How To Install Multiple Operating Systems On a Single PC/Laptop

By Subodh / August 5, 2014

A majority of PC users stick to an operating system of their choice, whether it is Linux or Windows 8. However, for some users having one OS is not enough. They may need to use two different OSes for personal or professional needs. When you have more than one computer, this is not a problem. What do you do when you own a single laptop or desktop yet want to run more than one OS? Fortunately, this is possible and you can have two versions of Windows or one Windows version with a Linux OS variant on your computer. However, you have to proceed with caution.

Advantages Of Having Multiple OSes in One PC

When you have dual boot setup in one PC, you can

  • Run legacy applications in the older OS easily
  • Use the newer OS for other and modern software
  • Keep sensitive data secured with one OS

Dual Operating Systems On a Single PC

What You Need Before Opting For Multiple OSes In Single PC

You can use various methods to use multiple OSes in one PC, as it is. For example, you can install two different OSes in two partitions of the hard disc. In a desktop, you can add another hard drive and install a third OS into it and include the HDD in boot menu option subsequently. Some Linux variants come in Live CD or DVD versions. However, most of the PC users use different OS in different partitions.

When you boot into a PC with dual boot setup, a boot loader is required. Linux and Windows both come with individual boot loaders. The boot loaders display a menu to pick the OS each time the PC starts up.

Setting Up Dual Boot Setup In A PC

A lot of computer users are still stuck with Windows XP and with good reasons. It is stable, runs many older apps and is less resource hungry than subsequent versions from the stable of Microsoft. You may choose to retain XP while installing Windows 7 on another partition in your laptop or desktop.

Initial Steps

  • At first, ensure you take backup of entire hard disk. This can be done with a third party backup tool and an external hard disk.
  • To ensure everything goes smoothly download and run Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor on your PC. It will be useful to find out if the hardware meets the requirement of the newer OS.

Making Room For The Newer OS

Once the data is backed up and you have found out your PC hardware is enough to run Windows 7 comfortably, it is necessary to make room for the new OS.

You may need to use a third party partition tool to install Windows 7 on a different partition. There are both free and commercial partition manager apps available. Once the partition is ready, format it in NTFS format and proceed to Windows 7 Installation.
Installing Windows 7 In Another Partition

Once the partition is ready, insert Windows 7 Installation disc in the optical drive slot of the laptop or desktop. You can either insert the disc when XP is running or choose to reboot the PC. Ensure the option Boot from optical drive is enabled in the system BIOS.

If you insert the disc when XP is running, a window will appear. You can ignore a prompt that the installer is not compatible with XP and proceed. If you boot from the Windows 7 install disc a message will appear with words “Press any key to boot from CD or DVD”. Pressing a key will start the installation process.

The Windows 7 installation screen will have options for the input method, language and time and currency format. After accepting Microsoft’s license agreement, click on the Install Now button. In the next screen, choose Custom (advanced) option for the type of installation.

Next, you have to pick a partition for installing Windows 7. Choose the partition that is newly created. This will start the actual installation process. It can take 30 minutes or so. A few rounds of reboot are normal during this stage. After installation finishes, you have to provide a username and PC name. Windows 7 will identify most drivers well and for the rest, you have to install them manually. You will also need to activate Windows afterwards.

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