VistaBootPRO In my opinion, there are only a few things that are changed for the worse under Vista. One is the replacement of Boot.ini with the Boot Configuration Data Store (BCD Store). Perhaps using an ini file for storing the boot configuration was a bit outdated, but replacing it with the command line tool bcdedit is not really a better solution. It is even standard under Linux nowadays also to offer a GUI tool for this purpose. You can take this post as an example of why I usually try to avoid the command prompt.

Today, I had to change the boot configuration for the first time under Vista. It is a test computer where I have Vista and Windows Server 2008 installed. I wanted to replace a Vista x86 installation with Vista x64, so I deleted the corresponding partition and created a new one. After I installed Vista x64, the Windows Server 2008 installation vanished from the boot menu. That was not very smart of Vista setup, but okay, it is not a big deal to add the entry again, or so I thought. With Windows XP or Windows Server 2003, I would just have edited the boot.ini, which I had done countless times before. Thus, I thought, it shouldn’t be a big deal to use bcdedit this time.

bceditWell, after launching bcdedit /? on the command prompt, I wasn’t able to figure out immediately how to get the job done. I was in a hurry and didn’t have the nerves to study the help file, or even read the documentation to accomplish such a simple task, so I googled for GUI + Vista + boot.ini and found VistaBootPro. Search, download and installation cost me about 10 seconds. I needed another 5 seconds to add the entry of my Server 2008 installation to the boot configuration.

I do not know how long I would have needed to figure out the syntax of bcdedit, but I am quite sure it would have cost me much more time. Maybe I could have used this information again in a couple of months, but I am quite sure that I would have forgotten the syntax of bcdedit by then. Therefore, I suppose I will solve a similar problem in the future the same way I did today.

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I described this incident in detail because I think it is a good example of the general weakness of command line tools. I have been complaining several times before about Microsoft’s new philosophy to count more on command line tools lately. It is okay to extend Windows with new commands, but this should not happen at the cost of GUI tools. Instead of ranting again against the CLI, I could have described VistaBootPro in this post. However, I think there is not much to describe; just launch it and use it.

5 Comments
  1. Bob 14 years ago

    Normally when you add a new instance of Vista in a new partition, Vista will keep track of all of the other Vista/Server 2008 installations. But since you overwrote the boot partition when you installed vista 64, you also deleted the BCD database.

    If you didn’t have VistaBootPro, the easier but much more time consuming way to fix your problem would be to boot from the Server 2008 DVD and do a Startup Repair, which would scan your hard drive looking for bootable partitions and fix up the BCD database.

  2. Leonardo 14 years ago

    I was aware of the elimination of boot.ini, yet it has been so long I’ve used bcdedit that it looks foreign again…
    I don’t see the point of complicating something so simple as boot.ini/bootcfg into bcdedit, to the point where even seasoned sysadmins are like “WTF”.

  3. Marty 14 years ago

    That’s the exact opposite of my opinion, I’m glad Microsoft is finally giving sysadmins real power without the need for logging on interactively to use a silly GUI. You could wake me from a deep sleep and I could tell you the syntax for bcdedit, but I wohn’t be able to tell you the names of the controls in a GUI tool. Most people I know associate command line tools as more power, yet you think this is “a good example of the general weakness of command line tools”. I think it is rather “a good example of how different people’s brains work/don’t work”.

  4. Michael Pietroforte 14 years ago

    Bob, I know that I overwrote the boot partition, but I think Vista’s setup program should have recognized that and restore the BCD database. And you are right, booting from a DVD to solve such a problem would have been more time consuming. And time is always my primary concern.

    Leonardo, I think the BCD database is a good thing because it offers more options. What makes it complicated is that Microsoft didn’t give us a front-end to manage this database.

    Marty, I am quite aware of the fact that many admins don’t agree with me here. To a certain degree, it is a matter of taste. However, I think you didn’t get the point of my example. Of course, if you know already the syntax of a command it is not a big deal to make such a change on the command prompt. My example demonstrated that I was able to solve this problem faster with a GUI even though I had to find the tool first on the web. This is just a matter of fact. And I claim that it would have been the same for everyone who didn’t know bcdedit before. It is impossible to know the syntax of every command line tool. So you always have to learn it first which costs time. If you work in a special field where you always need the same tools it is okay to invest this time. But if you work like me in many different areas it is impossible. As far as I am concerned, I am bored by syntax. I am only interested in the technology behind the tool. So I don’t want to waste my time with learning syntax. If a GUI tool is well programmed like VistaProBoot, you can just use it. This is all I need. I wrote more about the “power argument” in this post.

  5. Malcolm g 14 years ago

    Neophite:: Ok, when vista installs, it gives the installation partition on of those complacated numbers ie {xxxx..-xxx-…}and then when it installs on another (primary}partion, it give that partn another number, right? If I install dos [w95, w2k etc] on another primary partition, will it give that partition a complicated number too?
    How do I give a partion one of those numbers?

    😐 (confused emotocon)

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