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Basically, I want to still use my PC while I install Windows 8.

The drive I want to install to is physically different from the one I am running Windows 7 on, and so, if I wanted to boot to Windows 8, I'd choose a different boot device from my BIOS.

Can I install Windows 8 to a separate hard drive (not external) whilst still using Windows 7, without touching the Windows 7 installation?

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It wont "touch" your windows 7 install but you wont be able use the computer while you're installing an OS. You cant boot to the drive with windows 7 on and then somehow boot seperately to your windows 8 installation disk

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I've done something similar before with Debian - It can be done. – Steffan Donal Dec 7 '12 at 20:57
If you say so. Ive never heard of that and by the upvotes it seems like im not the only one. If you figure it out let me know cause that would be very handy if possible – MalwareManiac Dec 7 '12 at 20:59
@Ruirize - Well...Its not possible with Windows. – Ramhound Dec 10 '12 at 14:35
@Ramhound - I've already done it. I just ran the installer from 7 and canceled the reboot. – Steffan Donal Dec 10 '12 at 14:52

I think what you are looking for is built into Windows, it's called imagex.


imagex /apply d:\imaging\data.wim 1 d:\New_Directory /verify

Here is actually another SuperUser answer about it. I would summarize it, but it is complete with screenshots and somewhat lengthy.

Edit: As per the commenters below, this is not the fastest or easiest method, and it would be fastest to just boot the disc live and install directly. However, if you really want to do it this way, that is the best resource I have seen.

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With the time it would take you to set up the image, though, you'd be better off just doing it normally - the lost productivity would be less. – Shinrai Dec 7 '12 at 21:03
@Shinrai True as that may be (and as much as I may agree), I am just answering the question posed by the OP. – nerdwaller Dec 7 '12 at 21:05
@nerdwaller Sometimes when someone asks if they should use a shoe or a bottle you need to go tell them to go use a hammer. – Scott Chamberlain Dec 7 '12 at 21:23
@ScottChamberlain - Sure, provide the suggestion. But one way or another they'll learn themselves. – nerdwaller Dec 7 '12 at 21:34
For the record though, I do agree. – nerdwaller Dec 7 '12 at 21:57
up vote 1 down vote accepted

Run the Windows 8 installer from Windows 7. Press Alt+Tab to switch back to your other applications. When it goes to restart, kill the process.

You can then finish installation by restarting your PC and choosing the Windows 8 drive from your BIOS boot menu.

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Killing the process... Smart one. :D – Tom Wijsman Dec 8 '12 at 10:39
In all fairness, there's no other (easy) way to do this, and the Windows installer is literally doing nothing while it counts down to restart. – Steffan Donal Dec 8 '12 at 10:40

Here is how I would do it. I would just create a virtual machine (your favorite vendor) and give it access to the windows 8 drive. I will boot it and install windows 8 inside, will add with bcdedit the entry for booting and then on the first boot entry into Windows 8 will just start it in safe mode to recognize the real hardware.

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