How to migrate from Windows 8 Preview Releases: Dual Boot Setup

Windows 8 has RTMed and persons are starting to make their preparations to upgrade to the final release. According to Microsoft, nearly 17 million installations of Windows 8 previews exist. That’s a lot compared to many who also tested prior preview releases of Windows.

For persons running the Windows 8 Release Preview, Consumer Preview or even the Developer preview, migration is the only option, there is no in place upgrade that will preserve your installed applications. The final release of Windows 8 will move your personal files by moving them to a Windows.old folder at the root of the drive (C:\). In this article, we take a look at migrating from Windows 8 release previews under a dual boot configuration. Dual boot configurations is the best way in my estimation to evaluate Windows 8. Reason being, your existing version of Windows (whether that be Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7) is kept intact while you install Windows 8 preview on a hard disk or partition. The operating system will allow you to choose which version of Windows you would like to boot into at startup by using a boot manager.


If you have been using any of the release previews exclusively for a period of time, you are likely to have accumulated data on the drive where the preview is installed. Depending on the version of Windows you are dual booting with, you will have to do a manual backup to keep that data. Tools such as an external hard disk are recommended in this scenario. If you are running Windows XP, Vista, I would recommend you copy all the personal folders to an external hard disk. The process is simple:

In Windows 8, launch File Explorer


Highlight all folders within your Personal folder

Copy Personal folders

Click Copy on the Ribbon (Home tab)

Make sure your external hard disk is turned on and plugged in, then browse to your external hard disk and click Paste on the Ribbon (Home Tab)

Backup to system partition

If you do not happen to own an external hard disk, but you have enough space on the boot drive where the older version of Windows is installed, you can create a folder there and paste the folders into it.

Once you have backed up your data, the next recommendation I would make is to renable to classic text based boot manager. You can do this from within either Windows 8 or the older version of Windows. I personally recommend this as a precautionary measure, because Windows 8 uses a new graphical boot manager, I don’t know what the side effects will be if you format the partition where Windows 8 exist.

To enable the text based boot manager, right click the left hand corner of the Windows 8 screen.

Press Windows Key + X then Click System

Advanced Settings

Click Advanced System settings

Click Advanced tab

Under Startup and Recovery, click Settings

Text Boot Manager

Under System startup, click in the ‘Default operating system:’ list box, select the earlier version of Windows, whether that be Windows 7 or Vista. If you are running Windows XP, select ‘Earlier version of Windows’.

Formatting Partition, recovering disk space

The next step is to boot into the earlier version of Windows “XP, Vista or Windows 7”.

Launch Disk Management:

Press Windows key + R on your keyboard, then type: diskmgmt.msc

Hit Enter on your keyboard

In Disk Management, you should see the partition listed where Windows 8 is installed.

Delete Partition

Right click it, click Delete

Click OK

Next, right click the system partition, normally listed as Drive C:\ where Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7 is installed.

Click Extend.

(Windows XP users, if you do not see Extend, you will need to use a third party partitioning tool such as Easeus).

click ‘Yes’ when the warning appears.

A wizard will now begin that will guide through the steps to merge back the unallocated space with your system partition.

The wizard provides a simple procedure to merge back the unallocated space with the system drive. Once you have selected the space, click Next, at the end of the wizard, you will see the amount allocated.

Using Easeus in Windows XP to reallocate partition space used by Windows 8

In the Easeus main screen, right click the system partition (C:\)

Reallocate Ease Us

Click Resize/Move partition

Windows XP Professional-2012-10-28-18-36-52

Under Decide size and position, drag the knob to the right until there is none left. See pic below:

Windows XP Professional-2012-10-28-18-38-13

Click OK

Click Apply to confirm changes

Windows XP Professional-2012-10-28-18-39-25

Click Yes when Apply Changes dialog appears.

Windows XP Professional-2012-10-28-18-39-29

Click OK when complete

Restart your computer to complete changes.

You should now have a single partition displayed in Computer Explorer.

Automatically boot into the operating system.

Earlier, we had enabled the text based boot manager.

Because we no longer have Windows 8 installed, we need to remove it.

Click Start, right Computer (My Computer for XP users)

Click Properties (Windows 7/Vista users click Advanced system settings)

Click Advanced tab

Under Startup and Recovery, click Settings

Under System startup, uncheck ‘Time to display list of operating systems’

Click OK, then Apply and OK

This will allow you to boot directly to the Windows 7, Vista or XP desktop.

You can proceed to upgrade to Windows 8 final now that you have regained your disk space.

Install, Upgrade and Activate

1 Comment

Filed under 8 Journal, Windows 7, Windows 8

One response to “How to migrate from Windows 8 Preview Releases: Dual Boot Setup

  1. Pingback: How to migrate from Windows 8 Preview Releases: Default Installation | Teching It Easy: with Windows

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