Windows 8 dual boot and initial impressions

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  • Title: Windows 8 dual boot and initial impressions
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  • Summary: Instructions for dual booting Windows 8 Developer Preview alongside Windows 7 and my initial impressions of Microsoft's new Operating System
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Matt's step-by-step guide to dual booting Windows 8 Developer Preview alongside Windows 7:

Items you will need:

  • USB Drive (I used a 20GB Maxtor inside an IDE to USB enclosure)
  • Existing Windows 7 installation on a laptop/desktop

Create a partition to install Windows 8 onto:

  1. Start > right-click on Computer > Manage
  2. Go to Disk Management
  3. Locate the partition that Windows 7 is installed on
  4. Right-click and you should get the option to Shrink Volume
  5. Choose a new volume size, to allow you at least 20GB of free space for Windows 8
  6. Confirm and wait a few minutes for the Volume to be resized
  7. You can now righ-click on the new unallocated space and create a new Volume
  8. Assign it a drive letter, name it and format it to NTFS (Quick)

With the partition created, it's onto setting up Windows 8 on the USB drive:

  1. Download the relevant ISO (preferably 64-bit with Developer Tools)
  2. Download 7Zip (free, open-source, highly recommended)
  3. Extract the ISO file to the same place you downloaded it to
  4. Format your USB drive to NTFS
  5. Copy the contents of the extract ISO to your USB drive
  6. Open a command prompt (Start > Run > cmd)
  7. Navigate to the folder you extracted the ISO (e.g. cd \Users\Matt\Downloads\Windows8)
  8. Navigate further to the boot folder (e.g. cd \boot) within the extracted ISO
  9. Run the command "bootsect.exe /nt60 E:" where E: is the drive letter of your recently formatted USB drive

You will now have a partition to install Windows 8 onto and a USB drive with the Windows 8 ISO contents on, ready for installation.

The next stage is relatively easy:

  1. Restart your computer
  2. Hit F2/DEL to enter Setup (BIOS)
  3. As long as your computer is fairly new, you should see an option to specify the USB drive to boot from
  4. Re-arrange the boot order so that USB drive is the first device
  5. Save and Exit Setup (BIOS)
  6. You'll then begin to see the Windows 8 installer do its thing
  7. Follow the instructions when prompted and sit back, whilst it installs
  8. The installer will restart once it has completed, so you will need to enter Setup (BIOS) again
  9. Change the boot order once again, so that your hard drive is the first device
  10. Save and Exit Setup (BIOS)
  11. The installer will continue and you'll eventually be presented with a new Windows 8 style boot menu
  12. Choose Windows 8 Developer Preview, or leave it be (it'll default to Windows 8)

You'll then be asked a number of questions to setup your new Windows 8 Developer Preview install - allowing you to enjoy Microsoft's latest operating system.

I've had a few hours play with it so far and am highly impressed. Initially I started with it running within a Virtual Box VM, but I found it to be too restrictive. So I opted for the dual boot scenario as outlined above. This allows me to try Windows 8 on the raw hardware, but keeping my existing Windows 7 installation intact. Once the Developer Preview expires or if I find any incompatability issues, I can simply boot back into Windows 7 and continue.

Performance wise, the operating system feels a lot snappier than my Windows 7 install. But that's probably due to the crap it has accumulated over the past year - and the lack of software installed on Windows 8. Dare I say it: Internet Explorer 10 feels quicker than Chrome; yes it does. My only gripe would be the lack of mouse gestures via a laptop's touchpad - having to use the scroll bars on the main Metro UI is awkward and fiddly.

Also, I'm unsure as to why there is Internet Explorer 10 with the standard Aero UI and then there's the full-screen Metro version. They both have their purpose, but users may get confused and not know what tab they have open in which. Speaking of tabs - I'm lost in the Metro version with multiple tabs open, as there's no visual indication of which tab you are currently on and how many you have open, due to the lack of tool/status bars.

Overall, for a Developer Preview (pre-Beta?) Windows 8 is outstanding. The initial discussions surrounding the release are positive and it seems Microsoft have learnt from both its mistakes and also its competitors successes. A single operating system for all devices - Phones, Tablets, Netbooks, Laptops, Desktops, Servers makes complete sense and is what Microsoft has been striving to achieve with the whole Windows thing since, well forever. Hopefully they can get it right, keeping the device specific features at the forefront on the relevant devices, rather than a one UI for all.

Update: I've uploaded a few screenshots to Picasa Web Albums.

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Im still happy with windows 7 which i never thought id be saying after Vista was so bad. It's good to see they are keeping up good standards.


Windows 8 keeps all of the good bits from 7 and iterates on them - but also adds a whole new level with the front-end/Metro UI. Time will tell if this works on all devices, or if people will still opt for Desktop only on Laptops/Desktops and Metro for Mobile/Tablet devices.


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