Dual Booting Windows Vista and XP

Martin Brinkmann
Jun 12, 2006
Updated • May 25, 2012
Windows, Windows Vista, Windows XP

Microsoft released a beta version of their upcoming Microsoft Vista operating systems a few days ago. I don't think it´s wise to install a beta version of a Microsoft operating system as your main operating system, which means that dual booting can be a solution. You want to experience Vista and still be able to return to XP or whatever other operating system you are using? Fine, follow this easy to understand guide to dual booting.

First, download the Vista beta version from the official Microsoft website and get your key. Second, get the gparted live cd from Sourceforge. Use gparted to create a second primary partition. Vista apparently needs a primary partition and wont install on others. Make sure you assign enough disk space to that partition, recommended is at least 20 Gigabyte of Hard Disk space.

If everything works out you now have a second primary partition which is ready for windows vista. Reboot your machine and load Windows XP once again. Now run the windows vista setup again and chose your newly created partition as the target for the operating system.

Once the installation is finished you should see a bootup manager after turning on your computer.

The installation should be similar if you are running Linux instead of XP. Just use the live CD and create a primary partition and install vista. (boot and setup from burned dvd if you are running linux).

Keep in mind though that Vista will replace the boot loader with its own, which may mean that you need to modify it to have the Linux system listed again during boot.

If you are running into issues with the Gnome Partition Editor, check out the documentation on the project website to get help with the issue. There is also a forum available where you may get assistance.


Tutorials & Tips

Previous Post: «
Next Post: «


  1. Neil said on July 9, 2006 at 4:24 pm

    Ok, but how would one make WinXP the default boot OS with a dual boot (XP & Vista) system?
    (Step by step please..)

  2. Ceristimo said on July 4, 2006 at 6:24 pm

    I made an 30GB partition with Acronis Paritionexpert and then I installed Vista by booting from the Vista installation disk and running the setup.
    I don’t understand why you’re all saying you can’t do it that way and have to install from Windows XP?
    After I got tired of playing around in Vista I booted to Windows XP, merged the extra partition back to the old one and restored a backup from XP to get rid of the Vista bootloader.
    I haven’t had any problems with this procedure.

  3. Rick said on July 4, 2006 at 3:40 pm

    Easiest dual-boot I’ve ever set up!

    After making a new partition, and formatting it NTFS from within XPs Disk Management, you should install Vista from your running XP installation (NOT by booting to the Vista Disk!).

    You’ll be offered a chance to upgrade–DON’T. Choose the clean install option. Follow the wizard and tell it which partition you want it to install to.

    Then, to prevent a problem with your XP installation, be sure to watch the installation directories for all the other software you want to add to your Vista install (Many want to install on C:/blah,blah… You need to watch out for this and make sure the destination is correct).

    I’ve lost nothing, and can access all my files (including the Windows XP files). PIECE OF CAKE!!

  4. Alan said on June 18, 2006 at 10:13 pm

    I decided to dual boot Vista on my XP machine. After all, it’s the only one I have that is capable of running Vista. Anyway, what harm can it do? Well, let me tell you.

    I tried using the new media player, and selected a file on my storage drive. The one with 40 gigabytes of mp3s and another 50 gigabytes of personal, unreplaceable digital photographs of my daughter growing up, family holidays, weddings etc. So no risk there eh? Wrong!

    It decided to blue screen before playing the file.

    A re-boot was carried out of course, and Vista opened again. I closed down properly and opened XP up to make sure all was well, but some icons were missing from the desktop. On investigation, all the missing ones were on the storage drive. I opened My Computer with my heart in my boots…

    Yes, you guessed it – the storage drive was missing.

    Computer management could see the drive but it was marked as “Foreign” with no way of using it without reformatting it.

    So, back to Vista and all was well, I can see the drive and it’s contents. All I have to do now is make sure I can get copies of everything on the drive (spare drives do come in useful) and then reformat it, then put everything back – shouldn’t take more than a couple of months is my guess.

    Unless anyone knows a workaround for this of course!

  5. Frank said on June 14, 2006 at 1:17 pm

    I won´t install Windows Vista on my Computer. The requirements are way to high for an operating system, besides all that spying and checking stuff which goes on in the background.

Leave a Reply

Check the box to consent to your data being stored in line with the guidelines set out in our privacy policy

We love comments and welcome thoughtful and civilized discussion. Rudeness and personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please stay on-topic.
Please note that your comment may not appear immediately after you post it.