The article intends to describe the procedure of dual booting with Windows 7 and Windows 8. The information compiled here is simple and correct until date. It must be noted that failure or success of the information entirely depends on how correctly you follow it. This will also save you from facing problems and eventually contacting Microsoft technical support for help.
Since the Windows 8 beta has arrived in the market, users have been looking for ways to try it out on their existing Windows 7 computer. Since the installation of an operating system (even of the beta version) is a thin-skinned part, it should be done in the right manner. Despite following everything right from the beginning, you may stumble upon common Windows 7 problems. Don’t worry! The below mentioned step-by-step guide will help you perform the desired task on your own. This will certainly sideline the need of calling up Microsoft technical help and save you time.
Download the Microsoft Windows 8 Developer Preview from the official website of Microsoft. When prompted, save the file to a location in the computer where it is conveniently accessible from and then burn it to a DVD or an ISO file. You can also install the Preview using a USB flashdrive. Use the built-in Windows 7 USBDVD Download Tool to do so.
Back up all your data to an external drive and keep it to a safe place. Configure your computer’s BIOS to boot from any of the drives viz. DVDCD-ROM or USB. Before you begin, you should know that Win8 would take about 7.5GB of space for installation. Therefore, you would need about 20GB (more is better) of free space on your hard disk drive.
It is time to repartition the hard drive in Windows 7. Click on the Start menu, navigate to Computer, right click on it and click on Manage. Scroll down to click on Disk Management in the Windows Management window. On the right hand side, it will show all the drives currently listed in your computer.
Select the drive that you want to shrink, right click on it and choose Shrink Volume. When a dialog box appears showing the total and available space on the disk, enter the amount that needs to be shrunk. Click on the Shrink button to initiate the shrinking. Wait for the procedure to finish. When completed, right click on the Unallocated space and select New Simple Volume from the menu.
This will open up the New Simple Volume Wizard. Click on the Next button, assign a new letter to the drive from the dropdown menu and again click on Next. Click to select Format this volume, leave the File system option to NTFS and Allocation unit size to Default. Enter a name for recognizing (like Win8) in the Volume Label box and then click on the Next button. Click on the Finish button to begin the formatting procedure. Wait until completed. When finished, you will see your new drive listed in the existing list.
Instead of repartitioning, you can simply make a VHD (Virtual Hard Drive) to install Windows 8 therein. Go to the Windows Management window (see above for the procedure), click on Disk Management, highlight the Action tab and then select Create VHD from the dropdown menu. Press the Browse button and map to a location in Windows directory where you desire to save the newly created VHD. Leave the Dynamically expanding option checked. Assign a name (like VHD for Win8) in the File name box and then click on the Save button. Reformat the newly created drive (see above).
Now that you are done repartitioning or creating a VHD as per your choice, it is time to begin with the Win8 installation. Insert your DVD into the drive or plug a USB flashdrive and choose to reboot your computer. When prompted, hit any key on the keyboard to select to boot from a DVDCD or as desired.
When the Install Windows screen appears, select your Language, time & currency format (like English (United States), and Keyboard or input method (like US) and hit the Next button. Hit the Install Now button to proceed.
Wait until you see another window with installation options. Click on the Custom (advanced) option and it will show you the disk partitioning option. Carefully click on the partition that you created in previous steps (see above) and click on Next. This will initialize the installation process. Wait for it to complete. When done, follow the options to customize your Windows. When finished, your computer will reboot several times (may by more than once) and will every time welcome you with Windows 8 Welcome screen. There will also be a graphical bootloader (like Choose an Operating System) that will let you select Windows 7 or Windows 8 to boot from.
If you want to keep your previous option of booting from Windows 7, the click on the option below Change defaults or choose other options on the Choose an Operating System screen. It will take you to the Change options window. Click on Choose the default operating system option and then click on Windows 7 option. You can further customize your features like timer etc. Now that you have both the Windows installed on your computer, enjoy access to both the worlds.
A USB thumbdrive can also be used in place of a DVD.
A GB contains 1024MBs. Therefore, 20GB would contain 20480 MBs. This means that you will have to free up 20480MBs by shrinking drives.