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Installing Windows 7 within Windows 8 is a great way to have both operating systems available on one computer. It can be done with Virtual Machine software.

I have a Windows 8 desktop and I want to install Windows 7 inside of it. How do I do that?

In this excerpt from Answercast #86, I look at Virtual Machine technology and how it allows you to run multiple operating systems on one computer.

Install Windows 7 within Windows 8

That's exactly what a virtual machine is designed to do.

If you take a look at my article, "Virtual machines: what are they?" it will tell you what virtual machines are at a conceptual level. But, very simply, they are an entire machine within a window on your desktop.

So, what you would do is you would get virtual machine technology. I happen to use Parallels Desktop, but there are definitely others including VMware and a couple of others.

They will then allow you to create a "Virtual Machine" which would then start as if you were setting up a new PC from scratch -- in a window.

So what that means is you would need your Windows 7 installation media and you would run Windows 7 set up in that virtual machine. After you're done, on your Windows 8 machine, you would have a virtual machine running, in a window, that's running Windows 7.

Or the other way around...

In my case, I happen to run Windows 7 on my machine. I have virtual machines that run: Windows 8, another copy of Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP and even Ubuntu - usually for researching various questions.

So it's a wonderful technology. I encourage you to research it and look into it but it sounds like it solves exactly the problem that you're asking about.

(Transcript lightly edited for readability.)

Article C6230 - January 10, 2013 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

January 10, 2013 2:07 PM

Have you had a chance to research Windows 8 Hyper-V? It sounds a lot like what you're describing for a virtual machine. Here's a link to a PCworld Article

Al Pfyffer
January 11, 2013 4:23 PM

I downloaded windows 8, $39.95, and I'm sorry that I did! I don't know if I am too old or they are making 8 more complicated? I currently nd have an Apple 4S I-phone and a Samsung 7" Android tab. Knowing them did not help me in trying to work in this new ??????, this is not an upgrade, it is a totally different type of system!

January 12, 2013 8:30 AM

How does activation work when you are setting up a virtual machine? If you are using the OS from a different computer in your virtual machine, won't that look like a completely different computer? Will it activate? Will it cause troubles down the line for your other computer whose OS you used?

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