I’ve been using Windows XP, relatively happily, for many years now and, despite two more operating systems being released since, support for XP being withdrawn, and the fact that I have a huge amount of software designed for it, I can’t imagine, for the moment anyway, not using it.
It appears that almost all software developers are fully aware that, should a software release not be compatible with Windows XP, they’d be shooting themselves in the foot by excluding a huge swathe of their potential customer base, which creates problems for MS of course, whose strategy to make it attractive to “upgrade” to the latest OS version necessitates that software authors also make their software compatible only with the latest version.
Based on the amount of help requested on software help forums on the internet, however, many who actually have upgraded to Windows 7, who want to use anything other than productivity software (and can’t afford to replace XP versions of their favourite software, games in particular), have run into compatibility problems.
The ideal solution, therefore, would be a dual-boot system, running both versions of Windows, whereby programs designed specifically for (or work better with), a particular version can be installed to do so.
I have a dual-boot Windows XP and Windows 7 system; XP is installed on C: and, as far as XP is concerned, there are three additional hard drives E:, F: & G:,Windows 7 being installed on Drive F:, and the two other drives contain data available for use by both operating systems.
It’s fairly simple setting up a dual-boot system, however, there can be some issues, particularly with one system insisting it has priority over the other, overwriting boot information from the other OS etc, and, therefore, in the absence of an easy, built in method, an easy way to access and change the various settings would be handy, which is where NeoSmart EasyBCD 2 comes in.
I haven’t had any issues as such with my dual boot system, but, as I installed Windows 7 after XP, the boot sequence defaulted to Windows 7, with XP being shown as “Older version of Windows” on the boot options, and a 30 second wait before the system booted to the default OS, Windows 7. However, as I almost exclusively use XP, I wanted that to be the default OS and I didn’t want to wait 30 seconds before it booted.
NeoSmart EasyBCD (current version 2.0.2), which is entirely free (Donationware) and only about 1.5mb in size, has a range of tools available:
View Settings – the default information display, which displays either brief or detailed information regarding the various operating systems installed.
Boot Menu Editor – here you can choose the default operating system, rename an entry (e.g., from “Older version of Windows” to “Windows XP” as in my case), choose to have the boot menu skipped entirely, and set the default time the boot menu is shown before booting to the chosen operating system.
Add New Entry – should you have an operating system which is not available via the boot menu (for whatever reason), including Mac, Linux etc, here you can make an entry for it.
Advanced Settings allows you access to some of the more advanced tweaks, which you might only call upon in specific circumstances, but include safe-mode boot options, verbose booting etc, some options being available only for specific operating systems.
BCD Repair allows rest of the program’s default settings and backing up of the Windows Bootloader settings.
Bootloader Setup offers various options to install EasyBCD to varoious drives, including removable media, should, perhaps, you want to create a bootable USB drive for testing, or in case your system goes down. Here, you can also configure the Master Boot Record to comply with your chosen operating system.
Useful Utilities include “iReboot”, a small utility whereby you can reboot into a different operating system without having to wait for the boot menu to appear; “EasyBCD Power Console”, a command line version of the program; “Windows Vista/7” System Restore recovery CDs downloads recovery CDs for those operating systems which you can save to a Bootable USB should the worst happen. Here, you can also access Windows System Restore, System Information and Control Panel.
If you’re considering a dual-boot system, and want to pre-empt any issues you might come across, or maybe you have one already and want to change some of the settings or, perhaps, you want to setup a rescue disk or USB in case of the worst case scenario, NeoSmart EasyBCD is an excellent piece of software, which affords you access to such, in an understandable, intuitive way, and can’t be recommended highly enough.