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How to dual-boot with Windows 7 and Windows 8

I wanted to install Windows 8 on one of my production systems but didn't want to perform an upgrade to my existing version of Windows 7. I have had dual-boot systems in the past, so why not try it with Windows 7 and Windows 8. And to have some fun with it, I decided to use my Netbook.

Windows 7 / Windows 8 boot manager screen
Windows 7 / Windows 8 boot manager screen

I was surprised as to how easy it was. All that is required is an existing Windows 7 installation, Windows 8 installation media, and enough free space on your hard drive. I didn't even have to edit the boot loader; Windows 8 did it automatically. Here's how I did it.

Rename the existing Windows 7 partition/volume

Once your system is dual-booting, you will need to identify which partition has what operating system. Renaming the existing partition now will make things easier later (see image below).

  • Open My Computer and right-click on the C: drive and select Rename. Give it a name that indicates which operating system is installed on it, something like Win7 or Windows 7.

Create a system image of your existing hard drive

The next thing to do is create a system image, just in case you need to recover your system back to its original state.

  1. Click the Start button, then click on Control Panel. Inside the Control Panel, click on System and Security, then click on Backup and Restore
  2. or
  3. Click the Start button. In the search box, type Backup, and then, in the list of results, click on Backup and Restore

In the left pane, click Create a system image, and then follow the wizard's steps. If you're prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

Shrink the existing Windows 7 volume

You will need some free space on your hard drive to install Windows 8. Windows 7 makes shrinking the existing partition easy. If you are logged in as an administrator, you can repartition your hard disk using the Shrink feature in Disk Management. You shrink the existing partition to create unallocated disk space, from which you make a new partition during the installation of Windows 8.

  • Click the Start button, then click on Computer, which will bring up Windows Explorer. Inside of Windows Explorer, right-click on Computer, then click on Manage
  • or
  • Click the Start button. In the search box, type Management, and then, in the list of results, click on Computer Management.
  • If you're prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.
  • In the left pane, under Storage, click Disk Management.
  • Right-click the volume you want to shrink, and then click Shrink Volume. Follow the instructions.

install windows 8 on the free space

Insert the Windows 8 installation media (DVD or USB drive) and reboot your system. If your system does not automatically boot up on the Windows 8 media, you may have to modify the boot options in the system's BIOS.

Once the installation starts, you will be prompted to do an Upgrade or Custom installation. Select Custom, and then you will be asked which partition you would like to install Windows 8 on. Select the unnamed, unallocated disk space you just created and let the installation complete.

I have built quite a few dual-boot systems in the past and used a third party boot editor to finish the setup. Not this time. Windows 8 modified the existing boot loader.

The reversed drive letters on a Windows 7 / Windows 8 dual-boot system
The reversed drive letters on a Windows 7 / Windows 8 dual-boot system

Once the installation is complete, open up Windows Explorer using the instructions above. You will notice that the drive letters associated with the partitions have changed. The partition you renamed earlier is not the C: drive anymore under Windows 8. Both Windows 7 and Windows 8, when in operation, will make their active partition the C: drive. Rename the unnamed Windows 8 partition Win8 or Windows 8, and you're set.

View everything in the Control Panel in one folder in Windows 8

With the new Metro interface for Windows 8, finding things can be kind of hard. So I thought I would give the 'God' mode trick from Windows 7 a try, and sure enough, it works. The way it works is you create a new folder and give it a specific name. Then, when you open that folder, it displays the complete contains of the Control Panel.

Complete listing of Control Panel in one folder inside of Windows 8
A complete listing of Control Panel in one folder inside of Windows 8

All you have to do is create a new folder (I like having one on my Desktop) and cut & paste the following code in the name (check out How to create a shortcut on the Desktop and Start menu in Windows 8).

Control Panel Expanded.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}

Note:
For this article, I am going to use the name Control Panel Expanded. You can use whatever you like; just keep the GUID (Global Unique Identifier) extension (.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}) at the end
.

The first thing you will notice is that the folder now has a Control Panel icon. Double-clicking it reveals the complete contains of the Control Panel. How does it work? The folder extension references the GUID for the Control Panel in the registry and lists everything contained in it.

Clean up and optimize your computer for free with CCleaner

Updated August 20, 2023

Do you want to clean up and optimize your computer but don't know where to start? Maybe you want to clean out all of the temporary Internet files for security purposes. Or clean up all of the temporary files from other applications to free up some space on your hard drive. You can do all of this and more for free with CCleaner.

The Custom Clean tab inside of CCleaner
The Custom Clean tab inside of CCleaner

CCleaner from Piriform is a complete system optimization tool for Windows. It cleans out temporary Internet files from most browsers (Edge, Firefox, Chrome, etc.) and cleans out various Windows files (recent documents, temporary files, search autocomplete, etc.). It can also repair multiple areas of the registry.

The Registry Cleaner tab inside of CCleaner
The Registry Cleaner tab inside of CCleaner

CCleaner can also rename, delete, repair, or uninstall programs listed in the Add/Remove Programs section in the Control Panel and the Apps & features section of the Settings app. It can even manage the system restore points. Here's a quote from Piriform's website:

CCleaner is our system optimization, privacy, and cleaning tool. It removes unused files from your system - allowing Windows to run faster and freeing up valuable hard disk space. It also cleans traces of your online activities, such as your Internet history. Additionally it contains a fully featured registry cleaner. But the best part is that it's fast (normally taking less than a second to run) and contains NO Spyware or Adware! Cleans the following:

Microsoft Edge
Cache, history, cookies, download history, form history, saved passwords, recently typed URLs.

Firefox
Cache, history, cookies, download history, form history, saved passwords, recently typed URLs.

Google Chrome
Cache, history, cookies, download history, form history, saved passwords, recently typed URLs.

Opera
Temporary files, history, cookies, super cookies, download history.

Safari
Temporary files, history, cookies, super cookies, form history.

Other Supported Browsers
K-Meleon, Rockmelt, Flock, Google Chrome Canary, Chromium, SeaMonkey, Chrome Plus, SRWare Iron, Pale Moon, Phoenix, Netscape Navigator, Avant and Maxthon.

Windows
Recycle Bin, Recent Documents, Temporary files, Log files, Clipboard, DNS Cache, Error Reporting, Memory Dumps, Jump Lists.

Registry Cleaner
Advanced features to remove unused and old entries, including File Extensions, ActiveX Controls, ClassIDs, ProgIDs, Uninstallers, Shared DLLs, Fonts, Help Files, Application Paths, Icons, Invalid Shortcuts and more...

Third-party applications
Removes temp files and recent file lists (MRUs) from many apps including Windows Media Player, eMule, 7-Zip, Microsoft Office, Nero, Adobe Acrobat, WinRAR, WinAce, WinZip and many more...

100% Spyware FREE
This software does NOT contain any Spyware, Adware or Viruses.

CCleaner is available in three editions: Free (no support), Professional / Professional Plus, and CCleaner Cloud (business). For more information on CCleaner, follow the links below:

Speed up your PC with CCleaner

CCleaner Cloud for business

Create stunning graphics and edit images for free with GIMP

Do you need to touch up some photos? Maybe create some cool looking graphics? Or convert some images to different formats? You can do all of this and more for free with GIMP.

The GIMP 2.6.11 user interface
The GIMP 2.6.11 user interface

GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) is a free open source image manipulation program. You can do simple tasks like rotating and cropping photos to creating graphics from scratch. You can even convert the format of files and save compressed versions with ZIP or GZ extensions.

A logo created with the one of the built-in scripts in GIMP
A logo created with one of the built-in scripts in GIMP

Some of the features I like are the effect filters and layers/channels. And the predefined scripts for buttons, logos, patterns, and web page themes are pretty cool. Also, GIMP runs on Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems. Here's a quote from the GIMP site:

GIMP is an acronym for GNU Image Manipulation Program. It is a freely distributed program for such tasks as photo retouching, image composition and image authoring.

It has many capabilities. It can be used as a simple paint program, an expert quality photo retouching program, an online batch processing system, a mass production image renderer, an image format converter, etc.

GIMP is expandable and extensible. It is designed to be augmented with plug-ins and extensions to do just about anything. The advanced scripting interface allows everything from the simplest task to the most complex image manipulation procedures to be easily scripted.

Customizable Interface
Each task requires a different environment and GIMP allows you to customize the view and behavior the way you like it. Starting from the widget theme, allowing you to change colors, widget spacings and icon sizes to custom tool sets in the toolbox. The interface is modulized into so called docks, allowing you to stack them into tabs or keep them open in their own window. Pressing the tab key will toggle them hidden.

GIMP features a great fullscreen mode allowing you to not only preview your artwork but also do editing work while using the most of your screen estate.

Photo Enhancement
Numerous digital photo imperfections can be easily compensated for using GIMP. Fix perspective distortion caused by lens tilt simply choosing the corrective mode in the transform tools. Eliminate lens' barrel distortion and vignetting with a powerful filter but a simple interface. The included channel mixer gives you the flexibility and power to get your B/W photography stand out the way you need.

Digital Retouching
GIMP is ideal for advanced photo retouching techniques. Get rid of unneeded details using the clone tool, or touch up minor details easily with the new healing tool. With the perspective clone tool, it's not difficult to clone objects with perspective in mind just as easily as with the orthogonal clone.

Hardware Support
GIMP includes a very unique support for various input devices out of the box. Pressure and tilt sensitive tablets, but also a wide range of USB or MIDI controllers. You can bind often-used actions to device events such as rotating a USB wheel or moving a MIDI controller's slider. Change the size, angle or opacity of a brush while you paint, bind your favorite scripts to buttons. Speed up your workflow!

File Formats
The file format support ranges from the common likes of JPEG (JFIF), GIF, PNG, TIFF to special use formats such as the multi-resolution and multi-color-depth Windows icon files. The architecture allows to extend GIMP's format capabilities with a plug-in. You can find some rare format support in the GIMP plugin registry.

Thanks to the transparent virtual file system, it is possible to load and save files to from remote locations using protocols such as FTP, HTTP or even SMB (MS Windows shares) and SFTP/SSH.

To save disk space, any format can be saved with an archive extension such as ZIP, GZ or BZ2 and GIMP will transparently compress the file without you needing to do any extra steps.

For more information on GIMP, follow the links below:

GIMP - The GNU Image Manipulation Program

GIMP - Introduction

Troubleshoot your computer and more for free with Sysinternals Suite from Microsoft

Updated July 23, 2023

Are you looking for a program that tells you what apps are starting when you start up Windows? Or a presentation app for zooming and drawing on your screen? How about one you can use to find out what files, registry keys, etc., are currently open? These are a few of the free utilities included in the Sysinternals Suite by Mark Russinovich and from Microsoft.

The Autoruns program from the Sysinternals Suite
The Autoruns program from the Sysinternals Suite

Sysinternals Suite is a collection of handy utilities for Windows. I have been using them since Windows 95. From an everyday user to a computer repair technician, you will find these utilities indispensable. There are currently over seventy utilities included in the Sysinternals Suite.

The Process Explorer program from the Sysinternals Suite
The Process Explorer program from the Sysinternals Suite

For the everyday user, there are Autoruns, Desktops, and ZoomIt. With Autoruns, you can see what programs are configured to start when your system boots automatically. Desktops allow you to create up to four virtual desktops and switch between them. And with the presentation app ZoomIt, you can zoom in/out and draw on the screen.

The TCPView program from the Sysinternals Suite
The TCPView program from the Sysinternals Suite

For the computer repair technician, there is Process Explorer, Process Monitor, and TCPView. With Process Explorer, you can see what files and folders a program has open. Process Monitor is a real-time monitoring tool that provides detailed information (PIDs, path, etc.) for files, registry, and processes. And TCPView gives you a detailed listing of all network endpoints, local and remote, with addresses and port numbers.

For more information on Sysinternals Suite and all the free utilities included, check out the Sysinternals Utilities Index. To download the Sysinternals Suite, click on either of the following links.

Sysinternals Suite - Microsoft website

Sysinternals Suite - Microsoft Store

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Repairing a PC can sometimes be expensive, and that is why we offer free basic in-shop diagnostics. Give one of our professional and experienced technicians a call at (602) 795-1111, and let's see what we can do for you.

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