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.
This slideshow gallery is also available as a post in the TechRepublic Windows and Office Blog.
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.
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 noting 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:
- The Windows Boot Manager (Bootmgr.exe)
- The Windows operating system loader (Winload.exe), and
- 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.
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 the screenshot, 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.
Images created by Greg Shultz for TechRepublic