Windows

Remove Windows 8 from a dual-boot configuration

Greg Shultz shows you how to remove Windows 8 from a dual-boot configuration.

In the last couple of blog posts, I've shown you how to set up Windows 7 and Windows 8 Release Preview in a dual-boot configuration. In Dual-boot Windows 7 and Windows 8, I showed you how to set up a dual-boot configuration by repartitioning your hard disk. In Dual-boot Windows 7 and Windows 8 using a VHD, I showed you how to set up a dual-boot configuration by using a VHD (Virtual Hard Disk), which can only be done in Windows 7 Ultimate or Windows 7 Enterprise.

At some point in time before October 26, 2012, you'll need to stop using the Windows 8 Release Preview as it will stop working. Not exactly sure what will happen, but if it is like most of Microsoft's free evaluations, one or all of the following will occur: the desktop background will turn black and you will see a notification indicating that the system is not genuine, or the PC will automatically shut down every hour without allowing you to save any work in progress. As such, you're going to want to remove Windows 8 Release Preview from your system.

In this article, I'll show you how to remove Windows 8 from a dual-boot configuration. As I do, I'll show you how to remove it from both the partition and the VHD methods.

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

Be safe

Removing Windows 8 from a dual-boot configuration should be a relatively straightforward operation; however, just to be on the safe side, I strongly recommend that you back up your data files before you proceed. If you followed my instructions in the earlier dual-boot articles, you should already a complete image of your hard disk via the System Image tool. Even so, having a current backup of any data files will ensure that nothing will be lost if anything out of the ordinary were to occur as you follow the steps for removing Windows 8 from a dual-boot configuration.

Removing Windows 8 from the boot loader

You'll remove Windows 8 from the boot loader from within Windows 7. So the first thing you will do is boot into Windows 7.

As you may know, Windows Vista, 7 and 8 use what is known as the boot loader architecture in order to boot up the operating system. In a nutshell, the boot loader architecture consists of the Boot Configuration Data database and three components:

  1. The Windows Boot Manager (Bootmgr.exe)
  2. The Windows operating system loader (Winload.exe), and
  3. The Windows resume loader (Winresume.exe)

When you set up a dual-boot configuration by installing Windows 8 into an existing Windows 7 configuration, the installation procedure creates the boot menu by adding entries to the Boot Configuration Data database. Now, as the computer boots up, the Windows Boot Manager loads first and reads the Boot Configuration Data and uses the information it finds in the database to display the boot menu. When a selection is made, the Windows Boot Manager retrieves information about how to boot that operating system and then passes the information over to the appropriate Windows operating system loader or Windows resume loader, as the case may be.

As a part of this boot loader architecture, Windows provides you with a command line tool called the Boot Configuration Data Store Editor (BCDEdit.exe), which you can use to view and edit the Boot Configuration Data database. Now, since all we will be doing is removing Windows 8 from the menu, we can just use the System Configuration tool. It's much easier than using Boot Configuration Data Store Editor to perform the removal operation.

BCDEdit

Even though we will use the System Configuration tool to remove Windows 8 from the boot loader, for educational purposes, let's take a moment to use Boot Configuration Data Store Editor just to take a peek at the boot menu in the Boot Configuration Data database.

You need to launch BCDEdit.exe from a Command Prompt with Administrator privileges. To do so, click the Start button and type cmd in the Start search box. When you see CMD appear the results pane, right click on it and select the Run as Administrator command. When you do, you will encounter a UAC and will have to work through it. Once the Administrator Command Prompt appears, just type bcdedit and press [Enter]. You'll then see the commands that make up the boot menu in the Boot Configuration Data database.

In Figure A, you'll see the boot menu for a Windows 8 VHD. As you can see, the instructions in the Windows 8 section of the menu specify the Windows8RP VHD file as the device to boot from.

Figure A

This is a boot menu for dual-booting Windows 8 from a VHD.
In Figure B, you see the boot menu for a Windows 8 partition. As you can see, the instructions in the Windows 8 section of the menu specify the F: partition as the device to boot from.

Figure B

This is a boot menu for dual-booting Windows 8 from a partition.

At this point, go ahead and close Administrator Command Prompt window.

System Configuration

As I mentioned, the easiest way to remove Windows 8 from the menu is to use the System Configuration tool. To launch the System Configuration tool, click the Start button, and type msconfig in the Start search box. When you see msconfig appear at the top of the results pane, just press [Enter]. When the System Configuration window appears, select the Boot tab and you'll see that Windows 8 is listed as the Default OS and that Windows 7 is listed as the Current OS, as shown in Figure C.

Figure C

You can easily remove Windows 8 from the boot loader using the System Configuration tool.
The first thing that you need to do is make Windows 7 the Default OS. To do so, select the Windows 7 entry and click the Set as default button. When you do, you'll see that Windows 7 is listed as both the Current OS and the Default OS. To continue, select the Windows 8 entry, as shown in Figure D, and then click the Delete button.

Figure D

Once you select the Windows 8 entry, just click the Delete button.
As soon as you do, the Windows 8 entry will be removed. When you click OK, you'll be prompted to restart your computer, as shown in Figure E. Just click the Restart button.

Figure E

You'll be prompted to restart your computer after deleting the Windows 8 entry.
When your system restarts, it will boot right into Windows 7 - you will not see a menu. If you wish, you can re-open the Administrator Command Prompt, type bcdedit, press [Enter], and you'll see that the commands for Windows 8 are no longer on the Boot Configuration Data database's boot menu, as shown in Figure F.

Figure F

The Windows 8 section will not appear on the Boot Configuration Data database's boot menu.

Removing the partition

To remove the Windows 8 partition and reallocate the disk space, you'll use the Disk Management tool. To begin, 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, right click on the Windows 8 partition and select the Delete Volume command, as shown in Figure G.

Figure G

Right click on the Windows 8 partition and select the Delete Volume command.
When you do, Disk Management will prompt you twice to confirm the Delete Volume operation, as shown in Figure H. At this point, you'll see that the area is now marked as Free space. If at a later date you want to install the real version of Windows 8, you can leave the space as it is.

Figure H

You'll see two prompts before Disk Management will delete the volume.
However, if you want to regain the space, you'll right-click on the Free space and select the Delete Partition command. When you do, Disk Management will prompt you to confirm the Delete Partition operation, as shown in Figure I.

Figure I

If you want to regain the space, right-click on the Free space and select the Delete Partition command.
Once the partition has been deleted, right-click your Windows 7 partition and select the Extend Volume command, as shown in Figure J. When you do, the Extend Volume Wizard will launch.
Figure J
Use the Extend Volume command to launch the Extend Volume Wizard.
The Extend Volume Wizard consists of three screens, which are shown in Figure K. The second screen will be filled in for you and in most cases you will just go with the default settings.

Figure K

The Extend Volume Wizard consists of three screens and in most cases you will just go with the default settings.
Once the volume has been extended, you'll see that all of the free space has been reallocated to your primary hard disk, as shown in Figure L.

Figure L

You should be right back where you started.

Deleting the VHD

If you installed Windows 8 to a bootable VHD in either Windows 7 Ultimate or Windows 7 Enterprise, all you have to do is locate the VHD file and delete it as shown in Figure M.

Figure M

You can just delete the VHD file.

What's your take?

Have you set up a Windows 7/Windows 8 dual boot system? Will you now remove it? 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.

23 comments
tarkish
tarkish

Really useful post, thanks.

ransems
ransems

Thanks for the post on how to remove. I liked Windows 8 so much I thought I would remove dual boot and do the upgrade to windows 8 over 7. We'll see how that goes.

allenpierce
allenpierce

I added it to Windows 7 as a dual boot. I had numerous issues with MS Word, anti-virus, skype, and other programs on my Windows 7 after the install. Also 7 was very slow to boot. Windows 8 worked without any problems, but since I have all my programs on Windows 7 I am removing Windows 8. I may have to (of it will let me) do a restore to a prior date to get things back in order. If all I was using was 8, I could get by with it. I would add Classic Shell start menu or something though so I could find stuff.

Otto Roth
Otto Roth

Hi, moving default and deleting Windows 8 in MSONFIG as per the above doc (also published 2012/09/07) - When I press OK or Apply - I get "System Configuration cannot save the original boot configuration for later restoration. Boot changes wil now be reverted. The handle is invalid." and it chucks me out!" :( Cancel question: I found EasyBCD and managed to get rid of that dual boot entry and then rolled back the partition, etc. :)

jelabarre
jelabarre

Should be VERY easy to remove Win8, and clear up any remaining problems in Win7 too... Boot from a Linux liveCD, then run "dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sda bs=1M count=10". Then while you have that liveCD running, you might as well install Linux.

Gisabun
Gisabun

Should come in handy for some once they figure out Windows 8 is another Vista. :-)

tenorman12
tenorman12

Can't seem to find my reply to you Greg. Just posted it a while ago. Anyway my Boot section in msconfig doesn't show W xp, only W7 and when trying to boot into xp via the boot loader screen it now doesn't work anymore. How can I delete it from the boot loader so the computer just starts straight into w7? Thanks

tenorman12
tenorman12

I am dual booting these two operating systems from the same drive...no partition... How do I remove XP ? I can see how to delete it from the boot loader ok but it will still be taking up space on my hard drive.

Bill_M.
Bill_M.

From what I have heard, the Release Preview expires on 16 January 2013. However, it didn't state if it will just stop functioning; will turn the desktop screen black with a notification that the OS is not genuine (just like in Windows 7); or the OS will reboot 2 hours after it is started (also just like Windows 7 during the Release Candidate stage).

SIObserver
SIObserver

Very easy to follow. I use EasyBCD 2.1.2 and EaseUS Partition Master 9.1.1.

bjn714
bjn714

I also wanted to thank you for the great guide to easily remove the dual boot feature. Thanks!

bjn714
bjn714

The Release Preview doesn't actually expire on 10/26. Running the command [i]winver[/i] from Run (Windows + R) or Search will give you the expiration date. On the two systems I have it installed on that were both installed over a month apart, they both expire on 1/15/2013. It does not appear to be related to when it was installed.

Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

...it was a figment of our collective imagination. Seriously though, even if the Start Screen orientation tuns people off, Windows 8 will not be another Vista. ;-)

Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

...both operating systems from the same drive, you must be using a partition. Do you remember how you set it up? If you could provide more detail on how it is set up we might be better able to help you.

Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

...the evaluation doesn't actually expire until January 2013. Thanks for adding that information to the discussion.

tenorman12
tenorman12

Sorry a third reply Greg. I have now found w xp on another partition. However it doesn't show up in the Load section of msconfig.Can't find a 'boot.ini' file in the xp directory either. So not sure what boot loader I am using. The cmd 'bcdedit' doesn't open under 'cmd' in w7 either. Need to edit somehow but totally confused at this point. Right clicking on the 'cmd' command doesn't give me the option to run as 'administrator'

tenorman12
tenorman12

I installed w7 in 2009 and I have booted into wxp a few times since then but after your message I tried to boot into xp just now and it doesn't work anymore. What has happened I don't know but I deffinately didn't have a separate partition. Anyway I won't worry and will go through the details above and remove it from the boot loader. It must have got corrupted over the last few years. Thanks for your help

tenorman12
tenorman12

Thanks Greg will leave it as is.

Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

... that you might be better off just leaving things the way they are. Since Windows XP was installed first and then Windows 7 installed second, Windows XP would essentially be the boot loader host. if you trash the Windows XP partition, chances are good that the system wouldn't boot.

tenorman12
tenorman12

Thanks Greg...will leave things as they are as don't want to go through the whole process of re installing W7. it would therefore be ok to delete all the old w xp directory and files without messing things up??? That is all on partition 'E" and would give me more space on that drive.

Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

... Windows XP and Windows 7 use different types of boot loader architechture so you won't be able to use the technique I showed in this article to undo your dual-boot. Chances are that Windows XP was installed first and then Windows 7 installed second, Windows XP would essentially be the boot loader host and since you can't boot into Windows XP, I can't gaurantee that you'll be able to safely remove it. In fact I would say that this is one of those cases where the old adage "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" would come into play. Unless of course you are willing to scrap you entire setup by reformatting your hard disk and reinstalling Windows 7.

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