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I currently have Windows 7 (64 bit), and I'd like to try out Windows 8, but not commit just yet.

Can I install windows 8 in a dual boot configuration so that I can dual boot 7 and 8?

Assuming that's possible, would it be possible to remove the Windows 8 installation and upgrade the old Windows 7 install, or does installing Windows 8 prevent this for some reason?

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

Dual booting will work, but, it will upgrade the boot loader and make other system wide changes.

Quite frankly, if you have no intention of using this installation of Windows 8 long term, I highly recommend you instead look to virtualise Windows 8 for evaluation and test it in a virtualised environment as you should be able to do what you need without making any system changes.

Other than high end graphics, there is very little difference to using it virtually.

Just remember to go full screen otherwise you may have a hard time getting used to the gestures.

If you already have the ISO (from MSDN or Technet) then great. If not, you can get a preview here - After you have this, if you don't currently have any virtual machine software, I recommend you download VMWare Player

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I do have an intention of using windows 8 long term, when I decide to upgrade the existing windows 7 installation. I'm guessing that doesn't change your answer to use a VM though. – George Duckett Oct 22 '12 at 9:30
I meant if you don't have an intention of using the installation of Windows 8 that you are going to dual boot long term (unless I understood wrong what you are trying to do)... – William Hilsum Oct 22 '12 at 9:41
Ahh ok, yes that is what I meant. – George Duckett Oct 22 '12 at 9:41
The best VM to try it is using the VHD boot. This will allow you to evaluate the OS at its native performance speed and not have to do physical partitions. When you're done, you can just delete the VHD file and move on. See @Journeyman Geek's answer. – codinguser Oct 22 '12 at 11:06

I'd go with a VHD boot in this situation (which means you don't need to repartition) or go with this alternate install process , both of which keep the windows 7 bootloader, just to make the process of removing the 'old' windows 8 install cleaner. You'd just dump the partition/VHD, edit the bootloader and you'd be back to a 'pure' windows 7 install you could upgrade. Both options as I see it are cleanly reversible, and the only issue with a windows 8 VHD install seems to be the lack of fastboot support.

In most cases though, if you're doing an install windows would just note the presence of the old install and add it to the bootloader.

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VHD boot is what I'd recommend as well over a VM. – Karan Oct 22 '12 at 21:57

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