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How To Dual Boot Windows 8 and Windows 7

If you want to test out Windows 8 Consumer Preview but don’t have an extra machine, you have a couple of choices. You can install it on a virtual machine, or set up a dual boot system. Here’s how to prepare your Windows 7 system and dual boot it with Windows 8.

If you don’t have a system that is powerful enough to run a virtual machine (VM), dual booting is a good choice. Also, while running Windows 8 on a VM works, nothing beats running it on physical hardware.

Add a Windows 8 Partition

Since you already have Windows 7 running on your system, you need to create a partition to for Windows 8. Click Start, right click Computer and select Properties.

Start

The Computer Management screen opens. Under Storage click Disk Management. This will show your local (C:) drive. Right click on the (C:) drive box and click Shrink Volume.
Disk management

Wait while the system queries the disk for space that’s available to shrink.

Calculating Space

Next you’ll get a set of results of the query listed in megabytes. Here you can see the total size of the drive, amount of shrink space and total size after shrinking the volume. Here I’m going to shrink the drive by 20GB to install Windows 8 on.

The minimum size for Windows 8 Consumer Preview is 16GB for the 32-bit version and 20GB for the 64-bit version. After entering the value, click Shrink.

Results

After a couple of minutes you’ll see the new partition of Unallocated space. Right click on it and select New Simple Volume.

New Simple Volume

Next work your way through the New Simple Volume Wizard.

Wizard

Verify the size of the volume and click Next.

Wizard2

Now assign a drive letter for the Windows 8 partition.

drive letter

The next step allows you to format the volume. You can just keep the defaults. You might want to give the partition a name in the Volume Label field.

format

Click Finish to complete the New Simple Volume Wizard.

Finish

The system will format the partition, create the drive letter and volume name you selected. If you have AutoPlay enabled, it will pop up. Of course nothing is in it since it’s a clean partition. Now close out of Disk Management.

Finished

Install Windows 8 Consumer Preview

Now you’re ready to Install Windows 8. Download the ISO from Microsoft’s site if you haven’t already. Then, burn the Windows 8 ISO to DVD or create a bootable USB drive.

Burned-DVD

Boot your system from the Windows 8 DVD or USB flash drive to begin the install. When the Install Type screen appears, select Custom. This is different than doing a Windows 8 clean install on a fresh drive, or an upgrade install over the Web.

install windows 8

Navigate through the install wizard and when you get to the Install Type screen, select Custom. This is a clean install on a new partition, not an upgrade.

Custom Install

Next select the drive you just made a partition for Windows 8 in the steps above. In my case I created a 20GB partition named Windows8 to easily find it.

partition

Windows 8 starts the installation like normal.

install begins

After each restart, at the boot screen, you’ll get a choice between Windows 8 and Windows 7. If you miss it and don’t select anything, it will boot into Windows 8 after 30 seconds by default.

select Windows 8

Then finish setting up the rest of the Windows 8 settings and log in.

logging in

There you go! You now have your dual boot system running Windows 7 and Windows 8.

Windows 8 setup

Any time you restart you’ll get the boot loader that asks if you want to start in Windows 7 or Windows 8 Consumer Preview.

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7 Responses to How To Dual Boot Windows 8 and Windows 7

  1. Ron Lund April 2, 2012 at 1:15 pm #

    OK……..I gave this a shot, but wasn’t able to get all the way to installing Win 8. First off…..I must have a different version of Win7 because some things did not show up as described in your instructions. For example…..When I “rightclicked” on computer I was not taken to the computer management screen after clicking properties. That option was not available when doing this. I did, however, manage to find the computer management screen by going to “Search” and typing that in. Everything went fine after this point and I created the new partition with Windows 8 name and a new drive letter. I downloaded the Windows 8 “iso” file (took a hellava long time) and was able to “burn” it to a DVD disk. However, the computer will not boot from this disk(CD-ROM drive) to get me into Win 8 setup. I’ve tried about everything I could come up with to try and get it to boot, but to no avail. I even changed the boot sequence from the computer’s setup to make sure it tried the CD-ROM drive first. The computer just sat there with a blinking curser and eventually just loaded up Win 7. Any suggestions?? I’m thinking about trying to burn another disk to see what happens. I’ll let you know if it does the job.

    • Declan April 10, 2012 at 10:11 am #

      When You turn your computer on you want to hit f2 or what ever which brings up the BIOS menu and in boot you want to change the boot order and you want the dvd/cd drive for the first one then save and exit reboot then it should boot fine

  2. Ron Lund April 2, 2012 at 2:26 pm #

    OK……no sooner did I attempt to burn a new DVD disk than I discovered by reading a little more than before that there is something called: Windows 7 USB/DVD download tool. After downloading and installing this software I was able to create a (hopefully bootable) USB thumb drive with the necessary setup.exe file included. I have not tried it yet……more reading required to make sure I don’t end up getting something messed up in the process.

  3. Vasni April 2, 2012 at 7:19 pm #

    Thanks for posting these instructions. Unfortunately they haven’t worked for me yet..

    It all went as advertised through booting from the DVD, selecting the language, time and keyboard type, then choosing “Install Now”. The next screen is asking me to “Enter the Product Key to Activate Windows” andf that’s where I’m stuck.

    I am runing Windows 7, 64 bit on a fairly nerw machine. I allocated 24 GB for Windows 8.

    I’ll go back to the Microsoft page and see what other tips I may find there.

    I’d appreciate any ideas you may have.

  4. Vasni April 2, 2012 at 7:34 pm #

    Microsoft does publish the Windows 8 Developer Preview product key. It’s

    6RH4V-HNTWC-JQKG8-RFR3R-36498

    The installation is proceeding. After about 10 minutes, it’s on the second step (Expanding Windows Files) of the 5-step list.

    Vasni

  5. Brian Burgess April 3, 2012 at 6:38 am #

    @Ron Lund: Yup, provided your device supports booting from a USB drive, and most modern systems do, you can boot from either a flash drive or DVD.

  6. Brian Burgess April 3, 2012 at 6:41 am #

    The most important part in this entire process is creating a partition for Windows 8. The Minimums, as explained in the article are:

    16GB for 32-bit Windows 8 Consumer Preview

    20GB for 64-bit Windows 8 Consumer Preview

    Remember those are the minimums recommended by Microsoft. So, if you plan on downloading and storing a lot of data on your Windows 8 partition, size accordingly.

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