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How to Install Multiple Operating Systems on Single Computer


Why limit yourself to a single operating system, when you can install multiple operating systems on the same computer or laptop? If your favorite software is not compatible with Microsoft Windows 8, you can install Microsoft Windows 7 and Microsoft Windows 8 on the same computer. If you want to check the preview release of newer version of Microsoft Windows, you can install that latest OS without deleting old OS. If you want to have a taste of different operating systems, you can install multiple operating systems easily. All you need to do is to keep in mind few important things and follow appropriate directions. It is not difficult at all. In fact, in case of Microsoft Windows, its easier than easy.

You can install more than one operating system on computer. This is called a multiboot or dual-boot configuration. You can install two, three, four or as many operating systems side by side as you like, if your hard disk space allows that. Running multiple operating systems won’t stress your computer in case these are installed independently on separate hard drives. You will be running one operating at a time. Whenever you start your computer, you can then choose which version of Microsoft Windows to run. Lets see how can we install and use multiple versions of Microsoft Windows on same computer (one operating system in one hard disk partition). I will give example of two operating systems (Microsoft Windows 7 and 8) in this tutorial.

If you install Microsoft Windows 7 and Microsoft Windows 8 on computer, at the start up, computer provides the following options given below in screenshot. You can choose to use Microsoft Windows 7 or Microsoft Windows 8.

multiple boot - choose operating system

Computer disk management is representing below that Microsoft Windows 7 and Microsoft Windows 8 are installed on separate partitions of hard disk.

multiple boot - disk management - win7 - win8

Computer system configuration utility in Microsoft Windows 7 is displaying below the boot entries. Default OS is Microsoft Windows 8.

multiple - boot - msconfig - win7

Computer system configuration utility in Microsoft Windows 8 is displaying below the boot entries. Default OS is Microsoft Windows 8 that was installed after Microsoft Windows 7.

multiple boot - msconfig - win8

‘My computer’ or ‘computer’ area displaying the two different partitions for Microsoft Windows 7 and Microsoft Windows 8.

multiple boot - win7 win8

Important: There is one thing you need to keep in mind. Install older version of Microsoft Windows first and more recent versions If you don’t (for example, if you install Microsoft Windows 7 on a computer already running Microsoft Windows 8), you can render your system inoperable. This can happen because earlier versions of Microsoft Windows don’t recognize the startup files used in more recent versions of Microsoft Windows and can overwrite them.

Multiple Operating Systems Installation – Each in Separate Partition

First of all you need to check the partitions and disk space. You should have enough hard disk space in computer. If you have only one partition with enough free space, you need to resize that partition to make room for a separate partition for the other operating systems. This may require defragmenting the drive first. You may also want to reserve some space for a data partition available to both operating systems.

To create more partitions, right click at Computer and select ‘Manage‘. Under ‘storage’ at the left side, select ‘Computer Management‘. Right click at volume and select ‘shrink volume‘. Enter the amount of space in MB to shrink. This will be the space for new partition. After you successfully create partition, Install Microsoft Windows by selecting a custom install and selecting that newly created partition to install Microsoft Windows on. The second operating system installer will detect the first on the other partition and configure a boot loader allowing both to boot.

If you already have extra partition to install operating system, make sure its empty. If it has data, backup that data somewhere else. Insert the Microsoft Windows OS installation disc or USB into your computer. Setup should start automatically. If it doesn’t, click the Start button, click Computer, double-click your DVD drive or USB to open the Microsoft Windows installation disc, and double-click setup.exe.

On the Install Windows menu, click Install now. On the Which type of installation do you want? page, click ‘Custom‘. On the Where do you want to install Windows? page, select the (free) partition (or disk) where you want to install the new operating system. Be sure to install Windows on a different partition from the one where the earlier version of Windows is installed. Click Next to begin the installation.

After completion, restart the computer and test booting from both operating systems. You can repeat these steps and install more recent versions of Microsoft Windows on other free partitions of computer, these all will run. You will have option to choose which operating system to run in the start. Just make sure that you install older versions first and more recent versions of Microsoft Windows later. Install each operating system on separate partition.

Programs Installations on Multiple Boot Computer

Your previously installed programs for first operating system won’t work in other installed operating systems. You need to install programs for each operating system separately turn by turn. Suppose you have Microsoft Windows Vista, 7 and 8. You will run Microsoft Windows Vista and install programs in that. After that you will restart Vista and run Microsoft Windows 7 and install programs in that and then restart computer and run Microsoft Windows 8 and install programs in Microsoft Windows 8.

Uninstall Operating System from Multiple Boot

To uninstall operating system on a multiple boot computer, you can simply format the partition or delete partition entirely but make sure you do not delete first operating system. Do not delete older operating system otherwise system won’t boot at all. This is because the computer uses the startup files from the earliest version of Microsoft Windows that is installed on the computer. Before you delete partition, you should back up your programs, files, and settings. Formatting or deleting a partition deletes all of the data on the partition.

If you have installed Microsoft Vista and after that you install Microsoft Windows 7, you can delete partition containing Microsoft Windows 7. If you delete Microsoft Windows Vista by running Microsoft Windows 7, system won’t work the next time. So install older versions of OS first and recent later and uninstall recent versions of OS first and old later.

Use VMWare Workstation to Run Multiple Operating Systems

In case of VMware workstation, you can run multiple operating systems at the same time. This is our second option to achieve multiple versions of Microsoft Windows running on same computer is VMware Workstation. Run applications on multiple operating systems including Linux, Microsoft Windows and more at the same time on the same PC without rebooting. Through VMware Workstation, you get the freedom that you deserve. You can setup multiple virtual machines running different operating systems on same computer. In fact, you can run multiple operating systems at the same time in separate browser windows. You need a computer with good specs for that. Extra RAM (at least 4Gb RAM for two operating systems) and a good processor depending on how many operating systems you want to run at the same time.


Install VMware workstation and run it. From VMware workstation, select ‘create a new virtual machine’. A wizard will guide you through easy steps. Provide ISO file of operating system that you want to install. Repeat the step and add as many operating systems as you like. These operating systems will appear on a side panel. Select to run required operating system. Click to select and run more operating systems within same environment without restarting PC.
Fore more, read: How to Install Ubuntu in Microsoft Windows Using VMWare

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