Dual Boot Your Pre-Installed Windows 7 Computer with XP

So you got your shiny new pre-installed Windows 7 computer over the holidays, but you want to have trusty XP standing by in a dual boot setup. Today we’ll walk through creating a new partition in Windows 7 then installing XP on it.

In this process we are going to shrink some free space on the Windows 7 hard drive to allocate toward a new partition. Make sure to take a moment and decide how much space to use for the XP partition. Make sure you have enough space on your hard drive for files you’ll be adding to each.

Create a New Partition

The first thing we need to do is create a new partition on the Windows 7 machine. Luckily we can do it without any 3rd party software. To begin, click on Start and type either partition or disk management into the search box and at the top of the menu click on Create and format hard disk partitions.

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The Disk Management window opens, and from here we need to free up space on the (C:) drive Windows 7 is installed on. Right-click on the drive and select Shrink Volume.  

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A window pops up showing the drive is being queried for available space.

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Now enter the amount of space you want to shrink the volume. You’re shown the total size of the disk and the amount of size that is available to shrink. In this example we’re freeing up 40GB of space.

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After the process completes you’ll see the new Unallocated space. Right-click that and select New Simple Volume.

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The New Simple Volume Wizard launches which is a straight forward process. When you get to the Format Partition section, NTFS is selected by default as the file system and you can leave that as is. You might want to rename the Volume label something else like “XP Partition” so it’s easier to identify when installing XP. Also you’ll probably want to make sure to check Perform a Quick Format.

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After the format is complete you will see the new volume as a healthy partition listed.

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Now when you go into My Computer you’ll see the the new disk and notice that space has been taken away from the (C:) drive Windows 7 is installed on.

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Install XP on the New Partition

Now that you know how to create a new partition on your Windows 7 machine, it’s time to install XP on it. Here we’re installing XP Professional on the new partition. Boot from the XP installation disk and start the install process.

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When it comes to choosing a partition, make sure you select the one you created using the steps above. In this example we made a 10GB partition for the XP install.

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If the partition you created was already formatted as NTFS you can leave it, or you can choose the FAT file system if you want. 

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Basically you continue through as if you were doing a clean install on any hard drive.

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Create Boot Loader

Once installation of XP is successful you can now go through and install the latest Microsoft Updates and drivers. You will undoubtedly notice that the machine is booting directly into XP at this time. This is due to XP writing it’s bootloader over Windows 7’s. To get both XP and Windows 7 as an option at the boot screen you can use the free utility EasyBCD 1.72 or their new 2.0 Beta.

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VistaBootPRO 3.3 (free version) will still work too which you can download here. VistaBootPRO is now called DualBootPRO and is no longer free, it’s $9.95 for a single user license.

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After getting the bootloader back you should see both XP and Windows 7 as options in the Windows Boot Manager.

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Conclusion

If you want to set a default OS on your dual boot system, check out The Geek’s tutorial on how to set it up. To download the EasyBCD 2.0 Beta, you’ll need to register with the NeoSmart Technologies Forum first. If you’re hesitant to try out Beta software, EasyBCD 1.7.2 is also free and will still work as well.  Of course there are other ways of creating a dual boot system, but this is the method I have been using and it’s simple and effective.

EasyBCD 2.0 Beta (Forum Registration Required)

Brian Burgess worked in IT for 10 years before pursuing his passion for writing. He's been a tech blogger and journalist for the past seven years, and can be found on his about me page or Google+

  • Published 01/7/10
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