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Dual Boot Windows 7 with XP/Vista in three easy steps

By Julio Franco ยท 17 replies
Jan 20, 2009
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  1. Now that Microsoft's latest operating system, Windows 7 (beta) is publicly available, almost everyone is itching to get their grubby paws on a copy and take it for a test drive.

    However, because this is only a beta release most people simply aren't willing to part with their established installations of Windows Vista or XP. With that mind, we're going to look at one easy way of dual booting Windows 7 Beta with either Vista or XP in three painless steps.

    Read the full article at:

    Please leave your feedback here. Thanks!
  2. jeep2003

    jeep2003 TS Rookie

    Me I already was dual Booting with XP on one drive and Vista on a 2nd.. Now Windows 7 on a 3rd..... I was suprised when I installed Win 7 that I could Tripple BOOT!
  3. kimsland

    kimsland Ex-TechSpotter Posts: 13,810

    Um Wow!

    Excellent guide :grinthumb

    Just a small note (nothing could overpower that article :rolleyes:)
    This is the only reference towards original UserData.
    Now I know, that the Original system is not touched exactly, although "shrinking of partitions and "boot manager" going on during the process.

    But I'd just like to mention, confirm all UserData is safely backed up to some type of external media, just in case ;)

    I'm also concerned that the process of removal of Windows 7 is not stated, but that's a whole different topic.

    Anyway, very well written and researched (I expect researched, I'd hate to think you guys, just knew all that already :) )
  4. Nirkon

    Nirkon TS Enthusiast Posts: 202


    just a note though, you don't have to burn the disc, you can mount
    it with any disc-mounting software and install it from there.
  5. dustin_ds3000

    dustin_ds3000 TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 880   +20

    thankz Julio, i just did my first dual boot with vista and win 7.
  6. DarthMuffin

    DarthMuffin TS Rookie

    Good article.

    Nice article. Does a great job of explaining it so even a novice (such as myself) can dual boot the new OP. Hats off to the author. :grinthumb
  7. Julio Franco

    Julio Franco TechSpot Editor Topic Starter Posts: 8,189   +1,256

    Thank you everyone for the feedback.

    Although it was not requested here, it was on Neowin and through email, we will be following up shortly with a brief guide on how to "uninstall Windows 7" by deleting your partition and restoring your boot manager to a single OS.

    This should also make for the cleanest way to upgrade to a future release candidate of Windows 7 or even the final version if you still want to dual boot.
  8. kimsland

    kimsland Ex-TechSpotter Posts: 13,810

    I thought I requested it :(
    I should have said it more strongly
  9. Julio Franco

    Julio Franco TechSpot Editor Topic Starter Posts: 8,189   +1,256

    Oops, sorry I forgot about your response since I had read that earlier in the day :)
  10. kimsland

    kimsland Ex-TechSpotter Posts: 13,810

    That's alright, I was support at Neowin for two years before I came here anyway :D
  11. Per Hansson

    Per Hansson TS Server Guru Posts: 1,966   +223

    You can actually boot of the Windows 7 (Or Vista) DVD
    Select your language and right then before doing anything else press "SHIFT + F10"

    This will bring you into the command prompt where you can use DISKPART to resize your disk
    (It's a text based tool of course but very very handy if you know what you are doing)

    You can also use this trick to make repairs etc on previous versions of Windows
    USB support and all is loaded and with some extra work you can even enable networking, here is a small list of usefull supported commands;

  12. swker98

    swker98 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,054

    When i installed windows 7 my windows xp would no longer boot, i had the xp on one HDD and put windows 7 on another drive anyone know why it wouldn't boot (had to do a repair install of xp to get it back and now i cant get into win 7 obviously)
  13. SueK

    SueK TS Rookie

    Julio, Can I install XP instead of Windows 7 ? Will it work? I have Vista and I want XP on another partition. Can I use the same instructions.Thanks for your time.
  14. Olin

    Olin TS Rookie

    getting the install key the old way

    The windows 7 install key page. basically it looks like this [see below] and its the same product install/activation key for 32bit OS that everyone getrs.

    as for my experience with win 7.. im just getting started but i hope its al the better then XP. XP is now falling apart. weather its thru updates or SP3 its coming undone and slowly tearing the pc and my brain to pieces with its sudden errors and usb problems are afew of the things that seems to be happening now. Of course this is just how MS would do things in order to get consumers to move onto the next OS thats avalible.

    Windows 7 Beta 32-bit Product Key

    You may use the following product key to activate your evaluation copy of Windows 7 Beta 32-bit.

    Product key: GG4MQ-MGK72-HVXFW-KHCRF-KW6KY
  15. ren63

    ren63 TS Rookie

    Thank you really easy instructions was really pleased when everything worked ok and nothing went belly up.

    Just one question can you share programs between two partitioned drives?
  16. Matthew

    Matthew TS Evangelist Posts: 5,270   +104

    This is just a guess, but I would say it all depends. The programs you're trying to execute from the older partition might require registry entries which won't be present on your Windows 7 partition. That said, some apps won't, and others might even add the entries on execution.

    Even further, when you *are* able to successfully launch a program - say, a game, it may not find your saved data and configurations. You'll almost certainly experience a wide spectrum of hiccups in an attempt to use the software installed on your old partition. I wouldn't recommend it.

    Off the top of my head, the only way that I can think of to get around a portion of the issues, would be to create a third partition along side your two Windows partitions. This third partition would be dedicated to your programs.

    You would have to configure both Windows partitions to identify themselves with the same drive letter (C: for instance). Then, you could start by uninstalling your programs on the old partition and reinstalling them to the new central location. After that, you would test the programs by accessing them in Windows 7. Those which refuse to work would probably need to be installed through Windows 7 (again, to the central partition) to create the required registry entries and so on.

    Antivirus software and so on would probably be best off on the Windows partition. This, again, is nothing more than a guess on my part. I'm sure if there are any glaring errors in my thoughts someone will swing by and make me look foolish.
  17. Dears..
    I had installed Windows 7 build 7100 on my exisitng XP OS without creating a new partition. can i get my XP back ?? note that my old system files are still there under the file name: "windows.old" but i don't know how to restore them.
  18. Poppa Bear

    Poppa Bear TS Enthusiast Posts: 228   +8

    Win 7 Removal

    These are the steps I took from load to removal of Win 7.

    My pre-installation status was one HD with XP Pro on 1st partition, Vista Ult on 2nd, and a 3rd data storage partition.

    Used Vista boot management to shrink 2nd partition, but did not use it to create the new partition in the blank space, as it will only create a logical drive partition, not a primary. Consequently booted PC from XP CD and ran Recovery console and used "diskpart" command to bring up the Partition Manager. Then created a new primary partition on the blank space after Vista and before the now 4th storage partition.

    Win 7 RC loaded flawlessly and a third boot option was added to the existing two for XP & Vista. After playing around with it for awhile, then came the removal step to see what would happen.

    See Kimsland's comment earlier in this thread.

    To get rid of Win 7 I simply deleted the 3rd primary partition, again using XP CD Recovery console and "diskpart" command to bring up the Partition Manager. I had to use this because the Disk Management options in both XP and Vista would not allow me to delete it, as it was an "active system". I thought this would also remove any boot option reference to Win 7. Wrong! The three boot options kept coming up even though the Win7 option went nowhere.

    I then had to use the Command prompt "BCDEdit" in Vista to remove the Win7 boot option. It took a lot of experimentation and frustration, and although I finally got it to work, in the process I accidentally deleted the XP boot option. So in the hope that others might benefit from my mistakes, these are the commands needed to remove a boot option using BCDEdit command:

    After the cursor, type in:

    BCDEdit /v

    Now press enter. Note there is a space between the BCDEdit and /v. This will list the operating systems in the boot menu, and show the "Identifier string key" as a numeric/text entry and not a generic name.

    Note that each boot entry does show which partition it refers to. To make identification of the partitions easier, I had already re-named my partitions using My Computer, and simply right clicking the title and re-naming. Eg, the C: drive was re-named "XP Pro". Be careful here, because with multiple operating systems, whichever OS is running will show the letter C: for the partition it's on, when you open My Computer. So if I'm operating Vista, it will be shown to occupy the C: drive, but in reality it's on the 2nd partition.

    Now type the command:

    BCDEdit /f /delete {type the numeric/text Identifier for the entry you wish to remove here inside the parentheses}

    The final command wil look something like this:

    BCDEdit /f /delete {44fa8-334Ob9-234f3bg78-1131c32c}

    Note there are spaces between each main entity you type. Press Enter and this will remove the boot entry for the Identifier you have typed in between the parentheses.

    Hope this helps. Cheers Poppa B. :grinthumb

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