These notes are not intended to be a definitive guide to BCD stores or using the bcdedit tool - only the basics are covered here. I have found it difficult to locate information on BCD stores and more advanced BCDEdit usage, however BCDEdit contains a number of help topics which have been listed in these notes for reference purposes.
There are numerous commands listed in these notes however the vast majority of them are not required in everyday usage. The examples included here cover a range of boot scenarios and the more common commands for managing objects/entries.
Some of the conclusions reached in these notes are based on my own (limited) experiments. It is not possible to cover different system setups here as OEM's often use non standard setups with hidden recovery partitions. If Windows 7 is installed manually (i.e. is not already installed when the PC is purchased) then the following assumptions can be made.
In multiboot setups using third party boot loaders/managers the location of the BCD store can be managed by taking some precautions. Temporarily setting the partition on which Windows 7 is to be installed as active before beginning the installation will ensure that the operating system and boot files will all be placed on the same partition. As an added bonus this also makes cloning the operating system easier as it is self contained.
In my opinion a minimum of three partitions should be created even on simple system setups where just one operating system is installed - one containing the boot loader (and optionally a recovery environment such as WinPE/WinRE); one containing the operating system; one containing data. If this setup is used then data backup and recovery is often much easier, as is the repair (or reinstallation) of the operating system. The notion of using just one partition for boot files, the operating system and data is in the authors' opinion asking for trouble.
Creating partitions and the possible reasons for not using Windows Vista/2008/7 (and Windows Vista\2008\7 based WinPE) to do so is not covered in any detail here. It should be noted that Windows Vista introduced a new partitioning system that can cause incompatibility problems with previous versions of windows, other operating systems, and various third party tools. These problems are well documented here.