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I'm currently waiting on my shiny new system to run Windows 8 on. I have an older system that has Windows 7 installed now on which I'd like to try Windows 8 on in the meanwhile. I intend to use the enterprise edition evaluation in order to try it, and then uninstall it when I get my new system.

I'd like to do a VHD install - booting a VHD into a live system rather than a VM - which seems to be the best option for me, so I can simply delete the VHD and get my system back into its previous state once its done. How would I do this - What tools would I need and what would be the process?

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Just to check, do you mean a VHD on a virtual machine, or literally booting directly from the VHD? –  nhinkle Oct 20 '12 at 7:45
    
Edited to reflect this. –  Journeyman Geek Oct 20 '12 at 7:46
    
possible duplicate of Dual booting from Windows 7 hard disk and a Windows 7 VHD file –  Canadian Luke Oct 20 '12 at 16:41
    
I admittedly have a bias here, but the quality of the answers on the other question arn't that good. Both answers are link only. Do we want to close this in favour of the other one? –  Journeyman Geek Oct 21 '12 at 6:58
    
See also: meta.superuser.com/a/5759/85165 (my blog submission) –  George Duckett Oct 25 '12 at 11:29

2 Answers 2

up vote 10 down vote accepted

I've managed to do this with the help of this great technet article by Harold Wong. I should note that parts of the the process is probably substantially similar to r.tanner.f's answer, but there's some differences to either end of the process, and how we actually did it.

Prerequisites:

  • Windows 8 install disk I went with the enterprise evaluation disk
  • imagex (from WAIK - also contains bcdboot)
  • easybcd ,bcdboot (its in system32), visualbcd or some other bcd editor
  • current windows 7 install on the system, older boot managers don't do VHD boots

Preparing a VHD

You can create a vhd from disk manager - hit start, and search for disk management. Select Create and format hard disk partitions (or go to control panel -> computer management -> disk management) enter image description here

Creating a VHD is very simple, select action, and Create VHD

enter image description here

Set up VHD to taste, I've selected a large dynamic disk on the partition I usually store VM images on.

enter image description here

This should result in a new 'disk' you can use like any other disk. Rightclick on the disk name, and select initialise, then rightclick on the partition on the right side to format. Take note of the new drive latter - here its H:

enter image description here


Installation process

At this point, we pretty much can treat the VHD the very same way we'd treat a regular hard drive. You'll want to extract WAIK and the install ISOs to separate folders, or mount them. Take note of the path of install.wim on the windows 8 install cd - this is usually in \install\sources\ relative to the root of the windows 8 files

Copy imagex and (if you're using it bcdboot) to a convenient location. Start up a command prompt with admin privileges

enter image description here

Run imagex from where you saved it - imagex /apply /path/to/install.wim 1 h:\ where h: is the vhd's drive letter. This took me around 10 minutes

enter image description here

There's two options to make the image bootable, firstly, to run bcdboot from waik. I went with easybcd instead, since I didn't have bcdboot on hand. Select add new entry, and set things as follows in the windows not the vhd tab. We're treating the VHD like a normal disk.

enter image description here

Now reboot, and select windows 8 from the windows boot manager, and you should be set. You can just simply delete the VHD and the boot entry to undo the install.

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Just to note, if windows 8 dosen't show up on the boot manager, boot back into windows and see if the vhd is attached, this happened once or twice in testing. –  Journeyman Geek Oct 21 '12 at 7:37
    
WAIK is an annoying large download. As an alternative, you can grab imagex by itself by requesting this hotfix from Microsoft - they'll email you a download link. –  Bob Oct 25 '12 at 10:33
    
I had a copy from previous experiments. The Harold Wong article has a copy of it too. –  Journeyman Geek Oct 25 '12 at 10:37

Remus Rigo’s Blog has several posts about installing and booting from a VHD.

Edited:

  1. Prepeare the VHD file:
    • open run and enter start compmgmt.msc
    • go to Action -> Create VHD
    • choose between the fixed size (canot change size) and Dynamically expanded (file will grow as needed)
    • select browse and save the VHD file
  2. boot from Windows 8 media (dvd, usb)
  3. at the setup screen press Shift+F10 to bring the Command Prompt
  4. mount the vhd file

    diskpart
    > select vdisk file=x:\PathToFile\VhdFile.vhd
    > attach vdisk
    
  5. install Windows 8 to the vhd file/partition

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5  
Neither post there really answers the question in any substancial form. In addition, link only answers can go stale, and we'd lose any value we had from it should the site with the link go down. –  Journeyman Geek Oct 20 '12 at 12:50

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