If you’re dying to try out Windows 7 but aren’t ready to give up your installation of XP or Vista, let’s take a look at how to dual boot Windows 7 with XP or Vista.
Preliminary tasks: Download the Windows 7 Beta and Burn It to a DVD
Assuming you’ve already downloaded a fresh copy of Windows 7, you’ll need to burn it to a DVD in order to do a fresh installation. To handle this task, grab a copy of my favorite CD and DVD burning tool called “ImgBurn”, burn the ISO to a DVD, and move right along to step 1.
Step 1: Partition Your Hard Drive
Before you go installing Windows 7, the first thing you need to do is create a new partition on your hard drive to hold the new installation of Windows. Partitioning your hard drive will vary depending on whether you’re running XP or Vista—namely because Vista has a partition tool baked in, XP does not.
Partition Your Hard Drive in XP
To partition your hard drive in Windows XP, you’ll need to download some sort of third-party partitioning software. I prefer to the GParted live CD, a free, open source boot CD that can handle all kinds of partitioning duties.
To use it, just download the GParted Live CD, burn it to a CD, then reboot your computer (booting from the disc). You’ll boot right into the partitioning tool.
Resize your current OS drive to free up enough space for a Windows 7 partition (the minimum system requirements ask for 16GB).
Create a new partition from the newly freed space.
Apply your changes.
Partition Your Hard Drive in Vista
The folks at Redmond were kind enough to include a disk partitioning tool in Vista if you know where to look. So go to:
- System and Maintainence (skip this one if you’re in Classic view)
- administrative Tools
- Computer Management.
Once you launch the Computer Management tool, click on Disk Management under the Storage heading in the sidebar. It’s partitioning time.
Step 2: Install Windows 7
Now that you’ve done all the heavy lifting, it’s time for the easy part: Installing Windows 7 on your new partition. So insert your Windows 7 disc and reboot your computer (you’ll need to have enabled booting from your DVD drive in your system BIOS, but most PCs will have this enabled by default).
Once the DVD boots up it’s a simple matter of following along with the fairly simple installation wizard. When you’re choosing installation type, be sure to select Custom (advanced) and choose the partition you set up above.
Be careful here. Choosing the wrong partition could mean wiping your other Windows installation altogether, so make sure you pick the new partition you just created.
After you select the partition, go grab yourself a drink and let the installer do its work. Windows will run through some installation bits, restart a few times in the process. Eventually you’ll be prompted to set up your account, enter your license key, and set up Windows.