Here is the scenario I'm trying to achieve. Any help towards it is much appreciated.

I would like to setup a computer on which I can virtualize the OS at the pre-boot level with the ability to create snapshots of the install. Perhaps using some sort of boot loader like GRUB (or Windows-compatible equivalent). I could then using a function key during boot to get into an environment to manage the virtual OS (Windows) and associated snapshots (revert, create new, delete).

Any suggestions?



  • it sounds like you are looking for a bare-metal hypervisor, but to be honest I'm having trouble telling what you mean by "Pre-boot level" Feb 17 '16 at 20:47
  • Hi Frank, so, when I power on the PC, if I don't interrupt the boot, I want the PC to boot into Windows. But, I also want to be able to press a key, ala F8, and boot into an environment that lets me manage the snapshots for the Windows OS I have running on that PC.
    – Kamal
    Feb 17 '16 at 22:14
  • I do not believe such a system exists. you are asking a Windows install to be both virtual and physical at the same time. Feb 17 '16 at 22:49
  • How about install those OS(s) on different partition and freeze it use something like deep freeze/shadow defender?
    – Susilo
    Feb 29 '16 at 5:06
  • Thanks Susilo. I thought about doing that but it seems like a cumbersome method. @FrankThomas, thanks for your feedback. I wasn't sure if there wasn't anything that didn't exist like this out there. Just to be clear, I'm OK with the OS being full screen inside a VM in the setup I described but I can understand why something like this doesn't exist.
    – Kamal
    Mar 1 '16 at 22:52

I found the solution I've been looking for!! It is called Native Boot. Here are the details: https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh825691.aspx I used a small partition on the drive to load Windows PE (https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh825045.aspx). The other bigger partition houses the VHDs. Here is the awesome Scott Hanselman's take on it: http://www.hanselman.com/blog/LessVirtualMoreMachineWindows7AndTheMagicOfBootToVHD.aspx I used the Windows Sysinternals tool, Disk2VHD (https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/ee656415.aspx) to create a VHD from an existing Win10 install. So far everything works beautifully.

  • 2
    This would be a great answer if it was more the a bunch of links which, when I attempted to visit them, didn't even work
    – Ramhound
    Jun 7 '16 at 23:12
  • How're you snapshotting the VHDs?
    – Journeyman Geek
    Jun 7 '16 at 23:24
  • @JourneymanGeek There are two ways, You can make copies of the full VHD, which is what I'm doing (yes, I realize this will be a space hog but space is not my concern for what I need this for). There is also the possibility of a "differencing VHD" which I haven't explored but might be useful so someone concerned about space.
    – Kamal
    Jun 29 '16 at 14:39
  • 1
    @Kamal - I tried again, the links do not work, how about providing the critical information from them instead of asking me to do research. I don't need the information myself, I don't have the problem describe, but knowing what is involved your answer seem incomplete. I personally know how to boot to a virtual machine. So my comments for you to clarify are for everyone else that doesn't. You can read the help center on the reason why providing information from critical resource links is encourage, and answers which only link to that information, are often less helpful.
    – Ramhound
    Jun 29 '16 at 15:36
  • 1
    @Kamal - I won't be doing that. You should just improve this answer, so I can reverse my vote, quoting source material and linking to the reference material isn't plagiarizing. I know exactly the reason the links don't work, the reason they don't work isn't important, and has nothing to do with you improving this answer.
    – Ramhound
    Jun 29 '16 at 22:28

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