How to install Windows 7

Interested in installing Windows 7 but want to avoid headaches and potential pitfalls? Then read our guide on how to set up a dual-boot Vista/Windows 7 machine and migrate to a new PC.

Windows 7 is currently the hot topic - and Microsoft is expected to stop handing out public beta keys on January 24. However, what do you do if you're yearning to try the new Windows 7 beta everyone's talking about but don't have a spare machine lying around? Fear not: you can install Windows 7 in a small corner of your primary PC, without interfering with any of your day-to-day operations.

Set-up a dual-boot configuration for Windows 7

The secret: create a new drive partition where the beta can take up residence. Lifehacker has a step-by-step guide that shows you how to do this, so I won't regurgitate the steps here.

I will say that I tried this recently and it worked like a charm. Perhaps ironically, it's easiest for Windows Vista users, as that OS has built-in drive-partitioning tools. (And you thought it brought nothing new to the table.) But you can do it in Windows XP as well, provided you use a freeware partitioning program.

After you're done with the install, you'll be able to boot to your original Windows partition or the new one containing Windows 7. Truly, this is an ideal way to take the beta for a spin. And when you're done tinkering (or the licence expires in August, whichever comes first), you can easily remove the partition to reclaim the drive space.

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