Last weekend I took the plunge and wiped my laptop to install Windows 7 RTM. For those readers who follow my posts, you know I’ve been using Windows 7 since the beta release in late 2008. When the Windows 7 Release Candidate came along, I went the unconventional route and upgraded directly from beta to RC (a move not supported by Microsoft). However, this time, I decided to play it safe with a clean install of the Windows 7 RTM, and I recommended the same to you in last week’s post.

Even with my better-safe-than-sorry approach, I ran into a little problem with the Windows 7 Boot Manager. Here’s what happened and how I resolved the issue.

Installing in multi-boot mode

Currently, I use my laptop both to perform day-to-day tasks as well as to showcase demos to customers and run the occasional course that I am contracted to teach. I have Windows Server 2008 installed on an external eSATA drive running in multi-boot mode.

I made sure that the external drive was connected during the installation of Windows 7 RTM so that the setup wizard would detect the need to configure multi-boot mode, hoping it would configure automatically, and I would not have to intervene much in the process.

The result of this was quite interesting. The setup ran fine enough; I was off to the races with only a few programs left to install and some devices to configure after reinstalling Office 2007 and Live Services and starting to import my old data.

I did not realize a problem immediately because I first started reloading backed-up data. When I ejected the install DVD, I received the error that no boot device could be found!

Worse, even if I left the boot media in and unplugged the external drive, the system would not boot at all.

First, I tried to use the F8 key after waiting for the Boot from CD prompt to disappear. Then I selected Repair My System and Startup Repair. Windows could not find an issue. I tried the same sequence but from the install DVD this time with the same result. It is only upon dropping to a command prompt and launching BCDEDIT that I noticed what partition was being used for the boot.

To view these details, Command Prompt must be launched with Run as Administrator, as shown in Figure A.
Figure A

The device that the BootMgr was calling the options from was D: which is my external eSATA drive!

To edit this value, I typed: bcdedit /set {bootmgr} device “partition=C:”

I also made sure that the C: drive contained the bootmgr file that D: was using before. This did nothing to fix the issue, which I found most interesting.

What I did next was to take a backup of the bootmgr hive by typing : bcdedit /export c:\filename

Next, I restarted the computer from the installation DVD and selected Repair System. Then I chose the option to go to Command Prompt and deleted bootmgr.efi from the internal laptop drive as well as the external eSATA drive.

Finally, I shut down the system and disconnected the external eSATA drive. I then powered on and started from the installation DVD. I selected Repair System, and when the automated process was scanning for a Windows Installation, it immediately found a startup issue and offered to repair it. I allowed it to do so and restarted the computer with no external eSATA drive connected AND no install DVD.


Now, in the boot menu, I had the choice for Windows 7 (recovered) and Windows Server 2008 (recovered).

The Windows 7 option worked OK, so I shut down and connected the external eSATA drive. When I restarted, I selected the Windows Server 2008 install and this worked fine.

The current output of BCDEDIT is shown in Figure B.
Figure B

To change the entries so that they no longer display as recovered, type:

Bcdedit /set {current} description “Windows 7 Ultimate”

Bcdedit /set {001ab8a8-8ac2-11de-9b93-be53b579b53c} description “Windows Server ® 2008 Enterprise”

Note: Replace {001ab8a8-8ac2-11de-9b93-be53b579b53c} with whatever id is listed for you.

Root cause?

I believe that the root cause for the issue is that when I was installing Windows 7 RTM from new, the install routine detected Server 2008 and figured that as primary, which was not the desired outcome and consequently copied the bootmgr files there and configured the computer as such.

I would be very interested in hearing any other strange problems you’ve encountered with installing the Windows 7 RTM.