Many of you are probably eager to try out the Windows 8 Consumer Preview which Microsoft released this month. The consumer preview has the same minimum requirements as Windows 7, so if you’re PC is currently running Windows 7 then you should be able to install it no problem. However since this is only a consumer preview, and not actually the final RTM version of Windows 8, it is best to install it as a second operating system and not to replace your current installation of Windows 7. This guide will show you how you can dual boot your computer with Windows 8 and Windows 7. This will allow you to choose which operating system you want to use at start up.
Partitioning Your Hard Drive
The first thing that you are going to have to do is to create a partition on your hard drive. This will be where you are going to install Windows 8. By creating a partition, it allows you to install a different operating system onto it and it won’t affect your current operating system. In the past it could be rather tricky to partition a hard drive, but thankfully in Windows 7 there is a built in tool to manage this for you.
The access the partition manager click Start –> Right Click My Computer –> Manage
Then select Disk Management from the menu on the side
Once you are in the partition manager you should see all your hard drives, as well as any external drives you have currently connected. You are now going to shrink your existing hard drives size to make room for a new partition. Here’s how to do it
- Right Click on the hard drive you want to install Windows 8 on (make sure there’s enough free space, Windows 8 needs at least 20GB) and select Shrink Volume
- You’ll then have to wait a bit while Windows figures out how much space is available. It will then ask you to enter the amount of space you’d like to shrink the drive by. This is when you enter the size of the partition that you want to install Windows 8 on. Remember that Windows 8 will require at least 20GB to install. I went for 40GB in my example
- Once you hit shrink, Windows will get to work and when it’s done you will see that there is a new unallocated volume on your hard drive
- The next step is to right click on this and select New Simple Volume
- All you have to do then is just fill in some information like the drive letter you want to assign to it and also the name (I went with “Windows 8”).
- You’ll now see the new partitioned drive you just created.
Installing Windows 8 Consumer Preview
Now it’s time to get onto business and start installing Windows 8. First off you need to make sure that you have a copy of the Windows 8 Consumer Preview (You can download it here if you haven’t got a copy already) . You’ll have to have it on either a USB key or DVD, alternatively if you downloaded the set up file from Microsoft you can run that. The instructions will be the same.
Restart your machine and boot from either a USB or DVD. Sometimes this happens automatically,other times you’ll have to hit F12 (varies depending on manufacturer) to enter your boot menu and then you can select which device you’d like to boot from. Alternatively if you’re using Microsoft’s set up file, just run it from Windows 7.
- Now you’ll find yourself in the familiar Windows installation set up, it’s very similar to Windows 7’s in fact.
- First off choose your installation language, time and currency format as well as your keyboard layout
- Then click Install Now
- You’ll be asked to enter your product key at this stage. The product key to use the Windows 8 Consumer Preview is DNJXJ-7XBW8-2378T-X22TX-BKG7J.
- Then accept the users license agreement
- At the next step it is critical that you SELECT Custom and NOT Upgrade. If you choose upgrade, then your existing installation of Windows 7 will be removed.
- Now you will be asked to choose which hard drive you want to install Windows 8 on. Choose the one that you created earlier when we partitioned your hard drive
- After that it’s just a matter of letting Windows 8 install and do its thing, it will take a while and probably restart a couple of times. Let it work away and grab yourself a well deserved cup of tea
Windows 8 will ask you to fill in a few details and let you sign in with your Windows Live account so that everything gets nicely synced up. This will import your contacts, Facebook, Twitter and SkyDrive details if you have them set up.
After that you can play around with Windows 8 to your hearts content! Each time you turn on your computer you will be presented with the screen below asking you which OS you want to boot into. If you click on Change defaults or choose other options at the bottom You can specify Windows 7 or Windows 8 as the default OS, as well as changing the length of time the screen is presented to you.
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