Got nothing to do this lazy Sunday? Why not give Windows 7 a try, and turn your PC into a dual-boot machine?
Maybe you decided to give Windows 7 a pass when it first came out, not wanting to replace Vista or XP on your PC. But once Windows 7 release candidate 1 (RC1) becomes officially available to the public this May 5, you might want to take advantage of turning your computer into a dual-boot machine. You get to try out Windows 7 for yourself, without giving up the Windows you use for your daily—and crucial—business.
Step 1: Download Windows 7 and Burn it Onto a DVD
You can download Windows 7 RC1 from Microsoft’s website come Tuesday. But a few (mostly developers) already have their own copy; some of them have leaked copies for download via torrents (link also has info on ensuring you get the legit stuff)
Once you have a copy, burn the ISO file onto a DVD. You’ll need a utility like Totally Free Burner to get the job done.
Step 2: Partition Your Hard Drive
Multiple versions of Windows on the same PC need their own partition to work properly. So you’ll need to create a partition to install Windows 7 on. What you need to do depends on your version of Windows.
Windows XP: Download GParted Live CD, burn it on a CD (again, you can use Totally Free Burner to do this), and boot from that disc. Wait for GParted to load, and use it to your full advantage (HowtoForge has instructions on using GParted Live C to partition your hard disk).
Windows Vista: Go to your desktop, hold down the Windows Key, and press R. Type in “diskmgmt.msc” and Press Enter. A list of your hard drives appears; right-click on where you want to install Windows 7 and select “Shrink Volume” (More detailed instructions are found on Lifehacker)
Make sure to partition at least 16GB for your Windows 7 partition!
Step 3: Install Windows 7
Now for the easy part. Install your Windows 7 DVD and boot from it. Note: When the Windows 7 installer asks for installation type, make sure to select Custom. Then choose the partition you created for Windows 7. If you’re not careful, you could end up wiping out your current version of Windows!
Once Windows 7 starts installing, let it work its magic. Sit back and relax, grab a drink, read a book, or of course, stay online through a second desktop or laptop. Just keep your eyes open and provide Windows 7 the info it needs.
Congratulations! Windows 7 should appear as an option on your boot menu whenever you start up your PC. Now you can try out everything for yourself, and see what the relative fuss is all about.