Not Sure About Upgrading? Then Why Not Dual Boot Windows 8 With Windows 7?

windows 8 and 7 dual boot logo   Not Sure About Upgrading? Then Why Not Dual Boot Windows 8 With Windows 7?Are you interested in Windows 8, but don’t want to abandon Windows 7 just yet? Well, why not dual-boot Windows 8 and Windows 7, selecting the operating system you want to use each time you turn on your computer? This allows you to test Windows 8 while keeping Windows 7 around as an escape hatch if you want out. If you do test Windows 8, make sure to check out our Windows 8 guide first.

This process will install Windows 8 on its own separate partition, leaving your Windows 7 system intact. All you’ll lose is a bit of space from your Windows 7 partition – just enough to make room for Windows 8. Each Windows installation will have its own programs and settings, although you can access each operating system’s files from the other version of Windows.

A Note About Windows Licensing

If you have an Upgrade edition of Windows 8, installing the upgrade edition in a dual-boot configuration is technically against the license agreement. Microsoft’s Windows 8 Upgrade license agreement states that:

The software covered by this agreement is an upgrade to your existing operating system software, so the upgrade replaces the original software that you are upgrading. You do not retain any rights to the original software after you have upgraded and you may not continue to use it or transfer it in any way.

If you have a non-upgrade edition of Windows 8, Microsoft’s Windows license agreement allows you to have both installed side-by-side.

Prepare Windows 7

Before you continue, you should ensure you have all your important data backed up. While this process shouldn’t erase any of your data, it’s always possible for something to go wrong when resizing partitions and installing operating systems – better safe than sorry! Download our free guide to backing up and restoring your PC for more information.

You’ll need to create a new partition for Windows 8. You can do this by resizing your existing Windows 7 partition to make room. (Alternately, if you have a second hard drive in your computer, you can install Windows 8 on that hard drive without shrinking your existing partition.)

To make room for Windows 8, press the Windows key, type Disk management, and press Enter. Right-click your Windows 7 C: partition in the Disk Management window and select Shrink Volume.

shrink windows 7 partition   Not Sure About Upgrading? Then Why Not Dual Boot Windows 8 With Windows 7?

Windows 8 will need a partition of at least 20 GB in size, and more is better. Shrink the Windows 7 partition to make room for the new Windows 8 partition – for example, if you want about 30 GB of space for your Windows 8 partition, you’d shrink the Windows 7 partition by about 30000 MB.

shrink c partition dialog   Not Sure About Upgrading? Then Why Not Dual Boot Windows 8 With Windows 7?

You’ll see an amount of Unallocated Space when you’re done. This is the space where Windows 8 will be installed – leave it be for now.

disk management with unallocated space   Not Sure About Upgrading? Then Why Not Dual Boot Windows 8 With Windows 7?

Start Windows 8’s Installer

Next, insert the Windows 8 installation disc into your computer’s disc drive and restart your computer to start the installation process. If you don’t have a disc drive in your computer, you can put Windows 8’s installer on a USB stick and boot from that.

Note that you must boot your computer from the installation media to install Windows 8 in a dual-boot configuration – you can’t start installing it from within Windows 7.

Your computer should automatically boot from the Windows 8 installation media when you restart it. If it doesn’t, press the appropriate key to access your computer’s boot menu and select the installation media or enter the computer’s BIOS (often by pressing Delete or F2 during the boot-up process) and change its boot order. (The required keys are often displayed on-screen during boot. If you don’t see them, consult your computer’s manual.)

windows 8 installation begins   Not Sure About Upgrading? Then Why Not Dual Boot Windows 8 With Windows 7?

Install Windows 8

When the Windows 8 installer screen appears after restarting your computer, go through the installation process as normal. When you see the “Which type of installation do you want?” screen, select Custom – do not select Upgrade or Windows 8 will replace Windows 7 on your system.

windows 8 custom installation   Not Sure About Upgrading? Then Why Not Dual Boot Windows 8 With Windows 7?

On the next screen, select the Unallocated Space we created earlier and click Next.

windows 8 partition selection   Not Sure About Upgrading? Then Why Not Dual Boot Windows 8 With Windows 7?

Windows 8 will now install normally. You can step away from your computer while this process completes.

windows 8 installing windows   Not Sure About Upgrading? Then Why Not Dual Boot Windows 8 With Windows 7?

Dual-Booting

Once Windows 8 is installed, you’ll see the Choose an operating system screen at boot. Every time you boot your computer, you can choose to use Windows 8 or Windows 7. To switch from one Windows installation to another, simply reboot your computer and select the other version of Windows.

By default, Windows 8 will boot automatically after a few seconds. If you want to change the default operating system or configure the timer, click the Change defaults or choose other options option at the bottom of this screen.

dual boot windows 8 and 7   Not Sure About Upgrading? Then Why Not Dual Boot Windows 8 With Windows 7?

You’re now able to try out Windows 8 without giving up Windows 7. For more information about Windows 8, download our free guide to getting started with Windows 8. You may also want to print out our cheat sheets to Windows 8’s mouse gestures and keyboard shortcuts, which you’ll need to get around Windows 8.

Have you installed Windows 8 in a dual-boot configuration to try it out, or did you go all-in and replaced Windows 7 with it? If so, what do you think? Do you prefer Windows 8, or do you find yourself using Windows 7 more often?

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41 Comments -

Efi Dreyshner

Thanks. very helpful!
Now I have to many OS LOL
-Debian
-Windows 7
– Windows 8
– FreeBSD

Anonymous

How to try Windows 8 without paying for it right now? If I find that it works well on my present PC, I can think of buying a DVD or download to a USB Drive and use it.

Christopher Schaffer

You know what the dangest thing is? According to the MS Store, you can only download the 32bit version of Win8. If you want the 64bit version, you have to pay the $70 and receive the physical copy! How do I know this? Because that’s what three of their techies told me, and when you go to their site, there isn’t a download option! WTH?!?!

Brenden Barlow

i downloaded not only a fresh copy of the 64bit version (for my laptop), but i also downloaded the 64bit upgrade version (for my desktop) odd there isnt currently an option to download it….mine was when it was first released.

Brandon Ragoo

Just boot from Windows 8 cd without creating a partition and use the diskpart command :P

Anonymous

wow, how did you do that

RobertKza

The video is labelled private ? How do you access the video ?

Ron Lister

I like 7 i think i’ll wait for 9 before i upgrade.

vineed gangadharan

Thinking of same …

Anonymous

9? when will they release those?

Ron Lister

Don’t know when they will release a version nine, Hence the waiting part. although If I get any new devices that have windows 8, I’m sure I will be fine with it.

Choon Khai

Probably a year or two, there’s a leaked news about new Windows, Windows Blue.

Morne v

Windows 8.1 apparently

CyberPrince

if you have problem windowns 7 dual boot with windows 8, i’d recommend you try easyBCD…it will help you :)

Michael Jan Moratalla

not bad to do haha

Zhong Jiang

Since Windows 8 proclaimed that it’s fusing both PC and Tablet together, does touch work on a PC with no touch screen capability? Surely not, but will future Windows 8 pre-installed system comes with built in touchscreen?

Chris Hoffman

Yup, many more computers, laptops and desktops alike, will come with touchscreens. Whether you’d want to use a touchscreen on a desktop, well.. I’m not sold.

Gary Petersen

I did pretty much exactly what you had suggested a few weeks back, but wondered then (and now) whether I could have first cloned my Windows 7 installation to the newly created partition so the upgrade installation of Windows 8 could run with all of my installed utilities. Is that possible? If so, how? Thanks, Gary

Chris Hoffman

That’s an interesting idea, but doing a clean install is generally a better idea, anyway.

Anonymous

Not if you wish to keep programs and settings. The Windows installation routines seem to have gotten a lot better since Windows 7 and bringing that information forward in an upgrade installation, rather than a clean install.

Christopher Schaffer

While dual-booting is all ninja…I’ve always run into issues. Instead of this method, I like to run virtual hard drives (VHD). Using this method is really nice because if something happens to one of the OSs, it won’t affect the others, and you can delete the VHD simply by clicking on its folder in windows explorer.
http://www.hanselman.com/blog/GuideToInstallingAndBootingWindows8DeveloperPreviewOffAVHDVirtualHardDisk.aspx

This is the guide I used. One thing to point out: in the command prompt, where you’re asked to input the path to your VHD, realize that it probably won’t be on C:\…I’ve found mine on G:\…You’ll have to go through the alphabet until you find the drive letter for yours (e.g.: a:, b:, c:, etc.).

Chris Hoffman

It may be safer, but I’m a bit skeptical — I’d imagine VHD would incur a bit of a file system performance penalty, sort of like using Ubuntu and Wubi. Good for testing, bad for long-term use.

Of course, it’s possible my hunch is wrong, I haven’t looked into it.

Christopher Schaffer

I am by no means an expert in these things, but from what I’ve read (from the link I posted), using VHD puts no adverse hit on performance and the OS will have complete access to all hardware and features as if it were 100% native (unlike a VM). I could be wrong about all of this, but so far, I haven’t seen any issues at all.

Hey guys, how about that? A writer who actually checks and responds to reader comments! :)

Sean A

my 5th OS to multi-boot
Like a boss

Chris Hoffman

Is one of them Haiku?

zaheer

just wanted to know , once we have installed windows 8 with dual boot options alongwith windows7 . how do we uninstall it , once we have decided to go with windows 7 only.

Lewis Matthews

If you dual boot like this, can you still keep all your files and programs with both operating systems?

Anonymous

That’s the crux of my comment and question. Files: yes, programs: only if you reinstall.

Chris Hoffman

Basically, yes. You can see your Windows 7 files from Windows 8 and vice versa.

Harry

Just be aware that many people have reported that W8 causes drive errors on each drive / partition when you subsequently run W7 or earlier, so a dual boot would fit the criteria.
Running checkdisk on startup of W7 etc solves the issue, until you once again run W8 and the drive errors will affect your next boot into W7 etc.
It happened to me on the pre-realease, so hopefully they have it sorted, but just so you know if it does happen to you, It’s not your drive throwing errors, it’s W8.

Chris Hoffman

That’s odd, I didn’t encounter that issue — hopefully because they fixed it in the final.

shrinivas

what about activation ?

Chris Hoffman

Windows 8 should activate normally, the same as if you installed it in a single-boot configuration.

Easton Wiki

great instructions! Id definitely recommend people to install dual boot first to try Windows 8 if they are unsure. this way it is easy to go either way once you decide

Brenden Barlow

im kinda glad i didnt decide to dual boot windows 8 when i actually purchased it…i realize that for the first day or so i would have rather had 7, and were that an option i would have switched back. but after that first “shock” of using a fairly different os went away, i loved using it. i wouldnt choose to go back to 7 now if i had a chance.

Raza

Dec 15, 2012

I purchased a Dell laptop pre-installed with win8. I wish to install win7 on a separate partition (partition I have already created).
– When I boot from CD to install win7, the screen hangs up.

What to do and how to do it?

Tina Sieber

Raza,

In case you are still looking for a solution, please ask this as a question on MakeUseOf Answers.

Luis Gorospe

Great!! Gotta try this