How to Install Windows 8 Without Ditching Windows 7

Mashable
How to Install Windows 8 Without Ditching Windows 7
.

View gallery

Windows 8 is so new and different, many users aren't sure if they really want to abandon Windows 7 for it just yet. But you, dear Mashable reader, can have both at once. I'll show you how to keep your Windows 7 installation as it is, and have the option to boot into Windows 8 on the same machine, giving you the time and experience to make an informed choice between the two.

You've been able to dual-boot previous versions of Windows for years, but now with Windows 8 it's easier than ever. There's good news, too: Microsoft is offering Windows 8 Pro for $39.99 until January 31, 2013, and I'll show you how to use that version to dual-boot between Windows 7 and Windows 8.

[More from Mashable: The 10 Biggest Space Moments of 2012]

Using the regular Windows 8 Pro download saves you $85.01 by ignoring advice on Microsoft's website urging you to buy the $125 Windows 8 Pro System Builder software if you want to dual boot. However, if you want to try Windows 8 for a while before activating -- an option available with Windows 7 -- you can't legally install Windows 8 unless you have a valid product key.

SEE ALSO: Windows 8 Is Bold and Powerful [REVIEW]

[More from Mashable: Windows 8 Is Hard to Use While Drunk [VIDEO]]

Follow along and I'll show you how to download the software, put it on a DVD, and then install it on your machine without breaking anything, giving you the freedom to boot into either Windows 7 or Windows 8 at your whim. Before we get started, be sure your PC has the minimum system requirements for Windows 8 and that you have at least 20GB of free space on your hard drive. Then you'll be ready for this fresh install of Windows 8, side-by-side with Windows 7.

Keep in mind that a disadvantage of loading a fresh install rather than an upgrade of Windows 8 is that it won't transfer all your settings and applications you've so carefully curated. However, you will have a better chance at long-term stability if you freshly install a copy of Windows 8, and with this dual-boot setup, if it turns out you don't like it one bit, you can have your machine boot by default into Windows 7 and forget the whole thing.

1. Get Windows 8

The first thing you need to do is download Windows 8 Pro and place it on a DVD that we will use to install it. Of course, if you already have Windows 8 on a DVD or USB key, you can skip this part. If you don't, click Buy Windows 8 and we're off and running. Note: Unlike its predecessors, Windows 8 requires a valid Windows 8 key before you can install it.

Click here to view this gallery.

Special thanks to Lifehacker and About.com for their excellent tutorials that pointed us in the right direction while we prepared this guide.

This story originally published on Mashable here.

View Comments (15)