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For instance, will Windows 7 index the XP partition and write on it? Are there any other possible problems with the two versions of Windows or am I worrying about nothing?!

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My guess: Windows 7 might index it, but wouldn't write to the drive unless you tell it to --- with the possible exception of writing "Thumbs.db" files for directories you view in Thumbnail view. I wouldn't worry too much because I guarantee MS has tested this scenario extensively; it's very common to dual-boot when trying a new OS. Haven't tried it myself (yet!) so not going to post this as an answer. – skypecakes Jan 7 '10 at 23:48
up vote 1 down vote accepted

while it is safe to dual boot different versions of Windows operating systems, i do recommend using a decent 3rd party bootmanager (e.g. BootIt NG or BootStar) and hide the respective OS partitions from each other. only if a system partition is inaccessible from the other OS, any interference (e.g. through malicious software) can be ruled out. create a 3rd partition to be shared as storage.

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Or use EasyBCD to at least make sure your boot order is correct – Ivo Flipse Jan 8 '10 at 8:51
What's best/easiest way to hide the respective partitions? – Umber Ferrule Jan 9 '10 at 20:39
with both programs you can hide any drive, partition or volume per boot item, say you have windows on the 1st partition and linux on the 2nd, then you can hide volume 2 from the os that is booting from volume 1 and vice versa. – Molly7244 Jan 9 '10 at 20:48
So would these boot managers hide the non-booting partition automatically or would the user have to do this manually each boot? – Umber Ferrule Jan 12 '10 at 10:35
manually, and only once – Molly7244 Jan 12 '10 at 11:10

You should be fine, but I don't recommend installing two operating systems on the same partition. It'll work fine, but system files could be overwritten from time to time as mentioned above.

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It shouldn't, but just like others have already mentioned it would be far better to install them on separate partitions. Here is a somewhat short tutorial giving some hints on the process.

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