Removing x64 Edition
Two common questions I get in email these days around Windows XP Professional x64 Edition are how to upgrade the eval version to the released version, or the reverse — how to remove it. As I’ve said before, XP x64 isn’t for everyone, so this second one doesn’t surprise me.
Removing x64 Edition (or any other operating system that you dual or multi-boot into from the Windows boot manager) is a straight-forward process. (Well, except for Vista, that’s a whole new process.) The two steps required are:
- Remove the system files (and optionally format the partition) while booted into another operating system
- Edit the boot.ini file on your boot drive to remove the entry for x64
Removing System Files
The first step is straightforward – boot into 32–bit Windows and from Windows Explorer, delete the system files on the x64 Edition partition. These include the following folders (and their sub-folders):
- \Program Files
- \Program Files (x86)
- \Documents and Settings
This last one is tricky – you may well have important documents that you created when you were booted into x64 Edition. Please copy those documents before you delete the folder! You could also use the Files and Settings Transfer Wizard to transfer the files, but whatever you do, make sure you’ve got a copy of them before you start deleting or formatting.
An alternative to manually deleting folders is to simply format the disk. This is only an option if your boot disk is not your x64 disk! Don’t format your boot disk. (I know, that should be obvious, but just in case.) How do you know if x64 is your boot disk? Well, the most obvious way is if it’s your C: drive. A general rule that is usually true is that the first operating system installed is on C: and is your boot disk, though it is technically possible to do it differently. (If you’re using Vista, all bets are off – it automatically makes Vista your C: drive regardless of which partition it is on.)
Once you’ve removed the x64 Edition files, you’ll want to remove the entry from your boot menu. You can do this with any ASCII text editor, including Notepad. Or you can go to My Computer ->Properties ->Advanced tab ->Startup and Recovery and click on the Settings button and then click on the Edit button. Seems like a lot of clicks to me, I’d simply open a CMD window and type:
attrib -r -s -h boot.ini
Notepad boot.ini <-edit the file and then save and close
attrib +r +s +h boot.ini
From within Notepad, remove the line that points to your x64 Edition installation. If you have x64 installed on D:, it should look something like this:
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(2)\WINDOWS="Windows XP Professional x64 Edition"
Make sure your default OS is pointing to the operating system you want to be the default, and then save the file and exit.
That’s really all there is too it. But keep in mind that Windows Vista uses a different boot manager entirely.