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How to Dual-Boot with Windows 8 in 5 Easy Steps

I’m sure many of you want to try out Windows 8, now that the developer preview is widely available. I personally didn’t want to replace my main operating system with one that wasn’t even at an alpha stage yet. First, I tried installing Windows 8 in a virtual machine. The installer failed to load on both VMware and VirtualBox. With that option gone, I figured I’d try to dual-boot Windows 8. Low and behold, it works and was rather painless. Below are the simple steps I took to get it going.

Step 0: Acquire Installation Media

This is pretty much common sense, but for the sake of having all all the bases covered, don’t forget to download Windows 8 Developer Preview from Microsoft and burn the ISO image to a DVD.

Step 1: Backup your files

You can use the Windows Backup Utility or some 3rd party software. Linux users, you don’t need me to tell you what to do here…

Step 2: Making Room for Windows 8

You will need to repartition your hard drive to give Windows 8 room to install; alternatively you could use another hard drive, but that’s not nearly as fun. From Windows 7 you can use Disk Management to shrink the C drive (Right click on “Computer” > Select “Manage” > Select “Disk Management”). For Vista and XP user, you will need to get 3rd party software(like Acronis), to do it. If you have Linux this can be done from whatever partitioning software that was included with the distro you selected.

Step 3: Installing

Restart the computer and insert the installation media you created in Step 0. When prompted, hit a key to boot from CD (make sure your bootloader is set to boot from CD before the hard drive or this will not work). Click all of the accept/install/continue buttons and check all the appropriate boxes. DO NOT click “UPGRADE” when prompted. You will choose to the clean install. Select the unallocated partition you made in Step 2. Double check that this is the correct partition by checking the partition size and free space(the numbers should match). Highlight the correct partition and continue on. Now grab something to drink while Windows 8 does the rest of the work.

Step 4: Bootloader Setup

After the installer finishes, it will restart and take you to the bootloader. Windows 8 should’ve automatically detected your previous OS and added it as a tile below “developer preview”. Below that should be an option to configure additional option, click on that. You will now be able to select your default OS, as well as the auto-select duration for the bootloader. Windows 8 integrates the bootloader with the OS(this is pure speculation from the behavior I’ve experienced) so if you choose your old OS from this screen, the system will restart and you will be taken to the original bootloader instead of the flashy windows 8 bootloader.

Step 5: Have Fun!

Congratulations, you’re all done and ready to play around with Windows 8. You should be able to see all the files from your previous OS, within Windows 8, as long as it’s in a format that Windows recognizes. I’ll be doing a more in-depth article on my experience with Windows 8 so far. Expect pictures and videos to follow.