Windows – Dual booting Windows 7 & 8.1, using the Windows 8 Startup Options Menu, when Windows 8.1 is already installed and you want to add Windows 7

bootmulti-bootwindows 7windows 8windows-installation

There are many excellent guides out there that explain how to dual-boot Windows 7 & 8. However, they are written for people starting with a Windows 7 installation and add a Windows 8 installation to separate partition.

From what I'm reading, following this procedure will result in Windows 8 installing and configuring the Startup Options Menu with an option to boot Windows 7 & 8.

However, in my situation I have a Windows 8.1 machine that I want to install Windows 7 on, and enable dual-boot, where I can use the Startup Options Menu to select the OS to boot.

I haven't been able to determine how to do this. From everything I've been able to find, it looks like if I install Windows 7, it is going to take over the boot loader process, and I won't have access to the Windows 8 "Startup Options Menu."

This answer suggests I boot to VHD, but notes a drawback:

You can't do this if the C:\drive is encrypted using ANY encryption
shceme. Be that BitLocker or 3rd party. The location of the .VHD file
you are booting to must reside on an unencrypted volume.

Well, that's a bummer, because that's exactly what I wanted to do–I wanted my Windows 7 partition to be encrypted, and my Windows 8 partition to also be encrypted. The idea being that when OS was booted, it was completely locked out from accessing data on the other OS's partition.

At this point, I'm thinking my only option is to install Windows 7, and then re-install Windows 8, which will give me the dual-boot option… am I right? Or is there a way to make this work. I'm thinking that I would need to figure out a process like this:

  1. Configure the Windows Startup Options Menu with a "blank" entry for Windows 7, pointing to an empty partition
  2. Insert the Windows 7 installation media, install Windows 7, and somehow restrict it to that partition (i.e., prevent it from "taking over" from the Startup Options Menu"

Is this possible, and if so, how can I accomplish this?

My concern is that if I simply install Windows 7 to a separate partition, Windows 7 will take over the entire boot process and I won't be able to get to my Windows 8 installation any more.

Best Answer

Firstly create Windows 7 system repair disc (can also be downloaded).

  1. Partition your drive to include Unallocated Space for your Windows 8 installation.
  2. Install Windows 7, Custom installation, install on the unallocated space. Now you won't be able to boot into Windows 8 - it won't be detected.
  3. Boot into Command Prompt(using Win7 system repair disc created earlier), then follow these steps . You will now be able to detect both Operating Systems.
  4. If you want the beautiful Win8 bootloader :D , then you could either use cmd to do it, or the easier way would be to install easybcd, then set the Windows8 bootloader as default. This is easy but if you still need help email me. Note that if you set Win8 as the default bootloader the computer will restart if you choose to start Win7 instead, as Win8 bootloader automatically loads its files first which gives you that extremely fast startup time.

And feel free to use Bitlocker! Source: Exactly the same situation happened to me. Email me if you want further assistance(available from 26th Sept after exams) :)

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