Dual Boot, drive letters, fully automated

Discussion in 'Windows Vista Installation' started by Anwar Mahmood, Nov 19, 2008.

  1. Hi All,

    We're using Windows XP at the moment, but have Windows Vista as well.
    We use Windows Deployment Services (WDS) to image PCs across the

    We've not got everything working on Windows Vista yet, some people
    would like to use it, yet still be able to access applications that
    are currently only available on Windows XP.

    Originally, we used Virtual PC 2007 on Windows Vista, and ran Windows
    XP virtually. Worked fine, but
    - XP running virtually is slow
    - some of our PCs have only 512Mb RAM, so dual booting isn't always
    an option

    All our PCs have only one HDD. Dual booting the "Microsoft" way
    - install Windows XP 1st on one partition
    - install Windows Vista 2nd on a second partition

    Vista will replace XP's MBR and provide dual booting capabilities.
    - the first partition will be C:, and the second partition will be D:
    - hence Windows XP will be "correct", but Windows Vista will be
    installed to D:\WINDOWS, D:\Program Files, etc
    - both OSes can see both partitions
    - you can hide the Vista partition within XP, but you can't hide the
    C: partition from Vista because it is the system partition

    We use a software delivery process that requires C:\WINDOWS, so the
    Vista installation is useless.

    What I need is a third party boot manager, that will
    - provide a menu that lists available OSes
    - configures which partitions are visible, then passes the boot
    sequence on to the respective OS
    - each OS is installed to a C: drive

    In the past, I've used Ranish Partition Manager for this, which works
    very well, but it is a manual install and configure exercise. With
    our current environment, computer setup is almost *completely*
    - user unboxes PC
    - user registers the PC (this is our own process, but essentially
    this allocates an IPv4 address on the DHCP server, creates a computer
    object in AD, and a few other things)
    - user boots to the network (F12 / PXE boot)
    - user selects an image from the WDS menu
    - both Windows XP and Windows Vista have been automated, so neither
    asks the user for any input
    - 30 minutes later, the computer is ready to use

    This is something end users do themselves. I need to use a third
    party boot manager, but deployed and managed through the "network",
    automatically, preferably through WDS.

    I don't think it can be done, but I can't possibly be the only one
    grappling with this one!

    Any and all ideas are welcome!

    Kind regards,

    Anwar Mahmood, Nov 19, 2008
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  2. Anwar Mahmood

    Chad Harris Guest

    Hi Anwar--

    I just want to toss out a couple things to you. I don't know how many pcs
    are involved but it sounds like a work place and that you may have quite a
    few pcs on your network. I don't know much about your situation but maybe
    one of these would help you:

    Bootit Next Generation

    Vista Boot Pro

    Easy BCD


    Third party boot managers are ususally overwritten, but the above work fine
    (I don't know if they tailor to the size ofyour network though. I have
    another suggestion below.


    1) If you have a dual boot situation, or a multiboot situation, you probably
    realize something that I've always found convenient. You can access either
    desktop from the other without rebooting by simply typing the file path of
    the other OS and you can access the desktop or any particular folder. MSFT
    is revising Foldershare in December, and that's another way to do this and
    they'll be calling it Folder Sync with added functionality. But you
    mentioned applications and you also seem to be in a work environment with a
    number of unknown pcs--possibly at different physical locations.

    Hypver-V Solutions

    Maybe this is not your situation, but I just wanted to toss out the option.
    You can learn a lot more at


    2) Without knowing more, I don't know if this would be of benefit to you but
    if you have a number of b oxes, you can accomplish what I think you want to
    do and you can try it free. I can tell you properly set up using Windows
    Server 2008 the machines would not run slowly at all. I think your slowness
    in the situations you described may have been due to RAM limitations that
    you have dealt out from the initial box, using Virtual PC 2007 that are
    inherent in its use.

    I'm talking about Hyper-V (the MSFT Virtual Machine using Windows Server
    2008 and they have two or three tiers depending on your needs and the number
    of computers.

    The solution that may work for you is called MED-V or MSFT Enterprise
    Virtualization. This would allow you to install your dual boot on one
    machine and then virtualize very easily out through your entire network, set
    very detailed permissions and even allow your end users to customize their
    wall paper if you like. It saves a lot of money and a lot of time, but
    again I don't know how many machines and users are in your environment.

    Good luck,

    Chad Harris, Nov 20, 2008
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  3. Anwar Mahmood

    Chad Harris Guest


    It's entirely as Philo said using Virtual PC 2007 or 2004. In that
    situation, you're sure going to have a RAM limitation and you should have at
    least 2GB to start with--for sure if the PC only has 512MB to deal from.
    If multibooting will work for you in your network then I highly recommend
    it--I dual boot and triple boot all the time and it works very well for me.

    Chad Harris, Nov 20, 2008
  4. Hi All,

    Thanks to Chad and Philo for your replies.

    Running Vista "native" and XP "virtual" won't be an option because of
    the 512Mb RAM limitation I mentioned.

    Enterprise Desktop Virtualisation is probably going to cost a huge
    amount of money in hardware. We have thousands of desktops, but I
    only need to dual boot on a fraction of these; trouble is, I don't
    know whether that fraction will be 1/50 or 1/2!

    I've found a third party boot manager, Boot-US, (http://www.boot-
    us.com) that can be installed and configured from the command line, so
    I can control it using scripts, SETUPCOMPLETE.CMD, etc.

    Windows XP and Windows Vista will be installed to separate partitions,
    but both OSes will treat "their" partition as the C: drive (ie, 2 C
    drives!). This can *only* work with "clever" partition hiding
    (standard partition hiding isn't good enough!)

    I've also got to get this working through Windows Deployment Services.

    I think I've got all the pieces of a jigsaw, but don't know
    - how to put them all together
    - *whether* they can fit together seamlessly!

    Kind regards,

    Anwar Mahmood, Nov 25, 2008
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