Windows

Create a Windows XP and 7 dual-boot system staged for an easy migration

Greg Shultz shows you how to resize your existing Windows XP partition and then install Windows 7 in a dual-boot configuration on the same hard disk.

If you're like of lot of Windows users out there, you skipped Vista and are still running XP on your computer. You've been waiting for October 22 and now that it's here you're ready to try Windows 7. Your system is relatively new, about three- to four-years old, and you've run Microsoft's Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor and your hardware is well on par with Windows 7's requirements.

However, you're not quite ready to give up XP just yet. Maybe you have some applications that failed the Upgrade Advisor's compatibility check or maybe you got burned during the Vista debacle. No matter what the reason, you want to give the new operating system a chance but you just don't want to put all your eggs in the Windows 7 basket.

So you're pondering the idea of installing Windows 7 in a dual-boot configuration along side of Windows XP. Doing so will place both Windows XP and Windows 7 at your disposal, which will be a big advantage as you begin your experimentation. You can investigate Windows 7, but when you need to get some work done, you can boot back into Windows XP. This type of configuration will also be handy if and when you decide that you want to move to Windows 7.

Migrating your settings, documents, and applications from XP to 7 is a much more relaxed experience when you can simply boot into Windows XP to check out how something is set up and then boot into Windows 7 to re-create the same configuration. Again, if something doesn't quite work right in 7 or is taking longer to get just the way that you want it, you can boot back into Windows XP and get your work done. Then, when you have more time, you can boot back into 7 and work on it some more.

If things continue to progress satisfactorily and you get comfortable working in Windows 7, at some point in the future you'll remove the dual-boot configuration. When you do, you'll want to set Windows 7 as the primary OS and then remove Windows XP. In order to make this type of transitions as work as smoothly as possible, both Windows XP and Windows 7 must be installed on the same hard disk but on separate partitions.

In the past, if you only have one partition on your hard disk, creating this type of configuration could be a tricky operation that required expensive third-party disk partitioning software. Fortunately, those days are long gone. Today, you can find great disk partitioning software for free, such as Easeus Partition Master Home Edition 4.0.1. And best of all, Easeus Partition Master will safely adjust partitions while keeping data intact.

In this edition of the Windows Vista and Windows 7 Report, I'll show you how to use Easeus Partition Master Home Edition to easily resize your existing Windows XP partition and then install Windows 7 in a dual-boot configuration on the same hard disk. In a future article, I'll show you how to remove the dual-boot configuration and set up Windows 7 as the primary OS.

This blog post is also available in the PDF format in a free TechRepublic Download.

Make a backup

Even though Easeus Partition Master can safely adjust partitions while keeping data intact, you'll want to back up all your data -- at least once and maybe twice, just in case. Maybe just make copies of all your data files on CD/DVD or on an external hard disk. While it may sound like overkill, having an extra backup will give you peace of mind.

Creating a partition for Windows 7

Once you download and install Easeus Partition Master Home Edition, repartitioning your Windows XP hard disk is easy. When you launch Partition Master, you'll see your partition in a nicely organized user interface, as shown in Figure A. As you can see, on my example system here, I have a 120GB hard disk that is configured with a 114GB partition on which Windows XP is installed.

Figure A

Easeus Partition Master Home Edition provides as easy to use interface.
To begin, select your partition and then click the Resize/Move button. When you see the Resize/Move Partition dialog box, specify the size of the new partition in the Partition Size box. As you can see in Figure B, I've simply divided my 114GB partition in half by typing 59616 in the Partition Size box.

Figure B

On my example system, I divided my 114GB partition in half.
To continue, click OK. When you do, you'll return to the main screen and will see how your Resize operation will change the partition once it's complete, as shown in Figure C.

Figure C

Partition Master will show you what your new partition configuration will look like.
To initiate the operation, click the Apply button. When you do, you'll see a confirmation dialog box followed by a warning message, as shown in Figure D. Just click "Yes," to work through both.

Figure D

After you click the Apply button, you'll work through several dialog boxes.

When you click the last Yes, your system will restart and boot into a Partition Master environment which will carry out the resize operation. When it is finished, it will shut down your system and you will then need to manually turn it on. When you do, you'll see a Partition Master screen that tells you the operation was successful and Windows XP will boot normally.

If you launch Partition Master again, you'll see the new partition, as shown in Figure E. Once you close Partition Master, you're ready to install Windows 7.

Figure E

Once Windows XP boots up, you can launch Partition Master again to check te new partition configuration.

Installing Windows 7 on the new partition

To begin, insert your Windows 7 DVD into the optical drive and restart Windows XP. When your system boots from the DVD, you'll begin the installation procedure as you normally would. When you're prompted to choose the installation type, select the Custom (advanced) option, as shown in Figure F.

Figure F

When prompted to choose the installation type, select the Custom (advanced) option.
In a moment, you'll be prompted to select where you want to install Windows 7, as shown in Figure G, and will select the new partition. You'll then click the Next button and continue with the installation procedure as you normally would.

Figure G

You'll then select the new partition and click Next.

Booting Windows 7

When you restart the system, you'll see the Windows Boot Manager menu and you'll see that the Installation procedure names the new installation Earlier Version of Windows, as shown in Figure H.

Figure H

When you see the Windows Boot Manager screen, you can choose to boot either Windows XP or Windows 7.

You can now easily boot between Windows XP and Windows 7 and migrate your settings and data at you leisure. When you are ready to give up Windows XP, you'll be able to make Windows 7 your primary OS and move forward.

What's your take?

Are you a Windows XP user who will install Windows 7 in a dual-boot configuration? If so, will you use this or a similar procedure to set up a dual-boot configuration? If you have any questions or comments concerning this technique, please take a moment to drop by the TechRepublic Community Forums and let us hear from you.

TechRepublic's Windows Vista and Windows 7 Report newsletter, delivered every Friday, offers tips, news, and scuttlebutt on Vista and Windows 7, including a look at new features in the latest version of the Windows OS. Automatically sign up today!

Read the second article in this series, Migrate to Windows 7 from an XP dual-boot configuration, and learn how to safely undo the Windows XP and 7 dual-boot system, remove Windows XP, and just boot Windows 7 as your primary OS.

About

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.

160 comments
MaxpainZainmax
MaxpainZainmax

anyone can help me? Im using Windows7OS- i want to install Windows EX, because some of my works in office is works only in EXp, My windows 7 OS is already have a partition. i hade drive E, and Drive D, anyone how to do make dual OS both Exp And W7 works? or anyone have latest version of Posterizer? intersoft?

aussieBLcat
aussieBLcat

Greg, I have an HP xw8400 workstation running Windows XP (32). I have been very cautious about moving to Windows 7. Although I have a fairly solid and rigorous data backup regime in place (using two NAS devices) I was greatly concerned that I might corrupt my Windows XP installation, with my main concern being the potential vulnerability of my installed software base.

While dual booting appealed appealed to me (for all the reason you suggested in your introduction), until I came by your technical articles I didn't have the courage to do it.  Your advice convinced me that this could, in fact, be a relatively low risk procedure provided I took the appropriate precautions; in this respect I followed that advice fairly faithfully.  

My workstation was originally delivered new with 2 x 250GB HDDs. The primary drive comprised an XP system (C)partition of about 240G, and an HP recovery (D) partition of about 8GB. After making system backup images with Todo Backup, and then splitting the 240Gb system partition with Norton PartitionMagic 8.0 into two approximately equal partitions. All data, including Outlook active and archived files, live on the second 250Gb HDD. 

After that, the installation of Windows 7 (64) was almost an anticlimax!  Dual boot works without any fuss. The only a minor inconvenience that is suffered is if you want to boot to XP, but are caught napping when the Windows Boot Manager menu appears and then disappears as the machine proceeds to boot Windows 7.

Thank you then for your excellent advice on this subject. I visited many websites before I stumbled on TechRepublic. Your treatment of this issue was most concise and well illustrated; and because it was also very well written, I felt confident that not too much would go wrong. It didn't.

Regards, John

 John - Australia

dryflies
dryflies

I followed your instruction to a tee and it worked perfectly...until I tried to make the computer a member of the domain in the win7 partition. when I went back to XP and tried to log on with a domain account it told my the computer account could not be found. I logged on to the local admin account in XP and removed the XP instance from the domain. then the win 7 got removed and I re-added the XP instance. back to square one with a managed XP instsall but win 7 is in a workgroup. any ideas? would it work to have them in different OUs?

Hbmw54
Hbmw54

Hi I have a Dell computer with 2 hard drive & I already have 2 partitions both windows xp so I formated 1 hard drive partition & installed windows 7 on this hard drive when I finished I can't boot to the second partition with windows xp, could somebody help me please ? Thanks

emartin
emartin

Process worked great for me. However, my next step in moving to Win 7 is to join my Active Directory Domain and begin testing everything. Joined the domain under Win 7, everything looking great. Then I booted back into XP. Problem begins... Active Directory doesn't recognize my computer. My Computer Account had to have been modified by Win 7, so now the XP version of my PC won't log on. I removed the XP based PC from the network and then re-added it. Booted back up into XP again, logged on fine. How am I to keep both PCs in Active Directory?

colin.desilva
colin.desilva

Well I tried this, but the Earlier version of Windows prompt did not appear - just Windows 7 when I press F5! The partition is intact in Disk Manager, but Windows 7 Ultimate did not create the boot entry for XP....any advice?

dhamilt01
dhamilt01

Most Windows XP computers are too old to meet minimum hardware requirements for Windows Vista let alone Windows 7. If these people try this scheme, they'll get a rude awakening and be stuck with an OS they can't use until they buy a new computer. This should have been made clear in the first paragraph of your story Greg.

raykkho
raykkho

I assume since both partitions are not hidden, users can 'see' the XP partition. On a multi user PC, would there be any security concern if users log on to a Win03 server under Windows 7, eg, he/she will be able to open other users' file in the XP partition? If that is not a problem, will the same user be able to just drag his own files from XP's Doc and Setting into their own Win7's User Profile?

replytoaghar
replytoaghar

Upon doing this; Will it affect the system performance when I boot in XP mode??? Is there any affect on the system resources???

glnz
glnz

Mr. Shultz - VERY interesting. Question: My existing PC (a Dell Optiplex 755 running WinXPPro SP3) has only a single partition -- if I re-install XP, that would normally wipe out everything, which I wish to avoid. Instead, could I use EaseUS Partition Master Home Edition to create a new partition and then do a fresh install of XP into the new partition so that my original partition is untouched and can still be used? The idea would be to have TWO separate installs of WinXPPro - I would use the new install on the new partition to see whether the fresh install solves a problem I'm having with Wake on Ring. If it works, I could gradually move everything over and eventually delete the original XP, yes? Thanks!

sotires
sotires

Wish I'd seen this a month ago. I installed Win7, but will re-install XP because too many of my applications are not compatible (the XP Machine in Win 7 just doesn't work). I guess that means I might otherwise have moved to Win 7 sooner.

rossstacey.ross
rossstacey.ross

I have an HP system that has a factory image on a partition. Are there any special precautions required?

wrgriffjr
wrgriffjr

Everything went well partitioning and installing Win 7, but now I boot directly into Win 7. It appears Win 7 has "hijacked" the boot manager, and the boot manager no longer appears in startup. Win 7 has redesignated the partitions, and while Win XP is the 1st partition, it is now D: (Disk Manager shows XP as system,active,primary partition and Win7 as boot,page file,crash dump, primary partition). How do I restore a boot manager screen on startup? Thanks.

jwfrank
jwfrank

I did not see this specifically, but I assume that if I have two hard drives, one that has XP pro, I can install Windows 7 on the other drive and still use the dual boot. Is this correct? and are there any issues or trick or traps to avoid?

rgminutillo
rgminutillo

I used this method but I tried to save a strp by moving my XP partition to the end of the drive, so WIndows 7 would install at the beginning of the drive. Installation went as planned, but booting into the XP partition fails with the dreaded 'missing or corrupt ntoskrnl.exe' message. I suspect the boot loader is confused about where the actual '%Windows Root%' for the XP partition is, because the partition is intact and accessible as D:\.

jmero
jmero

Does anyone know if this will work with RAID 0? I have XP installed on a striping setup (onboard SATA RAID controller).

jsymons
jsymons

At this point I have two volumes (C D) after using Easeus. I'm not doing an upgrade but new install on the newly created volume. Going dual boot with Vista Home Premium and Windows 7 Professional. I see in procedure where one starts with unallocated space. Does it have to be unallocated? I have D: now as a primary partition and formatted ntfs vis diak management. Also after Windows 7 has been setup and working how I want I want to remove Vista from computer. How would that be done?

PKA
PKA

Try loading win 7/64 on drive 1 and 32 bit xp pro on drive 0

dryflies
dryflies

Now, when I install symantec endpoint protection windows 7 won't boot. in order to boot windows 7 I have to roll back the endpoint protection. I am using the newest rev of SEP that is for win7

emartin
emartin

Not sure if I got the answer here, or somewhere else, but it worked for me. The issue for me was that I had the exact same name for my PC under XP and under Win 7. I really wanted to keep both the XP side and the Win 7 side under the same "Domain Name Umbrella", but alas... that can't happen in AD. So, I was instructed to change the name of the Win 7 side and then I joined that PC to the domain again. Everything has worked great since. Eric

Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

...menu item in the Windows Boot Manager for the Earlier version of Windows, try this to see if Windows XP is indeed still in place: In Windows 7 open a Administrator command Prompt and type this command bcdedit /bootsequence {ntldr} /addfirst Once the command completes, restart your system and it should boot into XP. (Keep in mind that this is a one time command and as such, the next time you reboot, it will boot back into Windows 7.) If you can indeed boot into Windows XP, just fine, then you can try manually adding XP to the windows Boot manager menu. In Windows 7 open a Administrator command Prompt and type this command bcdedit /create {ntldr} /d "Windows XP" bcdedit /set {ntldr} device boot bcdedit /set {ntldr} path \ntldr bcdedit /displayorder {ntldr} /addlast Then reboot and you should see Windows XP in the menu and can select it. If that doesn't work, then you can force Windows to recreate the boot menu, which is the BCD file. In Windows 7 open a Administrator command Prompt and type this command bcdedit /export C:\BCD_Backup c: cd boot attrib bcd -s -h -r ren c:\boot\bcd bcd.old bootrec /RebuildBcd This method is described in this MS article: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/927392

Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

... you would have encountered the second sentence in the article that reads: "Your system is relatively new, about three- to four-years old, and you've run Microsoft's Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor and your hardware is well on par with Windows 7's requirements" The sentence even includes a link to download the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor.

Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

...the XP partition is accessible from Win 7 and visa versa. However, if User A has a non-administrative account and logs into Win 7, they wouldn't be able to upen files in User B's account folder on the XP partition. The same would be true from XP. If the user has an administrator account, they would be able to open any other users folders on any partition. If the user account and passwords are the same on both OS version, users will be able to access files in their accounts on the other partition.

PoppaTab
PoppaTab

Hello, You will find the performance of Win 7 is above XP. I do not boot into XP unless I have to use that OS for a reason. Windows 7 is much superior to XP in every way.

Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

When you set up a dual boot configuration, whatever OS you boot into will become drive C and the other will become drive D, so nothing to worry about there. That's normal. Since you installed Windows 7 on a XP system, Windows 7's boot manager is now in charge. So don't try to fix it with a Windows XP CD. Not sure about SuperGrub, so I can't offer any advice on that tool... However, it sounds to me like the boot manager timeout value is essentially set to 0. As long as your XP partition is still intact, you should be able to solve your problem by re-establishing the timeout value. To do so, boot into Windows 7, locate Command Prompt on the Start menu, right-click on it and select Run as Administrator. As soon as the Administrator Command Prompt window opens, type the command bcdedit /timeout 30 Then, exit the Command Prompt and restart the system. When the system restarts, you will see the Boot Manager screen and can select and boot into Windows XP.

Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

...same steps that I describe in the dual-boot migration technique when using two hard disks. Be sure to read the second article: Migrate to Windows 7 from an XP dual-boot configuration (http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/window-on-windows/?p=1751) Of course, you'll need to make adjustments to the steps to accomodate a two hard disk configuration as opposed to a two partition on a single hard disk configuration.

PoppaTab
PoppaTab

Hello, I had no trouble doing just that. Make a partition for the OS, then install the various programs on the second partition. It all went smooth as silk with the DVD. Be sure you arrange ur system bios to boot from the DVD drive for the install and then change it back.

Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

...doesn't have to be unallocated. it really doesn't matter. If it is unallocated, Windows 7 Setup will format it. If it is already fomatted, Windows 7 Setup will ask if you want to delete and format it, but you don't have to. As to your "How would that be done?" question, I just posted my follow-up article" Migrate to Windows 7 from an XP dual-boot configuration (http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/window-on-windows/?p=1751)

mmoran
mmoran

When I'm all set up and satisfied with 7, do I just fire up Easeus again, delete the XP partition, and then extend the 7 partition to take the now-unallocated space? BTW, haven't done the 7 install yet so can't speak to how well that goes, but I did just use Easeus to chop my 160GB netbook drive in two. Worked exactly as Greg described. A nice find all by itself.

sysk167
sysk167

I guess this is an snwer to my question about systwminfo shows just 3GB of 4GB... Any ideas are is as good as any other. I got sort of ideas & this one is " in the row" for testing, but a bit later I think. First I'm waiting for a driver for my printer & if that is OK I will delete XP (I hope I get an instruction for this from Greg?) & after that I decide to reinstall W7 again " the normal way".. Any way Thanks for the tip... Bj?

emartin
emartin

Sorry dryflies, we aren't using Symantec's AV any longer, so I can't really comment on it's installation. Have you checked their website? There has to be something there about Endpoint and Win 7.

cd.chintan
cd.chintan

I have the same issue and I followed the steps mentioned here, but it didnt work for me. bootrec /RebuildBcd didnt detect my Windows XP installation and showed only one Windows installation i.e Windows 7. Can anyone suggest me what should I do now? Will repairing my Windows XP installation solve the issue?

olestokie
olestokie

Having falen foul of dual booting in the past i removed my old disks XP Pro 32 (SCSI 2X146 system + 4X300 R5 for data) system and installed a new 640 SATA for the W7 pro 64. Finding some of the driver for hardware is proving very difficult so in the interim i would not like to refit the old system and enable dual boot. Will this method work to 'install' a dual boot system across SCSI and SATA ? Regards Bob

PoppaTab
PoppaTab

I should have known it was that simple. I do have to say when I installed win 7 from the DVD, it did not take over the XP boot. The drive lettering does change in each OS, which is no problem. XP OS allows your win 7 OS to dig around the system files. Win 7 will not allow the XP OS to access system files. SuperGrub will find all the OS's on the machine, but Greg's solution seems much easier. :)

wrgriffjr
wrgriffjr

Thanks, PoppaTab, but I can't get that far. Apparently I gotta repair the boot manager for Win XP. Any suggestions are welcome...have one from techarean I'm gonna try.

Lance Boyle
Lance Boyle

Your tutorials are the best I've found re the (potentially pucker-inducing) chore of configuring an XP-Win7 dual boot. Now, if MS would just play nice and code us up a bulletproof app to prevent MBR and restore point catastrophes!

Benny7440
Benny7440

I was wondering if this method could be used to establish a HD with more than 2 OS's & just 1 of them being Windows XP... I'm currently running XP & Puppy Linux 4.2.1 & 430 i a triple boot syst by little more than editing the 'boot.ini' file in root & establishing a 'menu.lst' file to show the options available. I would also want to know the assurance the I might have if using the cited partioning tool because I don't have a cd burner within this notebook, & that could mean loosing data if a backup isn't created...

Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

...is a bit more intricate. I just wrote a followup article that explains the procedure in step by step detail. Stay tuned. Glad to hear that EaseUs worked for you!

emartin
emartin

Glad to hear you got things worked out for the time being with the Symantec Issue. Hopefully they will get a fix out for it soon.

dryflies
dryflies

Truescan protection in the proactive network protection is not supported for windows 7 so That portion of SEP must be disabled until they (symantec) hacve resolved its incompatibilities. The system now boots just fine. The key to the AD issue was to give the windiows 7 and win XP partitions different computer accounts (different names) my DNS does not like it, but it still works.

jeslurkin
jeslurkin

My opinion is that repairing XP won't hurt, and might help. IANAG! (I Am Not A Guru.)

PoppaTab
PoppaTab

Hello, I take it you cannot boot into XP. In such a case I believe simply inserting the winXP disk in a CD/DVD should allow you to repair by writing the boot manager again. There is also many programs out to help as well. I like to use SuperGrub (not supergrub2) to add and delete things from the boot manager. When I installed the 7beta,RC, and RTM I had no issues where the boot manager is concerned. In XP you can edit the boot.ini to include win 7 and/or give it default. The boot sector on the first partition is the sector that should hold the information. I had one "gotcha" when I modified settings in bios to run the optimal configuration. In that case; bios decided win 7 was optimal. All I had to do there was return to the settings I had just changed. I run the different OS's on different drives for my sanity, but you should be able to do what you need with supbergrub URL: http://www.supergrubdisk.org/ I hope that helps you out.

Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

Glad to hear you found the articles helpful.

Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

...how this technique would work in your situation. I can tell you that installing Windows 7 will definitely replace Windows XP's Boot Manager with Windows 7's Windows Boot Manager, which is a very different animal. Experimentation is up to you, but I would strongly recommend that you create a hard disk image backup before you begin. That way if anything goes wrong or you don't like the outcome, you can revert back to your current configuration. If you don't have a CD burner, you can create an image to an external hard disk. Acronis True Image is a great tool that I have used and would recommend. It is available as a free 30-day trial, but I've never used the trial and so can't say for sure if the trial version is fully functional. (Anyone used the trial version?) Easeus, the company that makes the Partition Master program I describe in this article, also has a Free product called Todo Backup that makes disk images. I've not used Todo Backup and so can't back it 100%, but based on the quality of Partition Master, I'd say that it would be a safe bet for you.

Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

...all you have to do is boot from the Windows 7 DVD and when set up prompts you, just delete the partitions, reformat your hard disk, and install Windows 7. My procedure is bit more involved than the one that you referred to and it does work as promised-it removes XP, removes the dual-boot, and leaves a functioning Windows 7 in it's place. Check out the article here: Migrate to Windows 7 from an XP dual-boot configuration (http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/window-on-windows/?p=1751)

joseph.r.piazza
joseph.r.piazza

...Greg you are not just going to expound on using Bootsec command to delete the XP boot manager. I am the one who wrote it did not work and after numeerous variations, trials,it broke Windows....when, I received the message....."there is something wrong with current Windows installation....Windows will now try and repair itself." Never could repair itself so I reinstalled W7 RC. I just received my copy of W7 from MS, so I would like to go completely with Windows 7 and not devout any hard disk space to XP.

jsymons
jsymons

... about question on unallocated. Does volume have to show unallocated?

Editor's Picks