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Dual Booting XP and Windows 7

written by: Daniel Barros•edited by: Lamar Stonecypher•updated: 1/30/2009

Itching to try out Windows 7, but don't have the courage to wipe clean your current install? Fret not - follow our dual-booting guide and you'll be up and running in no time.

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    A Dichotomy in the System

    With Windows 7 out, the more cautious amongst us have decided to avoid installing it over our current OS. But should that be reason for you to miss out on all the great features in this return to form for the Windows franchise? The correct answer is "no!" Follow our guide to dual booting and you'll be able to try out Windows 7 without having any real problem with your current install.

    So, here we go:

    Dual Booting Windows XP and Windows 7

    Ingredient List:

    1 Windows 7 Install CD

    1 Windows XP Install CD (for safety reasons)

    1 GParted Live CD (VERY IMPORTANT)


    1. Obtain all the above "ingredients" and record the GParted Live CD onto a CD following the instructions available on their website

    2. Make sure you have sufficient space on your current hard drive (I'm assuming you have only one drive - if you have two, skip down to the Windows 7 install step)

    3. Now, run the GParted application by rebooting your system and making it run from the CD

    4. The interface is incredibly sleek and it'll load rather quickly and efficiently and show you all your current partitions

    5. Click on your currently partitioned drive and click on "resize/move" and resize your current Windows partition to allow for an unpartitioned space that can accommodate your new Windows 7 install

    6. Once you've resized your active partition, go ahead and click on the unallocated space and click on "new" at the top corner

    7. Establish your new partition to fill up all the unallocated space that GParted tells you is available

    8. Now that you have everything good and partitioned up to go, it's time to go ahead and remove the GParted CD, replace it with the Windows 7 CD and reboot

    9. Start up your computer with the Windows 7 CD and start the install

    10. When the install process starts, go ahead and select the new partition that you created with GParted - Whatever you do, DO NOT select the partition where your current install of XP is

    11. With the partition selected, go ahead and install the beta version of Windows 7 to the new partition

    12. Go make yourself a sandwich, read a book, build a house, this might take a while

    13. After the install is complete (check up on it every now and again to make sure everything is working right), you'll be faced with a prompt in a DOS-like environment asking which install you want to start up - go ahead and select the Windows 7 Install

    14. Enjoy your new install of Windows 7! Remember, you can always go back to XP with a click of a button

    And that's all that there is to it - the XP install will continue to stay on your hard drive if you so require it, remember, all you have to do is to reboot the computer and select the XP install if you don't like Windows 7 or want to go back to your old OS