Dual Boot Windows 7 on an XP netbook

MSI Wind running Windows 7

As part of the Windows 7 Beta program, I wanted to see how it would run on my netbook, an Advent 4211, a rebadged MSI Wind. I didn’t want to completley blow away XP though, because this is only a beta after all. The main obstacle that you face with installing Windows 7 on a netbook is of course the absense of a DVD drive. This guide documents the steps that I had to take to make this happen.

Create a new partition

The first thing that I had to do was to create a new partition on my hard drive. Trivial to do on Vista, but not trivial on XP, because XP does not support the shrinking or growing of partitions. I therefore had to create a bootable USB drive running GParted. Steps to do that are;

  1. Find a spare USB drive to reformat. I had an old 128MB one that I got free somewhere – that was plenty big enough for GParted, and I am happy to leave GParted on there forever now in case I need it again
  2. Download the HP USB Boot Disk Tool from here, and install it
  3. Run the HP USB Boot Disk Tool and Quick Format your USB Drive as a bootable drive
  4. Download the latest stable version of GParted from here, and extract it
  5. Copy the GParted folder structure to the USB Drive. Don’t change the format, e.g. you will have a live, syslinux and utils directory at the top level of your USB Drive.
  6. Reboot your netbook, and run the system startup options, and select Boot From USB
    Select USB Boot
  7. This will boot in to GParted. I just selected all of the Default Boot mode;
    Gparted 1
  8. I Press Space to pick the default resolution;
  9. then pick Don’t touch they keymap;
  10. And I choose the default language (US English), and then choose to start X to use GParted automatically;
    Use X
  11. Let GParted scan your hard drive, then select the primary partition;
  12. Select Resize/Move, and shrink it by 40GB (you can do 20GB if you have less space, but 40GB was my preferred size)
  13. Quick format a new partition in the now empty space.

So now you have an empty partition to install Windows 7 on to, but you still need to get a Windows 7 USB installer. The way I went about this is;

  1. Join the Windows Beta program. Download the 32bit ISO file
  2. I then burned it to a DVD on my desktop computer. You could mount the ISO with the right software and save yourself a disk, but this worked fine for me
  3. Format the USB drive as a bootable drive as before using the HP USB Boot Disk Tool
  4. Copy everything from the DVD to the USB drive
  5. Plug the USB drive in to your netbook, and boot from it as before.
  6. This time, you will see the Windows 7 installer booting up. Choose your language, and Install Now;Install Now
  7. Choose an advance installation. Upgrade would blow away your XP installation, which we don’t want;
    Advanced install
  8. Choose the new partition to install onto;
    New partition
  9. and then just run through the installation process as normal. Windows will detect your old installation and create a dual boot setup.

One problem that I did encounter was that I got an error “Windows could not update the computer’s boot configuration. Installation cannot proceed”. Not sure if that is due to the emergency recovery partition that was on my hard drive. Anyway, I fixed it by running Windows 7 from the USB drive again and selecting the Repair your computer option, which repaired the issue.

I have also heard of people who, on encountering the “Windows could not update the computer’s boot configuration. Installation cannot proceed” error did manage to recover, but then XP was not shown in the boot list. It is still there, but not in the boot list. Booting in to Windows 7 and then using bootcfg added XP back again as a boot option. Running bootcfg /rebuild should add it back to the list.


5 Responses to “Dual Boot Windows 7 on an XP netbook”

  1. […] things first, I created an extra partition on the netbook using some instructions I found online. Then I loaded the 32-bit version of Windows 7 onto a bootable USB drive and installed Windows 7 […]

  2. timmy says:

    Oh my god, how many apps do you need to do this? ridiculous.

  3. Xajuran says:

    LOL You have to use Linux to install Windows over Windows LOL.

  4. David says:

    Many Many thanks for this article!

    I just completed the installation of Win 7 Pro over Win XP on a Samsung F210 and it works!

    I did something different though which might help others…I bought an external DvD read/write and made a disk for GParted. I also needed this as I had original XP and Win 7 disks. One thing I had trouble with was getting the XP to install and I think I booted into safe mode somewhere along the line. I’m not saying this is easy but you just need to keep trying oh I rememmber what kept happening was when computer restarted it went past the bios screen in an instant and I couldnt ‘catch it’. Eventually did. his still seems to be an issue…I have to tap a key to get the boot partition screen to stop otherwise it flashes past and reboots. his might be something to do with the keyboard? or a BIOS setting? I dont know…I just hit a key while the bios is starting and it stops at the dual boot screen. Oh when I switch OS I have to go around the BIOS twice for some reason the dual boot screen wont stay put on the first pass. These are small irritations…I mainly use Win 7 but now can use all that software I bought that runs on XP only. By the way, I find the machine to be quite quick- I had a Dell Latitude 430 before and I dont see much difference in speed and of course the battery is brilliant-i charge up go out work for 6 hours and come home. ust hope the battery doesnt degrade too quickly (my Dell was down to 45 minutes on a charge).

    Anyhow, once again, thanks for this blog it really helped me and I hope some of my comments can help others.

  5. David says:

    As you can see my keyboard has a few problems with letter T H J N (actually LEFT shift + these right shift works OK)

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