Windows 8 and 8.1 Forums


Question about Dual Booting Win8.1 Pro and Win7 Ultimate

  1. #1


    Posts : 10
    Windows 8.1 Pro x64

    Question about Dual Booting Win8.1 Pro and Win7 Ultimate


    Greetings,

    This is my first posting in the EightForums, having spent most of my time the past few years in the SevenForums. But now I have Win8.1 and so I'm here.:cool:

    I have a dual booting question about what I want to do and how to do it. I've read many of the docs on these forums about dual booting Win7/Win8...but I'm unclear about how it will work in my situation.

    My rig previously had Win7 Ultimate x64 that was clean installed on a single hard drive. I recently clean installed Win8 Pro x64, then upgraded to 8.1 Pro, on a twin hard drive (both drives are same make/model of WD). So now, I currently have both operating systems on their own separate hard drives.

    If I want to boot to the Win7 hard drive, I plug it in and unplug the Win8.1 hard drive. If want to boot to Win8.1, it's vice versa. In other words, I never have both drives plugged in...because I just don't know what would happen if both were plugged in. I'm leery of plugging both in (though I do have backups).

    Another thing that makes me unclear is that the Win7 drive has a System Reserved, while the Win8 drive does not. So I don't know how this will affect a dual boot. I took screen shots of each in Disk Management (below) for examination by someone.

    Both drives are in their own hot swap bays, so it's easy for me to pull a drive depending on which O/S I want to boot to. I just undock one hard drive from its bay when I want the other hard drive to boot.

    Win8 is plugged into SATA Port 0 of the motherboard
    Win7 is plugged into SATA Port 1 of the motherboard

    What I would like to do:
    I want to have both drives plugged in at the same time to create a dual boot system. Will Win8's boot manager automatically see and deal with the Win7 drive and give me the Win8 boot options menu on startup so that I can choose which O/S to boot to?

    Or is my configuration of the drives incorrect and will both being plugged in bork both drives? Or is there something I can do to fix this so that I can use both drives for dual booting?

    This is the first time I've ever tried to dual boot and I've read many of the docs in this forum...but I just don't know if what I've got will go right or not.

    Thanks for any help given about this and I'll let you know how it goes. Screenshots are below.

    Win7 Disk Management (has System Reserved)
    Click image for larger version


    Win8.1 Disk Management (has no System Reserved)
    Click image for larger version
    Last edited by NEURO2014; 04 Mar 2014 at 07:46.

      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  2. #2


    Posts : 10
    Windows 8.1 Pro x64


    Bump...anyone? Over a hundred views and no one has any input?
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  3. #3


    So let me get long and short of it. You have W8 on one HDD and W7 on another and they were installed separately, with only one HDD being present at the time. I did the same thing when starting new OS so they do not mix. I had both HDDs permanently connected to the PC and used "fast boot device menu" (in case of my MB it was F12 button) and then choose which HDD to boot from. Check your MB manual to see which button activates that option.
    When I was sure that I'm staying with Windows 8 /8.1 as primary system I used "EasyBCD 2.2" https://neosmart.net/blog/2012/annou...ting-and-more/ from Win8 to make it a dual boot with automatic menu when starting computer but can still boot separately using F12 button during the boot P.O.S.T..
    That way I do not have to connect/disconnect HDDs to choose system to boot from.
    One more thing, you can keep both drives connected all the time and computer is going to boot from first HDD it finds the OS on. Again, you can set that in the BIOS by choosing "First (or default) boot device.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  4. #4


    Posts : 10
    Windows 8.1 Pro x64


    Quote Originally Posted by CountMike View Post
    So let me get long and short of it. You have W8 on one HDD and W7 on another and they were installed separately, with only one HDD being present at the time. I did the same thing when starting new OS so they do not mix. I had both HDDs permanently connected to the PC and used "fast boot device menu" (in case of my MB it was F12 button) and then choose which HDD to boot from. Check your MB manual to see which button activates that option.
    When I was sure that I'm staying with Windows 8 /8.1 as primary system I used "EasyBCD 2.2" https://neosmart.net/blog/2012/annou...ting-and-more/ from Win8 to make it a dual boot with automatic menu when starting computer but can still boot separately using F12 button during the boot P.O.S.T..
    That way I do not have to connect/disconnect HDDs to choose system to boot from.
    One more thing, you can keep both drives connected all the time and computer is going to boot from first HDD it finds the OS on. Again, you can set that in the BIOS by choosing "First (or default) boot device.

    Hi Mike...thanks for helping out.

    Long and short of it is 'yes': I have Win8.1 Pro on one HDD and Win7 Ult. on another HDD. I'd like to keep them both connected and have the option during boot to select which O/S to boot into.

    After connecting both drives (and hopefully booting into Win8 by default), would I be able to go into Control Panel > System > Advanced System Settings > Advanced tab, then in the Startup and Recovery box, click the Settings button, then select my default boot O/S and other settings?

    Would that work?

    My other concern was the Win7 drive having a System Reserved, but the Win8 drive doesn't. That won't cause any issues with either O/S on boot, will it? I don't know enough about this to experiment and blow something up, so any help is appreciated.

    Thanks again.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  5. #5


    I found that using "EasyBCD" is easiest way make dual boot in cases like this, it can find both systems automatically and will let you set defaults without installing any files except for initial setup. Once you have your dual boot you can uninstall the program and do all other changes from Advanced tab as you said. About the last question, no you are not going to "Blow up" anything and two systems are not going to interfere with each other.
    After booting in each system, go to "System Restore Settings" in it and set Restore settings for only that HDD and OS, if it is not already set.
    If you install any other OSs on separate HDDs without other ones present, you can keep adding HDDs and systems on them 'till you run out of space and than some. I also have an XP on another drive and a Linux drive too. Those I keep invisible to W8 and W7 and choose their boot thru BIOS. Also have another Linux distro, Hireens boot disk with W7 and Linux, windows To Go and assorted antivirus and troubleshooting programs on separate USB thumb drives but boot them thru BIOS if need be.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  6. #6


    Posts : 1,720
    Windows 8.1 Pro


    @ NEURO2014:
    You should be able to set up your system as you described and achieve the desired results. Keeping all drives 'online' will be fine. Don't worry about the 'System Reserve', it's been created and there it will sit.
    One peculiarity I've found is that if you install the W7 os last you see a boot screen such as this:

    (example)Attachment 39140

    if you install the W8 os last you will see this:

    Attachment 39141

    or, you could install this light, 'free for non-commercial use' piece of software called iReboot from NeoSmart and not have to look at either screen:

    iReboot:
    Download iReboot - NeoSmart Technologies

    Hope this helps a bit.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  7. #7


    Those are results before installation of systems, he already has them installed on separate HDDs and separately from each other,which is btw. cleanest way to do it.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  8. #8


    Posts : 5,592
    ME, XP,Vista,Win7,Win8,Win8.1
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  9. #9


    Posts : 10
    Windows 8.1 Pro x64


    @CountMike and theog
    Thanks guys...I've done some reading on EasyBCD and will give that a try.

    @Edwin
    That blue Win8 "Choose an operating system" screen is exactly what I'm hoping will happen by default. Both operating systems are on two separate hard drives. Win8 is on SATA Port 0, Win7 is on SATA Port 1. Does that blue "Choose" screen only appear if the two operating systems are on the same hard drive...or will it work with two operating systems on two different hard drives?

    I'll try connecting both drives and see if BIOS will load up Win8 off Port 0 first by default...and maybe see Win7 on Port 1, then give me the blue "Choose" screen.

    I'm going to do more reading on EasyBCD too. Learning lots of new things here about dual booting...it's fun, but still a white knuckler since I've never done it before. Always that way the first time for anything.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  10. #10


    Posts : 879
    Windows 10


    edit: Note that these instructions only work if the hard drive has an MBR (Master Boot Record) partition table. Here is some info about MBR and GPT partition style: link

    Quote Originally Posted by NEURO2014 View Post
    I want to have both drives plugged in at the same time to create a dual boot system.
    The bootrec /rebuildbcd command will search for Windows installations not included in the Boot Configuration Data (BCD) and then ask you if you'd like to add one or more to it.

    Connect both drives to the Computer.
    - Windows 8 > SATA port 0
    - Windows 7 > SATA port 1

    - Boot the computer using the Windows 7/8/8.1 installation media.
    - On the first screen, press SHIFT+F10 to bring up command prompt.
    - Run the following command at the command prompt.

    bootrec /rebuildbcd

    Click image for larger version

    Click image for larger version

    Click image for larger version

    Click image for larger version


    bootrec /rebuildbcd

    The bootrec /rebuildbcd command will search for Windows installations not included in the Boot Configuration Data (BCD) and then ask you if you'd like to add one or more to it.

    You should see one of the following messages at the command line.

    Option 1

    Scanning all disks for Windows installations.

    Please wait, since this may take a while...

    Successfully scanned Windows installations.
    Total identified Windows installations: 0
    The operation completed successfully.

    Option 2

    Scanning all disks for Windows installations.

    Please wait, since this may take a while...

    Successfully scanned Windows installations.
    Total identified Windows installations: 1
    [1] D:\Windows
    Add installation to boot list? Yes<Y>/No<N>/All<A>:

    If you see:

    Option 1: This result most likely means that Windows installation data in the BCD store exists but bootrec couldn't find any additional installations of Windows on your computer to add to the BCD.

    Option 2: Enter Y or Yes to the "Add installation to boot list?" question.
    Last edited by genet; 02 Nov 2014 at 08:18.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

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