Microsoft

Use Bootsect to extract Vista or Windows 7 from a dual-boot configuration

You can use the Bootsect command to remove the Windows Boot Manager and its Boot Configuration Data system from the boot partition of a hard drive and replace it with Windows XP’s NTLDR boot management system. Greg Shultz shows you the Bootsect commands required to extract Microsoft Windows Vista or Windows 7 beta from a dual boot configuration.

I recently dug out one of the spare hard drives that I use on my test system to see what was on it. I discovered that it contained a dual-boot configuration consisting of Microsoft Windows XP and a late beta version of Windows Vista. The original boot partition of the drive contained XP, and Vista was installed on a second partition. Of course, this meant that Vista had installed its Windows Boot Manager and its Boot Configuration Data system on the boot partition.

I wanted to get rid of the Vista partition as well as its Windows Boot Manager system so that I could use XP and have access to the full hard disk. My first thought was to simply reformat the hard disk and then reinstall XP; however, the more I thought about that plan of action, the more it sounded like too much work. I was about to remove that particular hard disk and try another from the box when I remembered something about the Bootsect command.

After doing a bit of investigation, I found what I was looking for — the instructions listing the complete command line for using the Bootsect command to remove the Windows Boot Manager and its Boot Configuration Data system from the boot partition and replace it with XP's NTLDR boot management system. Taking the next step, I discovered that the same command line will also work to remove Windows 7 Beta from a dual-boot configuration with XP.

In this Microsoft Windows Vista and Windows 7 Report, I'll show you how to use the Bootsect command to extract Windows Vista or Windows 7 Beta from a dual-boot configuration.

This blog post is also available in PDF format in a TechRepublic download.

Getting started

The Bootsect command can be found on either the Windows Vista or Windows 7 Beta DVD in the Boot folder. The first thing that you need in order to perform this procedure is the appropriate DVD.

To begin, boot the system into the original operating system — the one on the first partition. Then, insert the DVD into the drive. As soon as you do, press and hold down the [Shift] key in order to prevent the DVD splash screen from appearing. Once the DVD has spun up, you can release the [Shift] key, and you are now ready for the next step.

Running Bootsect

You can launch the Bootsect command from a Command Prompt or by using the Run command. Since the latter is quicker, just press [Windows]+R to open the Run dialog box. When the Run dialog box appears, type the following command line in the Open text box:

X:\Boot\Bootsect.exe /nt52 ALL /force

Where X is the drive letter assigned to your DVD drive.

For example, if your DVD drive letter is D: your Run dialog box will look like the one shown in Figure A.

Figure A

You can launch the Bootsect command from the Run dialog box.

When you click OK, you'll momentarily see a Command Prompt window, and the operation will instantly remove the Windows Boot Manager system and its Boot Configuration Data from the boot partition. At this point, remove the DVD from the drive, and you can then restart the system.

When the system restarts, you'll see that the Windows Boot Manager no longer appears and the system boots directly into XP.

Cleaning up

To continue cleaning up, you will have to remove a couple of backup files from the root directory as well as remove the Vista or Windows 7 files from the second partition. You'll find the Boot.BAK and Bootsect.BAK files in the root directory, as shown in Figure B. You can delete them; they are system files so you will be prompted to confirm the delete operation.

Figure B

You can select and delete both of the leftover backup files.

Now that the Vista or Windows 7 Beta Windows Boot Manager is removed from your XP system, you can use partition software to reformat the second partition, merge it back into the first partition, set up another dual-boot configuration, or use it some other way.

What's your take?

Do you have either Windows Vista or Windows 7 Beta set up in a dual-boot configuration with Windows XP? Will you use this technique to remove it? What partitioning software do you use? As always, if you have comments or information to share about this topic, please take a moment to drop by the TechRepublic Community Forums and let us hear from you.

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About

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.

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