Adventures in Windows – dual-booting Vista and 10

I said the other day that I was going to try out the Windows 10 Insider Preview. I downloaded it, it took me a couple of days to be ready to try to install it.

During those couple of days, Microsoft has turned a bit cagey about just how things will go after 10’s release date – where they said before that I would be able to switch to the full release Win10 when release day hits, and have it be genuine and supported forever, they are now vague about how long Release Windows obtained that way will last. Staying with Windows Insider will mean I can keep running Win10 allegedly indefinitely, at the potential cost of stability.

With the knowledge that I can switch back to single-boot Vista if Win10 turns out to be a bad proposition, I figured, after all this work, I might as well still give 10 a go.

The prep:

My C: drive is a terabyte. Using Windows disk management and then MiniTool Partition Wizard, I shrank the one partition on the disk down to 500GB. Using AOMEI Backupper, I backed up the partition to D:. I did this twice, once including the boot record, once just the data on the partition.

I used the Universal USB Installer from Pendrivelinux to put Windows 10 on a bootable flash drive (I told the program that it was Windows 8). I installed Windows 10 – not entirely surprisingly, I couldn’t just install it to the Unpartitioned Space, Win10 had to change the partition style to GPT.

The installs:

I told Win10 to use 400GB, with that and the other boot partitions, this left 540GB to put Vista back onto.

Win10 install went fine.

Tried installing Vista from scratch onto the unpartitioned space. The installer complained “Windows cannot be installed to this disk. The selected disk is of the GPT partition style.”

Yes, I know it’s of the GPT partition style, and I’m even reading Microsoft pages saying that Vista supports it.

I’m also finding tons of other pages with other people having the same message.

Most of the advice offered to get around this problem, not usually explicitly, means going back to old-style MBR rather than staying on GPT. Sadly, that’s not an option for me, 10 only likes GPT.

Some instructions said Vista needs to be with SP1 to support GPT. Other places said to force booting in UEFI mode in the motherboard. We put the Vista-with-SP1 installer on a UEFI-enabled USB drive (using Rufus, this time), and I tried rather a few UEFI Bios settings, and kept ending up with the same message.

Somewhere in this process, while fiddling around in GPart (if you look around this subject for any time at all, you’ll find instructions on using this), I accidentally wiped the C drive and the installed Windows 10. Didn’t take long to reinstall it.

In the end, after a lot of searching and trying variations on the above themes, I installed AOMEI Backupper on Windows 10, and restored the just-the-data backup to the Unpartitioned Space.

I loaded the Vista+SP1 installer from USB, and told it to Repair the install. It said that Vista and Windows 10 were now in the bootloader.

Booting into Vista (both times I’ve done it now), it’s wanted to verify the integrity of both hard drives on startup. I have not yet agreed to this.

Booting into Vista the first time, Vista installed some drivers or something, then restarted (hence going into Vista the second time).

Another thing I’ve noticed: in the simple version of the BIOS, the boot order section has displayed some different things over the course of getting Vista to work:

I think with the Windows 10 USB installer, that USB drive had the UEFI sign over it. Not 100% on that, but I seem to recall it.

After installing Windows 10, a boot loader thing showed up in the boot order, with the UEFI sign.

After restoring Vista, another item with the same listed details as the Win10 boot loader, and the same UEFI sign, showed up in the boot order. This loaded Vista the first time (I think on restarting, the computer went into 10, memory is starting to fail me).

After Vista installed the drivers and restarted, I noticed a third bootloader thing listed in the boot order. This went into Vista as well. I hope these things don’t keep being added to what’s there. Visions of Tribbles multiplying and accumulating, came to me.

That’s where things stand at the moment, I haven’t quite had the time today to try more things: to let Vista do the integrity check, try the different bootloader things more, to find out why I haven’t seen a proper OS selection screen – and if that last one’s a problem, to try and Repair 10 to see if that fixes it.

“The course of the adoption of new technologies never did run smooth.” – William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Technical-Problem-I’m-Determined-To-Fix-Right-Now, Act I Sc I.

As a side note, Windows 10 (which skipped right past Windows 9) was codenamed Threshold. In the Star Trek Voyager episode Threshold, Janeway and Tom Paris exceed Warp 10.

Keep an eye out for Windows 10 early adopters turning into slugs. </PSA>

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