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Dual book HP Envy 17t notebook

Posted on 2014-09-23
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Last Modified: 2014-09-24
My notebook came with Windows 7 64-bit installed, and I would like to add Windows 7 32-bit.  If I insert the 32-bit installation disc, it says it is incompatible with the O.S.  If I boot from that disc, I cannot install Windows on any available volume because the disc contains a MBR.  I have disabled secure boot and enabled legacy boot in BIOS.
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Question by:ddantes
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by:David Johnson, CD, MVP
ID: 40340701
you probably have 4 primary or 3 primary and 1 logical drive already setup.  These are the maximums for a MBR disk.. you can check either through diskmgmt.msc or diskpart.exe

dispart.exe
select disk 0
list partition
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by:ddantes
ID: 40340709
Thank you for your comment.  Even if I delete the volume which contained the operating system, leaving an empty partition, the same error appears when I try to install Windows into that partition.
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by:John Hurst
ID: 40340710
Also to go backward from 64-bit to 32-bit means format and re-install. To add as dual boot means an extra license. If you can no longer add a partition, a better way (in my opinion) to get to Windows 7 32-bit is to get VMware Workstation V10, install it and add Windows 7 32-bit as a virtual machine that runs simultaneously with the 64-bit machine. I do this and it works well. Of course the virtual machine requires its own license as well.
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by:ddantes
ID: 40340713
Thank you.  I tried that, and I just don't like working with a VM.  I'll be retiring a notebook with Windows 7 32-bit, so I can use that license for the new notebook.   If I could simply format and re-install, that would be fine.  But Windows setup will not install into the partition which contained the factory O.S. because it "contains a master boot record".
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by:John Hurst
ID: 40340719
I left VMware as an option if you cannot get dual boot working.

I am not sure what you don't like. Start VMware, power on machine and run it. This takes less time than shutting down and starting the other system. Unity Mode allows you to run 32-bit apps that won't work in 64-bit seamlessly on the main machine. You can run two versions of Office and Outlook this way as well.

Look at this as an option known to work if your dual boot strategy does not work out.
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by:ddantes
ID: 40340721
Understood.
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by:Scott Thomson
ID: 40340775
Agreed. The easiest way to create a dual boot without compromising your current install is to use VMware (hyper v if you had windows 8.1) and then once you boot into your 64 bit Windows you can boot int your 32 bit by running it as the VM. This also allows for you to create quick snapshots and backups as well as removing it without having to worry about MBR later.

Same to be said for a dual boot Linux.. much simpler this way.
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Author Comment

by:ddantes
ID: 40340786
The factory-installed O.S. is Win 7 64-bit.  I believe the majority of users would agree with you.  Unfortunately, I had nothing but difficulty with VMware.  Incompatible hardware, BSOD, small screen size, inability to install VMware tools, constant effort required to sustain or regain mouse and keyboard functionality, corrupted VMDKs.  Undoubtedly this is a function of my inexperience, but I'd like to leave the realm of VM for another lifetime.  I've had fifteen years of success with multi-boot systems, and just feel more comfortable with that approach.   If it absolutely can't be done, I might reconsider.
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by:Scott Thomson
ID: 40340792
do you have a single hdd in this laptop or 2 hdd's? if you have 2 you could install it on another hdd and then change boot options? also you could install Windows 7 onto a usb drive and then use that as a boot device?
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Author Comment

by:ddantes
ID: 40340802
There is just one HDD.  Thank you for the suggestion of a USB boot device.  I'll try that and post again.
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by:David Johnson, CD, MVP
ID: 40340803
so I can use that license for the new notebook Only if the license is NOT an OEM license. OEM software lives and dies on the hardware it is first activated on.
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by:David Johnson, CD, MVP
ID: 40340823
how many primary partitions do you have on that drive?
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by:rindi
ID: 40341032
You probably DON'T have an MBR disk in your system, but rather a GPT disk. Windows 32 bit can't be installed on a GPT disk. You must first convert it to MBR, which clears all info on it, and if it is larger than 2TB, you won't be able to use all of it's space.

Installing Windows 7 to a USB disk is not a supported option. Although it can be done with a lot of tricking and tweaking, it is slow and unreliable (Virtual Machines are much more reliable). It has only become an option with Windows 8.x Enterprise and "Windows to Go".

What you might try, is to install Windows 7 32 bit to a VHD and boot to that, but as far as I know that only works with Windows 7 Ultimate and Enterprise, lower versions don't support booting to VHD's.
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by:noxcho
ID: 40341048
If it had Secure Boot and had Windows preinstalled on it then your drive is GPT. And you cannot install Windows 7 32bit on GPT drive. If the drive is GPT - then forget about 32bit. You will need another copy of Windows 7 64bit.
To find out which type the drive is - in Windows right click on C: - Properties - Hardware - select the HDD - in bottom select Properties - Volumes - then again at bottom - populate.
There you get detailed info. The partition style - is it Master Boot Record or GPT?
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by:John Hurst
ID: 40341289
@ddantes  - If you decide to use a virtualization option:

(a) VMware Workstation is highly flexible and I prefer it as top of class.
(b) Build your own machines from retail licenses. You had tried cloning real machines with less than optimal results. Start fresh and build the machine you want.
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Author Comment

by:ddantes
ID: 40342303
Thanks for all comments.  Somehow the Windows 7 32-bit disc finally installed that O.S. on the main partition.  I don't understand why it didn't work before, or why it did work now.  It's still not a dual-boot, because the 32-bit Windows replaced the 64-bit.  I re-installed the 64-bit system on the main drive, and I'm trying to use an external USB drive for the 32-bit.  Still a work in progress...
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Accepted Solution

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rindi earned 500 total points
ID: 40342395
As I mentioned earlier, the disk originally was GPT, and Windows 32 bit can't install to a GPT disk. In your course of action you probably changed it to an MBR disk, so after that you were able to install Windows 7 32bit.

Also as I mentioned above, Windows 7 can't easily be installed to a USB disk, and it isn't supported, and it is very unstable (updates usually won't work, you can't have a pagefile on that disk, it is terribly slow, etc., etc.). If I were you I wouldn't bother trying it. Besides that, to get it working, you first need to install it as a virtualbox VM, and you seem to have problems with VM's as a whole...
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Author Closing Comment

by:ddantes
ID: 40343209
I appreciate everyone's input.  I was able to dual-boot the machine by changing the dynamic disc to a basic disc and installing 32-bit and 64-bit Windows on different partitions.  It turned out to be an exercise in futility, though, because there are no 32-bit drivers for many of the devices.  I'll bite the bullet and install all my software on the 64-bit operating system.
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