In windows 7 it is pretty simple to boot directly to a VHD, given that it also contains (or you are going to install) Windows 7 (or Vista/Server 2008).

This installation is made possible I believe by the fact that from Vista on, Microsoft is using WIM (Windows Imaging Format) for OS installation.

Is there a way to install XP to a VHD on Windows 7? Or is there a way to create a WIM image of the XP installer?

Some have claimed to be able to do it in different blog posts, but there are no explanations of how to achieve it.


No, only Windows 7 / Server 2008 R2 can boot from vhd as far as I can tell. It makes some sense that the operating system itself has to be aware of how to boot off and live on a vhd without any other virtualization going on hiding that fact for it.

Installing XP on a vhd as a virtual machine is another matter and very easy - but you won't boot the bare-metal hardware from it.

After some searching an interesting approach (though not what you asked for in any way) is installing the Windows 7 boot loader on a Windows XP system - and then booting Windows 7 from vhd, having XP installed as normal.

  • 2
    Boot from vhd is another one of those "wow cool!" and then "but... oh, there's no business case for this feature" thingie... it will most likely be an enabler in the future - but right now it feels rather, useless... or at least only useful for very specific scenarios. – Oskar Duveborn Jul 16 '09 at 0:36

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