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Guidelines to dual-boot Windows 7 32-bit AND 64-bit

Posted on 2011-03-03
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Last Modified: 2012-06-22
Hi Experts,
Can an Expert provide a guide to install a dual-boot Windows 7 32-bit and 64-bit?

I have a Lenovo ThinkPad T510. It comes with Windows 7 32-bit. However, I’m working with VMWare and Virtual-PC and recently ran into a nightmare situation with a clients 64-bit VMWare image that wouldn't run on 32-bit Windows 7. Needless to say I lost days of productivity sorting it out.

So, I’ve decided to dual-boot Windows 7: I’ve purchased a bunch of 32-bit only software that I need, but I also require 64-bit Windows functionality.

Notes

Windows 7 32-bit from Lenovo contains no product key on the base or in the BIOS. It is basically a recovery disc that will reinstall Windows 7 32-bit.
I’ve got Windows 7 64-bit install DVD and another 4GB of RAM arrives tomorrow to max out the system.
Any advice will be much appreciated!

Regards,

John Diddy
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Question by:JohnDiddy77
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8 Comments
 
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Expert Comment

by:PortableTech
ID: 35027781
Well, you can certainly setup a dual boot situation if you wish, but you may wish to consider just switching to Windows 7 x64.  You are not restricted to x64 only software, and I have only run across one extreemly old application that out right refused to run in Windows 7 x64.  Also, depending on what version of Windows 7 x64 you have, it may include support for XP Mode.  If you have that support, you can run any applications that have legacy issues in a special virtualized enviroment that is transparent to you as the end user.  The application I had issue with ran fine in that mode.  

If you really wish to do the x32 / x64 dual boot setup, let me know and I will get you info on it, but I think you are making this much harder on yourself than it really needs to be.
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Expert Comment

by:käµfm³d 👽
ID: 35027813
@PortableTech

One reason to dual boot is that some software that is dependent on 32-bit drivers won't run on 64-bit. My personal run-in is Cisco's 32-bit VPN client.
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Author Comment

by:JohnDiddy77
ID: 35027958
@ PortableTech: as kaufmed stated, 32-bit VMware images doesn't work on 64-bit and vice versa. And i find there is still an issue with certain 32-bit apps in 64-bit windows. So, I'll require a dual-boot.

Any advice greatly appreciated!
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Accepted Solution

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PowerEdgeTech earned 500 total points
ID: 35028069
Dual boot is certainly an option, and there is nothing special you need to do.  Go to Disk Management (right-click Computer, Manage), right-click the partition on which you want to make space to install 64-bit, then boot to your DVD, install to that section of Unpartitioned Space you created.  Both OS's will automatically be listed to the boot menu.  It is very easy.

Another option would be to install 64-bit as your main os, then use Virtual PC, VirtualBox, or VMWare to run Windows 7x86 from within Windows 7x64.
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Expert Comment

by:PortableTech
ID: 35028111
Well, the basics of setting this up are actually quite easy.  You will ideally want either two drive, or two seperate partitions on the same drive to install your individual versions of Windows 7 into.  It is possible to install them both into a single partition, but it can get a little messy if you are not really technically inclined.  

The windows installer for either OS should let you do basic partition setup.  Split it as you see needed, and install the x32 into the first partition, once that is done, boot from the x64 disk and install it to the second partition.  It should be smart enough to give you a selection menu upon boot to select which one you wish, but if it does not you will want to edit the boot.ini on your primary partition to look something like this

====================

[boot loader]
timeout=5
default=multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(1)partition(1)\WINDOWS
[operating systems]
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(1)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows 7 x32" /fastdetect
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(1)partition(2)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows 7 x64" /fastdetect

==========================

obviously this would vary a little bit depending on of you have multiple partitions or multiple drives.  If you want an easier solution, and perhaps one that does not destroy your current install you may wish to look at a product such as Acronis Disk Director 11 Home, which has many options to resize, reshape, and even manage multiple OS boot situations.  It is not required, but you may find this much easier.  You can get info about it here

http://www.acronis.com/homecomputing/products/diskdirector/?source=us_googleADDH_n&ad=add&c=5707452977&k=boot%20manager&gclid=CJa2qrLesqcCFYrs7QodXxy0gA

Let me know if you have any other questions, or need clarifications and I will do my best to get you squared away.

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Expert Comment

by:PowerEdgeTech
ID: 35028125
I would never say there are no 32-bit software problems on 64-bit Windows, but if you have not used Windows 7x64, the compatibility is GREATLY improved running 32-bit software over previous versions of Windows.  I have yet to find any software that I use that will not work on 7x64 simply because it was 64-bit.
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Expert Comment

by:David Johnson, CD, MVP
ID: 35030863
portable_tech: that is a boot.ini example which doesn't apply from Vista onward.

just shrink the drive using diskmgmt.msc, reboot into the install dvd, and install x64 in the unpartitioned space and it will show up on your boot options as per PowerEdgeTech's suggestions
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Author Closing Comment

by:JohnDiddy77
ID: 35287249
Thanks! Took a while but finally purchased more Gigs and Windows 7 64-bit with VMWare running Windows 7 32-bit.

Excellent with far better performance!
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