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Chapter 4. Windows XP Applications and Tools > Boot Configuration Manager

Boot Configuration Manager \windows\system32\bootcfg.exe

Configure and view entries in the boot.ini file, used by the Windows XP Boot Manager.(Boot Configuration Manager is included with Windows XP Professional only.)

To Open

Command Prompt bootcfg


bootcfg /command [parameters]


The Windows XP Boot Manager, responsible for supporting multiple operating systems on the same system, is installed when Windows XP is installed. If there is more than one boot entry, a menu appears before Windows is loaded, allowing the user to choose an operating system to load. The entries in the menu are configured in a file called boot.ini, located in the root directory of your boot drive. boot.ini is a plain text file and can be edited with Notepad. However, the syntax can be complex, so the Boot Configuration Manager can be used to add, remove, or configure entries and options.

Unfortunately, the Boot Configuration Manager doesn’t have an interface to speak of. Rather, commands are issued by typing them at the command prompt, like this:

bootcfg /query

There are 11 primary commands, each with its own set of parameters. To list all the available commands, type:

bootcfg /?

To see the usage of any particular command, type the command followed by /?, like this:

bootcfg /query /?


  • Among the commands available to the Boot Configuration Manager, the most interesting are the /copy, /delete, and /query commands, used to add, remove, and view the entries in boot.ini, respectively. The /query command is the default; if you simply type bootcfg with no command, it’s the same as typing bootcfg /query.

  • boot.ini is a hidden file; see “Attrib”, earlier in this chapter, for details on hidden files.

  • Some of the aspects of the boot menu (e.g., settings in the boot.ini file) can also be set by going to the Control Panel [Performance and Maintenance] System Advanced tab, and clicking Settings in the Startup and Recovery section. The options in the System Startup section allow you to choose the default operating system and the timeout before the default is selected. (These settings duplicate the /default and /timeout commands, respectively.) Finally, click Edit to open the boot.ini file in Notepad.

  • The obvious advantage of this utility is the ability to modify the boot menu with a batch file or WSH script.

  • The BOOT.INI tab of the System Configuration Utility, discussed later in this chapter, also provides access to several boot preferences not otherwise available.

See Also

Windows Me Annoyances by David A. Karp (O’Reilly), Chapter 3, for a discussion of .ini files; “Control Panel”, “System Configuration Utility”

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