How to Dual Boot Windows Vista And Windows 7

windows-selection

For those of you who have waited long for the beta release of Windows 7, Micosoft has finally released the link for you to download a copy to test. In case you have not downloaded, here is the link:

  • Windows 7 beta 32-bit version
  • Windows 7 beta 64-bit version (the download is no longer available)

The file size is about 2.4GB in size, so make sure you are on a broadband connection and have several hours to spare. You will have to burn it into a DVD to use it.

Once you have downloaded it, you will have to install it on a working machine in order to access the full functionality. As this is still a beta release and not suitable for daily production use, it is not wise to erase or upgrade your existing Vista to Windows 7. A good way is to create a dual boot system where you can choose to boot into Vista or Win 7. Here’s how it’s done:

Shrink your Vista and create new partition

In your Vista, go to Start -> Control Panel. Click on the System and Maintenance.

Scroll down all the way to find the Administrative Tools. Create on the Create and format hard disk partitions. You should see information about  your current hard drive partitioning.

Right click on the chart diagram and select Shrink volume.

disk-shrinking

A window will pop up to ask you to enter the amount of space to shrink. This is the size that you want your new partition to have. For Win 7, you will need at least 10GB of hard disk space. Click Shrink after you have confirmed the shrinking size.

disk-srhink-size

Back to the Disk Management window, you should see two partition now: one is the C drive and a new unallocated partition. Right-click on the Unallocated partition and select New Simple Volume

create new partition on vista

Set the volume size of the new partition and click Next.

new volume size

Next, it will ask you to specify the drive letter of the new partition. To avoid confusion with the drive letter of the CD-ROM, I decided to go with G:. You can set your own drive letter though.

partition-drive-letter

In the next screen, you can specify the file format and Volume label. It is recommended to change the Volume Label to something that is easy to identify, such as Windows 7.

partition-format

The partitioning will now start. Once it is done, you should see something like this.

two-partitions

Close everything. Place in the Windows 7 DVD and restart the computer.

Installing Windows 7

Boot up your computer using the Windows 7 installer DVD (you might have to configure the BIOS to get the computer to boot from CD-ROM). Let’s the installer run and follow the instruction until you reach the point where it asks you to select the installation partition.Make sure you select the partition that you have just created (not the Vista partition).

win7-select-partition

Finish up the installation. It should be done in about 30 minutes time.

When it’s done, it will auto-restart. On the boot up screen, you should be able to choose between Windows Vista or Windows 7.

windows-selection

To dual boot windows XP and windows 7

The procedure is the same as the dual-boot between windows XP and Vista.

Accessing Windows Vista partition from Windows 7

When you boot into Windows 7, you will find that you won’t be able to access Vista partition. This is because in Windows 7, both the partitions are registered as Drive C:, thus it only displays the partition that the system boots up with. To solve this issue, simply go to Disk Management and change the drive letter of the Vista partition.

In your Windows 7, go to Disk Management.

Right-click on the Vista partition (the one with the blank entry) and select Change Drive letter and Paths

change-vista-drive

Click Add to assign a drive letter to the Vista partition.

vista-drive-letter

Save and close all windows. The Vista partition should appear in your Explorer now.

41 comments

  1. Great guide as usual. I used magicdisc, mounted the .iso on Vista and installed it on the other partition I prepared for Windows 7.I find, the new OS a little bit more responsive then Vista and am impressed so far.
    Although,I must say that I still love me some Unix!

    • Thanks for you kind words.

      Same as you, I am rather impressed by Windows 7, especially the user interface. It is definitely a much needed improvement since their flop in Vista. Nevertheless, my favorite OS is still Linux, or Ubuntu to be exact.

    • I have tried repartioning the disk and it works and everything but I find Portlock Leap Frog software much easier to dual-boot my computer, and the coolest thing, is that I don’t have to repartion the disk, Portlcok Leap Frog will create a virtual hard disk and install Windows 7 on it and use to dual boot my computer. it is nice and it is faster… http://www.portlock.com/products/leap_frog/

  2. Hi, I downloaded the iso and burned it to a dvd, but I was wondering if instead of creating another partition and dual-booting it, can’t I just run it inside of a virtual machine?

    • Yes, you can, but you won’t be able to test the full functionality of the OS. Some of the functionality (such as AeroPeek) required 3D acceleration to function.

  3. The ISO downloads from this site don’t require a product key, or do we need to go get those from MS?

  4. ive burned the files to the disc, and it loaded at booting on a desktop i installed it on. But it wont work on my hp dv9700… instead of loading at boot, it just keeps booting vista… i can run the installer from within vista.. but will that give me a chance to install it on the seperate partion or will it wipe my vista out???

    • Did you set your computer to boot up from cd-rom? If yes, it should prompt you to press “enter” to go into the setup mode.

      You will have to go to the BIOS to change the system configuration to boot up from CD-ROM.

  5. Just a question, how do you remove a dual boot? after I installed windows 7 on a virtual machine I got overconfident and made a dual-boot between 7 and xp, however I want to revert back to 7 on a virtual machine after all, so how do I remove windows 7’s boot option and it’s entire partition?

  6. You can use the GParted Live CD to erase the Windows 7 partition (and return the partition to the Win XP if you want).

    After that, you will have to use the Win XP installer CD to restore the XP bootloader.

    Boot up your XP installer CD.

    Choose Repair
    type in “fixmbr” (without the quote) in the command prompt.
    restart the computer

  7. Hi there

    I am trying to dual boot between my currently installed Vista and Win 7. I followed your great steps, but it will only let me shrink 10 Mb!!

    I have a 300GB HDD – with 178 GB free. I have tried clicking and looking for options etc but i can’t find any way to shrink for adequate Win 7 space (i was going to do 100Gb approx so i could use it to test games etc, which take up lots of space).

    Any ideas???

    cheers.

  8. I followed all the directions of patitioning and installing Windows 7 and everything went great and 7 works wonderful, however on a reboot I don’t get a boot option screen and system loads into Vista. Any help would be appreciated.

    • After you computer is finished with the POST (BIOS screens, memory, etc), the screen will clear, and your computer will display something like: “Loading…” At this point, try pressing the F12 key, just as you see that “Loading” message, and that will hopefully intercept the Vista boot. Hopefully you wil then get a load screen showing the Windows 7 (and Vista) option. Select Windows 7 (up and down keys, then hit ), and away you go. If it works, use this procedure every time.

      Let me know if this works.

  9. if i want to revert back to single boot Vista or upgrade to windows 7, how do you remove a dual boot.

    • Reformat the Windows 7 partition (either from the Win Vista partition or use a third party software like Partition magic or Gparted), then reconfigure the bootloader (either with easyBCD or Vista installer DVD)

  10. I dual boot Ubuntu and Vista. Do you know if I’ll encounter any problems upgrading Vista to Windows 7? I know I have no problems upgrading Ubuntu, but I don’t know about Windows.

  11. Hey Damien, thanks for the great steps everything worked perfectly and i am enjoying Windows 7.

    I now want to revert back to my original single boot with vista, i saw that you said you need to re-format the windows 7 partition and then fix the boot loader with easyBCD, however i am afraid that in mucking around with all this i will mess some thing up big time. could you please post how to do this step by step if you have the time, or at least put in some basic guidelines about how to re-format the win 7 partition and use easyBCD to fix the boot loader.

    Thanks.

  12. hey thanks for the help but i already have windows 7 installed
    so can you do one on how to duel boot windows vista if u already have windows 7
    thanks

  13. Dual Boot Problem with Visa / Win 7…

    I have added Win 7 Ultimate to a separate drive on my computer and the drive letter is E:. The original OS is Vista Ultimate is on C: drive. When I booted up and arrow down to the Vista OS the arrow keys do not function. Also, the F8 key does not work either. I read your instructions on changing the drive letter do to the fact that both the partitions are registered as Drive C:. Should I change the the Vista to the next available drive letter or is there something else I should try?

    Thank you

    • My Dual Boot issue is solved. I rebooted a couple of times and the up and down keys started to work. I have a wireless keyboard and maybe it was not reacting as fast as it should on the double boot screen. I guess one can call it a ghosting keyboard.

      Regards,
      Ron

  14. Does anyone know if it’s possible to create a similar set up using an external hard drive over a SATA or USB connection?

    I had to decomission my Vista Laptop due to a power issue, but still had a perfectly work1ing hard-drive and OS at the time.

    My new laptop runs Windows 7, but won’t run certain applications that are not compatible between the two OS’s. Rather than sacrifice space with a partition, I was hoping to be able to select the boot drive (and OS)

    Any help is appreciated.

    • @Doug: If you connect it via SATA, it might be possible for the computer to register it as the second internal hard drive. You can then use EasyBCD to modify the bootup sequence.

      I am not too sure about USB…

  15. I just did a dual boot on my old IBM T30 laptop. XP and win 7 pro. The iso/dvd I have kept getting a cd rom driver error so I created a bootable usb drive but my laptop would not boot to it even if I hit F12 and selected “removable device” on the boot selection screen. So I just started setup while in xp and it installed. But now when I boot to win 7 the drive letter is D and not C. I have a dual boot on a desktop with xp and vista and it always changes the booted drive to C.

    How can I make it change to win 7 drive to c when I boot to it ?

    Thanks!

    • @C: If you start the Win7 setup from XP, you won’t be able to change the drive letter back to C.

      It is only when you install both OS with the installer DVD, directly from the bootup screen, then will it show C on both partition.

  16. Thanks Damien. I’ll check out easybcd. My understanding is that USB boot is not supported, but even via SATA, I coldn’t select the drive from start up or BIOS even though Win7 could see it fine.

    Doug

  17. Hi,
    My Acer X1800 has two hard drives C and D each with 341GB. Do I still have to partition C drive, can’t I just install Windows 7 on the D drive?

  18. After booting up win7 in your dual boot system, the vista partition will not be visible because both win7 and vista are registered as c partitions. You recommend using disk management in win7 to change the vista drive assignment to something other than c. This makes the vista parition visible in win7.

    My question is, after doing this, what happens when you boot up in vista? Does vista boot up as a c partition? Will each OS boot up as a c partition using this method?

  19. Hi, Damien,
    Following these steps, successfully installed Windows 7 on a seperate partition in my HP vista system. Although I named by new drive as 'Windows 7 (G), once the installation completed, it became 'C' drive, and my old vista partition (c) became 'd'drive. However, Vista also booting/working fine. Currently both windows are working fine and perfect. However, just a query… do I have to do any BCDEDIT???? or it is ok to keep as is, and use the system…? Also, I can see my vista partition as 'D' Drive now. So, can i use the programs installed in Vista partition, by going to its program files and accessing the programs????
    Thanks for your help Admin. Regards.

  20. If you can boot into both Windows 7 and Vista, there is no need for you to do any BCDEdit.

    You can access the files (from Windows 7) in your Vista partition, but you won't be able to run those applications installed in Vista.

Comments are closed.

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