Enterprise ArchitectureBiz

Dual boot Windows 7 and Windows 8


When Windows 8 released, I was waiting.  I am not usually the first in line for OS releases, but this time I had a vested interest. I have a book in the works, and this release was an important part.

I was ready with VirtualBox, Windows Virtual PC, and a spare laptop (in case I needed to install on the metal). When the ISOs were available, I was first in line, with a fast connection, and I did the Pokemon bit – gotta get ‘em all.

VirtualBox refused to honor the 64 bit virtualization of my HP XW6200. Aaaand, so did Virtual PC. And guess what – the spare laptop I had was 32 bit too. I was stuck.

Except I had my main laptop, which was 64 bit and had Grub and a Linux partition.  Maybe, just maybe I could instead turn it into a dual booting Windows 7 / Windows 7 laptop.  This post is about how I did it.

Getting rid of Linux

The first time I had to do was get rid of Linux. I did this by removing the partitions that it lived on (That Wubu had made for me) and making them into an empty partition. I did this with the Disk Manager.

In Windows XP and prior, disk partitioning required a tool purchase. In Vista, Microsoft included a tool called Disk Management, part of the Computer Management control panel. To get there, open the Control Panel, change to Icon View, click Administrative Tools, and open the Computer Management panel.


This image shows my desktop right now, but the laptop had 6 partitions

  • The original Vista recovery partition
  • The C partition
  • Grub
  • Ubuntu 10
  • Ubuntu11
  • System Reserved

So I deleted the two Ubuntu partitions and Grub and made them into an empty partition. I made one on my desktop to show what I mean.


Here, I have a 250 GB unallocated partition.  I can right click on it and name it so I can be sure to get the right one when I am installing Windows 8.

Making a Windows 8 boot UBS drive

Now I needed to install – and I didn’t have any blank DVDs. (Really) I did have a 75 gig USB drive though. My laptop had the capability to boot from USB (as many do) so I decided to make a bootable USB drive.

  1. Start with a drive that you can empty (You can add stuff later if you need to).
  2. Extract the ISO to a file directory on your hard drive. Use WinRAR if you have nothing to do that.
  3. Download NovaCorp’s WinToFlash product.
  4. It runs right from the download no need to install
  5. Use the Windows Setup Transfer Wizard to move the extracted files from the ISO to the USB
  6. There ya go!

Making a Windows Partition

So I rebooted after this activity, and I got a Grub error. As it turns out, Grub doesn’t LIKE it when you delete its master boot record. I needed to load up a repair utility. Since I had a Windows 8 boot drive now, I booted to it by setting my BIOS to boot from USB, and entered the Repair menu.

From there I went to Advanced Tools, got a command prompt, and entered two commands:

bootsect /nt60 C:

and then

bootrec /fixmbr

Rebooted and then Windows 7 booted just fine.

Installing Windows 8

Installing Windows 8 was an awesome experience. I shut down Windows 7 and changed the boot partition to the USB drive again. When it came up, I had a normal Windows 8 install experience, which took about 10 minutes.

The installer auto rebooted, and I still had the bootable USB drive in. Since my BIOD was set to boot from that drive, it went back to the installer startup. I just shut down my machine, and unplugged the USB drive, restarted and the installer continued.

After installation, I rebooted to discover that Windows 8 comes with a boot manager! I get a big, neat MetroUI selection screen asking my if I want to boot into Windows 7 or Windows 8.

The Finished Product

I was stuck in 1024/786, but I had a landscape display. In a last ditch attempt, I navigated to the Display Settings, selected Advanced and then Update Driver.


Here I tried the Search Automatically feature and what do you know, it worked.

Now I have a perfectly working Windows 8 and Windows 7 partition, and I can freely boot between the two. The Windows 8 partition even has my Windows 7 partition mounted as a drive!

Nice work, Microsoft. Your work really showed on this one.

Comments (2) -

  • Bill Sempf
    I couldn't get the Microsoft Store tool to work with any of the USB storage I had sitting around. They all gave an error of "This is not a valid device" or some such. Glad Scott got it to work though!

    And that IS a good post. Looks like we wrote them at about the same time.

Pingbacks and trackbacks (1)+

Comments are closed