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I currently have a windows XP machine and two internal hard drives. I want to dual boot with Windows 7 on the second drive. I'll have the license for it in August. This will not be the release candidate.

I haven't dual booted before. What issues should I look out for?

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7 Answers 7

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To my knowledge there isn't anything too significant you should watch for as long as you don't let windows 7 wipe out your main hard disk.

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There are no major issues with Windows 7 i have found. Its quite different from XP tho which takes a little getting used to-like the new look control panel.

The drives do get assigned different letters than what you are used to, putting the Windows 7 disk as C: which can be confusing to start with. As long as you name your partitions its not a problem. I simply assigned the Windows 7 partition the name Windows 7, which appears no matter which letter its been assigned. Makes keeping track of which HDD easier.

As for dual booting, this video is really good (if somewhat in depth at times). Take you from XP to Windows 7 and what you NEED to do: http://edge.technet.com/Media/Dual-Boot-Between-Windows-XP-and-Windows-7/#Page=2%5D

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Just to be extremely safe: plug off your Windows XP hard drive. That way you don't have to fear formatting it.

Use EasyBCD to set up the dual boot afterwards

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In things which might surprise you :

  • Windows 7 will consider its partition as being the C: one, even if you install it on a G: (for example). It will be indeed installed on the G:, like you asked, but when you will be in Windows 7, it will refer to the system partition as being the C: one. If it's good to avoid confusion with programs wanting to install on C:\Program Files, it also means you won't be able to access your REAL C: partition (which I assume is the Windows XP one).

  • You won't be able to easily set the default system to boot on. windows 7 will choose himself, as being the most recent. It's not a problem for most people, but if like me you boot more often your XP, it can be annoying, as you have to be careful to choose it on startup (and not lazily press the button and go away). It can be changed, but it's far more complicated than changing a default line in a Grub, for example. In fact, obviously you can edit the bootloader, according to Ivo, I have to check that.

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If you already have XP installed, it can be a bit tricky because Windows 7 will want to install its bootloader on the first partition on the drive. It may cause XP to become unbootable.

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In Vista, there are a couple of folders which continue to swell as they accumulate different versions of dlls installed by your programs. This is for compatibility reasons and was likely carried over to Windows 7, although I have not confirmed this.

This feature can make the Windows folder expand to many tens of Gigs (i.e. my 8 month-old Vista install has a 25gig Windows folder).

Keep that in mind when partitioning.

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The boot manager installed with Win7 will call XP "Earlier version of Windows" and Win7 will be the default boot OS. To change the boot manager config, you'll have to use bcdedit (installed with Windows 7): http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc709667(WS.10).aspx

You should be able to access your XP drive from 7, just keep in mind it won't be called C: in Win7.

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