Reliable way to find correct installed Windows OS in a Partition?

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Is there a reliable and correct way to find if VISTA/W7 is installed in a partition?
Please note, Searching for folder names is not reliable as one can manually create such paths in a partition and these can also be changed during the installation.

So, are there any paths which can not be changed during and after installation or any other reliable way?



short answer: no

long answer: you have to test for a number of things until your threshold of ‘mhh .. this reaaaaly look like OS XYZ’ is reached:

  • is there a ntfs-filesystem?
  • is there a “WINDOWS” folder?
  • is there a boot.ini?

etc. all the files on any OS are just copied. if someone wants you (or your program) to think that this or that partition is a OS1 and not OS2 then it can create a filesystem and create folders and files until your program has reached the threshold.

the only way to know for sure if there is OS XYZ in a partition is to boot the thing and see if it comes up as you would expect it.

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