How to run Windows 7 and Windows 8 at the same time

If you've upgraded to Windows 8 and some of your older peripherals such as printers now refuse to work, you can run Windows 7 and Windows 8 at the same time. Also see: Windows Advisor.

Also see: Windows 10 hands-on reviewWindows 10 release date and new features.

A reader wrote in to Helproom to ask: "I would like to know if I can install both Windows 7 and 8 on my HP laptop. Windows 8, which I am using at present, does not support my HP Deskjet series 2515 printer, so I’d like to be able to use the older OS."

This is how we solved their problem. Also see: How to get Windows 10 now.

How to run Windows 7 and Windows 8 at the same time

It is usually possible to install Windows 7 and 8 on a single PC using a process called dual-booting. This means that when you start up the laptop, you will be able to choose which version of Windows runs. To change versions, you would need to restart your laptop and choose again.

While you could install your printer under Windows 7 using this method, we would strongly advise against it as it will most likely involve repartitioning your hard drive and editing your boot parameters. You would also need to install a second copy of any of the applications you wanted to use under Windows 7. You can also run into difficulties with preinstalled recovery partitions, which may stop working and, if your laptop is very new, you may find that it doesn’t come with full support for Windows 7 anyway.

If you really need to run a previous version of Windows for occasional tasks, then we would recommend installing the operating system on a virtual PC using a tool such as VirtualBox, available free from Oracle. You may need to upgrade your RAM to get the best performance, but it should be fine for simple printing tasks.

You could then share the printer from your virtual PC as though it were on a network. This would mean you could print from Windows 8 without having to reinstall any applications on the virtual PC.

Thankfully, in your case there’s no need to do any of this. A few days before you sent your email, HP posted a full set of Windows 8 drivers for the Deskjet 2515. These can be downloaded at