Microsoft’s Windows 7 parallel install Guide step by step

Windows 7 Parallel Install Guides: What’s this all about I hear you ask (Well probably not), well a parallel install guide is when you take your new operating system (or Old one if you are doing a data recovery exercise) and install it along side an already present operating system, in theory you can run as many operating systems as you wish as long as you have the hard drive space. Its very good  for uses like data recovery, testing a new operating system, or to keep your old operating system in place will you migrate to new (As I always do), plus if you parallel install and find Windows 7 doesn’t like your favourite piece of software, then you can simply boot into say XP and work with it there. On my desktop computer I run XP home, XP Pro, Windows Vista 64 bit and now Windows 7 64 bit. Each Operating system has its own independent hard drive (You can use partitions if you wish, but its not recommended).

This best way to do this is to install the oldest operating system first, and then parallel install in order of age, finishing with the newest. There is other ways of doing this but this is not the place to go into such depth.

NOTE: Windows 7 cannot be parallel installed onto the same partition as another operating system as it will rename the operating system present and replace it

Make sure you backup before preceding as data loss is always possible.

  1. Your Windows 7 Ultimate DVD or CD’s
  2. Windows 7 COA, or serial number.
  3. Your computer Plugged into Mains Power
  4. Electric supply running to your house.
  5. A Computer, with the usual accessories (Mouse, monitor, keyboard etc)
  6. CD-ROM/DVD Drive.

To start this Windows install insert the CD/DVD and boot/reboot your computer, it should automatically begin to run. If not then make sure the drive is set to first boot in the BIOS, see this Windows 7 BIOS guide for more info.

Special Notes:Problems with your parallel install of Windows, or after installing then try upgrading your BIOS to the latest version (BIOS upgrade can be obtained from the PC manufacturer or motherboard manufacturer.)

Also download the latest SATA/RAID Drivers, as older ones may not work.

Check your system is within the minimal hardware requirements as laid down by Microsoft. 

A common piece of hardware to cause reinstall errors is “Memory”, your Windows DVD has “Memory diagnostics”, run this from the “7” disk to rule it out or replace as needed.

You do not need to format during a parallel install, older operating system installs will be renamed rather than overwritten.
PRE-Parallel Install

Your Computer will post (These screens will vary from manufacturer images to the text shown below).

Now the “Press any key” boot menu. Press a key on your keyboard this will allow you to boot of the Windows Ultimate DVD/CD…

Windows 7 Ultimate DVD/CD will begin to load, this may take sometime.

Windows 7 will now start the Parallel Install procedure.

First you need to select your language, then Time and currency…

Next set your Keyboard Language. This may have changed correctly when “Time and Currency” option was selected, if not change as needed. Click “Next£ to continue.

Your Keyboard input method will change to the most common used under the “Time and currency” selected, you can change this now if need be.

Once happy with your selection click on “Next” to continue

Now the “Install Windows 7” screen will appear, Click on “Install now” to continue and begin the Parallel install of Windows.

NOTE: The Repair options on this page are covered in other guides available in the Windows 7 section of

Setup will begin…


This is were “Part1” of the parallel install officially starts.. You will now see the bar pictured below at the bottom of the screen. It has no relevance to “Time” in general. It moves fast sometimes, slow other times, If you insist on watching it then don’t be worried if it stays in any particular spot for long periods of time.

Now the “License agreement”…..

….read them click on “I accept the License terms”, then click “Next” to continue. If you don’t agree then this is as far as you can go 🙁

Now the “Type of installation”. Click on “Custom (Advanced) to continue the install..

Hard drive setup comes next. Select the drive (Or partition) that Windows doesn’t reside on (Usually Disk 0 Partition 2 (If parallel installing another Win7 install then this is usually where the main operating system will be as Disk 0 Partition 1 is used for System Reserved Files), Disk 1 Partition 1 (A secondary drive) or Disk 0 Unallocated Space, or Disk 1 Unallocated Space for drives/partitions not setup. So to round off:

Disk 0 Partition 1 – Windows 7 System Reserved partitions, Older Windows will be installed here.

Disk 0 Partition 3 – A third Partition on the primary hard drive.

Disk 0 Unallocated Space – Unformated or partition not setup for Windows, will need configured and formated.

Disk 1 Partition 1 – A secondary drive. (Recommended)

Disk 0 Partition 2 – A secondary Partition on a secondary drive.

Disk 0 Unallocated Space – Unformated or partition not setup for Windows, will need configured and formated.

NOTE: If hard drive cannot be seen then return to Windows 7 main page and follow the “No HDD (No hard drive)” instructions

Select the drive/partition you wish to install Windows on to continue…

If it is “Unallocated Space” as in our example, click on “New” to setup the drive, alternatively just click “Next” to use full available space.

If drive/partition is already setup then click on format to erase the drive/partition, alternatively just click “Next” to leave its contents alone (Although a previous install of Windows will be renamed if present).

Now if setting up the drive/partition, choose the amount of space you wish to use, then click “Apply”

NOTE: Remember Windows 7 needs 16GB of space to operate in.

Click “Next” to continue the install.



Windows will now begin copying files

Once done it will begin expanding the “Quite quickly copied files”

and expand….

Expand a bit more….

Still expanding, so i took another screen shot….

At last the files are “Expanded”, now for reinstalling features, this bit was quite quick….

Thankfully no updates down loaded, so on we move 🙂

A restart, wait 10 seconds or like me click “Restart” to reclaim these precious moments back….

The computer will restart and post again.

Now “Press any key” boot menu. Do not do this as it will only start the reinstall from the beginning again. Wait the 10 seconds that it appears on screen and resist the temptation…

The following screen will appear briefly, do nothing to let the install continue

Windows 7 is now “Starting Windows”…..

and now Windows sets up the Registry

Now another screen appears, setup is “Starting Windows 7’s” services….

Setup now completes the reinstallation….

and once again a “Restart” is needed….

Same as above, do not press a key as reinstallation will begin again, requiring you to reboot to get back to this screen.

The following screen will appear briefly, do nothing to let the install continue

“Windows is starting” again……

Setup now prepares the system for “First use”….

The first time I have needed to do anything in almost 45 minutes, Account and computer name is required….

Fill these in and click next to continue….

Next the all important password setting screen, leave bank and click next to continue without one, otherwise….

….fill in the password box, retype to confirm, and leave yourself a hint incase it become forgotten. Click “Next to continue.

You will now need your Windows “Product Key”. This will be on the disk packaging provided with your CD’s/DVD’s, or from Microsoft’s website just before downloading. The product key will be 25 digits long and will contain letters and numbers.

Input key (Dashes will be added automatically), “Automatically activate Windows when online” option is selected by default, deselect if you wish, and then click next to continue. 

Now the built in Windows protection modes. We would recommend the top option “Use Recommended settings”, this will enable updates to be downloaded and reinstalled, click on your selection too continue. 

Now you must review your time and date settings

Change your time zone to your present location. If all is OK or once done then click on “Next” to continue…

Now your Network configuration, if you want to setup the new “homegroup” network system for easy to configure, password protected configuration, then use this option.

Anywhere that’s public, that would be a risk to your files and security, select “Public Network”

Windows 7 setup will now connect to your network , and setup required settings, depending on your choice in the previous memory….

The “Homegroup” option in “Home networking” allows you to select what you want to share, and also provides a password, for others to access. Note this password down as its needed for others to get access to your network.

Users of Media center, Vista Premium (And above), and XBOX 360 will be familiar with this type of setup.

You can of course skip this now and setup later, or make selections, note password and press “Next” to continue.

Windows 7 will now finalize your settings

Windows Welcomes you..

Prepare the desktop

Windows desktop will update

Browser customisations will reinstall

and finally you are there. Windows 7 parallel installed without hitch, any updates will now install. Remember though on next reboot you will be prompted for a password (If you setup one), so don’t forget it as I successfully managed to do…

If you are lucky you will have no drivers to reinstall, but chances are the next step will be to reinstall them. Check out device manager for unknown devices, likely items are Network Cards, Sound Cards, Printers, Scanners, Graphics Cards, Digital Cameras, etc. 

Also reinstalling anti-virus software, spyware software and possibly a 3rd party Firewall are a must for any computer.

Windows Update is very successful in finding many drivers, so try running it for a few hours, and after a few boots you may find all items reinstalled and ready for use


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