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I am about to take delivery of a new laptop with a 750GB HDD. I will be using Win7 as the base OS (as a "real" installation, direct to the tin). The base install will probably have Visual Studio installed for dev work.

I also want to add 2 bootable VHDs, one for a "fresh" win 7 install (allocating about 128GB), and an install of the preview of Win 8 (about 100GB).

I would also like (if possible - I'm not sure if it is) I'd like to allocate a chunk of disk (probably a separate partition - maybe 100GB) as a shared data drive.

My questions are :

  1. Can I have a shared partition that is avaiable to all the OSs by creating a separate partition?
  2. What is the best order to install VHD OSs? I'm thinking 7 then 8 to take advantage of the W8 boot Manager
  3. Should I go the whole hog and install my dev instance of Win7 in a VHD as well, and do away with a base "on the tin" install?
  4. Are there any pitfalls to this approach that I'm not aware of?
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up vote 1 down vote accepted

I've had almost this exact configuration in the past and with the first Windows 8 developer preview that came out in 2011. I even had Ubuntu over the top of everything, I ended up trusting Grub boot manager to ensure everything was fine. But it all worked fine at the step before Ubuntu was installed.

  1. A shared partition should work fine.
  2. Install Windows 7 first, and configure Windows 8 VHD next (I suggest this approach because it has worked for me, and for Scott Hanselman in this guide.
  3. No. Have an "on the tin" Windows 7. Remember the VHDs you have can be backed up fine and re-added to the same laptop without worry if you have to re-pave the base Windows 7 install. Unless you really need to access all the files on the host OS from with the VHDs.
  4. Size allocations if you go the 'fixed' size allocation of the VHDs, I had to spend some effort it re-sizing the VHDs when it got to the point where the 40 or 50Gb I had allocated got all used up.

Also your 100+ gig allocations sound reasonable. I did all this on the 500Gb HD and struggled a little. Host OS, 2 VHDs, Ubuntu, (no shared partition).

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