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I am trying to install Windows 8 on a blank drive. It asks for and creates a small partition of about 350 MiB named System Reserved instead of installing only in the partition I would like it to be.

Coming from Windows XP I see the change as strange, I'll be needing 2 more primary partitions for other operating systems, plus a data partition. So, this small partition is making it impossible to do the setup I want to accomplish.

I wonder, is there any way to install it only using one partition?

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up vote 10 down vote accepted

Yes, it is possible, you have to select a partition that is primary and has the boot flag active; that way it won't ask you to create a new one.

Anyway, this is not a new change in Windows 8, it was already in place in Windows 7 and in Vista if I recall correctly.

EDIT: For that you can use a disk partitioning program like GParted (has a graphical live environment), but since you say the disk you're using is empty you could do that directly during installation, follow this steps and you'll be set (I'll be doing it in a virtual machine but should work just as well in normal conditions):

  • When you reach the part where you have to select where to install Windows press Shift+F10 to open a CMD window.
  • There type diskpart to open a partitioning utility that's included, it's text only but it's quite useful. You'll be presented with a different prompt, type help to see some commands. But basically what you want to use after creating the partition and having it selected is active. The following screenshots show how to create a partition with that utility and set the boot flag to it:

Creating a partition and activating the boot flag

NOTE: If the disk is not empty, double check what operations you perform to prevent unwanted results. For example after selecting a partition use list partition to ensure that you selected the one you want to work with.

  • After that, you may close that CMD window and refresh the installation one, you should see that partition there (it should say System as its type). Selecting it and clicking next installs Windows along with the boot files to that partition alone:

Installation window refreshed, the newly created partition is there

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Thank you, it seems to work, it's installing right now. If anyone needs to know to specify the size of the partition you have to add a size argument to the create partition primary statement there, for example create partition primary size=51200 for a 50GB partition. – James Russell Oct 28 '12 at 15:05
Yes, to specify the size of a partition you use the size argument. The program is well documented, and there are more options like specifying an ID for the partition. When in doubt use the help command, e.g. help create partition primary for more info. Anyway, when working with partitions double check what you're doing to prevent unwanted results. – Xandy Oct 28 '12 at 15:14
Just to add, the same steps that tricked Win7's setup to create only a single partition will work with Win8 as well (delete System/OS partition, extend System Reserved partition to whole disk, format it and install Windows on it). – Karan Oct 29 '12 at 17:37

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