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

Chris Hoffman 23-11-2012

dual boot windows 8 and windows 7Are you interested in Windows 8, but don’t want to abandon Windows 7 The Windows 7: Ultimate Guide If you are afraid to upgrade from Vista or XP because you feel it is completely different to what you are used to, you should read this new guide. Read More 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 The Windows 8 Guide This Windows 8 guide outlines everything new about Windows 8, from the tablet-like start screen to the new "app" concept to the familiar desktop mode. Read More 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 How To Get Windows 8 For The Lowest Possible Price Whether the mixed reviews of the preview releases of Windows 8 have influenced pricing or Microsoft are simply taking a leaf out of Apple’s book isn’t quite clear, but the price of a new copy... Read More , 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 The Windows Backup and Restore Guide Disasters happen. Unless you're willing to lose your data, you need a good Windows backup routine. We'll show you how to prepare backups and restore them. Read More 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.

dual boot windows 8 and 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.

dual boot windows 8 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.

dual boot windows 8 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 How To Install Windows 8 From A USB Stick If you’re looking to install Windows 8 and your computer doesn't have a DVD drive, you’re not alone. Whether you have a Windows 8 DVD or a Windows 8 ISO file you've downloaded from Microsoft,... Read More 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.)

dual boot windows 8 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 dual boot with windows 7


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

windows 8 dual boot with windows 7

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

windows 8 dual boot with windows 7


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 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 The Windows 8 Guide This Windows 8 guide outlines everything new about Windows 8, from the tablet-like start screen to the new "app" concept to the familiar desktop mode. Read More . You may also want to print out our cheat sheets to Windows 8’s mouse gestures 18 Essential Touch Gestures in Windows 10 Touch gestures are like keyboard shortcuts for your touchpad and touchscreen. And with Windows 10, they have finally become useful! We'll show you how to access the full potential of touch gestures. Read More and keyboard shortcuts Windows Keyboard Shortcuts 101: The Ultimate Guide Keyboard shortcuts can save you hours of time. Master the universal Windows keyboard shortcuts, keyboard tricks for specific programs, and a few other tips to speed up your work. Read More , which you’ll need to get around Windows 8.

Have you installed Windows 8 in a dual-boot configuration How to Install Ubuntu on Windows 10: 3 Simple Methods to Try There are many ways in which you can try Ubuntu. One of them is to install Ubuntu on Windows 10 using one of these methods. Read More 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?

Explore more about: Dual Boot, Windows 7, Windows 8.

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  1. anirudh
    July 20, 2016 at 4:57 pm

    Thanks !!
    But i have an question??¿¿?
    I need to switch on my pc's net during installation windows for dual boot.....

  2. Luis Gorospe
    January 25, 2013 at 5:40 am

    Great!! Gotta try this

  3. Raza
    December 14, 2012 at 11:44 am

    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?

  4. Brenden Barlow
    December 13, 2012 at 5:30 pm

    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.

  5. Easton Wiki
    November 28, 2012 at 4:50 am

    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

  6. shrinivas
    November 27, 2012 at 6:04 am

    what about activation ?

    • Chris Hoffman
      November 30, 2012 at 1:01 pm

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

  7. Harry
    November 26, 2012 at 8:47 pm

    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
      November 30, 2012 at 1:01 pm

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

  8. Lewis Matthews
    November 24, 2012 at 2:00 pm

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

    • Anonymous
      November 25, 2012 at 2:06 am

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

      • Chris Hoffman
        November 30, 2012 at 1:01 pm

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

  9. zaheer
    November 24, 2012 at 8:45 am

    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.

  10. Sean A
    November 24, 2012 at 7:12 am

    my 5th OS to multi-boot
    Like a boss

    • Chris Hoffman
      November 30, 2012 at 12:59 pm

      Is one of them Haiku?

  11. Christopher Schaffer
    November 24, 2012 at 5:44 am

    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.

    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
      November 30, 2012 at 12:58 pm

      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
        November 30, 2012 at 2:28 pm

        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! :)

  12. Gary Petersen
    November 24, 2012 at 5:03 am

    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
      November 30, 2012 at 12:57 pm

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

      • Anonymous
        November 30, 2012 at 1:09 pm

        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.

  13. Zhong Jiang
    November 24, 2012 at 4:10 am

    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
      November 30, 2012 at 12:57 pm

      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.

  14. Michael Jan Moratalla
    November 24, 2012 at 3:43 am

    not bad to do haha

  15. CyberPrince
    November 24, 2012 at 2:59 am

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

  16. Ron Lister
    November 24, 2012 at 2:31 am

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

    • vineed gangadharan
      November 24, 2012 at 9:01 am

      Thinking of same ...

    • Anonymous
      December 15, 2012 at 8:52 am

      9? when will they release those?

      • Ron Lister
        December 15, 2012 at 3:03 pm

        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
          March 2, 2013 at 8:04 am

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

        • Morne v
          April 23, 2013 at 9:07 am

          Windows 8.1 apparently

  17. Brandon Ragoo
    November 23, 2012 at 11:30 pm

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

    • Anonymous
      December 15, 2012 at 8:49 am

      wow, how did you do that

  18. Anonymous
    November 23, 2012 at 9:58 pm

    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.

  19. Efi Dreyshner
    November 23, 2012 at 9:13 pm

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