A Dual-Boot Debacle with Windows 7 and XP

windows-7-logoI know that many folks look to us for mobile tech insights, tips and tricks — that’s definitely appreciated. But we don’t always get things right and I think it’s important to share those learning experiences as well. I had one today. It’s nothing that can’t be fixed, but it’s causing wasted time. In fact, it’s an issue that I could have easily avoided, had I been paying attention.

Late last night, the Windows 7 RTM (s msft) download finally completed, so I burned a DVD from the .ISO file this morning. While prepping for our podcast, I decided to start setting up a dual-boot environment on my Toshiba NB205 netbook. Originally, I had planned to use Windows XP for a week or two and then install Windows 7, but why not take the Windows 7 plunge early with a dual-boot solution? Although I could partition directly in XP to prepare for the install, I like to use GParted on a LiveCD. I did that without any issues and basically split the size of the 160GB hard drive into equal sections.

As we were recording the podcast, I fired off the Windows 7 DVD and the install went without a hitch. Except for one problem: I had inadvertently wiped XP from the first partition. Now I’ve set up a dual-boot situation dozens of times and never had this issue. And the problem isn’t with Windows — it was caused by my inattention. Usually, I install the new OS from within the old OS once I have my partitions ready. However, in my haste while multi-tasking, I installed Windows 7 by booting with the DVD — not by installing from the DVD within XP. That’s the only difference in my normal routine and I suspect contributed to the cause of my issue.

Again, this is easily fixable, but it’s going to take time to restore XP first and then re-install Windows 7. Not a problem, just time consuming. Anyway, the moral of the story is to really focus on the situation when playing with OS installs and drive partitioning. And a corollary to that: we make just as many mistakes as most other folks when using mobile tech. 😉 For what it’s worth: the few minutes I played with Windows 7 on the Toshiba netbook with 1GB of memory were pretty amazing. It’s way too early to make any assumptions here, but I gather that Windows 7 on a netbook — even with 1GB of RAM — ought to offer Windows XP speed with the new look and feel of Windows 7.