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Install Dual-Boot of Windows XP and Windows 8 on a Windows 8 computer (Win 8 installed first)

Last reviewed: July 2013

Introduction

This guide shows how to correctly and safely create a natural dual-boot of Windows 8 and Windows XP on a computer with Windows 8 already installed. You can then run either of those two Windows by selecting one from a menu during bootup. No data loss will occur and a third-party boot utility is not used.

In this procedure you need to resize the Windows 8 drive to make room for Windows XP unless you happen to have Unallocated disk space or you install the new Windows 8 on a second hard disk. This example uses a single hard disk.

A 64-bit Windows 8.1 (NTFS) was used in testing and a 32-bit Windows XP SP2 (FAT32) was added. The computer used was a 64-bit Dell Studio XPS 8100 (2.93 GHz), Core i7, 8 GB RAM DDR3, NVidia GeForce GTX 460, 1 TB SATA hard disk - this had no EFI/UEFI and no GPT partitions that are mostly on pre-installed Windows 8 computers.

This procedure is suitable for experienced computer users.

Warning: Do not install Windows XP on new computers that use the new GPT partition table on which Windows XP cannot install. Read How to Check if your hard disk drive is using GPT or MBR


Important Installation Notes

Full Installation CD/DVDs. The Windows you are adding cannot be installed from a Recovery partition or Repair CD/DVDs provided by some OEMs. You need the full installation or setup version to install a Windows.

Shrinking a Windows 8, 7 or Vista drive. You should use Shrink in Windows' Disk Management to resize the Windows partition. Read Shrink the Windows 8, 7 or Vista Partition for instructions on completing this task successfully. Use the free GParted Live CD only if you must - read Use GParted to Resize the Windows 8, 7 or Vista Partition to learn how.

Restore Points and Windows XP. While not essential, it's best practice to apply a fix to prevent Windows XP removing Restore Points created by Win 8.

EasyBCD. The highly-acclaimed EasyBCD is a free editing utility that allows any user to easily edit the Windows 8/7/Vista boot menu (the BCD or Boot Configuration Data). EasyBCD runs in Windows 8, 7 and Vista, but also in Windows XP if you first install Microsoft's free .NET 2.0 Framework.

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Details: Install Windows XP when Windows 8 is already Installed

Installing other operating systems on your Windows 8 computer may invalidate your warrantee.
It's important to follow the instructions exactly as stated and you should have a properly working Windows.


Make your preparations

  1. Make sure you can boot from a bootable CD/DVD
  2. Backup important data before making any changes to a partition. You can burn files to a CD, clone an image of your hard disk, copy files to a USB flash/pen/thumb drive, or use an USB external drive (a good choice)
  3. Plan your new partition(s) carefully before you install. An extra partition is useful for shared data!
  4. Download Neosmart's free EasyBCD (to edit Win 8/7/Vista boot loader)
    - to download Easy BCD without registering: click SEE PLANS, click REGISTER, just click the Download! button.
  5. Download any essential device drivers for your older Windows.
  6. Disconnect all unnecessary external devices before you start.

Make free space and create new partitions

Always note the size of each partition and also label each (this guide will use wn_8 and w_XP).
You can use a second hard disk for Windows 8 but it should use the new GPT Partition Table if the first disk uses GPT.

You should have no trouble using Win 8's Shrink in Disk Management to create Unallocated space on a 2nd or 3rd hard disk. Restart Windows when finished. Then skip from here to Next Install ...

If installing on the first hard disk:

  1. Restart computer correctly (close all programs before you Restart computer).
  2. Open Disk Management in Windows 8 (right-click Computer, select Manage, click Disk Management).
    • Right-click your CD/DVD drive(s), select Change drive letter and paths..., and click Change.
      Change the drive letter to K (get it out of the way!).
    • Right-click the Windows 8 Volume (probably C:), and select Properties.
      In the General tab, enter wn_8 as the label for the Windows 8 volume, and click Apply.
  3. In Disk Management in Windows 8
    • Right-click the wn_8 volume, and click Shrink Volume.
      • In Enter the amount of space to shrink in MB: enter enough for XP (and maybe a Data drive).
      • Click the Shrink button (it may take some time!).
        We will leave the newly acquired free space as Unallocated (preferred) or RAW (unformatted).
      If Shrink does not give you sufficient Unallocated space, read how to Shrink the Windows 8, 7 or Windows Vista Partition for instructions or use the free GParted Live CD. Then return here.
    • Do this next part ONLY if you want to create a size-specific unformatted (RAW) partition for XP.
      • Right-click the Unallocated space and select New Simple Volume.... Click Next.
      • In Specify volume size:, enter the size you want in MB and click Next.
      • In Assign Drive letter or Path, just click Next.
      • In Format Partition, do not Format - select Do not format this volume in the drop-down.
      • Click Finish button.
    • If you have a very large hard disk, you can create an extra partition for data - now or later.
      (Disk Management will automatically create Logical partitions when those become necessary).
  4. Restart to Windows 8.
    • Open Disk Management and check that the change made is correct.

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Next Install Windows XP in this Windows 8 Dual-Boot

The link below shows how to install Windows XP in this dual-boot and how to use EasyBCD with it.

The Windows boot menu will then boot Windows 8 or Windows XP when selected.

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Related Reading

Please remember that you alone are responsible for the consequences of any changes you make to your computer hardware or software.

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