How to Dual Boot Windows 11 with Windows 10?

Windows 11 is essentially a redesigned Windows 10 with a refreshed look + a couple of new tools, sounds, visual effects, and apps. While it packs the same power and security as the older Windows iteration, it’s also more memory and CPU-efficient.

Dual boot Windows 11

In case you already have Windows 10 installed on your PC but you’re keen to try the new OS from Microsoft, you don’t necessarily have to upgrade your current installation.

You can just as easily install Windows 11 on a different partition or disk to achieve a dual boot setup (with Windows 11 AND Windows 10).

This article will walk you through every method that will allow you to do this.

But before we get to the actual methods, ensure that you meet the Minimum Requirements of Windows 11 by comparing your PC specs against the following:

Processor: 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster with two or more cores on a compatible 64-bit processor or system on a chip (SoC).
RAM: 4 gigabytes (GB) or greater.
Storage: 64 GB* or greater available storage is required to install Windows 11.
Note: Additional storage space might be required to download updates and enable specific features.
Graphics Card: Compatible with DirectX 12 or later, with a WDDM 2.0 driver.
System firmware: UEFI, Secure Boot capable.
TPM: Trusted Platform Module (TPM) version 2.0.
Display: High definition (720p) display, 9″ or greater monitor, 8 bits per color channel.
Internet Connection: Internet connectivity is necessary to perform updates, and to download and use some features.

How to Dual Boot Windows 11 with Windows 10

There are actually two different ways that will allow you to set up a dual boot situation on your PC;

  • You can either do it by installing Windows 11 at boot on a different partition
  • Or you can do it by installing Windows 11 from within Windows 10

We’ve included steps for both methods, so feel free to follow the one that you feel most comfortable with. Both of them will ultimately help you achieve the same end results.

Important: As of now, regardless of the method you’ll end up following, you’ll see the boot entry related to Windows 10 named Windows 10 – This is likely to change once Windows 11 is officially launched. In the meantime, you can change the OS name inside the boot options.

Dual Boot Windows 11 with windows 10 by Installing Windows 11 at Boot

The first option available to you is to boot into Windows 10 and install Windows 11 on a partition that’s separate from your current OS.

This should be your approach if you’re looking for the most comprehensive method that will take you the least amount of time.

Here’s what you need to do:

Preparing the unallocated space for Windows 11

Chances are you don’t already have a partition ready to accommodate Windows 11 already, so you have two options:

  1. Shrink one of your existing partitions on the disk in order to create unallocated space large enough to install Windows 11 on. (Free up at least 100 GB)
  2. If you have an entire disk that can be used as the Windows 11 partition, you can simply run a clean command on it to create the required unallocated space to install Windows 11.

If you want to go for Option 1, follow this article to resize your current partition and prepare the partition for dual booting.

If you want to pursue Option 2, open a command prompt window at boot and follow the instructions below:

  1. Type the following command  inside the command prompt and press Enter to open up the Diskpart utility:
     diskpart
  2. Next, type the command below and press Enter to list your current disks that are connected to your PC:
    list disk
  3. Next, once you see the full list of connected disks, type the following command while substituting the placeholder correctly in order to select the disk that will end up serving as the Windows 11 partition:
    select disk X

    Note: X is simply a placeholder. Replace it with the actual number assigned to your disk according to the list.

    Listing available disks in DISKPART
  4. Once the correct disk is selected, type one of the following commands (depending on your preferred approach) and press Enter to turn the disk space into unallocated space:
    Clean - This command will finish quickly but it will only mark the data on the disk prior to the deletion occurring)
    
    Clean all - This command will take more than an hour but it will facilitate a secure erase)
  5. Once the operation is complete, you can move down to the next step below.

Prepare the Windows 11 USB installation media

As you probably imagine, you’ll need to create a bootable Windows 11 installation media that supports UEFI mode. If you don’t have one at the ready, you can follow these instructions to create a Windows 11 USB Bootable Media.

You can either use Rufus to get this done easily or you can create the bootable USB installation media from an elevated Command prompt.

Disconnect all Non Essential Hard drives

This step is very important so don’t skip it.

In order to avoid mistakenly deleting or formatting the wrong disk or drive, you should always disconnect all hard drives that don’t hold the Windows 10 installation media.

Doing this will also ensure that the Windows Setup will not install the boot configuration files (the Bootloader + its dependencies) to a different storage solution (other than the disk where the Windows will be installed on).

Boot from the Windows 11 Installation Media

  1. Insert the Windows 11 installation media that you previously created at Step 2, and ensure that the boot order is changed to prioritize USB drives.
    Change Boot Order to make Hard Disk first
    Change Boot Order to USB drive first

    Note: You should also be able to press a key (displayed on screen) to enter the boot menu where you can select the disk you wish to boot from.

  2. Once you get past the initial screen, you should see a screen asking you to press any key in order to boot from the Windows installation media. Do as instructed and wait until your PC boots from the Windows 11 installation media
    Press any key to boot from CD

Configure the Windows 11 installation

Once you successfully boot from the Windows 11 installation media, follow the same instructions as you’d clean install Windows 11, but ensure that once you get to the part where you need to select the partition where you want to install Windows you select the unallocated space that you previously created at STEP 1.

Turn the unallocated Space into the Windows 11 partition

To do this, select the Unallocated Space, then click on New to create a new partition out of it, set the maximum size, then click on Apply to save the changes.

Once you manage to create the new partition for Windows 11, make sure it’s selected before you click on Next and follow the remaining instructions.

Dual boot

Once the installation is complete, your PC will restart and you will be given a choice to select which operating system you wish to boot from.

But since Windows 11 is still in preview and it’s still technically a Windows 10 reskin, it will also be named Windows 10.  You can guess which entry is actually for Windows 11 or you can solve the mystery by looking at the volume.

Achieving a Dual Boot State with Windows 10 and Windows 11

Dual Boot Windows 11 with Windows 10

The second approach you can take is to install Windows 11 directly from Windows 10. This will save you from having to modify the boot order and you can also avoid creating a bootable Windows 11 Installation media since you can install directly from a compatible ISO.

Here’s what you need to do:

Prepare a viable Partition

Depending on if you want to install Windows 11 to a partition or a separate empty disk, you have 2 options:

  1. Create a new partition on the same disk that currently holds Windows 10 and make sure it’s large enough to install Windows 11 on (at least 100 GB).
  2. Format a disk that you plan to use solely for Windows 11.
Creating a new partition for Windows 11

Disconnect all Non-OS Hard drives

If you have any other storage devices that are not storing OS files, you should disconnect them at this point. This includes external devices and other flash drives that you might currently have connected to your PC.

This will save you from formatting the wrong drive or installing Windows 11 over personal files. But most importantly, it will ensure that the Bootloader files won’t get installed on a connected hard drive that is not permanent on this particular PC.

Mount the ISO

Next, you will need to mount the Windows 11 ISO so you can install the new operating system from it.

If you don’t already have the ISO downloaded locally, you can follow these instructions to get the latest Windows 11 build using the UUP service.

Once the ISO files are downloaded locally, simply double-click on the main ISO file to mount it locally.

Mounting the Windows 11 ISO

Important: No need to use a utility like Daemon Tools since Windows 10 has this capability natively.

Note: If you already have a bootable USB installation media created, you can simply plug it in and avoid the download of the Windows 11 ISO entirely.

Open the Windows 11 ISO

Next, open File Explorer by clicking on its icon or by pressing Windows key + E. Inside File Explorer, ensure that you have the This PC tab selected on the left, then right-click on the ISO that you just mounted from the right-hand pane and click on Open from the context menu that just appeared.

Accessing the Windows 11 ISO

Installing Windows 11

Once you’re inside the root path of the recently mounted ISO, double-click on sources, then look through the available files and double-click on setup.exe.

Accessing the Setup Screen installation

Note: This is the setup that you need to run. There is also a setup.exe on the root location, but don’t run that because the installation will fail.

Once you are prompted by the User Account Control, click Yes to grant administrative privileges.

Once you’re inside the Windows setup screen, follow the instructions normally as if you were clean installing Windows 11. But be on the lookout to select the correct partition (the one that you previously prepared for Windows 11) when you get to the Where do you want to install Windows? section.

Turn the unallocated Space into the Windows 11 partition

Dual Boot

After the installation of Windows 11 is finally complete, your PC will restart directly into the Windows Boot Manager screen.

Since Windows 11 is still technically a Windows 10 reskin with added features an app, you will see it labeled as Windows 10 too.

Note: This will likely change once Windows 11 is officially released.

You’ll likely have to do some guessing work to see which listing is actually Windows 10 and which is Windows 11.

Dual-booting Windows 10 with Windows 11

If you’re annoyed by the fact that both of your operating systems are named the same, follow the instructions below:

  1. Press Windows key + R to open up a Run box. Next, inside the Run box, type ‘cmd’ and press Ctrl + Shift + Enter to open up an elevated Command Prompt.
    Opening an elevated CMD prompt
  2. At the user Account Control, click Yes to grant admin access.
  3. Inside the elevated Command Prompt, type “bcdedit” and press Enter to get a Windows Boot Manager inquiry.
    Opening a Windows Boot Manager Inquiry
  4. Once you get the Windows Boot Loader report, type the following command while modifying the placeholders and press Enter to change the actual name of your Windows 11 OS:
    bcdedit /set {IDENTIFIER} description "DISPLAYED NAME"

    Note: IDENTIFIER and DISPLAYED are just placeholders that you need to substitute with the actual values. You can find the actual IDENTIFIER of the Windows 11 partition by consulting the Windows Boot Loader report generated above.

Kamil Anwar
Kamil is a certified MCITP, CCNA (W), CCNA (S) and a former British Computer Society Member with over 9 years of experience Configuring, Deploying and Managing Switches, Firewalls and Domain Controllers also an old-school still active on FreeNode.

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