How To Dual Boot Windows XP and Windows 7 with XP installed first.

If you already have Windows XP installed on the computer and you’re happy with it, but you want to give Windows 7 to try, then dual booting Windows XP and 7 is for you.  Using the Windows 7 software you can upgrade Windows Vista to Windows 7, but you can’t upgrade Windows XP to Windows 7. So if you have Windows XP installed and you’re happy with it, and you think you’re ready to give Windows 7 a try, then dual boot XP & 7 is your best bet. Dual booting Windows XP and 7 will allow you to switch back and forth between the two operating systems in case you have programs that run well in XP, but may not run in Windows 7.

How to dual boot Windows XP and Windows 7 with XP installed first: First off make sure to back up all your important data files, photos, music files, videos and all your files that cannot be replaced. Backing up your data files onto a external hard drive is the safest way to back up your data files, but if you have a second internal hard drive you can move your files to the second internal hard drive.

Okay, all your data files are backed up now you’re ready to install Windows 7 onto your Windows XP computer.

You’re going to need to shrink Windows XP partition on the hard drive to create enough for Windows 7 home premium. You’ll need about half your hard drive cleared free to install Windows 7 on it. So what you have a 100 GB hard drive, clear off about 50 GB of free space to install Windows 7. There are two easy methods for doing this — using the software GPartEd Live CD and or DISKPART utility (the easiest) on the Windows 7 DVD.

We are assuming that you backed up your data files that will be hosting the two operating systems.

The first step will be to modify Windows XP system partition to make space for Windows 7 using DISKPART (easiest way) that’s on the Windows 7 install DVD or The GParted Live CD.

Option 1 – Using Windows 7 DISKPART

Boot your computer from the Windows 7 DVD, not from Windows XP OS. The appropriate language and then click on “NEXT”.
On the Windows 7 “install now” page, press the keys SHIFT + F10 to launch a Windows PE 2.0 command window. Then type DISKPART and then press enter to get the DISKPART utility open.

Now type in LIST VOLUME — this gives you a readout of the volumes available on the system. Now select the main Windows XP volume by typing in SELECT VOLUME 1 (in most cases it will be volume 1 — on my system it was volume 1). Take a good look at the list volume readout window. Under the volume listed you’ll see volume 0 and volume 1, letters D. and C. you’re looking for your Windows XP partition which should be volume 1, letter C. NTFS, type partition than the size, that’s the one you pick to resize.

Now now type in SHRINK Windows 7 will of the selected volume by about 50%.

Now type “EXIT” to get out of DISKPART and then “exit” again to close the command window.

You’ve just finished using DISKPART utility, then you just need to click on the “install now” to continue the installation of Windows 7. There will be two installation options — upgrading and custom, you should select Custom.

Option 2 – Using GPartEd

Before you start using GPartEd, you may want to backed up the drive (Windows partitions and the data) that will host the two operating systems.

The first thing to do now is to modify your Windows XP partition to make space for the new Windows 7 partition using the GParted. 

You can download the GParted Live CD ISO here, burn it to a CD and then boot you computer system from the CD.

As you boot from the GParted LiveCD, you just need to select the auto-configuration boot option.

During boot, press the Enter key three times to accept the defaults for keymap, language and the graphics settings.

After the main GUI loads, you need to right-click on the main Windows XP NTFS partition (probably /dev/hda1) and then select Resize/Move.

Move the slider bar to reduce the partition size and free up enough room to install Windows 7 and click Resize/Move.

You will need at least 10GB free space for Windows 7, I deviated my hard drive in half for Windows 7 and the other half for Windows XP. Remember you will need space for install new software for Windows 7.

Note: No changes have actually been made yet, they have just been scheduled to run. To commit to the changes and resize the partition, you need to click on Apply. GParted will ask to confirm the changes – Click on OK  to start.

Once the installer gets to the install location, there should be two options: a partition marked as Primary and Unallocated space. Select the unallocated space on the menu and click Next. The install will then commence on the unallocated space.

The Windows 7 boot manager will take over the system completely. Your Windows system will reboot as Windows 7 is installed, each time you should pick Windows 7 on the boot menu to complete the Windows 7 installation.

Once you have Windows 7 installed and the system reboots, you’ll be presented with a boot menu with two options: “Windows 7” and “Earlier Version of Windows”, which is Windows XP.

The Windows 7 & XP dual booting should be working perfectly, your finished.

Note: If you boot your system into windows 7 and open Windows Explorer, you’ll see that there’s only one disk partition Windows 7. The Windows XP partition isn’t there. One advantage is that changes made to the Windows 7 OS have almost no chance of modifying Windows XP OS. To make changes to Windows XP, re-boot to Windows XP OS.