Dual boot Windows 7 and Windows 8

Posted on 2013-01-22
Last Modified: 2013-01-23
I have an HP Probook 4530s that has Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit.  The laptop has a 500 GB hard drive and 8 GB memory.  I downloaded Windows 8 and created a bootable DVD.  Following several different suggestions from the net I've created an unallocated partition on the hard drive. Originally there were 4 partitions on the drive.  A System partition, C: partition, HP_Recovery partition D:, and HP_Tools partition E:.  And now I've created the unallocated partition so there are now 5 partitions on the drive.  When I boot from the DVD it starts up like it's going to install Windows 8.  I enter the Product key and select Cutsom install.  I get a screen that shows all the partitions and when I try to select the unallocated partition I get the following message: "Windows cannot be installed to this hard disk space.  The partition contains one or more dymanmic volumes that are not supported for installation.  Windows cannot be installed to this hard disk space.  The selected disk has the maximum number of partitions  of this types."  I tried formatting the unallocated space before attempting the Windows 8 install and get the same message.  But,  when I select the C: partition I don't get the above message.  What am I doing wrong?
Question by:webwil
LVL 78

Accepted Solution

David Johnson, CD, MVP earned 500 total points
ID: 38808143
Windows is trying to install to a "PRIMARY" partition but you are out of primary partitions (maximum of 4 are allowed)

[system partition][c partition][hp recovery][hp tools]

So you've shrunk some of C:  you need to create a logical partition but the problem may be that the primary partitions must physically precede the logical partition.. So you are left with moving partitions around using 3rd party software, but the chance of breaking something is always there.

My Proposed solution is:
expand your drive C: back to normal and install Windows 8 to a Virtual Hard Drive (.vhd)
using the instructions located here
LVL 70

Expert Comment

ID: 38808586
A VHD is one approach, but not the one I would use.

There are a couple of approach I'd prefer:

I.   First, you could simply delete the HP partitions.   If you want the ability to restore your system to its factory configuration, then do one of the following:

    (a)  Create a set of recovery disks from HP's recovery disk creator utility.     This obviates the need for the recovery partition; as you can always restore it using these disks.

    (b)  Alternatively, do a full factory restore.   Then make an image of the OS and save that on another drive;  a set of DVDs;  a network location;  or whereever.    You can then restore to factory at any time by simply restoring this image.     Note that this approach also lets you save a much-more-up-to-date system than the factory restore;  as you can first do all of the Windows Updates before you create the image (new systems are always well behind the most recent updates).

The Tools partition is simply some diagnostics which you can run via direct downloads from HP's site;  or from a bootable USB flash drive if you can't boot to Windows.    This partition can also be deleted.

If you delete both of the HP partitions, you can then easily create a primary partition for Windows 8.

II.  An even better approach, which allows your Windows 7 and Windows 8 installs to be completely isolated from each other, is to use the excellent Boot-It BM boot manager.    This also allows you to have far more than just 2 OS's (although for your laptop I suspect 2 is all you want).    In addition, it allows you to overcome the 4-partition limit on MBR drives by creating an extended MBR (EMBR) structure that lets you control which 4 partitions are "seen" by each boot item.

To use Boot-It, you simply download it;  create a bootable CD from the included MakeDisk utility;  then boot to the CD.     I would click CANCEL at the first prompt;  then OK;  then go to Partition Work and be sure you've freed up a bit of space for Boot-It to install to a dedicated partition (by ReSizing a partition, or deleting the HP partitions).    Then boot to the Boot-It CD again, this time letting it install, and allowing it to do so to a dedicated partition.     At that point, you're ready to set up a boot item for Windows 7;  and then create a partition for Windows 8 and install it.    There's an excellent set of tutorials on the Boot-It site that shows how to install new OS's.

One very nice thing about using Boot-It is that every OS will "see" it's OS partition as a C: drive, so you don't have to worry about issues that can sometimes occur when the OS partition is not C:         What I do on my multi-boot systems (I have system with up to 14 installed OS's) is let every OS install on it's own C: drive, but I have a common data partition that I allow every OS to "see" and I always assign it as D:

In your case, for example, your partitions might "look" like this:


... where the 7's represent the partition containing Windows 7;  the 8's Windows 8;  and the D's a data partition.    In the boot item you create, you'd make 7 & D visible to Windows 7;  8 & D visible to Windows 8 ... so no matter which OS you were running, the system drive would be C:, and the data drive would be D: => and the data would be the same for either OS.
LVL 46

Expert Comment

ID: 38808965
In Windows 7 - Windows Disk Management - take screen shot of the disk layout screen and load it here.

Author Closing Comment

ID: 38812493
Instructions in link were very easy to follow.  Thanks for the help.

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