Dual booting Vista and XP

I have just managed to get a dedicated PC that I will use solely for imaging, both for Vista and XP. This one has the Radeon Xpress 200 chipset (onboard X300 graphics) in an Intel D101GGC motherboard, so it supports Aero, unlike anything older that we have here. The fun started when I tried to install XP on another partition alongside the existing Vista installation. When you do this XP rewrites the boot sector, ignoring Vista entirely.

Now, one would naturally assume that with this super duper new operating system, Microsoft would have put some effort into making the Vista install DVD work that out and offer to configure the boot sector with a boot menu. After all, if you install XP first and then Vista, a boot menu is created when Vista boots that lets you choose which installation to boot from.

But no. Vista will get partway through the installation startup (WinPE load) and fail the installation with a message that implies your hard drive, DVD ROM drive or some removable device might be failing – the infamous “Status: 0xc00000e9 An unexpected I/O error has occurred”.

This is entirely avoidable and not what we would expect from the millions of dollars that have been put into Vista development by Microsoft, that the boot loader is actually inferior to the one in Windows XP, which is completely unfazed by the same set of circumstances.

And so it appears that the only configuration that will work flawlessly is:

  • Create two partitions using XP Setup
  • Install Windows XP on the first partition
  • Install Windows Vista on the second partition.