How to Dual Boot Windows 8 with Windows 7, Windows Vista or Windows XP

On the Internet you may find plenty of guides on how to install Windows 8 on your computer but very few guides on how to create a dual boot setup and have it run alongside Windows 7, Windows Vista or Windows XP. That’s why we decided to help users who want to create a multiboot setup and share the steps required to install Windows 8 alongside earlier versions of Windows. Don’t hesitate to read the whole article and save yourself from problems and issues.

Step 1. Learn About The New Windows 8 Boot Manager

First, you need to learn about the new boot manager included with Windows 8. It is one of the most important novelties in Windows 8. The new boot manager not only looks different but:

  • It is touch friendly and can be used easily on tablets and displays with touch;
  • It allows you to choose the default operating system to boot into after a set time;
  • It provides more tools and features than the boot managers of earlier versions of Windows;
  • It takes longer to load than other boot managers but facilitates a faster boot procedure for Windows 8. As you will experience yourself, Windows 8 has the fastest boot time of all versions of Windows;
  • If you choose to boot into Windows 7 or another previous version of Windows, it will reboot your system and load the boot manager appropriate for that version of Windows.

Dual Boot Windows 8 with Windows 7, Windows Vista or Windows XP

Since it is so different it is incompatible with the boot managers from earlier versions of Windows.

Step 2. Install Other Versions of Windows First - Leave Windows 8 Last

Since the Windows 8 boot manager is so different, in a multi-boot configuration, Windows 8 should always be installed last. If you install it first and then other versions of Windows, the new boot manager will be overwritten and you won’t be able to boot into Windows 8. Then, you need to repair the boot manager with the Windows 8 installation disc or use some third-party software to manage and fix your boot entries.

You can try EasyBCD 2.2 Beta which provides support for Windows 8. If you find other boot managers that work with Windows 8, don’t hesitate to share them in the comments.

Step 3. Create a Partition Just for Windows 8

Once you are done installing other versions of Windows, you should partition your hard drive and create a new partition just for Windows 8. Make sure that this partition is at least 20 - 25 GB in size. If you plan to install lots of applications in Windows 8, don’t hesitate to make the partition bigger.

Dual Boot Windows 8 with Windows 7, Windows Vista or Windows XP

There are many tools you can use to create this partition. If you prefer the tools included in Windows, then don’t hesitate to use the Disk Management tool. To learn how to use it, read this tutorial: How to Manage Your Disks using the Disk Management Utility.

Step 4. Install Windows 8

Only after you install the other versions of Windows and create the partition for Windows 8, go ahead and install Windows 8.

Get the installation disc, boot from it and start the Windows 8 setup. Follow our detailed installation guide: How to Install Windows 8 RTM on Your Computer.

Dual Boot Windows 8 with Windows 7, Windows Vista or Windows XP

For a multiboot setup, the steps are the same as in that guide. The only difference is that when you are asked to select where to install Windows 8, select the partition that you created and make sure you don’t select the partitions where other operating systems are installed.

Step 5: Customize the Default Boot Operating System

After you install Windows 8, it is set as your default boot operating system. If you plan to use it as your main operating system, that’s OK.

However, if you plan to use it as a secondary operating system, it is best to change the default. You can use the System Configuration utility in Windows to change the default boot operating system.

Dual Boot Windows 8 with Windows 7, Windows Vista or Windows XP

You can also use a third party tool like EasyBCD 2.2 Beta or the Windows 8 boot manager.

Conclusion

As you can see from this guide, installing Windows 8 alongside Windows 7, Windows Vista or Windows XP can be done with relative ease. However, you do need quite a bit of time to get everything done and you need to pay attention to the order in which operating systems are installed.