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With the help of a dual boot system, you can download and install Windows 11 on a Windows 10 PC. This allows you to experience the new supply from Microsoft without having to uninstall your existing operating system.
Setting up a Windows dual boot system is pretty simple. All you need is a Windows 11 compatible system, an ISO image, enough storage space, and a few minutes of your time. Let’s look at the two methods to dual boot Windows 11 with Windows 10.
Creating Windows installation media
The first thing to do is create installation media for Windows 10 or 11. To do this, you will first need to download Windows 10 or 11 using one of the following options:
- Download the latest stable version of Windows 10 using the Media Creation Tool, and then join the Insider program to download Windows 11 (recommended).
- Download the latest Windows 10 Insider Preview ISO already posted on Dev channel, then upgrade to Windows 11.
- Create your own Windows 11 ISO if you are comfortable doing so. However, we recommend one of the other two options.
Of those, we recommend the first option because it can streamline the process significantly. If you have your flash drive handy when you use the Media Creation Tool, you can create bootable installation media right away. We have a guide on how to install Windows 10 on a new PC, which also shows you how to create installation media. You can follow these steps if you are using the Media Creation Tool. Make sure you don’t choose the Update this PC now option. Also, your flash drive will be erased in the process, so make a backup of the data you have on it.
If you used the media creation tool without a flash drive or if you chose one of the other options to download Windows, you will need a tool like Rufus. This program will take the ISO file you downloaded and update it on your USB drive, turning it into an installation media. Here’s how to do it:
- Download Rufus from the official website.
- Run the program and insert your flash drive into your PC. Make sure you have backed up all the data on the flash drive as it will be erased in the process. It may be better to unplug other USB drives so you don’t accidentally select and erase them.
- Click SELECT under Boot Selection and browse for the ISO file you downloaded earlier. The rest of the fields will automatically change to match.
- Click START and then OK, then the process will begin. Wait for it to finish and your flash drive will be ready to use as the installation media.
Creating a partition to dual boot Windows 10 and 11
Next, you will need to create a second partition on your disk for Windows 11. Partitions are like virtual partitions on a hard disk that are marked as different disks. For general use, partitions don’t serve much purpose, but you do need them for dual-booting. Here’s how to create one.
- Right-click the Start menu icon (or press Windows key + X on your keyboard) and select Disk Management. You will see a list of your drives and partitions which should look like this. Ignore small partitions that are only a few MB in size. Those are system partitions necessary for Windows to function and are not intended to be tampered with. You will want to focus on the largest partition.
- To create a new partition, you will need to shrink the one you already have. Right-click on your primary partition and select Shrink Volume….
- Specify the amount of space you want to remove from the partition. This will be limited by the files you have already stored in it, and the amount you enter will be the space you have for your Windows 11 installation. You will want at least 64GB as that is the minimum requirement for Windows 11, but you can get there as high as you want. Just make sure you have enough space on Windows 10 and Windows 11 partitions.
- The space you choose will be deducted from your partition and will appear as unallocated space in the Disk Management window. You can leave it as is and close the window.
Install Windows 11 on your second partition to dual boot
The next step to dual boot Windows 10 and 11 is to install Windows on your second partition. We’ll assume you’re using a Windows 10 ISO as we recommend, but the process is similar if you got a Windows 11 ISO right away. If you removed the USB installation media from your PC, insert it again (remove other flash drives), then follow these steps:
- Open the Start menu and then click the power button as well, while holding down the Shift key on your keyboard. Click Restart.
- Alternatively, open the Settings app and go to Update & Security, then choose Recovery and then Restart now next to Advanced startup.
- You will be given a number of boot options. Click Use a device, then choose the USB flash drive you have inserted and your PC will boot from it.
- You will now be in the normal Windows 10 setup, as if you were setting up a new PC. Choose your language and region settings. The default settings should be fine, so you can click Next. On the next page, click Install Now.
- Enter a product key if you have one on hand. You can choose to skip this for now, but you will need it later.
- Choose the edition of Windows 10 that you want to install. You must choose an edition that matches the product key that you used.
- Accept the license agreement, and then choose Custom – Install Windows Only (Advanced).
- You will see all the partitions that were in Disk Management above, as well as the unallocated space you created. Select the unallocated space and click New, then click Apply. A partition will be created in the unallocated space.
- Select the new partition and click Next to begin the installation.
At this point, your PC will restart and you will see the option to choose an operating system. You will see this screen every time you restart your PC now, so you can choose which operating system you want to use. Your two boot options will likely look similar, as they are both still labeled Windows 10.
However, your new install will be labeled with a higher volume number underneath, so you’ll want to choose that one to finish setting up. Then follow these steps to download Windows 11.
- Set up Windows 10 as you would on a new PC. Just follow the onscreen instructions to configure it to your liking until you are on the Windows 10 desktop.
- If you choose to install Windows 11 right away.
- Once you’re on the desktop, open the Start menu and then the Settings app.
- Open the Update & Security section, then choose the Windows Insider program from the left-side menu.
- Click Get Started and then Link an Account. You will need to sign in with a Microsoft account to join the Insider program.
- Next, you need to choose the Windows Insider channel that you want to join. Windows 11 is only available on the dev channel for now, so that’s the option to go for. Click Confirm twice, then click Restart Now to finish setting up your PC for the Insider program.
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