Early Vista Tip #5: forget about boot.ini



I think we’re very slowly trending towards multi-boot computing: one computer for multiple operating systems. Up to now, that’s been a relatively easy process in Windows XP with (or without) third party software. It gets a little trickier in Windows Vista however, as the boot process is radically different. In XP, we had an easy to modify text file called boot.ini if we needed to change the boot menu. Here’s an example of what might be found in the boot.ini file which tells the computer exactly where on the disk the OS is:

[boot loader]timeout=30
[operating systems]multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Professional" /fastdetect

I found out the hard way through several Vista installs that the old ways don’t work; Vista uses BCD, or Boot Configuration Data to manage the boot process for one, or several operating systems. If you plan to add operating systems, say Linux or another Vista instance, to other partitions on your Vista machine you’ll want an easy way to mod the BCD. Microsoft offers guidance on BCD modification, but I figured there had to be another way; I didn’t say "better", I said "another". ;)

I found a free app to mod the BCD, but apparently it was a "lift" of another app, so here’s a link to the original: EasyBCD from NeoSmart. This free app will let you manage multiple OS boot options with ease and given the advantages of having different operating systems on a single machine, you might want to check this out. Don’t worry, you’ve got time before the Vista release…..47 days, 14 hours, 31 minutes and 23 seconds…..22…..21…..20……   


John in Norway

I would like to say a big thankyou to the person who made this program. After spending yet another day trying to get Vista to work (on my m200 this time), I’ve given up. This program made it so easy to get rid of Vista. I shall be doing the same on my Q1 because Vista won’t run properly on that either (or my desktop, come to think of it).

Do they deliberately chamge the hardware/software on devices sold outside America? Just wondering.

Computer Guru

Hey, I’m the author of EasyBCD (original author of VistaBootPRO as well), thanks for the mention :)

I’m glad you found the app useful, when we asked Microsoft and they told us they had “no intention of releasing anything other than bcdedit” as far as modifying the bootloader, we knew this program was an absoloute must.

EasyBCD 1.5.1 will be shipping any day now, it will add support for ReactOS, SkyOS, and several “other” versions of Mac and Linux. It will, of course, remain free forever (donations are accepted, but whether you donate or not has nothing to do with the quality of support or anything!)

Anyway, use the “Check for Updates” function often, 1.5.1 has tons of bug fixes and minor improvements :D

NeoSmart Technologies


This looks very good. Until now, MS completely neglected to acknowledge the existence of alternative bootloaders. On your screenshot one can see that they added support for grub, lilo and other nice stuff!

Colin Walker

I was using VistaBootPro but I’ve just read about all the shenanigans over the cease and desist order surrounding it (how can you tell an application author to cease and desist!)

EasyBCD looks better so I think I’ll swap.

Dave Zatz

Many Linux distros ship with a various boot loaders, so one could always take MS out of the equation. Personally, I’m mostly done with partitions and dual(or more) booting – virtualization software is mature and powerful and allows you to run multiple OSes simultaneously.

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