Share program files across multiple installations of Windows 8?

I'm wondering if it's possible to do the following:

I have Windows 8 installed on my SSD.

I also have Windows 8 installed on my HDD.

Is it possible to install programs on only one of the instances of Windows 8 and access those programs from both instances of Windows 8? I was hoping to install programs on my HDD and then access them from both the Windows 8 running on the HDD and the Windows 8 running on the SSD.

I'm simply looking to save time so I don't have to install my list of 30-40 programs twice. It's not a space-saving issue, because I know I could avoid wasting SSD space by putting program files on the HDD, but I'm wondering if I can actually just have a COMMON set of program files that is SHARED by both installations of Windows.....


Windows Forum Admin
Staff member
Premium Supporter
There is no simple way to do this, and the only way I can think of would only be useful and make sense is if:

  • Both OS's are the same version (32 or 64bit)
  • The program has a significant amount of data in the Program Files folder (let's make this worth while)
  • The program does not install files elsewhere than Program Files folder (good luck with that)
  • You export ALL of the registry keys needed to run the program in the OS you installed it into, then import them into the target OS (again good luck)
  • Your crazy enough to know what your doing
The only way I can see this working after all the above criteria is met is to make Symbolic Links between say for instance "C:\Program Files\Skyrim" and the original "D:\Program Files\Skyrim".

But wait.... what if one OS updates the program in question, and it updates files and registry keys all across the system this making our symbolic link worthless as the target system wouldn't even know what files were updated.... bah give up. There is no great way to do this, there is however certain portable apps that will allow you to just copy them somewhere and run.

The chances of you finding a program that is easily made portable by just executing the exe on your secondary installation now days is pretty darn slim. I really do miss the days of DOS where an entire program and its settings resided in its own folder with no external dependencies.


Microsoft MVP
Staff member
Premium Supporter
Microsoft MVP
I've done this before when space was tight - simply run op sys A on drive X and installed application to drive X. Then rebooted into op sys B on drive Y and reinstalled same application to drive X again. It worked.

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