I had an extra 2.5-inch hard drive, and have an Alienware Area 51 M9750 notebook computer that has two hard drive bays. A 32-bit version of Microsoft Windows Vista is installed…so…
After installing the drive, I decided to install a 64-bit version of Vista onto the second hard drive. After doing so, at the boot menu, to my surprise I found identical entries! I am not happy…
After doing some research, I found:
…Surprisingly, the only official tool is a command-line utility called Bcdedit…
Bcdedit isn’t an interactive program; instead, you perform tasks by appending switches and parameters to the Bcdedit command line. To display the complete syntax for this tool, open an elevated Command Prompt window (using the Run as Administrator option) and enter the command Bcdedit –?
Rename entries in the boot menu
…By default, Setup adds the generic entry ‘Microsoft Windows Vista’ for each installation. If you set up a dual-boot system using Windows Vista Home Premium and Windows Vista Business, you’ll be unable to tell which is which, because the menu text will be the same for each. To make the menu more informative, follow these steps:
Start your computer and choose either entry from the boot menu. After startup completes, make a note of which installation is running.
Click the Start button Picture of the Start button, type cmd in the Search box, and press CTRL+SHIFT+ENTER. Click Continue in the User Account Control box to open an elevated Command Prompt window.
Type the following command: bcdedit /set description “Menu description goes here” (substitute your own description for the placeholder text, and be sure to include the quotation marks). Press ENTER.
Restart your computer and note that the menu description you just entered now appears on the menu. Select the other menu option.
Repeat steps 2 and 3, again adding a menu description to replace the generic text and distinguish this installation from the other one.
Choose the default operating system
You can choose which installation is the default operating system by opening the Startup and Recovery dialog box. To open this dialog box:
Open System by clicking the Start button, clicking Control Panel, clicking System and Maintenance, and then clicking System.
Click Advanced System Settings. Picture of security shield icon If you are prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.
Click the Advanced tab, and then, under Startup and Recovery, click Settings.
To change the default operating system, select an option from the Default operating system list (this is where descriptive menu choices come in handy). You can also choose how long you want to display the list of operating systems. The default is 30 seconds; we typically set this value to no more than 10 seconds (you can choose any number between 1 and 99). To set the boot menu so that the default operating system starts automatically, clear the Time to display list of operating systems check box, or enter 0…
Control which drive letter your boot volume uses
…If you currently have a working copy of any Windows version on drive C and you install a clean copy of Windows, drive letters are assigned using the following logic:
If you begin the installation process by booting from the Windows Vista media and choose a partition other than the one containing your current copy of Windows, the new installation uses the drive letter C when you start up. The volume that contains the other Windows installation uses the next available drive letter. When you choose the previous Windows installation from the startup menu, it uses the drive letter C, and your new Windows Vista installation is assigned the next available drive letter. In this configuration, you can be certain that your current operating system is always on the C drive, but drive letters assigned to volumes you use for data may shift in unexpected ways.
If you begin the installation process by running Setup from within your current version of Windows and use the Custom (Advanced) option to perform a clean install on a partition other than the one currently in use, the new installation uses the next available drive letter. The volumes containing each installation have the same drive letters regardless of which Windows version you select at startup.
…If you prefer the consistency of knowing that all system files and program files are on the C drive, you’ll probably want to choose the first option. If you would rather use drive letters to keep track of which Windows version is running at any given time, you’ll prefer the second option…
I had the 32-bit version of Vista Unltimate installed, and installed a 64-bit verison of Vista Ultimate. I don’t remember, but assume I booted from the 64-bit DVD and installed the operating system.
After clicking on the Start button, typing “cmd” (no quotation marks) in the Search box, pressing CTRL+SHIFT+ENTER, and clicking “Continue” (in the User Account Control box)…I was given a command prompt at c:\windows\system32\
bcdedit /set description “64-bit Windows Vista Ultimate”
…and restarted the computer. My change in the boot menu was successful.