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?

4 Answers 4


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.

  • 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, 2012 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, 2012 at 21:05
  • 1
    @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. Dec 7, 2012 at 21:23
  • @ScottChamberlain - Sure, provide the suggestion. But one way or another they'll learn themselves.
    – nerdwaller
    Dec 7, 2012 at 21:34
  • 1
    I've updated the accepted answer to this one - it's a much better solution than relying on the restart timer countdown not actually doing anything in the background. It's the safe option 💪 Apr 25, 2019 at 9:52

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

  • I've done something similar before with Debian - It can be done. Dec 7, 2012 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 Dec 7, 2012 at 20:59
  • 1
    @Ruirize - Well...Its not possible with Windows.
    – Ramhound
    Dec 10, 2012 at 14:35
  • @Ramhound - I've already done it. I just ran the installer from 7 and canceled the reboot. Dec 10, 2012 at 14:52

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.

  • 1
    Killing the process... Smart one. :D Dec 8, 2012 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. Dec 8, 2012 at 10:40
  • Kill the process... and corrupt your data.
    – user696300
    Apr 25, 2019 at 8:43

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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