May 2006 Reader Challenge Winners

Congratulations to the winners of our May 2006 Reader Challenge. A copy of "Running QuickBooks in Nonprofits" (CPA911 Publishing) goes to first-prize winner Meg Leviston, of New Jersey. Second prize, a copy of "Windows XP Annoyances for Geeks, Second Edition" (O'Reilly & Associates Publishing), goes to Phil Dalton of Hartlepool, UK.

June 2006 Reader Challenge

Solve this month's Windows Client challenge, and you might win a prize! Email your solution (don't use an attachment) to challenge@windowsitpro.com by June 13, 2006. You MUST include your full name, and street mailing address (without that information, we can't send you a prize if you win, so your answer is eliminated, even if it’s correct). I choose winners at random from the pool of correct entries. I’m a sucker for humor and originality, and a cleverly written correct answer gets an extra chance. Because I receive so many entries each month, I can't reply to respondents, and I never respond to a request for a receipt. Look for the solutions to this month's problem here (InstantDoc ID 50406) on June 16, 2006 or in the June 22 issue of the Windows Client Update newsletter (subscribe at http://www.windowsitpro.com/email).

The Challenge

A reader wrote to say she was trying to keep up with the "language" of computing. Her message included this long sentence: "How can you have a disk Zero, in English zero means nothing or non-existing, and on computers running Windows what's the boot partition supposed to do and what's the system partition supposed to do, because we have some computers with separate boot and system partitions and the files they hold don't match the names, how am I supposed to keep this stuff straight?" I won't ask you to answer or explain the language "Disk0" since the only real answer is "because." It's just one of those things. But, your challenge for June is to explain the difference between a boot partition and a system partition.

The Answer

The short answer is that the boot partition holds the Windows system files, and the system partition holds the Windows boot files. Sigh! It's not common to use separate partitions, but it is technically possible. The longer answer is that the system partition holds the files required to start Windows (Ntldr, Boot.ini, and NTDETECT.com). It must be a primary partition that is marked active, and on X-86 computers it must be Drive 0. The boot partition holds the folder that contains the files Windows needs to run. The folder is usually named WINDOWS or WINNT (depending on the version of Windows), although if you used the "Reinstall Windows" function to cure a serious problem, you had to name the folder something else. The boot partition can exist on any disk installed in the computer.