drive. I took the hard drive out of my old computer and it has vista home basic on it. I want to install the 2nd hard drive also and have never done anything like this before. I don’t know if it would be best to partition the drive(s) or run it as a dual-boot system…I have never opened up a computer before so is this something I can do on my own or would I have to call a professional? I know I sound very naive…but when it comes to this I am! Any help on what to do and how to do it would be VERY much appreciated!!

  • Ok, here’s the situation most people are having trouble with – You want to install xp on a computer running windows vista which is preinstalled. Many people are finding the blue screen of death an issue.

    Cause: The cause on why it comes is because you have the incorrect components, and windows shuts down to stop xp from harming your pc.

    Solve: The best way which always works, is to find each component on your computer and upgrade the firmware, or if not, change it and buy one which is suitable for XP. Microsoft DOES NOT want people dual booting, therefore they disabled it, as different components work for vista, and different components work for xp.

    Easy way: An easier way is to use Microsoft Virtual pc, but note the chance of it working is 25%

  • John

    I have a toshiba laptop with Vista installed if I create a dual boot for Win XP how will I get the Ethernet card, screen drivers etc so that it will provide all of the funtionality the laptop had with Vista?

  • Curmudgeon


    I installed XP on my Vista machine and had the same problem.

    A. Display all your hardware in Vista, and then get cooresponding XP drivers. (My Vista is 64 bit, just to make it a tad harder.
    B. Get Vista Boot Pro…. 3.3 is current I think.
    C. Install that on Vista and run it to repair the dreaded “I can’t boot to anything but XP!” problem.
    D. Now you should have a boot loader choice screen that contains all your bootable options … I have Vista 64, Windoze XP, HP Recovery, Windoze Recovery partitions.

    Ta Da …

  • z2r2d2

    I’m not very good at computing so i did it simple and it works. I have a HP Pavilion DV9608CA Vista home preinstalled notebook wich has 2 sata hard drive compartments. I bought a new drive of the same capacity and wanted to dual boot Vista/xp with 2 separate drives but after reading everyone with all these troubles, i just took off the original drive and inserted the new empty drive. I used nLite to burn a xp disc with service pack2 and the needed drivers for xp to recognize the drive on the same disc, installed without problems on the new drive and installed the chipset and other drivers for xp. I have to swap hard drive in the same slot compartment everytime i want to use xp or vista but at least there is no problems at all.
    I’m still looking for a way to dual boot with separate drives but just affraid of problems like so many have as i keep reading forums.

  • mohit

    this is all bull $hit..
    here is what the real prob is..
    although i also have vista and want to install xp i also get the same message no hdd detected..
    dont think that this is made to protect ur pc from getting harmed by xp.. no ..
    even if u buy a new laptop without any os on it (and i have personally witnessed it with my eyes) and want to install xp on it it will still say no hdd detected..
    u have to make changes in the bios…
    i still remember when laptop manufactureres made os compulsary for laptops.. when peopel tried to save some money by not opting for the licensed versions of os they encountered the same prob.. so there is nothing wrong with anything.. try making changes in the bios.. and u will be good to go.. i will try that will keep u updated..

  • jojo

    i hav vista/hardy dualboot but imma try tripboot wit vista/xp/hardy heron(ubuntu)…hopefully averything works out well. my pavilliondv6646us isnt all that great but gets job done. any advice on complications?…thanks

  • nazsril

    While installing XP on my PC, after the setup copies & expands the files & restarts for the first time, I see a blue screen saying that the OS cannot be installed because of viruses or hard drive corruption or any hard drive controllers.I have formatted my hard disk, but it didn’t work..

  • GreyWolf

    There’s nothing wrong with your pc/laptop. If it comes pre-installed with Vista, you need to install the sata driver when installing XP. Some SATA harddrives cannot be detected by Windows XP that is why XP can’t detect. Geeezz….

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  • tek

    mohit and GreyWolf are right just disable SATA native support in bios settings…. peace…

  • Socker22

    You have all wrong.

    When it comes to install XP you have to change in your Bios. Look for a menu that says AHCI (Advanced Host Controller Interface) or something like native and compatible mode. You have to either shut off AHCI completly or just change Native to compatible mode. Then xp will find your harddisk so you can make your installation.!

  • pythonsnake

    hi when we have done all this and the time comes to remove xp and just run vista.how do i reverse so i only have vista with out losing vista as well.and also how do i reverse the hard drive partition so i only have one hard drive pat.

  • pythonsnake

    i ask this cause i had problems with vista when i didn’t really understand it.ie getting games to work.now i know how to install any game i want to run on vista so i dont need xp anymore but my xp is the boot manager so i think and please correct me if im wrong if i remove xp vista wont start at all.i need a way to remove the part that make xp the boss and bring vista in to play without formatting.can you help?.

  • jpar

    It depends on youre setup vista ie Vista load boot on other hard drive or partition in youre case xp partn/drive so format xp no boot this happened to me ran Vista repair from the disk and it fix the boot also use vista boot pro.the other thing that might happen is you have boot selection for xp / vista which can be with the above vbt pro. I have xp64 ( the fastest os around) and vista premium installed.I have an old sempron 2800+ 1 gb ram and I play farcry 2 on high on xp64. Had to lower it on vista all the trimmings off.Somthing else I though was not possible was I have farcry2 INSTALLED on xp64 yet I can play it on vista with a shotcut also some software works both way ?? I hope I was of some help.

  • jpar

    sorry 🙂 which can be FIXED with the above vbt pro.

  • BB

    I had to do the “f6” for “3rd party drivers” and used the “OS install only” driver from the dell website:
    Intel Matrix Storage Manager, v., A07

    It recognized the drive and enabled me to load XP64. Before I would get a BSOD of it got to the “starting windows” part (which I think was the beginning of the “copying files” part)

  • Bobtow

    I tried to install XP Professiional Sp3 on a Vista Premium and got a message that it was incompatible with the hardware. The XP could not match with the Vista hardware.

  • Robert Mutyaba

    Two things I will tell you:
    1. The blue screen can be avoided by changing the bios setting of the hard drive to “compatible mode”. Xp is not seeing the drive sometimes, at all.

    2. These steps are fantastic and you dont even need the partition magic or expert. See below:


    All the best!


  • Robert Mutyaba

    Oh yeah, one more thing – funny though. XpSP2 is the best for this kind of thing.


  • I have always wanted to do this but had no idea how. Do you think my computer could handle booting both of these at once?

  • I recommend un-checking the box, simply because Microsoft may lock your serial key if it is activated too many times, this could happen if you are experimenting and have to reinstall Vista, or if you decide to install Vista by itself later on.

  • Jweaver252

    I did these thing ok. Now i cannot download same programs to vista. I get message windows installer cannot down load. I also downloaded the new windows intaller 4.5. still no help