Install Windows 8 in bootable VHD

Posted by bink on September 15 2011, 3:15 PM.

So the Windows 8 developer preview is out, now you can install this in a virtual machine to try it out, but it is more fun to run it direct on your hardware. However this build is pre-beta, so not ready to do all your daily “ production” work on. You can solve this by dual booting, but it is cooler to boot of a VHD! Booting from VHD was introduced in Windows 7.

Now there are several methods on the Internet to make this work, I have found this procedure so the procedure is the simplest and quickest.

No need to use WAIK, DISM, x-image, sysprep, WIM2VHD. Even no need for BCEDIT!

In short:

  • Boot from the Win8dev DVD or USB
  • When in setup the disk selection appears where to install to you press SHIFT-F10
  • A cmd window appears.
  • Now your drive letters may have shifted so do some DIR commands where you want the put the VHD file also choose a volume that has enough free space.
  • Then run diskpart:
    • create vdisk file=d:\win8dev.vhd type=expandable maximum=50000 (for better performance do not use expandable, but creating the VHD may take some time. I choose about 50 GB in size
    • select vdisk file=d:\win8dev.vhd
    • attach vdisk
  • Now alt-tab back to the disk selection window and click refresh, the VHD volume should appear, select it to install Windows in it.
  • Click next, Windows will install and reboot into next phase of Windows 8 setup
  • After another reboot the new Metro style boot menu appears where you can choose to boot from Windows 8 or Windows 7. Advanced options lets you set the default and change timeout. Also troubleshooting options are here.
  • The default is Windows 8 and it will run direct on your hardware


A bit longer guide but with screenshots is here: