Dual-booting all versions of Windows and Linux
Install Dual-Boot of Windows Vista and Windows 8 on a Windows 8 computer (Win8 installed first)
Last reviewed: July 2013
This guide shows how to correctly and safely create a natural dual-boot of Windows 8 and Windows Vista on a computer with Windows 8 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 resize the Windows 8 drive to make room for Windows Vista unless you happen to have free disk space or you install Windows Vista on a second hard disk. This example uses a single hard disk.
A 64-bit Windows 8.1 was used in testing and a 64-bit Windows Vista Home was added (it can be a 32-bit Windows Vista if you are have the MBR, and not GPT/UEFI, system). Read How to Check if your hard disk drive is using GPT or MBR. The computer used was a 64-bit Dell Studio XPS 8100 (2.93 GHz), Core i7, 8 GB RAM DDR3, NVidia GeForce GTX 460, 1 TB SATA hard disk (not using GPT/UEFI).
The procedure used is quite easy and suitable for most users.
Important Installation Notes
Full Installation CD/DVDs. The Windows you are adding cannot be installed from a Recovery partition or Repair CD/DVDs provided by some OEMs. You need the full installation or setup version to install a Windows.
Shrinking a Windows 8, 7 or Vista drive. You should use Shrink in Windows' Disk Management to resize the Windows partition. 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 must - read the page Use GParted to Resize the Windows 8, 7 or Vista Partition to learn how.
SUMMARY of Procedure (Advanced users)
That's it! The Windows boot loader menu now allows booting to Windows 8 and Windows Vista.
Details: Create a Dual-boot with Windows Vista when Windows 8 is already installed
Installing other operating systems on your Windows 8 computer may invalidate your warrantee.
Make your preparations
Make free space (Unallocated) for Windows Vista
The Windows 8 drive is resized using Shrink in Windows' Disk Management leaving Unallocated space at the end of the disk (to the right).
Always note the size of each partition and also label each (this guide uses wn_8 and vsta).
Now Install Windows Vista when Windows 8 was Installed first
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 Windows 8, 7 and Vista is much friendlier!
Congratulations! You have created a natural dual-boot of Windows 8 and Windows Vista when Windows 8 was installed first.
Repair Windows 8 Boot Menu and Startup
Users will have noticed that the above creates a Vista-style boot menu. This is perfectly fine but some would prefer the Win8 graphical menu which also has additional options. This simple procedure will return that graphical boot menu:
Windows 8 is the default boot. You can alter this in Change defaults or change other options on the boot menu.
If you ever need to do a fuller repair of the Windows 8 startup, you should do the following:
Note: The Bootrec / command has not yet been tested on the newer (U)EFI / GPT systems.
If you ever want to switch back to the Windows Vista boot menu, you can do this with ease by using the free EasyBCD.
The EasyBCD utility allows users to make changes to the BCD in a simple graphical manner. Running it will automatically convert the Windows 8 startup to one for Windows Vista including its plain boot menu. You can set Windows Vista as the Default boot in the Edit Boot Menu section of EasyBCD.
At that stage you will basically have a Windows Vista computer that still allows you to boot to Windows 8 - unless you decide to remove Windows 8!
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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