How to Dual Boot the Windows 8 Beta, Consumer Preview, Release Preview or Candidate and RTM (Retail version) with Windows 7
Part 1: How to protect your existing installation of Windows 7 and evaluate Windows 8 over the coming months.
You can expect that there will be at least 1 Windows beta / Consumer Preview, a Release Preview and the final release to manufacturing (RTM) / Retail version which will be available for purchase on October 26th, 2012.
One word of caution: The best approach for evaluating Windows 8 is to install it on a separate drive with the data cable disconnected from your Windows 7 drive or if possible on a separate computer that contains nothing of value in the way of applications or data that you rely on from day to day.
But if you must, dual booting with an image and data backup strategy for Windows 7 will provide a layer of protection. Keep in mind nothing is ever perfect and recoveries can and do fail on rare occasions.
The object is not to loose you Windows 7 operating system, to quickly recover should the installation of Windows 8 fail, to be able to easily remove the beta / consumer preview and install the release preview and finally if you so choose to do so, dual boot the released version (RTM) of Windows 8 with your existing version of Windows 7.
Image Backups: The key to preserving your investment in Windows 7. I’ll show you what you need to know in order to survive any catastrophes that may occur by providing a detailed look at backup strategies, recovery procedures and how to install Windows 8 alongside Windows 7 to create a dual boot computer that can be used and reused over the coming moths and various betas, previews, release Previews and the final released product.
Document backups: Obviously you will continue to use Windows 7 while evaluating Windows 8. This means you will day by day continuously add more data files (Documents, Photos, Music, Etc) when using Windows 7. It’s not practical to create a new image backup each day, but there is a convenient utility named SyncToy which can make quick work of backing up your data files to an external USB drive. More about using SyncToy.