1) Why won't it boot Windows 7? What happens? Many laptops have a recovery partition. Can it be restored?
2) OTHERWISE. Put the Linux CD in. Make sure the BIOS/Boot Order is set to boot from the CD-Rom first before the Hard Drive. Re-boot the laptop. Many distros will format so you will probably not need to do it yourself. THIS WILL PROBABLY DESTROY ANY WINDOWS 7 RECOVERY PARTITION.
Just to add to the previous post. The best tool for partitioning HDD's is probably Gparted. But like arochester said, partitioning will remove any chances of using the Windows restore tools unless you are very careful. Are you ready to give up Windows?
Don't have an issue giving up Windows. Had an Add/Malware virus that the best of the best worked with me for months and couldn't git rid of! Excited about leaning Linux. The good news, I had just backed up all file on a flash drive. I bought a Respberrypi to work on developing a simple access entry unit to replace an antique unit running dos. Tks for the help!
I've too gone through the read well in run here and finding it a lot helpful to add more facts to my knowledge as well which I'm going to utilize in my friends laptop right now mas he is juggling with the same trouble to great extent from a while .. but not now..
6 months ago when the add/malware first appeared I was given several rescue disks to try and one was Kaspersky. Most of the rescue programs spit out text docs listing their findings and both of the malware companies I was working with could never find the virus...and they really tried.
Which I can say I have sworn off Windows but still use a newer desktop for book keeping and cad type programs.
I am ready to dump Windows on the laptop for Linux.
Okay. Then you can use Gparted to wipe the HDD and make ext4 filesystems plus swap for your Linux Distro. Once that is done the installer for your distro should take it from there. Of course installers like Ubiquity (Ubuntu installer) can wipe drives and format them by themselves. But for your reference: http://www.dedoimedo.com/computers/gparted.html