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I recently wiped Windows off of my computer to start using Ubuntu, and although I love Ubuntu to pieces, I need some applications and games that are only available in Windows. I am aware that you can install Ubuntu with Windows quite easily, but what is the best way to reverse the process?

I would like to have the option to select what OS I would like to use on boot, and not have to change the boot drive manually (through the BIOS options). What is the best way?

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

Yes, it is possible to install Windows on top of Ubuntu and still be able to choose your OS at startup.

When you install Windows however, it will overwrite grub with it's boot mechanism, thus making the computer boot immediately into Windows on startup.

After Windows has been installed, you will need to reinstall grub to fix this problem. You can use any Ubuntu live CD or flash drive to do this.

For detailed instructions, see this question answered in the Ubuntu forums.

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If you install Windows on another partition besides Ubuntu grub will give you a start up choice to which OS you want to boot. Please search for grub configuration in the internet.

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I was wondering whether grub did this automatically. I just was unsure if it worked with the reverse situation of installing Windows on top of Ubuntu. – ReallyGoodPie Jun 20 '13 at 12:38
@ReallyGoodPie please do not call this installing windows on top of ubuntu but call it installing windows besides ubuntu as on top would mean that you install windows inside you ubuntu installation. – Uwe Plonus Jun 20 '13 at 12:39
Does it really matter? On top refers to installing it "on top" of Ubuntu, not inside? On top basically means the same thing as beside. – ReallyGoodPie Jun 20 '13 at 12:41

Windows will only install on the first disk, so you might have to change their sequence in your BIOS before installing.

If you want to install on a disk and keep the data which is already there, you'll have to create some space at the start of the disk for the Windows partition. For this you can use GParted or similar tools.

You'll also have to repair the boot record after installing since Windows will not "play nice" with any other operating system.

After these steps you should be able to boot either operating system without any changes to your BIOS.

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Another option is to install a virtual machine such as Oracle VBox in Windows and install Unbuntu on it.

There are virtual machines availbile in Linux distros as well - and you can install Windows on the virtual machine.

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The nice thing about this option is you get the best of both worlds at the same time. You can run Windows apps, and use something in Unbuntu at the same time. – Don Nickel Jun 20 '13 at 13:53

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