Dual-booting all versions of Windows and Linux
Install Dual-Boot of Windows 7 + Vista on Windows 7 computer (Win7 installed first)
Last reviewed: July 2009
This guide shows how to correctly and safely create a natural dual-boot of Windows 7 and Windows Vista on a computer with Windows 7 already installed. You can then run either of those two Windows by selecting one from a menu during bootup. No data loss will occur and a third-party boot utility is not used.
In this procedure you need to shrink the Windows 7 drive to make room for Windows Vista unless you install Vista on a second hard disk. Using a second disk simplifies the procedure but it's not necessary. The example shown here uses a single hard disk.
32 and 64-bit versions of Windows 7 Home Basic, Enterprise and Ultimate were used in testing so this will also work with Windows 7 Premium and Professional. The operating system added was Windows Vista Home Premium. The computers used were (1) a 32-bit Dell Optiplex with Pentium 4 (2.26GHz), 2.0 GB RAM, 160 GB ATA hard disk, and (2) AMD Athlon 64-bit (2.4GHz), 2.0 GB RAM, 1 TB SATA hard disk.
Following these instructions correctly should always succeed. However, any change to your computer should not even be considered unless your have a rescue plan. This guide also contains that rescue plan - just in case!
The procedure used is quite easy and suitable for users of all abilities.
Important Installation Notes
Full Installation CD/DVDs. The Windows you are adding cannot be installed from Recovery or Repair CDs or DVDs provided by some OEMs. You need the full installation or setup version to install a Windows.
Shrinking a Windows 7 or Vista drive. You should use Shrink in Windows' Disk Management to resize the Windows partition. If the free space achieved is inadequate, you can read Shrink the Windows 7 or Vista Partition for instructions on completing this task successfully. Use the free GParted Live CD to gain disk space only if you absolutely must - read the page Use GParted to Resize the Windows 7 or Vista Partition to learn how and, before you use GParted, read Repair Windows 7 Startup (below).
SUMMARY of Procedure (Advanced Users)
That's it! The Windows boot loader menu will boot Windows 7 and Windows Vista.
Details: Install Windows Vista when Windows 7 is installed first
Installing other operating systems on your Windows 7 computer may invalidate your warrantee.
Make your preparations
Make free space (Unallocated) for Vista
The single 160 GB disk usually used in testing initially had: System Reserved (100 MB, Primary, Hidden, NTFS), Windows 7 (150 GB, Primary, NTFS). The Windows 7 drive was shrunk leaving about 40 GB Unallocated space at the end of the disk (to the right). After repartitioning it had: System Reserved (100 MB, Primary, Hidden, NTFS), Win7 (110 GB, Primary, NTFS), Vista (40 GB, Unallocated).
Always note the size of each partition and also label each (this guide uses wn_7 and Vsta).
Use the free GParted Live CD to gain adequate disk space only if you absolutely must - read the page Use GParted to Resize the Windows 7 or Vista Partition to learn how, and read Repair Windows 7 Startup (below) before you use GParted.
Now Install Windows Vista after Windows 7 was Installed
Traditionally, installing an older Windows on a computer containing a newer version stopped that newer Windows booting. This was caused by different versions of the boot loader. The new boot loader used in both Windows 7 and Vista is much friendlier!
Congratulations! You have created a natural dual-boot of Windows 7 and Vista when Windows 7 was installed first.
Repair Windows 7 Startup
You will not have any problem if you follow the instructions as stated above. However you might encounter some freak occurrence like a power failure during an installation. Windows 7 will boot again if you execute the following procedure.
If still stuck for a solution, boot again from the installation DVD, select Repair your computer, highlight Windows 7, get to a Command Prompt, use DIR command (DIR C: or DIR D: etc.) to identify drive letter allocations (sizes and Labels will help), and type in:
Please remember that you alone are responsible for the consequences of any changes you make to your computer hardware or software.
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