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Dual-boot Windows 7 on a Windows 2000 computer
(Windows 2000 installed first)

Last reviewed: June 2010


This guide shows how to create a native (natural) dual-boot of Windows 2000 and Windows 7 on a computer with Windows 2000 already installed on it. 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 will not be used.

The installation of Windows 7 on the Windows 2000 computer will automatically create the dual-boot for you. The partition that currently controls the bootup will continue to do so but will be changed to the Windows 7 variety (that can be changed back to Win2K's type if you ever wish to remove Windows 7).

In this procedure you need to shrink the Windows 2000 drive to make room for Windows 7 unless you install Windows 7 on a second hard disk. Using a second disk simplifies the procedure but that's not a requirement. The example shown here uses a single hard disk.

You also need to determine if your computer has the minimum system requirements to run Windows 7.

A previously installed Windows 2000 with SP4 was used in testing. The computer used was a 32-bit Dell Optiplex GX260 with Pentium 4 (2.26GHz), 1 GB RAM, 160 GB ATA or 1 TB SATA hard disk.

The procedure is relatively easy and is suitable for most computer users.

SUMMARY of Procedure

  1. Check at Microsoft's Windows 7 Compatibility Center
  2. Backup.
  3. Create sufficient Unallocated/Free space for Win7 at end of Win2K disk or on second disk
    (you'll need a partitioning utility to resize the Win2K partition - the free GParted works fine).
    Restart to Windows 2000 twice after resizing the 2K partition.
  4. Bootup from Win7 installation DVD and select Install Now.
    Select "Custom Install". Select Unallocated space. Select the Format option.
    If 2K uses NTFS then also use NTFS for Win7.
    Let the installation finish including the reboots.
    The dual-boot has been created automatically by Windows 7.
  5. Restart computer to Windows 2000.

That's it! The Windows 7 boot loader menu will boot Windows 2000 and Windows 7.

Use the free EasyBCD utility under Win7 to rename the boot menu item, "Earlier Version of Windows", to "Windows 2K".

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Help! Remove Win7 and Repair Win2K Startup

If you wish to remove Win7 and return to a Win2K-controlled startup then follow these instructions.

  1. Boot up from your Win2K installation CD.
  2. Press R to enter the Recovery Console, and then press C.
    Enter the number that represents Win2K (probably 1 for C:\WINNT).
    Press Enter key for Administrator password (or type your password and then press Enter).
    • Type in and then press Enter after each line
  3. Remove the CD.

Your computer will automatically boot to Windows 2000 without any boot menu if none existed previously.

You can now use your partitioning utility to delete the Win7 partition and then resize the Win2K partition to incorporate the free space left after deleting Win7, or you can simply Format the Win7 partition. However you must not do this if, for some strange reason, your Win7 partition comes before the Win2K partition.

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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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