There are a lot of situations where you would need a dual boot setup. Maybe you need to work on an app that isn’t compatible with your day to day operating system, maybe you need an isolated environment to test stuff or maybe you just want to play around with a different OS.
In today’s article I’m going to show you how you can dual boot Windows 10 alongside Windows Server on the same computer. In this example I’ll be installing Windows Server 2012 R2 as the second OS on my machine but these steps also apply to the upcoming Windows Server 2016 or the older 2008 R2 which was based on the same kernel as Windows 7.
There are a few thing you’ll need in order to achieve this setup. The first one is enough disk space. You can use two partitions on the same hard drive but I would recommend using separate drives which will make the process of future reinstallation a lot easier and will also guarantee a working OS if one of the drives fails.
TIP: Another thing to check is that your main OS is running in BIOS/Legacy mode and not UEFI. You can use UEFI if you prefer it but I have had problems in the past booting multiple OS’s in this mode.
You’ll need some ISO images or installation medias for your chosen operating systems. If you already have one of the operating systems installed on your machine and would like to keep it then you’ll only need an ISO image for the second OS. For the sake of this tutorial I’ll be installing both operating systems from scratch to cover all the necessary steps.
If you’re starting with an empty drive, you’ll have to choose the main operating system. In my example I’ll install Windows 10 as the main OS and Windows Server 2012 R2 as the second one.
1. Install the main Operating System
This step is for the users who don’t have an operating system installed on their machines or who want to install a fresh multi boot setup.
Connect or insert the installation media (USB drive, DVD) for your main operating system, in my case Windows 10, and choose it as your boot device when starting up the computer. You’ll have to press the F11, F12 or Escape key in order to access the boot menu. Each manufacturer uses their own key so please consult your machine’s manual.
Once you get to the setup screen just go through the installation process as you would normally do until you reach the disk selection screen. If you’re using the same hard drive for both OS’s than this is the place to make this possible. First create a partition for your main OS leaving enough free space for the second one. Now use the left free space to create a second partition for the dual boot operating system. Your end result should look similar to the one in the image below.
After you finished creating the partitions select the first one and install your main Windows as normal.
2. Shrink main OS partition
This step is only for those who have a single partition with the main OS and would like to keep it.
If you don’t have a second drive or partition for the second operating system then you’ll need to shrink your current OS partition to free up space and create a new one. Ivan has this covered in detail in his Windows Windows 10 dual boot tutorial under “Shrink Your System Partition to Make Enough Space”.
Remember to leave enough disk space for your main OS and also have anough for the second one.
After you shrunk your main OS partition right click on the new Unallocated space, select New simple volume and go through the wizard to create a new partition. Format it as NTFS and label it properly so you can recognize it easily when installing the second operating system.
3. Install second operating system
Connect the installation drive or insert the installation media for the second OS and boot your computer from it.
Go through the setup menu and select the second partition, labeled as Windows Server in my case, as the destination for the second OS. Finish installing Windows as you would normally do.
Windows usually reboots your machine several times during installation. When the first reboot comes you’ll be prompted with a bootloader menu similar to the one below. At this point choose your second OS each time until installation has finished.
You’re done! You now have a dual boot setup with Windows 10 and Windows Server, 2012 R2 in my case. You can select between the two from the bootloader menu each time your computer starts.
You’ll probably notice that the second OS is now the default boot one. If that’s how you like it then you don’t need to do anything else. But if want to change it to the other Windows installation boot into your main OS, Windows 10 for me. Once you’re at the desktop press the Windows + R keys to open the Run window, type msconfig and press Enter or click on OK.
This will open the System Configuration menu. Now open the Boot tab, select the operating system you would like to set as default by clicking on it and then click the Set as default button. Now click Apply and then OK.
Now when you start your computer it will automatically boot to the new default operating system if no user input is detected. If you have any problems setting this up please let us know in the comment section below.