Windows

Dual-boot Windows 7 and Windows 8

Greg Shultz shows you how to prepare and configure your Windows 7 system to dual-boot Windows 8.

Since the Windows 8 Developer Preview hit the streets back in September 2011, I've written a bunch of articles on the new operating system covering such topics as the improved Windows Explorer, Windows 8 shortcut keys, Storages Spaces, and File History, just to name a few. However, I was recently reminded that there is one topic that I haven't covered for Windows 8 and that is how to set up a dual boot machine.

Up until recently, I had a machine dedicated to testing Windows 8 and just never got around to setting up a dual-boot configuration. I say recently, because just the other day that test PC died. I did some troubleshooting to try and figure out just what went wrong, but my findings were inconclusive - it could be the power supply, it could be the CPU, it could be the motherboard, or it could be the video card. Rather than stressing about it, I just decided to get another test system - I'll figure it out later.

Fortunately, my local computer store was having a clearance sale and I picked up and HP P2-1124 with Windows 7 Home Premium for around $300. I normally build my own systems, but this time I bought one off the shelf. So now, I had the perfect opportunity to explore dual-booting Windows 7 and Windows 8 Release Preview.

In this edition of the Windows Desktop Report, I'll use my new system to show you how to prepare and configure your Windows 7 system to dual-boot Windows 8. While I'll be using the Windows 8 Release Preview for this article, I've heard that the procedure should be very similar with the actual release version. Even so, I'll revisit this topic in the near future once Windows 8 is available to the general public.

This blog post is also available in the Slideshow format in a TechRepublic Photo Gallery.

Prerequisite

For this article, I'm going to assume that you have already visited the Windows 8 Release Preview site and followed Microsoft's instructions for downloading and converting the ISO file to a DVD in Windows 7. If you haven't, you should do so before you get started with this article. The process is pretty straightforward and Microsoft has documented the steps you need to follow.

Creating a System Image

The first thing that you'll want to do is create a System Image from within Windows 7's Backup and Restore. When you do, you'll end up with a complete image of your hard disk. That way, if anything out of the ordinary were to occur as you follow the steps for creating a dual-boot system, you will be able to return to your current configuration. Furthermore, I recommend that you also create a separate backup of your data. 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.

To create a system image, you'll need to have a CD-RW/DVD-RW drive, an external hard disk, or access to a network drive. To access Backup and Restore, click the Start button, type Backup in the Search box, and press [Enter] when Backup and Restore appears in the result pane.

Once you have Backup and Restore up, select the Create a System Image option and choose your backup location. As you can see in Figure A, I used a DVD-RW drive on my system.

Figure A

On my test system, I'll use DVDs to create my system image.
As you can see in Figure B, on my test system all the partitions on the drive are selected by default. To initiate the operation, just click Start backup. On my test system with a 500GB hard disk, it took over an hour and required eight DVDs.

Figure B

Creating a System Image on DVDs takes a little while.
When the System Image is complete, you'll be prompted to create a System Repair disc, as shown in Figure C. This is the disc that you will use to boot your system and restore your system image in the event that you need it.

Figure C

When the System Image is complete, you'll be prompted to create a System Repair disc.

Setting up a partition

With your System Image discs safely tucked away, you'll use the Disk Management tool to make room on your hard disk for Windows 8. To launch Disk Management, click the Start button, type Disk Management in the Search box, and press [Enter] when Create and format hard disk partitions appears in the result pane. When Disk Management launches, locate the operating system partition of the drive, right click, and select the Shrink Volume command. As you can see in Figure D, on my example system, there is a 100MB system partition and a 17GB HP Recovery partition in addition to the 450GB OS, or operating system, partition.

Figure D

Right click on the operating system partition of the drive and select the Shrink Volume command.
For my Windows 8 partition, I set aside 50GB by entering 51200 as the amount of space to shrink the existing volume, as shown in Figure E. Once you've specified the size, click the Shrink button. It will take a several minutes to shrink the partition. When the operation is complete, you'll see the new space at the end of the partition and notice that it is marked as Unallocated. In order to install Windows 8 without any problems, you should covert this unallocated space into a volume with a drive letter. To do so you'll launch the New Simple Volume Wizard.

Figure E

To set up a 50GB partition, I entered 51200 as the amount of space to shrink the existing volume.
To continue, right click the new partition and select the New Simple Volume command, as shown in Figure F. When you do, the New Simple Volume Wizard will launch.

Figure F

To launch the wizard, right click the new partition and select the New Simple Volume command.
The New Simple Volume Wizard consists of five screens - the first and the fifth are shown in Figure G. As you progress through the wizard, you'll be prompted to specify the size, assign a drive letter, choose a file system, enter a name for the volume, and choose how to format the drive. For everything but the volume name, you should just go with the defaults. As you can see, I specifically named the volume Windows 8 to prevent any ambiguity in later steps. Since the partition was created from your existing partition, you can just go with the Quick format option.

Figure G

The New Simple Volume Wizard consists of five screens.
When you're finished, you'll see the new partition in Disk Manager. Figure H shows the new 50GB partition with the volume name, assigned to drive F, and marked as a Logical Drive.

Figure H

The 50 GB partition is now ready for the Windows 8 installation.

Installing Windows 8

Now that you have your partition established and assigned a drive letter, installing Windows 8 in a dual-boot configuration should be a pretty straightforward operation. Let's take a closer look.

To begin, insert the Windows 8 Release Preview DVD and reboot your system. After a few minutes, you'll see the Windows Setup screen shown in Figure I and you will specify your language settings before clicking Next.

Figure I

The first step in the installation is to specify your language settings.
Once the initial steps are taken care of, you'll see the Windows Setup screen shown in Figure J and will click the Install Now button.

Figure J

To get started, just click the Install Now button.
You'll then see a Windows Setup screen shown in Figure K and will need to make sure that you select the Custom option.

Figure K

Make sure that you select the Custom Install Windows only option.
At this point, Windows Setup will prompt you to choose the location to which you want to install Windows 8. As you can see in Figure L, on my test system it is showing all available partitions and I have selected the new volume labeled Windows 8 and assigned drive letter F.

Figure L

On my test system, I have selected the new volume labeled Windows 8 and assigned drive letter F.
After selecting the new partition on which to install Windows 8 and clicking Next, the installation will begin, as shown in Figure M. This part of the operation will take a while so go get yourself a cup of coffee.

Figure M

As soon as you click Next, Windows Setup will begin copying files to the new partition.

Dual-booting Windows 7/Windows 8

When the installation is complete, Windows Setup will reboot your system one final time and you will then see the new Windows 8 style dual boot screen shown in Figure N. As you can see, Windows 8 will automatically launch in 30 seconds if you don't choose Windows 7.

Figure N

The new Windows 8 style boot screen display for 30 seconds before launching Windows 8.

If you want to alter the amount of time before Windows 8 will run, you can click the Change defaults or choose other options at the bottom of the screen. There are actually a multitude of options that you can change and I'll cover all of them in a future article.

What's your take?

Will you configure a Windows 7/Windows 8 dual boot system? As always, if you have comments or information to share about this topic, please take a moment to drop by the TechRepublic Community Forums and let us hear from you.

Also read:

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.

51 comments
drkarasheed
drkarasheed

I have a Canon "LiDe20 flat bed scanner", for which Canon is obstinate not provide a driver for any 64 bit version of Windows. For this purpose alone I have to install a 32 bit version of as well. But it is not possible. If I install one version, the other is becoming inaccessible. I want to do it on the same hard disk. Is there any way out ?

rjdbnet
rjdbnet

(The Reply button on my yesterday's post doesn't work.) I tried rebooting a few times, and finally noticed "Run UEFI application" in the boot menu on my HP machine. A number of menu choices later, and voila! It worked. This seems an awkward way to get the installation bootup to understand it's dealing with a GPT disk, but what do I know? I've been fuddling with computer stuff since only 1962,

rjdbnet
rjdbnet

Everything went fine until I tried to install into the new Windows8 partition. Then appeared "Windows can't be installed on drive 0 partition 4." The "details" said cannot install into a GPT partition. A little sleuthing found advice that UEFI has to be enabled in BIOS before booting from the DVD. I haven't tried this yet. Any advice?

jccntry
jccntry

Very informative article and it worked like a charm. Does anyone knowhow to do the reverse? My wife has a Win 8 machine and wants to go back to Win 7. Is there a way to dual boot windows 7 on a windows 8 machine? Thanks for any guidance on this.

winter_prince
winter_prince

Thanks, this tutorial was really useful. One question though: how do we dual boot windows 8 and any other OS (example: LINUX).

akatpatal
akatpatal

Great tutorial.When i first installed windows 8 on a diffrent partition than the windows 7 one. it changed the partition names so i lost my windows 7. ex. my c drive became e drive. so when i booted in windows 7 it opened startup recovery and said that there are no files in c drive coz it became e drive.....wat to do???

shanko9326
shanko9326

HI.. can you please help me with this..?? when i come to the formatting the unallocated space, my system asks me whether to convert the basic drives to dynamic drives.!! When i click on NO, the whole process is cancelled.! please help. Thanks in advance.!

affidavit
affidavit

want to setup with win xp, 7 &8, know several others who tried but they lost access to xp anyone know a way that works, reloading after a failed try not option

thomaskent
thomaskent

I followed the step-by-step instructions, but when I get to the Windows 8 setup screen, it asks me for a Product key!!!?? Disregard. went to the windows 8 preview website and got the key.

ChanchalR
ChanchalR

Due to Ubuntu and windows 7 installed, the grub is grasped by Ubuntu, now what to do to install windows 8 or what are the precautions? Otherwise, I may loose my Ubuntu and Windows 7.

Tessieri
Tessieri

Worked like a charm without a hitch. I will eventually want to remove the dual boot option. Can you give us some guidance on that? Hope there is an option over reapplying my Win 7 system image. Thx, Mike in VA

pam101
pam101

I have 4 sata drives in my desktop computer, my C drive, with Win7 on it was the one I partitioned and put Win8 on. My D drive has a corrupted Win7 installation on it, I've kept it around for the files I needed on it, couldn't just delete the old Win7 so had just left it. In disk management the D drive is basic disk 0 and the C drive is Basic disk 1. The first time I couldn't load Win7 after the Win8 install, I went into the bios and chose the harddrive with the good copy of Win7, suspecting this may have been the issue, I moved all the files I needed and then reformatted the D drive. That's when everything went crazy. Now I'm wondering what to do with the Win8 partition. Might try this all over again, can't decide. Thanks for thedetailed instructions I would have been a mess if I hadn't followed them properly.

pam101
pam101

I followed your instructions to the letter, everything worked fine for the first boot into Win8, then after playing around in there, i went to boot up into Win7. Gone, not only did I loose Windows 7, I lost access to the boot manager, it said it was missing. I couldn't even get into my bios to change the boot up options. So glad I did the image backup first. The repair disk worked after the third try. I did manage to get back into a recovered Windows 7, but now I'm afraid to turn off my computer or reboot. Should have used a spare computer, not my main one.

CharlesG1970
CharlesG1970

Thanks for the step by step tutorial. My only commment is that realy Microsoft should also be given the credit for setting up Windos 7 and Winidos 8 to so easily configure the dual boot setup. I have been holding off on checking out Windows 8, but with dual boot beign this easy, I will probably set it up this weekend. Cheers,

cquirke
cquirke

When setting up XP and Windows 7 as duel boot (heh), I found it desirable to hide the OSs from each other. Each would see it's own small partition as "C:", not see the other OS's "C:" at all, and share access to an extended partition containing logical volumes D: to F: and the optical and USB drives beyond that. This prevents the engine behind "previous versions" and System Restore from screwing with each other's SVI (something to test, please!) and other hassles. I used a free boot manager to select between the OSs, hiding what was not in use.

hrosita
hrosita

I intend to follow your instructions in the next few days. I teach at a local PC user group a 4 day course on Getting Started with computer. Since my laptop has only Windows 8 it will cause a problem. So I will reinstall Windows 7 pro and if it works, I will be able to go back and teach from Windows 7 and showing XP if necessary without killing my Windows 8 Release Preview. Thanks for the tutorial

Regulus
Regulus

Under the premise that no system is safe without a boot to Linux capability, Lets add UBUNTU to the boot options. While this is usually no more complicated than what you have above, Win 8 brings new challenges. Back in Sept (2011) I successfully loaded (upgraded) my dual-boot netbook from Win 7 to Win 8 (Developers Preview). This resided and functioned nicely with UBUNTU 11.xx, with the exception that Win 8 was a PITA in itself. Since that time, there have been 2 more Win 8 'Previews' released, neither of which could be installed in dual-boot configuration with UBUNTU. The primary issue was the inability of Linux to detect the presence of the Win 8 System. Ok, so there was probably a workaround, but I was not interested in getting in that deep. Along with 'who really needs Win 8 anyways?'. (Tablets & airheads). Anyways, my trusty little netbook - which goes everywhere (even to 'strange voltage' countries) with me, is happily chugging along on dual-boot Win 7 Ult & UBUNTU 12.04. But, just for kicks, it would be nice if I could cut another partition (yes, I've got room for it) and install Win 8 as a third option - triple-boot. Nice idea for a future Article? Just, PLEASE don't do it in 'Slide Show' format. Thank You.

bobc4012
bobc4012

Much better to follow than the slide show. Thanks for doing this.

carldebz
carldebz

I followed the slideshow step by step.Win 8 started and ran sucessfuly, I even installed a few apps, which also worked. When I went out of win 8 and restarted my computer I never got the dual boot screen, Do I wipe The Partition and start over? Or is there a fix for this mess? Thanks Carl

wawyatt1
wawyatt1

I did this yesterday works great can even run some apps from original install on 2nd system via shortcut. also added modified boot to legacy boot also added classic shell. all is good. Thanks Bill

mdmpsyd
mdmpsyd

how about dual booting Win8 and Linux?

Den2010
Den2010

The actual procedure I used varied a bit from that shown in this article, but the result was the same. The only downside I see is that if I select to boot Windows 8 (my default OS is Windows 7 Pro), the next time I reboot and allow Windows 7 to boot, there's a long period of inactivity with a dark screen before the Windows 7 Starting Windows screen appears. I'm not sure what's going on - it may be a peculiarity of my laptop, or more generic - but it's disconcerting. For what it's worth, Windows 8 at this point is not a must-have for me. The Metro interference - sorry, the Metro interface - is still annoying enough that I wish there were some way to remove it entirely. I have installed ClassicShell from sourceforge.net to give me a Start menu of sorts, but Metro is still there, lurking in the background. Well, enough of that. This was a very good tutorial. Thanks for the work on it.

wamaruna
wamaruna

I just want to say that that was an extremely clear step by step tutorial. Thanks!

lehnerus2000
lehnerus2000

For some people, a VHD might be a better option. You don't need to do any repartitioning. [b]A backup OS image is still [s]crucical[/s] crucial.[/b] BTW, "[i][b]Perquisite[/b][/i]"?

Gisabun
Gisabun

I dual boot my main system between Win 7 band Win XP [using the restore point "fix"]. My netbook previously had the same but with my new SSD in it it is just Win 7 [15 seconds to boot up!]. I left a partition at the Win 7 install for Win 8. Have Win 8 through TechNet Plus but waiting a bit. Tip. Create 3 partitions. Place MyDocs and related into the 3rd partition for both to share. As for this blog information, nothing new that the majority reading this don't already know.

wizard57m-cnet
wizard57m-cnet

used to dual boot DOS 6.22/Win31 and Win95, also have a system for Win98SE and Slackware, and I also dual boot my netbook with WinXP and Slax... so this brings up a question...How feasible would it be to dual boot Win8 and XP? Anybody doing this? edit to add: I did a bit of searching, and it does seem possible to dual boot WinXP and Win8, some issues with the graphic boot manager in the preview releases, with easy fix. So, I'll put this in "round tuit" pile!

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

Do you regularly have dual boot systems? Are you planning on dual booting with Windows 8?

Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

...dual boot Windows 7 on a Windows 8 machine and the steps should be identical to what I have shown in this article. One thing that will be different is the boot screen. Windows 7's is black and white as opposed to the nice blue screen shown in Figure N.

Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

to dual-boot Windows 8 and Linux, it can be done, but you'll need to research it to determine what would be the best method for your particular situation. Just go to Google and search "dual-boot Windows 8 and Linux" and you find lots of information.

Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

...the process got gummed up for you. Not sure what happened, but as long as you followed my instructions and created a System Image, you can easily restore your system to the way it was and try again.

Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

...for this week's article in which I walk you step-by-step through the entire procedure.

Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

...you had a bad experience with the dual-bbot, but very glad to hear that you were able to recover with the System Image backup :-) However, the problems you describe (unable to access BIOS and trouble getting repair disk to work) sound indicative of a pending hardware failure. I'd definitely recommend that you be backing up your data on a very regular basis. How old is the computer? Any recent odd behavior with the system as a whole or the hard disk?

Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

...clear. You are planning on wiping your hard disk, reinstalling Windows 7 and then installing Windows 8 in a dual-boot configuration, correct? The last part of your comment "...without killing my Windows 8 Release Preview." makes it almost sound like you are planning on installing Windows 7 on a your Windows 8 hard disk and dual-booting that way. That's not what this article is about and I don't know if that will work...

Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

...launch Disk Managment and if everything went properly during the installtion to the new partititon, you should see the new parition highlighted. For instance, on my example system, drive F is highliged in Green and bright blue to indicate that it is currently the active partition and the Windows 7 partition is in dark blue.

herrstiefel
herrstiefel

I have had an HP dv6 (circa 2009) dual-booting Win 7 and Win 8 for some time now. If I choose Win 7, I get my HP splash screen again. I'm not sure if this is a reboot, but it's only a minor annoyance and doesn't really hurt my experience. Do you have a brightness button on any of your laptop's function keys? I have a laptop that goes dark when booting Ubuntu and I have to increase the brightness manually to see the rest of the boot process. Everything is normal once I get to the log-in screen, though.

Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

...to take a little while to boot up; however, I suspect that it is really not much of a difference time wise from dual-booting previous operating systems. My hunch is that it is an illusion caused by the fact that the screen is totally Black, which can be a little disconcerting. I will do some timing tests just to see. Thanks

Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

...glad to hear that you found it helpful.

Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

I will be covering setting up a dual-boot via VHD in my next article, but wanted to cover the standard method first. Booting from a VHD is only allowed in Windows 7 Ultimate and Enterprise. Funny how "Perquisite", slipped in as a typo, but it is actually a word meaning the same as a perk or a customary tip or an exclusive right. I'll have my editor change it to "Prerequisite." ;-)

herrstiefel
herrstiefel

"crucical"? Nice point on VHD, though.

rrm_computer
rrm_computer

@Mark W. Kaelin When I dual boot into Win 7 after using Win 8 my restore checkpoints in Win 8 disappear. Any else seen this behaviour?

plvltr
plvltr

@Greg Shultz I have a computer that dual boots Win 7 and Win 8 that displays the black and white screen you mention.  Is there a way for me to change it such that the blue GUI screen of Win 8 displays at boot instead?

akatpatal
akatpatal

Thnx....I will try that...... and let u know how it goes. My installation drive of windows 7 has 60 gigs free. shud i make the partition of 40 gigs for windows 8 from that. or shrink volume of other partitions

Den2010
Den2010

I do have a brightness control on the laptop, but that's irrelevant - there's nothing on the screen to display at any brightness. Moreover - and this is kind of strange - there's little if any disk activity (going by the HD LED) during the period when the screen is blank. Here's the difference I'm seeing. If I have shut down Windows 7, and then at some later point decide to power up again, I get an HP logo, and then a text-mode selection screen a few seconds later. My default OS is Windows 7, so I wait the 10 seconds I've allowed for the default to be chosen, and it boots quickly from that point. If, on the other hand, I shut down Windows 8 and at some later point decide to power up, I get a Windows 8 logo on a black screen, then a few seconds later a Windows 8 Metro-style boot menu screen, with a 5-second delay. Windows 7 is chosen - it's the default - and then there's a long wait of 30 to 40 seconds before I see the HP logo screen and then a Starting Windows 7 screen. I'm not sure what's going on, but it doesn't seem to have affected the stability of the PC or of the OS installations. It's just annoying, and puzzling. Any thoughts on what may be happening?

lehnerus2000
lehnerus2000

Isn't that always the way? I shouldn't have changed it from "critical". Thanks for the assist. :D

Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

change the drive names. Plaese make sure that you pay close attention to the drives as they are set up in Disk Management after you run the New Simple Volume wizard. Then when you run the Windows 8 Setup, you'll know eactly what drive to select.

akatpatal
akatpatal

so it wont change my drive names, right??? Sorry for s o many questions!!!

Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

...doesn't matter where you take the space from, just so long as you have enough empty space set aside for the Windows 8 installation.

Editor's Picks