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How to set up an Acer Aspire X1700 to dual boot Vista and XP

This article was written to record the steps I applied (successfully) to set up dual booting on my own system (an Acer Aspire X1700 Desktop PC, Pentium Dual Core E2220 2.4GHz, 3GB RAM, 320GB HDD, DVDRW, NVIDIA® GeForce 7050, Vista Home Basic from Ebuyer). As the title suggests, this guide for a specific model of PC but the steps may be the same for other machines.

It draws together guidance from articles, blogs and forums I found at,, and to whom thanks are due.

The Aspire X1700 is a neat machine but because it comes with the hard drive partitioned in a particular way and without a Vista OEM disk (and because the lack of space inside the machine prevents fitting a 2nd hard drive) there are a few tricks to setting it up to dual boot Vista and XP - but if you're thinking of dual booting anyway then the whole process should be relatively easy and should take a little over an hour - the longest part being the installation of XP.



You will need:

  • An install disk for Windows XP.
  • A CD or USB memory stick with these two downloads on it:
    1. Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0
    2. EasyBCD (version 1.7.2 at the time of writing, available from



STEP 1 - Configure the Bios so XP recognises your SATA Hard Drive

1.1 Turn on your Acer and at the splash screen press the 'Delete' key to enter the Bios setup menu.

1.2 Use the down arrow key to select 'Integrated Peripherals' and press 'Enter'

1.3 Use the down arrow key to select 'Onboard SATA Mode', then use the '+' key to select 'Native IDE' and press 'F10' and 'OK' to Save

1.4 Allow the PC to boot into Vista, where it will spend 2 or 3 minutes recognising the "new hardware"


STEP 2 - Create a Partition for XP

2.1 Go to Disk Management - EITHER click 'Start' > 'Control Panel' > 'Admin Tools' > 'Computer Management' > 'Storage' > 'Disk Management' OR click 'Start', type 'diskmgmt.msc', and press 'Enter'.

2.2 Right-click on the Acer (C:) volume and select 'Shrink Volume'

2.3 Enter the size you want your XP partition to be and click 'shrink'. DO NOT choose the default (max) size, because (for some reason) it just won't work. XP itself doesn't really need much more than 8Gb, but to allow room for a few big apps and maybe one or two games you may wish to set it larger - I made mine 15Gb.

2.4 Right-click on the CD-ROM drive and change the drive letter to 'Z'. (I don't know if this step is necessary since when I finished the CD drive letter wasn't Z in either Vista or XP but one article suggested it and I did it during my set up so I have included it here.)

2.5 Right-click the newly created free space and Select 'New Simple Volume'

2.6 Choose a label for your XP partition (I chose 'XP'). You can also choose a drive letter for your XP volume (I chose 'X'). The drive letter will only apply when you boot into Vista, in XP it will be drive 'D' whatever you choose here.

2.7 Close Disk Management


STEP 3 - Copy needed installers to your Hard Drive

3.1 Insert your CD or Memory stick and copy the two downloads ( .NET Framework 2.0 and EasyBCD ) to your Hard Drive - either to the Vista or the DATA partition.


STEP 4 - Install XP

4.1 REBOOT and...

4.2 At the splash screen press F12 to display the boot menu.

4.3 Insert your XP disk

4.4 Use the Arrow key to select the DVDRAM drive and press 'Enter'

4.5 Leave the File System Format as it is and follow the instructions to install XP

4.6 After installing XP your PC will boot into XP


STEP 5 - Restore Vista Bootloader

5.1 Install .NET Framework 2.0

5.2 Install EasyBCD

5.3 Run EasyBCD

5.4 Click 'Add/Remove Entries'

5.5 Change the drive letter in the drop-down box to your XP volume

5.6 Change Type to "Windows NT/2k/XP/2k3"

5.7 Name it as 'Microsoft Windows XP'

5.8 Click 'Add' and 'Save'

5.9 Click 'Manage Bootloader'

5.10 Click 'Write MBR'



6.1 Restart

Congratulations, you now have a dual-boot PC.



Your PC will now dual-boot XP and Vista.

Under Vista my drive letters are now:

C Vista
D Data
G Rewritable
H Rewritable

Under XP my drive letters are:

C Vista
E Rewritable
F Rewritable
G Data


STEP 7 - To set XP as your default OS

7.1 Boot into XP

7.2 Run EasyBCD

7.3 Click 'Change Settings'

7.4 Use the dropdown menus to change the Default OS and Bootloader Timeout values to what you want, and press 'Save Settings'

7.5 Click 'Manage Bootloader'

7.6 Click 'Write MBR'



A Few Words of Warning:

Setting up dual booting is relatively simple, but it does involve changing your system at a rather fundamental level, so if you're not sure of what you're doing, don't risk it.

How to tweak things to run smoothly once you have a dual boot system is beyond the scope of this article, which is limited to getting dual-booting up and running on an Acer Aspire X1700.

Even set up properly, the different OSs in a dual-boot machine can interfere with each other in unpredictable ways. For instance, under XP some applications will put stuff on your C: drive when they install without asking you, even if you do a custom install to another location.

I cannot confirm, but I have read (at ) that dual booting XP and Vista can cause XP to delete Restore Points created by Vista.

I have also read ( at ) that if you restore Vista to its factory defaults from a backup it will not reformat the entire HD killing all your data and the other OS, but you would still have to redo the boot manager with EasyBCD to support dual-booting.


[ Pop-up a printable version of this page ]
How to set up an Acer Aspire X1700 to dual boot Vista and XP
[Updated - 10 July 2009]
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