|Only one partition on one hard drive on a system can be flagged Active, at any one time. |
When you set up a properly working dual or multiboot configuration, whatever operating system partition you choose when you first boot is flagged as Active by the multiboot program
I DO NOT recommend that you use the Windows operating system's built in multiboot feature to dual or multiboot XP and Vista or Windows 7 in this case !
You are supposed to install the older Windows operating system first, but you CAN get the Windows 7 multiboot feature to work when it was installed first when there is a working XP installation on another partition if you follow certain procedures.
However, by default, whenever you boot XP, ALL the System Restore restore points are DELETED in Vista and/or Windows 7, every time you boot XP !
If that concerns you (you may eventually NEED to try using a previous System Restore restore point, rather than installing Windows 7 from scratch) ......
If you have one of the more expensive versions of Vista or Windows 7 - e,g. Ultimate, that has the bit locker (bitlocker ?) feature, you can use that feature to get around that problem.
If you DO NOT have a more expensive Vista or Windows 7 version that has the bit locker (bitlocker ?) feature, then you're much better off using a third party multi-boot program that is Vista and Windows 7 "aware" (compatible) to multiboot your operating systems, instead of Windows 7's built in multiboot feature.
E,g. I use BootIt N.G. to dual boot (XP) MCE 2005 and Vista, and there is a video tutorial on the maker's web site about how you HIDE the partition Vista's or Windows 7's Windows itself was installed on while booting XP. It's not free but it's reasonably priced. .
In your situation, if it's only the one program, or only a few programs, you want to run in XP, you're better off installing Microsoft's Virtual PC 2007 (virtual machine) in Windows 7, then installing an installation of XP in that Virtual PC 2007, then installing the programs you want to use in that.
(No problems with XP deleting the System Restore restore points in Windows 7 when it's booted.).
Of course, you must have a full version XP CD to do that.
"there is software that I can no longer get that I need to run "
If you mean by that , that you cannot install that program from scratch....
Well that throws a monkey wrench at the idea of using Virtual PC 2007 in Windows 7, installing XP , then installing the program you want to use.
" There is also a partition called "SYSTEM RESERVED" that is labled as "Healthy(System, Active, Primary Partition)" and an unnamed partition labled as "Healthy(OEM Partition)"
If this is a brand name system computer that still has it's original brand name supplied software installation, DO NOT mess with those partitions if you want to be able to run a Recovery procedure to restore the original software contents of the other large Windows 7 partition.
Vista and Windows 7 has the built in ability to SHRINK existing partitions without losing the data on them to provide un-allocated space to make a new partition on, or to EXPAND an existing prtition without losing the data on it if there is un-allocated drive space adjacent to it on the same physical drive, but I DO NOT recommend you do that just to run one or a few programs in XP.
The HELP documentation about how to use the built ability of Vista to expand - EXTEND - or contract - SHRINK - an existing partition without losing the data on the partition.
The same probably applies to Windows 7.
It's NOT in Help and Support (at least it isn't in Vista) - it's in Disk Management's Help.
Control Panel - Classic View - Administrative Tools - Computer Management - Disk Management
In Windows 7......
Control Panel - display as Large icons or Small icons - Administrative Tools - Computer Management - Disk Management
RIGHT click on the drive letter of the existing partition, click on Help.
Manage Basic Volumes
Extend a Basic Volume
Shrink a Basic Volume