How to Dual Boot Windows 7 and Windows 8

How to Dual Boot Windows 7 & 8Windows 8 has gotten lots of buzz, and plenty of criticism, for its attempt to shake up your PC’s operating system. With so many big changes, you may want to keep your old Windows 7 OS on your machine, just so you have something familiar to ease the transition. Fortunately, you can work a little hard drive wizardry to make space for both the old and the new. Here’s how you can dual boot Windows 8 on a computer that already runs Windows 7.

Step 1: Back up your current system

This is always a good practice when you are tweaking an operating system. The risk of losing data is usually pretty low, but you don’t want files to disappear the one and only time you didn’t back up. Make sure you save a copy of your entire hard drive in addition to your regular backups. (You are backing up your files, right?)

Step 2: Create a new partition on your hard drive

how to dual boot windows 7 and 8 disk management

You’ll need to set aside a separate chunk of your hard drive to house the new OS and everything you’ll run on it. Windows 8 on its own will take about 20GB of space, but you’ll also need room for all your programs and files, so you may want to allot as much space as you can take from your existing hard drive.

From the Start menu, right-click on the “Computer” option. Select “Manage” from the drop-down menu, then double-click on “Disk Management.”

The top of the Disk Management window displays a list of any existing partitions in your hard drive. Right-click on the entry for your main hard drive, which is C: for most machines, and select “Shrink volume.” Minimize the hard drive until you have the desired amount of free space. Once you have made the room for Windows 8, click the empty block and select “New Simple Volume.” This will launch a wizard to walk you through the final steps.

You won’t have to change anything until you reach the “Format Partition” window. The settings you will need for formatting are NTFS for File System and the default for Allocation Unit Size. Be sure to give the new partition a name under “Volume label.” Titling it “Windows 8” will ensure that you can find it in the next step. After you’ve named the new space in the hard drive, click “Next” and your computer will complete the formatting.

Step 3: Obtain your copy of Windows 8

Depending on how you want to purchase the new OS, you can install it either by DVD or by USB drive. If you purchase a copy in your friendly local computer store, you’ll be using the DVD and DVD drive approach in the next step. If you prefer to download it directly from Microsoft, put the files on a large thumb drive and use the USB approach in the next step.

Step 4: Install Windows 8 in the new partition

how to dual boot windows 7 and 8 bios settings

This is the most complicated step. Depending on your computer’s settings, you may need to change your computer’s BIOS settings so that it will boot from the drive with Windows 8 installation files on it. To do that, restart your computer and mash a hot key as the machine wakes up; the “Delete” key will accomplish this on most PCs. Go to the boot menu and switch the settings so that the first choice for booting up is the DVD or USB drive, depending on where you’ve stored your Windows 8 files, instead of the hard drive. Then go ahead and start up your computer.

You’ll first have to accept the installer’s software license, and the next screen will ask which type of installation you want. Choose the Custom option, then select your newly created hard drive partition, the one you probably named “Windows 8,” for its location. The installer will probably take about 20 minutes to complete the task.

Step 5: Enjoy playing with your new OS

You’ll now see a screen asking which operating system you want to use when you boot up your computer. It will default to launching Windows 8 if you don’t make a selection within 30 seconds, but you can change that setting under the “Change defaults” link on the launch page.

Dual booting on a Mac

If you have a Mac computer that also runs Windows 7, the process for adding Windows 8 is the same as for its predecessor. Apple’s Boot Camp can help you perform similar hard drive partitioning to make space for the new Microsoft OS. Parallels Desktop 8 and VMware Fusion 5  are other popular virtualization programs that allow you to switch between Mac and Windows without needing to reboot your computer. Both products should support the new Microsoft offering as well as Apple’s latest OS, Mountain Lion.

For those of you who still aren’t sure if you want to make the leap to the new OS, check out our guide to Microsoft’s Windows 8 for more insights about whether the OS is a good fit for you.

Computing

AMD’s Ryzen one-two punch will end with a 64-core Threadripper in 2019

AMD's Threadripper may be set to deliver the killing blow to Intel in Q4 2019, with a rumor suggesting a new Zen 2-based Threadripper line is coming down the pipe with a top chip that has as many as 64 cores.
Deals

Amazon cuts prices on Microsoft Surface Pro 6 and Surface Go

The Microsoft Surface series is an excellent alternative to other tablets if you're a dedicated Windows user, and the superb Surface Pro 6 (our favorite 2-in-1) and its cheaper sibling, the Surface Go, are both on sale right now.
Deals

Amazon sale drops deals on Microsoft Surface laptops

Despite an increasingly crowded market, the sleek Microsoft Surface laptops have left their mark. Both the Microsoft Surface Laptop 2 and Surface Book 2 are discounted on Amazon right now, too, with deals that can save you up to $300.
Computing

If you need your laptop to be large, these ones are most in charge

Whether you're in the market for a mobile workstation or a gaming behemoth, there's probably something in the 15-inch form factor that can fit the bill. Here, we've rounded up the best 15-inch laptops available.
Computing

Need more pixels? These 4K laptops have the eye-popping visuals you crave

If you're looking for the best 4K laptops, you need to find one that has powerful internal hardware, and doesn't scrimp on weight and battery life. All of these 4K notebooks are great options, but which one is the right one for you?
Photography

What’s the difference between Lightroom CC and Lightroom Classic?

Lightroom CC has evolved into a capable photo editor, but is it enough to supplant Lightroom Classic? We took each program for a test drive to compare the two versions and see which is faster, more powerful, and better organized.
Computing

Russian hackers behind ‘world’s most murderous malware’ probing U.S. power grid

A hacking group linked to the Russian government has attempted to breach the U.S. power grid. Security experts tracked the hackers, and warn that they were probing the grid for weaknesses.
Computing

HP's Spectre x360 is a better 2-in-1 than Microsoft's Surface Laptop 2 is a clamshell

The Microsoft Surface Laptop 2 is a refresh of Microsoft's clamshell option, an oddity given Microsoft's creation of the modern 2-in-1. The HP Spectre x360 13 is, therefore, an interesting comparison.
Deals

Amazon deal drops prices on Asus VivoBook laptops and 2-in-1s

Asus is one of the premier PC brands cranking out Windows ultrabooks today with its sleek VivoBook series, and these Amazon deals let you score one for $700 or less. Read on to find out what we love about these laptops and how you can save.
Deals

The best Amazon Prime Day 2019 deals: Leaked date and what you need to know

Amazon Prime Day 2019 is still a month away, but it's never too early to start preparing. We've been taking a look at the best discounts from previous Prime Days to give you our predictions of what to expect this year.
Computing

Air, Pro, or just a MacBook? Here's our guide to finding the right Apple laptop

Apple's lineup of MacBooks has started to swell, leaving fans a bit confused about which laptop they should buy. Depending on what you're looking for, we'll point you in the right direction.
Computing

15-inch laptops come with extra power, but which of these wields it better?

HP's latest "gem-cut" Spectre x360 15 adds powerful components to make it the fastest 2-in-1 we've ever tested. Can it take on the equally fast and incredibly svelte Dell XPS 15?
Emerging Tech

Facebook builds virtual homes to train A.I. agents in realistic environments

Researchers at Facebook have created Habitat, which is a platform that enables rapid training for A.I. agents. They will receive thousands of hours of training in just a few minutes in the virtual homes.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Plant-based shoes and a ukulele learning aid

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!