Windows 8 forum


Clean install of Windows 8 on a multi-boot computer

by eddiener / November 17, 2012 2:11 AM PST

I have 3 hard disks of 2 TB each with plenty of space for partitions. I run a multi-boot manager with a number of Windows OSs including Windows Vista and Windows 7, along with a number of Linux distros.

I would like to install Windows 8 in its own partition, not upgrade Windows 7. I am willing to pay the extra money to by Windows 8 Pro. I have a number of questions about installing Windows 8:

1) Can Windows 8 be installed on any of my 3 hard drives, as opposed to just the first hard drive ?
2) Can Windows 8 be installed on a non-primary MBR partition ?
3) Can Windows 8 be installed on a GPT partition ?
4) Will a Windows 8 clean install wipe out the rest of the hard disk on which I install it ( I have heard rumors of this ) ?

I am trying to make the installation of Windows 8 as painless as possible without affecting the other OSs I already have installed and without Windows 8 interacting with any of the other OSs in any way. I can unplug two of my hard drives as necessary, clear out my third hard drive, install Windows 8 on that third hard drive, and then plug in my other two hard drives if necessary and attempt to multi-boot into Windows 8, but i am hoping this will not be necessary.

Answer This Ask For Clarification
Discussion is locked
You are posting a reply to: Clean install of Windows 8 on a multi-boot computer
The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Please refer to our CNET Forums policies for details. All submitted content is subject to our Terms of Use.
Track this discussion and email me when there are updates

If you're asking for technical help, please be sure to include all your system info, including operating system, model number, and any other specifics related to the problem. Also please exercise your best judgment when posting in the forums--revealing personal information such as your e-mail address, telephone number, and address is not recommended.

You are reporting the following post: Clean install of Windows 8 on a multi-boot computer
This post has been flagged and will be reviewed by our staff. Thank you for helping us maintain CNET's great community.
Sorry, there was a problem flagging this post. Please try again now or at a later time.
If you believe this post is offensive or violates the CNET Forums' Usage policies, you can report it below (this will not automatically remove the post). Once reported, our moderators will be notified and the post will be reviewed.

All Answers

Collapse -
I looked for answers
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / November 17, 2012 3:54 AM PST

And came up with something you need to consider. If you read where folk do this you discover their next hurdle (which actually can be a brick wall) is how to repair these OSes without breaking the others. Also, if you are unlucky enough to get one of those new UEFI machines then you discover the choices have been made for you and we move to other solutions to run other OSes like we do at our office. And with that I'll share what we do.

We install such in Virtual Box and we're done.

Collapse -
Using VirtualBox
by eddiener / November 17, 2012 6:43 AM PST
In reply to: I looked for answers

I am not interested in using VirtualBox.

Collapse -
Then you'll have to
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / November 17, 2012 7:00 AM PST
In reply to: Using VirtualBox

Try out installing in various orders and find which methods work for you. It's a shame Microsoft didn't work out this area better. There is no best solution so let's hope you have good backup systems as it blows up a few times.

Collapse -
by eddiener / November 17, 2012 10:10 AM PST
In reply to: Then you'll have to

The problem for me is that almost nobody is installing Windows 8 from scratch rather than doing an upgrade. Also there seems to be no information on what the install from scratch of Windows 8 does from Microsoft.

Unfortunately as much as I like Windows, Microsoft's installation of new versions acts too often as if nothing else should exist on an end-user's system but the version of Windows being installed, or perhaps another version of Windows. This is not good for those who multi-boot into non-Windows OSs also.

Collapse -
Remember I didn't duplicate what's out there.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / November 17, 2012 12:43 PM PST
In reply to: Installing

Why? Because what I'm reading is not encouraging. That is I see folk boot and install but 7 and now 8 don't install to one partition. That idea is dead and gone. Folk that used to do this are pretty cranky about that.

It's also another reason I have to think you need to go do this. It's no loss as it blows up since it's a fresh setup. We know it blows up even in the days of pre-8. And those that do this a lot seem to learn how to backup and restore drives after a while.

In other words, while I've written about this a few too many times, you still have folk that will not believe how twitchy MSFT's installers are and how they'll wipe out a setup without much warning.

-> Before you think this is a bug. It's not. It's just something they don't support well. This OS is for the masses so they can neglect folk that want to boot this many versions. I've shared how we deal with it.

Collapse -
PS. The old fashioned solution. Link only.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / November 18, 2012 5:46 AM PST
Collapse -
by richardgc_1 / November 18, 2012 2:30 AM PST
In reply to: Installing

I totally agree with Bob in this matter, it is possible but not one for the faint of heart. And remember with Windows 8 this can not be done with the promotional Upgrade version and Microsoft in it's wisdom did not release a Full Retail version of Windows 8. This requires The OEM version of Windows 8 bought from someone like New Egg or Amazon. This sells in the neighborhood of $130 US. and Does NOT include support.

Collapse -
Original install
by eddiener / November 18, 2012 10:16 AM PST
In reply to: Agree

I was asking for support here, not from Microsoft, and what I get is that Microsoft can do whatever it wants and it is up to me to protect myself since no one knows what Microsoft actually does when you install Windows 8 Pro directly and not by upgrading.

That is not very helpful, although I understand that you and others are trying to help.

Maybe my OP should have asked if anyone has installed Windows 8 Pro as an orginal install and, if they had, can they tell me the answer to my questions.

Collapse -
The only install at the office
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / November 18, 2012 11:17 AM PST
In reply to: Original install

Was the clean install. By observing what it did, I agree with what I've read others reporting with multi-boot. That is, twitchy, does not install to one partition and can blow away other OSes without notice (well I can't agree with that last one totally as I wasn't there.)

It's very early in the product cycle to expect more than a few to have done this so post widely.

Collapse -
Re: installing Windows 8
by Kees_B Forum moderator / November 23, 2012 3:24 AM PST
In reply to: Original install

I did that today with a full version (not an update version) of Windows 8 (downloaded from Technet as an evaluation copy). I installed onto a disk that had a bootable Linux, a non-bootable NTFS partition and some 100 GB unallocated space (freed by shrinking the Linux partition).

It installed fine, but blew up the BCD, so although the Linux partition was still there, it couldn't be reached. Then (because there was nothing to keep on the Linux partition) I deleted that (with a GPARTED) disk and installed Ubuntu 12.04 LTS "next to Windows 8". It nicely installed itself in the newly unallocated space, and in the BCD, so the next boot let me choose between Windows 8 and Linux, as expected.
To install Ubuntu I had to disconnect another disk (the disk I boot from regularly) temporarily, but that wasn't a real issue.

There was no Windows 7 on that disk, so I don't know what the Windows 8 install would have done with that. The two options:
(a) it would have removed it from the BCD. Then use a program like EasyBCD to add it again. Should work.
(b) it would have added itself to the BCD, so you would get multiboot between Windows 7 and 8. Then the above reinstall of Linux would have worked the same.

It's common to install Linux after Windows for this reason. Of course, if you have an image of the Linux partition, you can restore that later, so effectively you only use the install of Linux to update the BCD. For fixing the BCD of you install Windows after Linux, see (and noet it says it's option b above!).

Since you write you already have a 'multi-boot manager' I expect you can solve the issues with the BCD you run into. Of course, having a backup of the BCD makes sense.

If you install Windows 8 on a non-allocated part of a disk, it won't touch other partitions (neither NTFS nor Linux), but it erases the existing BCD on that disk (or adds one if it doesn't yet have it). But I didn't try with a bootable partition on that disk.

It might make sense to disconnect other disks, and use your tools to add the new Windows partition to the BCD on the disk you usually boot from. Or uset he BIOS boot device selection (F11 on my MSI motherbord) to boot from the disk you installed Windows 8 on if it's the only OS on it.

And it might make sense to make a full image of that disk, just in case the Windows 8 install decides to harm an existing bootable Windows 7 partition (I didn't try that, my NTFS partition was storage only). But maybe just using GPARTED to clean the 'this is a bootable partition' indication during the Windows 8 install (and setting it later again to 'bootable') is fine also.

Hope this helps.


Collapse -
So not much has changed?
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / November 23, 2012 3:29 AM PST

Thanks for all the details but it appears not much has changed. Same issues, fixes and if someone decides to try it their choice to backup or not.

Collapse -
Type: I meant it's option a.
by Kees_B Forum moderator / November 23, 2012 4:59 AM PST

Installing Windows 8 deletes Windows 7 from the BCD. But note that a Linux help site isn't the most authorative source for that statement.


Popular Forums
Computer Help 49,613 discussions
Computer Newbies 10,349 discussions
Laptops 19,436 discussions
Security 30,426 discussions
TVs & Home Theaters 20,308 discussions
Windows 10 360 discussions
Phones 15,802 discussions
Windows 7 7,351 discussions
Networking & Wireless 14,641 discussions


Big screens for the big game

Still looking for the best TV deals ahead of Sunday's game? Here are our top three big screen picks.