Early Vista Tip #5: forget about boot.ini

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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
default=multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)WINDOWS
[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……   

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