Dual-Boot Made Easy

First, a primer on the boot configuration data (this is the gist of the program called EasyBCD).

The sequence of booting Microsoft’s Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008 and Windows 7 operating systems is different from any previous version of Windows that uses the NT kernel. First, when the computer is switched on, either the BIOS or the EFI is loaded. In the case of a BIOS system, the MBR of the boot disk, which can be a hard drive or external media, is accessed, followed by the boot sector of the drive or of the relevant hard disk partition. This boot sector then loads the rest of the boot blocks. For Windows Vista, the boot sector loads the Windows Boot Manager (with filename BOOTMGR), which accesses the Boot Configuration Data store and uses the information to load the final stage, the operating system.

Setting up dual-boot between Windows 7 and Windows Vista, or the various combinations of XP, Server 2008, Server 2003, Linux, BSD and Mac OS X is a breeze with a free Windows program called EasyBCD. Since EasyBCD is a Windows program, you have to install your Windows OS first before setting up a dual boot with other non-Windows OS (if you want).

For a dual-boot setup between Windows 7 and Leopard Mac OS, click here.

EasyBCD has the following features:

  • Boot from USB, Network, ISO images, Virtual Harddisks (VHD), WinPE
  • Repair the Windows bootloader, change your boot drive, create a bootable USB
  • Rename entries, set default boot target, change BCD timeout, hide the boot menu
  • Create your own custom boot sequence, hide drives on boot, backup and restore configurations, and more!
  • Be forewarned though. Back up your system if this is your first time exploring EasyBCD. Unless you know what you are doing, it’s better be safe than sorry.