Broken Windows

Vista won’t boot?  XP hangs during start-up?  Maybe my experience, gained in misfortune, can be of use.

Problem: Windows XP hangs during start-up.

Details: During boot-up, Windows XP goes through the normal motions, shows all the normal start-up screens, gets to the blue screen with the Windows logo, but doesn’t display any of its normal messages (such as “Loading personal settings …”).  The system doesn’t seem to lock up, and the mouse still moves on the screen, but nothing else happens.

Solution: Check the system boot sequence for hard disk changes, especially if new hardware (e.g., new disk drive) has been installed.  If Windows thinks it’s installed on Disk 0, and a newly-installed drive becomes Disk 0 and pushes the XP disk to Disk 1, XP will still try to boot (somehow) but fail at some point.  To fix this, you can edit [drive_letter]:\boot.ini and change the disk number to the new value, or re-order the disk sequence in the BIOS to put the XP disk back at its previous position in the boot sequence.

Problem: Vista doesn’t boot.

Details: I have a computer with a Vista Home Premium installation that had been working fine … until I experimented with some other operating system installations, and suddenly, Vista operating system would no longer.  The hard disk with the Vista partition was fine, and the BIOS showed the proper information for the disk, but the Vista boot screen never came up.  I had two other Windows operating systems (XP Pro and XP x64) running on partitions on the same drive, and the XP boot loader still worked for those.  I tried repairing the Vista boot with my Vista installation
DVD that came with the computer, but the installation script did not recognize the drive, which is SATA.

I was able to get the proper SATA drivers from my PC manufacturer (Gateway), but I wasn’t sure how to go about using them with the Vista DVD to restore the boot loader, since it doesn’t recognize the SATA drive to begin with.

Solution: Vista doesn’t play well with others, other Windows operating systems included.  XP uses a different boot loader than Vista, but Vista’s loader comes first in the boot sequence.

In order to manage the Vista boot loader, I installed a product called EasyBCD, which worked like a charm.  The best part is that I was able to re-install and edit the Vista boot loader from an OS other than Vista: I installed EasyBCD in XP, reinstated the Vista loader, and left the XP loader intact.

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