Fixing your Windows Vista MBR

I recently installed Vista as a dual boot with my old XP installation, while I transferred things over and made sure I could do all I need to do with my new Vista install. It came to the point when I needed to remove XP and solely rely on Vista. Some might say that’s brave, others foolish, others still insane. Whatever your opinion, I needed the HD space and was having no problems with Vista, so I bit the bullet.

Dusting off Partition Magic I set it to remove the old XP partition, resize the new Vista partition, make sure the Vista partition was a Primary partition rather than a logical one, and then reboot into Vista.

The outcome of this is that I wrecked my boot. XP is gone. Vista is there and readable, but there is no boot. All this signalled a problem with the MBR (master boot record). No problem in XP, it’s a simple boot into the Recovery Console and a fixboot or fixmbr. Foolishly I expected the same simplicity for my Vista install. No. Niet. Nein. Non.

 After some serious digging I found this KB article 919529 which outlined the use of Bootsect.exe and BCDEdit.exe to restore your MBR after you’ve installed an older version of Windows. At least it showed me where the tools I needed are!

  1. Boot from your Vista DVD and click the Repair option. It’ll search for Vista installs and then give you an option of which one to repair. Try the automatic boot repair first, because you can really screw up your hard disk if you don’t know what you’re doing. If that doesn’t work, it’s likely that your MBR is bad or missing.
  2. Fire up the Command Prompt from the Repair screen.
  3. Try running “Bootrec /RebuildBcd
  4. I used Bootsect.exe to repair the Vista boot loader. Note that this tool is not on your Vista installation, but on your Vista DVD. To repair your MBR and restore the Vista Bootloader, use the following command: “d:\Boot\bootsect.exe /NT60 All
  5. Now you need to check that your bootmgr (think Boot.ini) has the correct entry in it for your OS(s). BCDEdit is located on your Vista install, so navigate there – mine is on my C drive. I used the following command to view it: “c:\Windows\System32\BCDEdit.exe /enum all /v
  6. For me, there were no issues with my Boot.ini, so I didn’t have to edit, delete or create any entries. This might not be the case for you, for help using BCDEdit, use BCDEdit.exe /? for the help menu

 Other reference:

Office 2007 woes

Originally published Wednesday, May 30th, 2007

Wahey! I got published this week in IT Week, ok it was only a readers letter, but I got in! Here’s what I wrote:

“New software always excites me, so I was enthusiastic as I installed Office 2007 on my laptop. The machine offers more than enough grunt for my media applications, but sadly not quite enough to install Office in less than 15 minutes, plus one restart.

Next came a surprise when I double-clicked on a Word document and saw the familiar Office 2003 interface. A quick check showed that my “upgrade” had left a side-by-side install of both Office 2003 and 2007. So I thought: “I’ll just uninstall 2003 – what harm can that do?” Bad move. One uninstall and reboot left me with no working office software. Office 2003 is no more; Office 2007 is crippled by grief for its lost brother.

Another 15 minutes for repair, another reboot and at last I was ready to revolutionise my productivity. A report was due by the end of the week, so I clicked on the SharePoint library to retrieve the document, and IE crashed. Debugging showed a problem opening Office 2007 documents…

Can someone remind me why Office 2007 is better?”

You can check out the article on the IT Week website

Rather than just a whine though, I thought I’d add some tips on getting your 2007 install working.

  •  Most of the problems are due to a mix of versions – if you can avoid having old versions installed, do it.
  • Make sure you’re not trying to deploy/manage older verisons of Office through Group Policy as this will upset 2007 (Remove the computer/user from the policy, run a gpupdate, reboot and then check it!)
  • Run the office repair tool. It’s pretty effective at spotting the problem, but don’t expect to get away without a reboot. Now is a good time to get a cup of tea, read a book, paint that masterpiece you’ve always wanted to.
  • You may get a “ExSec32.dll is not compatible with Outlook” error – this is the same issue as before with the 2003/2000 version being used instead of the 2007. Office repair should sort that, but you may need to manually delete ExSec32.dll.