Windows 10 rolled out officially on July 29, and it is available as a free upgrade as long as the current OS on your PC is a genuine version of Windows 7 or Windows 8.1.
If you are one of those who is yet to decide whether to move over to the new platform, maybe due to fears that you’ll lose your data or simply because you are still sentimental about losing your old Windows, well, there is a way out for you. It is possible to install Windows 10 on a device that is running Windows 7/8 and still use both operating systems without affecting the files of the other.
But how do you do it?
All you need is to install Windows 10 when in a dual-boot setup as this mode will allow the current files to be kept such that you can still use the old version of Windows, but at the same time use the new Windows 10 on the same PC.
Someone might be thinking: how do you install both Windows versions on one PC when the new OS requires that an update be carried out over the current Windows version? The answer is that you need to create a dual-boot environment where you can run both versions on different partitions of your PC. The current Windows 7/8.1 will remain untouched in its current drive while the setup will allow you to install the new Windows 10 on a separate drive or partition. Once the two operating systems are installed on your PC, you will have to choose between the two which one to boot from. Alternatively, you can choose either of them as the default OS such that it automatically boots after a specified period unless you make a different choice.
The best thing about this dual-boot setup is that you will have room to explore what’s new in Windows 10 while at the same time use Windows 7/8.1 for your usual tasks. This will obviously give you more time to test the new OS before you can decide on whether to upgrade or not.
Where do you get the Windows 10 edition for installing in dual-boot setup?
The best and easiest way of getting your hands on the Windows 10 edition for dual-boot setup is Windows 10 Enterprise. This 90-day trial edition is designed for business organizations who want to try it out before deciding on whether to install it or stick with the current system. The good thing is that this Windows 10 Enterprise edition comes with all features included in Windows 10 Pro and Windows 10 Home, so you can run it for the 90 days and check out what’s best for you. The OS comes with an ISO file that can be copiedto a DVD or USB drive for installation purposes.
How to setup the dual-boot environment
It’s not very hard to setup this dual-boot environment required for installing Windows 10 on a Windows 7/8.1 PC. Simply make use of the following steps. Remember, the process is the same whether you are using Windows 7 or Windows 8.1.
- Visit the official Microsoft TechNet Evaluation Center to download the trial edition of Windows 10 Enterprise. Copy the ISO file onto a USB drive or burn it on a DVD.
- Now you need to prepare your Windows 7/8.1 PC in readiness for installing Windows 10. You need to create a partition that will home the new OS. In Windows 7, click on the Start button and in the search field; type “Disk Management.” Follow it by selecting “Create and format hard disk partitions.” In Windows 8.1, simply right-click on the Start button and from the resulting menu, select “Disk Management.” In the window that opens, look out for the Drive C: or in some cases, the name of the OS installed. Right click on this partition and select “Shrink Volume.” In the next window, specify the amount of space you want allocated to Windows 10 (30-40GB) and click on the “Shrink” button. A new partition with the name “Unallocated” will appear, and it is where Windows 10 will be installed.
- Install Windows 10 on your PC using the DVD or USB drive you created earlier. You can now install the new OS using the normal procedure that will show up on your screen.
- When asked for which type of installation you want, choose “Custom” where you will install Windows only. Remember to select the “Unallocated” partition when asked where to install Windows 10.
- Sit back and wait as Windows 10 installs on your PC. During this process, there may be several reboots, but make sure not to choose the option of booting from USB Drive or DVD for the process will restart.
Once the installation is done, Windows 10 will prompt you to set it up on your PC by connecting to a current network, creating an account and finally you will be able to explore, learn more, work as well as play with the new Windows OS on your PC. Of course, you will have to reboot in order to switch to the older OS just in case you want to access it.