Booting from multiple drives

I have a number of computers that I have collected over the years. Two of which were Windows 7-32bit systems that I abandoned, for several reasons, and built a new system. These two computers contained a number of programs for which I have no media and are no longer being supported by the software developer.

When I built my new system, I installed Windows 8.1-64bit on a 1tb HDD, designated as C:\. Then I got the bright idea of installing the two Windows 7 drives as drives designated as D:\ and E:\ thinking I could just run the "antique" programs from those drives. I learned quickly that doing so is not possible.

My next bright idea is to make Drive D:\ and E:\ boot-able drives and use a boot manager to choose which system I want to use on start-up. My questions is, can this be done? If the answer is yes, how do I proceed to accomplish it? And finally, is there another solution to accomplish what I am trying to do?

Thanks for considering my question.
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Have you thought about virtualisation?

Maybe VMWare workstationa nd use VMWare convertor to make the old machines run as virtual machines on your new PC?

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ergenbgrAuthor Commented:
Thanks jerseysam!

I have never been exposed to visualization, though I have heard of it. Where would be a good place to start to find out if this is a viable solution?
ergenbgrAuthor Commented:
Sorry, I meant virtualization not visualization. Darn spell checkers!
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dbruntonQuid, Me Anxius Sum?  Illegitimi non carborundum.Commented:
I would use VMWare and use the convertor and Player.

A good summary here:
David Johnson, CD, MVPOwnerCommented:
this is possible using from the command prompt bcdedit /scanos .. if this doesn't work some bios's allow you to change the boot drive during the bios boot screen (asus uses F8)
you could also transfer the system to the new hardware, say on another empty drive, with something like paragon's  adaptive restore
Danny ChildIT ManagerCommented:
There's a program called Laplink PC Mover that is designed to capture applications from one OS and move them to another.   However, I think you need both PCs to be running to do this, preferably across a wired network.  I'm not sure if you have hardware available for this.

Disclaimer - I've NOT used this, but some users swear by it, some users swear AT it...  You might want to check for the reviews there.  

It's also not clear whether the old apps would work on a modern OS, in which case virtualisation is the best option.
Danny ChildIT ManagerCommented:
Back in the day, I also had some removable hard drive bays where I could (with the system OFF!), turn a key, pull out a drawer unit containing a disk, slot another one, turn the key again, and boot into that OS.

It was in the days of IDE cables and Master Slave malarky, and SATA is more friendly now.  You can still get them though, if all your disk drives have the same interface.  

Personally, if you have to boot into each OS, using the BIOS to change the boot option is the best way.  They key to select Boot Device is F12 on Dells, for instance.  

However, running 3 separate OS's is going to be a pain - 3 x updates, 3 x AV to run, no easy way to exchange data between them, etc... VMs is the neatest solution, but with the biggest learning curve.
ergenbgrAuthor Commented:
I apologize for not responding to the solutions that have been offered. Tax season has been challenging.

First off, I installed VMWare but I have not been able to get that solution to work. I have downloaded BOOTIT. I hope to try all other solutions tomorrow. If I can resolve my issue, I will award the points to the solution(s) I use.

Thank you all for your patience.
Bootit is imo one of the very best softwares around for this..enjoy
ergenbgrAuthor Commented:
Still working with both solutions. Not sure which will be the long term solution. Thanks to all.
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