V Communications – System Commander Deluxe review

boot menu manager
Photo of V Communications – System Commander Deluxe
£50

The idea of running more than one operating system on a single PC rarely enters most people’s minds. It is often more than enough hassle trying to keep one operating system functioning properly, let alone several. But there are occasions where this would be useful, such as for anyone planning to upgrade their system to Windows 98, but wanting to keep the existing installation of Windows 95 to fall back on in case anything goes wrong. Not that Windows 95 is necessarily any more stable, of course…

Multiple operating systems would also be useful for technical support people and software developers, not to mention anyone who wants to run old DOS games in DOS, rather than under Windows 95. Microsoft provides very limited dual-boot features in some of its operating systems, but System Commander Deluxe (SCD) does the full Monty.

With this ingenious utility, more than 100 different operating systems can be stored on a single PC, with an easy-to-use menu, appearing each time the computer is booted, allowing the user to choose which OS to load. SCD does this by taking over the Master Boot Record (MBR) of the PC, loading before any operating system to bring up its menu. From there, you can do much more than just launch an operating system. You can edit configuration files stored on the hard drive, hide partitions so that new, untested programs don’t have the chance to corrupt existing software, and set user names and passwords that restrict access to some partitions. You can also use the OS Wizard to install a new operating system, with SCD doing all the hard work: it will partition your hard drive as appropriate, format the space and prepare the system for installation. It is also possible to manipulate partitions yourself, creating and resizing them without risking your data.

Using SCD, it is possible to have up to 32 FAT-compatible (File Allocation Table) operating systems stored in a single partition, and this utility will work with virtually any PC-compatible operating system under the sun, including Unix, OS/2 and all versions of Windows. The file format used (FAT, FAT32, HPFS, NTFS, etc.) is irrelevant. System Commander Deluxe works with all of them, without fuss.

Company: V Communications

Contact: 01256 707767


Verdict
This reviewer has used earlier versions of System Commander for the past 18 months or so, and found them to be invaluable. There are now other, similar tools available (PartitionMagic and Partition-It Extra Strength, for example), but System Commander Deluxe seems to have the edge in multiple operating system management.