Your questions: How to easily set up a dual boot system for Windows 7

Over the weekend I noted that the Windows 7 Beta was available for download, which prompted a number of questions.  By far, the most common and popular question was…

“I want to install Windows 7 but I don’t want to lose my Windows XP/ Windows Vista installation.  I’d like to create a dual boot system… What should I do?”

From the boards and blogs, it appears that this is on many people’s minds.  So much so that Lifehacker’s Adam Pash posted a quick set of instructions on How to Dual Boot Windows 7 with XP or Vista last Friday… and it’s a popular post with more than 120,000 views as of today.

After downloading the beta, it’s fairly straight forward to partition your drive to provide a volume for the installation and then install the beta.  (Instructions for installing the Windows 7 beta can be found online here.)

I will insert one step to Adam’s suggested two step procedure:

Step 1.5: Partition and create a Data partition for your files.

I added a step for my systems, providing an additional partition in my single drive machines (laptops and an HP Slimline) to serve as my data drive.  This allows me to install new drops of the Windows 7 OS without having to back up my data for a migration to the latest version.

Added 011609: Thanks to Duncanma for info on setting up a USB drive to install Windows 7 onto a computer following these steps with diskpart:

Tags: Microsoft, customer support, feedback, customer service.

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4 replies on “Your questions: How to easily set up a dual boot system for Windows 7”

That will work and if you have only one partition you should be able to pick the Custom Install option and install a fresh copy.  It will move your Windows directory to Windows.old.  For multiple copies after the initial beta drop you may need to test to see if a second Windows.old directory gets created.

Even in the event of a catastrophic failure (not hardware related) you should be able to get your data back.


Excellent clarification – thanks!  

in my case, i have several old, previous Windows directories and did not want to retain Windows.old – i did indeed have a second Windows.old directory created. the nice benefit as you pointed out is that if there was a serious software failure I could indeed fallback on Windows.old. for my work, having the second volume available with all my data and a majority of my (non Cd or DVD) app installers is an added benefit that reduces my fresh installation time: the OS is the easy part, installing all your apps and utilities takes some time.

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