Yesterday afternoon I thought it a clever idea to install Windows Vista Beta on a new partition, to run in dual boot with Windows XP. (No, I didn’t first check Google to see if anyone had actually survived it.)
The whole story (or cut to the chase)
Everything went suprisingly smooth, and other than one or two missing drivers for plugged in devices, all was working as should. I could surf the Internet with both IE and Firefox, send and receive mail with Windows Mail, and easily install and use the latest version of Windows Live Messenger.
I played a bit with the gadgets (Sudoku mainly), admired the nice desktop backgrounds, and when I was done playing, I switched back to XP to get some work done.
No such luck – Windows XP did not have a working internet connection anymore, it claimed one of the cables was loose. I suspected a corrupted driver or something, so I reinstalled the ethernet controller, deleted the driver and installed it again, but no luck. “Loose cable”. Would there really be something wrong with the connection? So I rebooted into Vista, and there it was – my internet connection. Working flawlessly.
Rebooted again into XP: gone. Loose cable.
I checked the network configuration, the IP addresses, the device itself again in device manager – all was well, but there was just this one loose cable, and no connection. I think I went back and forth between Vista and XP about 4 times, but it was the same every time.
I figured something in XP must have been corrupted by Vista’s install somehow, so I decided to install a fresh version of XP on yet another new partition. This got rid of the Vista dual boot, and gave me a dual boot between two versions of XP instead, both without internet connection.
Googled for answers using my SuSE box (a back up box certainly seems vital in cases like this!), and found several mentions of problems with Vista and dual boots, but none about Vista working and XP losing its connection. I did find several instructions (all different btw) on how to get rid of Vista, and there was a lot of talk about master boot records and boot.ini files and stuff.
But.. to get rid of Vista in an appropriate way, I’d first have to log into it, so I needed my dual boot back. I figured a startup from the Vista install DVD might help with that, and it did. I chose the ‘system recovery options’ link on the opening screen, and then to repair Windows Vista. After a very short Wizard, the system rebooted, and there it was: my Vista/XP dual boot, and the connection light on my router was on again. To me, it seemed as if the repair of Vista had also repaired my XP’s loose cable, but I discovered that that wasn’t it.
I used XP for a couple of hours, then decided I wanted to risk it again, and rebooted into Vista to see if Vista also still had a connection. It had. It worked just as well as before.
So.. I did some thinking and then some testing, and discovered the following:
In Windows Vista, just like in every other Windows version, when logging off, there is a choice between ‘shut down’ and ‘restart’. When choosing ‘restart’, the internet connection gets lost immediately, and does not come back unless I boot into Vista again. When choosing ‘shut down’, the system does not just shut down, like one would expect, but erroneously also reboots, in which case the connection stays on.
If I restart from Vista (with restart option and losing connection), and boot into XP (still without connection), XP’s shutdown button responds the same as Vista’s. It will shut down the system and restart again, and also the internet connection will come back on.
When I’m in XP with internet connection on, and press the shutdown button, the system really shuts down, and does not restart again. Connection light on the router remains lit though.
I don’t know much about the structure or technical details of an operating system, but to me it looks as if Vista’s restart option does not shut down Vista completely, so the ethernet controller remains ‘linked’ to Vista, and can’t be used by other OS’s at the same time. The fact that in that situation, XP’s shutdown button reacts exactly like Vista’s, enforces my idea of Vista still being ‘alive’ somewhere.
I wonder if anyone else can confirm any of the above?
And people who have installed Windows Vista Beta on a separate machine — do they see the same behaviour on ‘shutdown’? Does their system restart too? Or is it just an option “use shutdown button to restart” that I missed somewhere? — Comments welcome!
Update 10 July:
In the meantime I found that if I shut down Vista from within a user account, the PC shuts down for real (but leaves the network card unavailable for XP), while if I try to shut it down from the intro screen (where one chooses between user accounts), the computer is shut down and rebooted, and the network card remains available.
A friend said he had seen this behaviour in the past, when there was a really unusual WOL setting, but I can’t find anything wrong there either. Still have to check the BIOS though, see what happens if I disable Wake-on-LAN entirely.
Update 13 July:
WOL was already disabled in the BIOS, so that was not it, and replacing the driver by the XP driver didn’t work either, as it didn’t want to recognize that one. It’s the same driver actually, just a newer version of it.
Anyway, unless someone else has encountered the exact same thing and found the cause, I won’t be experimenting with this anymore, as it’s quite easy to work around, and eh.. I’ve got better things to do 😉