Scott Hanselman

Guide to Installing and Booting Windows 8 Developer Preview off a VHD (Virtual Hard Disk)

September 14, 2011 Comment on this post [245] Posted in Tools | Win7 | Win8
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New Windows 8 Boot Manager?I've posted before about my intense love for Booting off a VHD (Virtual Hard Disk). It's lovely. Of course, once Hyper-V on the client happens, it will matter less, but for now, here I am, a guy with a perfectly good, working Windows 7 machine who wants to also run the Windows 8 Developer Preview.

I could do a few things to play with Windows 8. I could:

  • Try a virtualization solution, but it might not work, I may not have the drivers I need and it won't be as shiny as running "on the metal."
  • Sacrifice a machine I have lying around. I'll probably do that at some point, but I'd like to try it out on my actual hardware that I use all day long.
  • Swap out my C: drive and use my main machine. I don't have a tool-less case, and I'm also very lazy, so, um, ya.
  • Dual boot. Dual booting may feel ninja but it ALWAYS ends on tears. And sometimes blood.
  • Boot on real hardware from a Virtual Hard Disk.

Booting off a VHD is my current preferred solution for trying crazy stuff because the only speed hit I'll take is on the virtualized hard drive. Everything else is real hardware. I do this all the time with presentation VHDs and one-off daily builds of stuff.


Of course, this is just some dude's blog. I puzzled this out and while booting to VHD is supported, messing with your boot manager - especially with Preview (that means, NOT RELEASE QUALITY) Software is a recipe for losing your job and a messy divorce. There's no warranty, express or implied. If you quake in fear from the following instructions, you need to STOP. It may be the case that you are actually a Non-Technical Friend and you don't realize it. Well, someone just told you. Please don't destroy your hard drive. I don't know you and I don't how how you got here. Stop calling. Jimmy no live here, you no call back!

Booting a Windows 8 VHD off a Windows 7 Primary System

These instructions come with the WORKS ON MY MACHINE seal of approvalWhew, now that's out of the way, let's void a few warranties, shall we?

Please note that there are a half dozen ways to do this. You can do it all from the command line using tools like ImageX, DISM, etc, or you can do a lot of it graphically with tools like BellaVista. This is just the way I did it. It's not gospel. I'm sure the folks in the comments will have much nicer ways. Take them all with a nice grain of sea salt. You can also SYSPREP the VHD directly from the ISO's WIM with IMAGEX if you know what that stuff means. It's a little subtle and requires you go get some tools. While my process  is a little baroque, it just needs the one ISO->USB tool.

Step 0 - Have a lot of Disk Space

I like to have a roomy VHD. You can make one that expands or you can make a fixed size. 40 gigs is usually enough, but I like 60 gigs as a nice round number, plus this is the Windows 8 Developer Preview with Developer Tools. If you don't have enough space when an expandable disk "bloats" itself to the fixed size on boot, it'll blue screen, so expandable or not, have the slack space.

Step 1 - Make a USB stick or DVD from the ISO

Go get the Windows 7 USB/DVD download tool and get yourself a USB stick that will hold at LEAST 10 gigs. I used a 16 gig one. Go through the process by pointing at the ISO you downloaded and then preparing your USB key. You can also use the resulting USB key to boot and install Windows 8 from your sacrificial hardware if you like.

Choose ISOChoose Media TypeInsert USB deviceCreating Bootable USB device

Step 2 - Make a Virtual Hard Drive

You can do this later in the process by pressing Shift-F10 while in the Setup Tool, but I like to prep things up front. You can do it from the Disk Management GUI or from DISKPART at the Administrator command line.

Be aware that your VHD needs to be on an internal drive or SATA drive. USB won't work as the drivers are initialized too late in the boot process.

Also, if your machine is BitLockered, your VHD needs to be on a non-BitLockered partition and you need to suspend BitLocker during this process. Also, know your recovery key because I don't know it.

2a. Start up an Administrator Console and run DISKPART. Execute the lines after DISKPART> below, changing them for your own system.


Microsoft DiskPart version 6.1.7601
Copyright (C) 1999-2008 Microsoft Corporation.
On computer: HEXPOWER7

DISKPART> create vdisk file=d:\VMs\Win8.vhd type=expandable maximum=60000

100 percent completed

DiskPart successfully created the virtual disk file.

DISKPART> select vdisk file=d:\VMs\Win8.vhd

DiskPart successfully selected the virtual disk file.

DISKPART> attach vdisk

100 percent completed

DiskPart successfully attached the virtual disk file.

DISKPART> create partition primary

DiskPart succeeded in creating the specified partition.

2b. OR do it from the Disk Management GUI:

Create and Attach Virtual Hard Disk

At this point, you've got a VHD that's empty, but ready to have Windows installed to it. The VHD and your system are NOT ready to be booted from. That will come in a minute.

Step 3 - Boot off the Windows 8 USB Key

Now, restart your computer with your new USB key plugged in and startup your BOOT MENU. The hotkey is usually F12 to bring it up. You want to boot off the Windows 8 USB key.

Side Note: Folks with Gigabyte Motherboards. These motherboards are notoriously hard to figure out a USB boot. You need to make sure that you USB key is only plugged into the board directly in the back. Then, don't use the Boot Menu, it never works. Instead, enter the BIOS with the DEL key and manually put your USB Key (it'll be detected by brand, so be prepared to recognize the string) at the top of the Hard Drive boot order.

Boot of your USB key

Step 4 - Attach the VHD while still inside SETUP

Pay attention here. Actually, hell, pay attention to the whole thing, it's subtle.

Start the SETUP process, click Install Not but DO NOT PICK A HARD DRIVE. As shown in this screenshot, instead hit SHIFT-F10 to get to a console. We want to attach our VHD and install to THAT instead.

Shift-F10 from within Windows 8 Setup

In the screenshot above I haven't touched anything, yet.

Below, I've run DISKPART and selected and attached the VHD with these now familiar commands:

DISKPART> select vdisk file=d:\VMs\Win8.vhd
DISKPART> attach vdisk

That will look like this screenshot.

DISKPART commands have been issued, but the drives aren't refreshed yet

Next, ALT-TAB back over to the list of disks and hit REFRESH. You'll see your VHD show up. Mine is the 60 gig one. That's the blank we are going to install to.

Now the 60 gig VHD is visible

Note that installation will warn you that this VHD can't be booted to. Yet. That's cool, go ahead and install to that empty VHD.

photo 4

At some point it'll ask you to restart the computer. The setup process isn't done yet, but go ahead and reboot and remove the USB key.

Your system should reboot and setup will continue, this time off the VHD.

NOTE: I had expected at this point to go and manually create a BCD entry using BCDEDIT.EXE from an Administrator command line as I did in my first post on booting to VHD but it seems that is all done for us now!

The Windows 8 Developer Preview build automatically noticed that I was trying to boot off a VHD and added a Windows Bootloader option and put the description in as "Windows Developer Preview," saving me a half dozen tedious steps. I was very pleasantly surprised! I'd like to hear if you had the same experiences, Dear Reader.

I could tell it was working because my C: drive is a totally silent SSD and my D: drive is spinning rust. When the setup continued I could totally hear the hard drive that holds the VHD spinning. The installation completed happily at this point with me having to manually create an entry with BCDEDIT.

I confirmed it with bcdedit.exe /v while running Windows 8 Developer Preview.

Setup completed, and I rebooted again to make sure I could get back into Windows 7.

In fact, I was shocked to find a completely new bootloader had come into play. I was literally open-mouthed staring at it. It's not text, it's graphical and friendly! It actually and literally "did the right thing." Awesome.

This seems to be the Windows 8 boot manager that you'll see if Windows 8 Developer Preview is the default. Otherwise you'll see the Windows 7 text-mode one first. Very cool. I hope it stays past the Developer Preview.

New Windows 8 Boot Manager?

Here's what you get if you click Other Options.

New Windows 8 Boot Manager?

That's it. To recap:

  1. Make an empty VHD
  2. Attach to the VHD just before installing Windows 8 Developer Preview
  3. Install to the VHD
  4. Rejoice

Hope this works for you, Dear Reader. I'm happily booting Windows 8 Developer Preview to VHD today.

One final disclaimer to be CRYSTAL CLEAR. I puzzled this process out with the same bits given out at I don't work for the Windows team and I don't know anyone over there. I have no idea if this will work in the future. I only know it worked on my home machine, tonight, once.

Related Links

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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September 14, 2011 10:34
I've used the Creating Bootable Virtual Hard Disks tutorial with the "To apply a Windows image to a VHD by using the Install-WindowsImage.ps1 script" option which gave me my .vhd in less then 15 minutes without even leaving windows :D

Just had to run a "bcdboot V:\Windows" to add the entry
September 14, 2011 10:40
Scott, you should try Easy BCD. It's a nice gui for editing BCD settings.

September 14, 2011 10:41
Open BCD
September 14, 2011 10:43
Excellent, will try that next.
September 14, 2011 10:45
Hi Scott, just wondering if it is easy to remove the VHD and "reclaim" that HDD space once I am done with the preview? I could run it in a VPC but, like you, I would rather see it running on my actual hardware.
September 14, 2011 11:08
@Andrew, yes you can detach and then delete the vhd file to reclaim the space.
September 14, 2011 11:17
Hey dude, thanks a lot for this guide! I wanted to try Windows 8 on my main machine and was planning to crap Win 7 out just for kicks, but this method is absolutely great! Too bad my DL failed and I'll have to wait two more hours to get my sweet ISO. I will update my comment and tell you how it all went.
September 14, 2011 11:29
Scott, do we need Windows Virtual PC in order to install it to a VHD?
September 14, 2011 11:46
Tugberk - This just virtualizes the disk, not the computer, so no, there's no Virtual PC here.
September 14, 2011 12:31
I did a Wim2Vhd process (which I have done previously for Win 7 and Win Svr 2008 R2) with Win 8 Dev Preview to create a Windows 8 vhd file.

I then used bcdedit to add another boot option for Win 8 vhd (already have a couple of different Win 7 boot vhd's in there).

Rebooted, chose Win 8 VHD, went for a coffee and came back to discover a System recovery had taken place within Windows 8 vhd, which has wrecked my boot.

I cannot even boot onto a Windows 7 install DVD now to do a recovery - the system reboots after 'Windows is loading files' appears!

I have a Windows Home Server which does daily backups, so no problems right - just do a restore. The WHS restore CD cant boot either!


Going to unplug the SSD now and plug in an old hdd I have around to see if I can restore onto that!
September 14, 2011 12:35
neat post. bootable VHDs are definately the way to go rather than dual boot regardless.

I wish I had expressed such a comprehensive warranty policy on my bootable VHD post :-)
September 14, 2011 12:39
Brilliant, exactly what I needed. Will this work with an external USB HDD as well or just a USB Key?
September 14, 2011 12:45
Nice post Scott , but i face a problem at the beginning , i tried to use a USB hdd but had no luck with download tool to recognize the device
September 14, 2011 12:56
Joroen - Boot to VHD WILL NOT work on USB drives. USB drives are initialized MUCH later in the boot process. External SATA drives should work.

Tareq - I'm not sure. I only tried it with a USB key.

Murray - I'm very sorry. Your process sounds differnet from mine. I didn't need to do anything with BCDEdit. Perhaps you can restore in a cleaner way by just replacing the boot manager with the one from your Win7 DVD?
September 14, 2011 13:00
The boot-time System Repair tools in Win8 have the same shiny blue metro feel that the boot selection screens above do as well. That's impressive fit-and-finish for a not-even beta build.

(And for the record, I used imagex.exe to apply the install.wim extracted from the ISO straight onto the VHD mounted in Windows 7. All done in 10 minutes or so.)

EasyBCD doesn't appear to grok UEFI partitions, so I used the Win8 version of bcdboot.exe from the install media.
September 14, 2011 13:08
Blake - I need to read up on this UEFI thing. What's the deal there?

Good to know about ImageX. You just unzip'ed (7zip?) the ISO and ran it?
September 14, 2011 13:15
No need to apologize Scott - I had already done my process before you blogged!

I just posted as a warning to others who may read that the process I used failed horribly for me, even though it has worked numerous times in the past for me for previous OS's.

I have now unplugged my boot SSD and my PC is still restarting during the boot from Win 7 DVD media AND the boot from WHS restore disk - something very weird going on!

Time to start unplugging RAM chips...
September 14, 2011 13:27
Nice guide but I have one question that you may be able to help with.
If I install Win8 to a HyperV VHD on a server, can I copy that to my local disk and then boot to it? Presumably I'll have to edit the BCD
Not sure if this will cause problems or not?!?
September 14, 2011 13:31
ok, i did using UltraISO , but i sacrifice some backup data , cuz it require to delete all existing data on hdd , for more info :
September 14, 2011 13:40
Great solution.

Unfortunately not working for me. Despite having only one partition on my (Win7) SSD I have a similar setup.

After accepting the warning "Windows cannot be installed on this disk..." I end up with an error message "Setup was unable to create a new system partition or locate an existing partition. See the Setup log files for more information."

I suppose I must exchange the hard disks to proceed.
September 14, 2011 13:46
Created VHD using the powershell script and installed the WIM to it from mounted ISO. RAdded Win 8 Dev to boot record using BCDEDIT Restarted Windows 7, saw awesome fresh win8 boot screen but it said VHD_BOOT_INITIALIZATION ERROR. Rebooted in windows 7.. whats going on?

(Dint do the USB stuff)
September 14, 2011 13:56
Good to know it works without an USB drive and just with ImageX and wim2vhd. Did you provide the sku parameter for wim2vhd?
September 14, 2011 14:14
Great post, thanks.

Download site isn't responding at the moment, but I'll try this definitely after I get the bits.
September 14, 2011 14:29
Do we really need 16GB pen drive or will it just work on 8 GB usb stick too ?
September 14, 2011 14:35
Is anyone else getting an unsigned file error? I used Steve Hansens's method, and get this:

Was hoping to avoid Scott's longer method... maybe I just have to give it a shot.
September 14, 2011 15:47
Ben Hughes:
Its a strange error.
You just need to install the boot files to it

Follow this guide

Specifik command your missing
V:\Windows\System32\bcdboot V:\Windows
September 14, 2011 17:26
You rock. You knew exactly what we'd want to know, before we even knew we wanted to know it :).
September 14, 2011 17:39
You read my mind! This is exactly what I was looking for before I even looked for it. You are awesome!
September 14, 2011 17:55
Thanks a bunch Scott! I was going to write up something similar after having "issues" loading the preview into VirtualBox. I'm hoping I can get trackpad gestures to work correctly as the OS feels "weird" doing things with a mouse.
September 14, 2011 18:12
Scott: How is the touch mouse working on Win8?
September 14, 2011 18:37
I'm having some issues finding the vhd with diskpart. I'm getting a diskpart error: the system cannot find the path specified. (c:\VMs\win8.vhd) but when I boot back into win7 I can select it...

Does it have to be initialized on another disk than the c:?
September 14, 2011 18:50
Ben Hughes i have the same problem....

September 14, 2011 18:53
Hi Scott,

Great post, but no luck for me.

Everything went just until the reboot. No Windows 8 boot loader showed up, but the old familiar Windows 7 did... :(

Modifying the BCD Store didn't help. If starting from the Windows8 VHD was selected, I ended up with System Repair.

Guess I have to do some trial and error a little bit more..

September 14, 2011 18:53
It doesn't run on any VMs neither I can use this tutorial. even if I got a new big usb stick, how could I possibly make it run in GRUB..
September 14, 2011 18:54
@Pål - had the same issue. Your drive may have been bumped to a different letter.
September 14, 2011 19:40
another way, after boot from the installation media, goto repair computer, blah blah, command prompt, attach the vdisk, then goto the root directory of installation media or the virtual drive of WinRE (WinPE's new name ?), run setup.exe from the command prompt
September 14, 2011 19:41
p.s. something about the repair menu, you can press F10 or F11 (can't remember) to show some info on the screen.
September 14, 2011 19:42
When I select the ISO, it says it is an invalid ISO file.

I have the 64-bit Version with no Developer tools installed.
September 14, 2011 19:51
Oh I got it, WinRE == Recover Console ?
September 14, 2011 20:22
Hi! Scott Hanselman

I try to install Windows but in this step:

Can not find any division or any HardDisk!!!

What's problem?
September 14, 2011 20:24
September 14, 2011 20:26
Hi! Scott Hanselman

I try to install Windows but in this step:

Can not find any partition or any HardDisk!!!

What's problem?

September 14, 2011 20:43
@Scott, I was able to do this with an 8GB flash drive. I used the iso with developer tools, so i guess it will work for other images as well.

Also, when i booted with the usb drive, somehow my d: drive (where the vhd was located) was mounted as the c: drive. I got a bit confused, but changing the current drive to c: in the command prompt and doing a directory listing there cleared it up for me.
September 14, 2011 20:46
Thank you Scott!

Works as a charm on my computer.

I used the 32bit image without dev tools, because I want to try it on my Fujitsu Stylistic q550 Atom tablet.

I also reserved only 25 gb, since that computer has Limited storage. I tested it on my more powerful desktop system.

Now I'm off to try it on the stylistic.


September 14, 2011 20:47
So, how do you rollback the boot loader to its previous state once you are done playing with the VHD?
September 14, 2011 20:49
Success! Never knew about VHDs before.
September 14, 2011 21:45
Worked for me.

Infact, I did get the "cannot find any partition or any hard disk" sort of message.

This was because the drive letters were different inside the installer.

My VHD which was on D drive in win7. But while installing the D drive was F: drive. And my C: drive was E: drive. So loading the correct path will fix the installation.

It doesn't affect the existing OS.
September 14, 2011 22:37
I've set this up natively in Win7 using Powershell script. Works like a champ.

What fails is adding an entry to the bootloader. I've tried the EasyBCD method, and get the same error as Ben Hughes. Unfortunately the fix from Thor Jakobsen also doesn't work, that gives me this error:

"The program can't start because api-ms-win-core-file-l1-1-1.dll is missing from your computer. Try reinstalling the program to fix this problem."

I get the exact same error when trying to update the EFI system partition from Win7, thanks to

I'm at a loss. Everything is in place but getting the bloody Win8 bootloader installed ... I know I'm missing something simple here. What is it?
September 14, 2011 22:46
Jonathan - You're doing it a little strangely, but be aware that the Win8 bootloader is updated from Win7. You'll need to use BCDBOOT.EXE to copy the Win8 bootmgr into your Windows7 installation.

Davin - You'd use BCDBOOT to copy a Win7 bootmgr over the Win8 one.
September 14, 2011 22:51
Scott -- that's exactly what's throwing the api error. BCDBOOT refuses to do anything and instead is throwing the api missing errors.

Does the Win8 BCDBoot have to run from within a running Win8 shell, perhaps? I don't have any dual-layer DVDs sitting around so I can't boot into it. :(
September 14, 2011 22:58
Hi guys,

For my Lenovo thinkvantage W510 everything works perfectly if you follow Scott's guide, EXCEPT the part where you should remove the USB stick.
When I removed it before restarting, the second fase of the setup fails with some sort of "unrecognized hardware" failure.
How to fix this? Just leave the USB stick in during the ENTIRE install, and you're golden :-)

Just sharing my findings
September 14, 2011 23:01
Same here as Ben et al: "unsigned file error"

Used Virtual Clone Drive, Wim2Vhd, EasyBCD and the WindowsDeveloperPreview-64bit-English-Developer.iso

I'm assuming the VHD needs to have the Win8 bootloader to be able to load the VHD.

btw: I boot my 'systems' using native vhd boot. I have a 100MB system partition and the rest of the 120GB SSD is just space for VHD's. Works really great otherwise.

Would love to hear some feedback on why the error occurs and if it would be possible to fix it without upgrading my system partition to the Win8 bootloader. If that would be the only solution, I'd really love a strong confirmation of MS that doing so will NOT cause troubles and that an upgrade of the system partition to the Win8 CTP/BETA/RTM bootloader will indeed be 'tested'. I would not require it to be fully supported, but a strong indication, such as a mention in the release notes/social media that this is a common and tested path would be 'very nice'.
September 14, 2011 23:11
Just what I was waiting for. Nice and clean dual boot solution.
Thanks Scott!
September 14, 2011 23:35
It did not work on the Fujistic Stylistic Q550.

I can't get passed a message on the "Where do you want to install windows?"-screen after selecting the vhd-partition.

The message is "Setup was unable to create a new system partition or locate an existing system partition. See the Setup log files for more information".

Sad, really wanted to try Win8 on that machine, since it performs poorly with Win7.

September 14, 2011 23:38
The installation completed happily at this point with me having to manually create an entry with BCDEDIT

I think you intended "without me having".
September 15, 2011 0:59

I had the same problem. The solution was to exit Diskpart and the console before selecting the partition.

Hope that helps.
September 15, 2011 1:11
One thing to keep in mind is that when you boot from a VHD, you cannot compute the "Windows Experience Index" and you won't get Aero Glass or anything else that requires a specific index value.
September 15, 2011 1:12
So just to confirm, when I install this it will allow me to use both my windows 7 and the 8 with dev tools and I won't lose any data?
September 15, 2011 1:13
I'm having the same problem as a couple of others. I can create the VHD fine after a normal boot, but when I try to attach it using diskpart after booting from the USB stick, I get "The system cannot find the path specified."

I can't create it after booting from the USB stick either...same error. It's as if the c: drive never gets mounted during the installation process.

Any suggestions?
September 15, 2011 1:16
Oops, never mind, I'm foolish. It reserves the c: logical drive, but I found the letter it reassigned the drive to (e: for some reason).
September 15, 2011 1:17
Sadly, it all worked until I went to boot after installation, and found that it had blown out my existing Boot.ini entries (I had my base Win7 entry and another entry for a win7 vhd for Mango beta). It would only boot to the vhd with Win8 on it :(. Thanks to Acronis, I was able to restore the physical drive and am back up in Windows 7. Think I'll build this out using the original method with WIM2VHD and hand editing. Glad it worked for others, as it only took a few minutes once I had the bootable USB.
September 15, 2011 1:17
I installed Win 8 in a VHD, as the tutorial. How can I remove it and continue only with Win 7? Tks!
September 15, 2011 2:27
Great help. It all worked for me but for these differences.

1. I created a bootable USB HDD (not a Flash Pen Drive) manually. The download tool doesn't recognize USB HDDs, so I following the steps here to make the drive bootable.

2. I used 7zip to manually extract the Windows 8 Dev Preview ISO image files to the USB HDD.

3. Before going into DISKPART I had to figure out the drive letter where my VHD file was mapped to by successively typing drive letters followed by dir until I found the right one. In my case it was E:

4. Since I have a UK Keyboard, when I was in the command window I couldn't type a "\" char for the file path used in DISKPART's 'create vdisk' command. Luckily, I could copy/paste the char from some previous text within the cmd window.

Thanks - Arvindra
September 15, 2011 2:36
markpitman - Not entirely true. If your graphics drivers support them, you'll automatically get Aero on Win8 as I have.

unsignedfileguy - my instructions here DO upgrade your bootloader. All these WIM and ImageX and scripting solutions that you guys are doing do not include a step with BCDBOOT to update the WIn7 bootmgr to the Win8 code, that's why you all are seeing these errors. You can either do it manually or let the system do it automatically during setup.

Harald - Did you format the VHD and mark the partition as primary?

Bob - Really? That sucks. You could probably recreate the BCD with BCDEdit, but I'm surprised it erased ries. It didn't do that on my Lenovo W500.

dpDesignz - That's the idea, but seriously, read this carefully. If you aren't comfortable about this or are concerned at ALL, don't do it. You're on your own with this kind of stuff.
September 15, 2011 2:43
Ah ! This is what I was looking for. How come you are always first to post something about the latest in Microsoft and I'm always not the the first one to comment on it ?

I missed it this time too !
September 15, 2011 2:56
If someone wants to install without DVD/USB, then create VHD from Win7 (40GB at least), copy ISO contents to that VHD (mount/attach it through Computer Management), reboot to recovery, open console, launch diskpart, then

select vdisk file="c:\win7\win7.vhd"
attach vdisk

(read for more info). A new drive will appear. Go to it and launch setup.exe.
September 15, 2011 2:57
Hey Mate,

This works perfectly! Thanks for the tutorial. I was just wondering how to set my physical disk back to primary rather than the virtual disk?

September 15, 2011 3:00
At boot time, switch into the bootloader with F8 and make Windows 7 the default OS.
September 15, 2011 3:19
Thanks Scott,

Is there a way to remove the Windows 8 image now?

September 15, 2011 3:24
Installation worked fine and was able to login to Windows 8, but I'm not able to go back to Windows 7.
September 15, 2011 3:35
Yaser - The easiest thing, I think, would be to simply hit F8 on startup and set Windows 7 as the default.

You could also delete VHD although I think you'd get an error on boot that it couldn't find the files.

You could also run Startup Repair from you Windows 7 disk and have it rebuild the Boot Manager.

Or, you could use BCDBOOT to copy the Windows 7 one back.

Or, finally you could use BCDEdit to remove the Windows 8 option.
September 15, 2011 3:42
Thanks. Just wasn't sure and wanted to confirm. Just trying to decide what comp to use if it didn't. :). I've done the VHD just waiting for my ISO. :D
September 15, 2011 3:50
Hi Scott, thank you for the tutorial and the fix to the boot issue. Forgot to thank you in the first place because i freaked out when I was not able to load back my Windows &7. However, I think I'll go with the 3rd Option: Startup Repair as F8 didn't do anything and the only boot entry showing in the System Configuration (msconfig) is the Windows 8. I'll see what I come up with. Thanks again
September 15, 2011 4:05
Hi Again,

The Startup Repair fixed the boot issue. I think I'll have to manually edit the BCD to add the boot entry.

Thanks again
September 15, 2011 5:22
Why does the stick HAVE to have at least 10 gigs? I have an 8 gig one, and the .iso unpacked is only 4.5. However I get an error message that the program couldn't make the stick bootable after copying the files over.

So clearly it does need to be 10 gigs. Just wondering why this is considering there are 2.5 gigs free after full copy.
September 15, 2011 5:44
I used the Apps+Tools one and it was like 9.2 gigs unpacked.
September 15, 2011 5:49
So, I do too have api-ms-win-core-file-l1-1-1.dll error. It seems my ver of system doesn't have one. Maybe one of you guys could upload that file and pase directory where should I put it? I would much appreciate that!
September 15, 2011 5:49
Hmmm, after the first reboot, it starts to boot from the VHD and I see the 'Windows Developer Preview' boot screen with the whirlygig, but the I get:


Then the PC reboots automatically. After a few reboots it tells me the PC needs to be repaired and offers me the option to 'use another operating system' which gets me back to my previous Windows 7.

Any ideas??
September 15, 2011 5:52
Tim - That means that your Host Drive doesn't have enough space when the drive expands. For example, if you said you wanted a 60gig file and you don't have 60 gigs free, BOOM.
September 15, 2011 6:57
in this step:

Hard disk partitions does not appear!

only, this message appears

A required CD/DVD device driver is missing. If you have a driver floppy disk, CD, DVDm or USB flash drive, please insert it now. Note. If the windows installation media is in the drive, you can safely remove it for this step.

What's a problem??
September 15, 2011 8:06
Update to my earlier comments about being unable to boot to Win 7 anymore after using Wim2Vhd with Win 8 iso and BcdEdit - turned out my BIOS got corrupted - not sure how/why this happened, but after flashing my BIOS (Gigabyte X58A-UD3R m/b) to the latest BIOS and messing with BIOS settings I was able to boot back in to my Win 7 without any problems. Was a fun few hours unplugging RAM chips, changing SATA cables etc until I identified it was definitely a m/b issue!

Going to stick to playing with Win 8 Dev Prev running under Hyper-V now..
September 15, 2011 8:11
Hmmm, I'm getting a 0x80300024 error once I start the install to the vdisk. Any ideas on what I should try next?

September 15, 2011 8:40
Darrix - double check your location and ensure you have enough room for the VHD to expand? That's an 'unable to install to the selected location' error.
September 15, 2011 9:36
I have a vhd file that i've put directly in C:, so it's C:\WDP_8102.vhd, but in setup when I do this in diskpart it says it cannot find the path to the file. In Windows it works.. What an I doing wrong?
September 15, 2011 9:43
Try [locate] instead of [c:]?
September 15, 2011 9:44
Great guide! Do you know if its possible if I've already installed Windows 8 through VirtualBox on a vhd to just boot from that vhd? It already has Windows on it, so it's just a matter of how to boot into it.
September 15, 2011 9:49
@Scott so 'locate WDP_8102.vhd' and then select it?
September 15, 2011 9:56
I mean 'DISKPART>select vdisk file=locate WDP_8102.vhd' ?
September 15, 2011 9:58
Ah, I thought you were using BCDEdit.

Are you doing disk part like "select disk file=c:\wdp_8102.vhd"

You need the file= part.
September 15, 2011 10:00
@Scott The vhd is ok, it's created and partitioned inside Windows. I just need to attach it inside setup
September 15, 2011 10:57
Hi Scott.
Thanks for the tutorial, booting from the VHD works great.

Any links, hints on how to remove the whole thing and restore to the original win7 boot manager?

getting to the boot manager is slower than the actual boot into win7, and thats on a NON-SSD machine, good old magnetic hard disk.
September 15, 2011 11:03
Scott, thanks for the gr8 post! I got up and running on Win8 under 45 mins. Wondering how i can move the VHD to another machine and create a Win8 load option there?
September 15, 2011 11:30
When doing the step 4, in diskpart select the vhd file, it is the different disk from the one when I did in disk management in Windows 7. In the setup diskpart, it's in the H: but in the windows 7, it's in the G:
And after I chosed the H:\Win8.vhd and attach it and after the first reboot, it came back to the win7 boot loader and cannot find the win8 boot loader and also, the windows developer preview choice.

What's is the problem?

September 15, 2011 11:47
Everytime I try to install Windows 8, I can only get to the "Completing Installation" phase at which point i get this error:

"Windows could not update the computer's boot configuration. Installation cannot proceed."

Anyone have any ideas?
September 15, 2011 13:50
SH> Darrix - double check your location and ensure you have enough room for the VHD to expand? That's an 'unable to install to the selected location' error.

Yep, done that, each time I've attempted to install on a drive with more than 100 GB free (I've tried on three different drives). The Win8 installer is willing to allow me to install to two of my physical partitions (i.e., no "Can't install" warning message) but not to the VHD partition.

My box is a Gigabyte mb running in AHCI mode.

Other ideas?


September 15, 2011 14:56
Hi Scott,
Really helped me a lot and I was exactly looking for this. I have a question for you. Will my laptop's track pad recognize gestures? In Lion OS it recognizes.
Thanks a lot.
September 15, 2011 15:36
I got an error while trying to copy the Windows 8 ISO to my USB thumb drive using the Microsoft Store USB Download Tool. By using instructions on the following blog I was able to make the tool work. Basically you need to low-level clean and repartition the USB drive:
September 15, 2011 15:58
The procedure also works if you burn the ISO image to a DVD and boot from that (I didn't have a big enough USB drive). I had only one issue, nothing serious.

When booting from the DVD the system partition became c: and the Win7 partition became d: on my Thinkpad T42p. So when specifying the VHD location I had to use d:\VHDs\Win8DevPreview.vhd as the file location in diskpart.

I got to see the graphical boot manager once, but since I set the default boot to be my Win7 system I get the Win7 text boot manager.

I replaced the first installation of Win8 in a virtual machine with this installation & it is a much better user experience.
September 15, 2011 16:18
@LagaV, @Harald if you get the

"Setup was unable to create a new system partition or locate an existing partition. See the Setup log files for more information."

error message, look in your BIOS settings and make sure you have AHCI enabled (and not Compatibility mode) for your disk controller.

September 15, 2011 16:18
You are just Awesome...Great Post
September 15, 2011 16:22
how do I remove the installed windows 8?
September 15, 2011 16:31
Alex, make sure your .vhd file is located on the same disk as Win7 (C: volume)
September 15, 2011 16:49
I didn't have a dual layer disc or large thumb drive. Thanks to Steves post I managed to come up with a POSH script to handle this install!
September 15, 2011 17:18

If I do a shutdown and boot into Win8 or reboot from Win7, Win8 goes into disk check twice and takes long time to load boot selection list. Do you get same issue?
September 15, 2011 17:48
Doug, i took your advice and moved the .vhd. Windows installed perfectly but now, everytime I try to boot into win8, I get the new sad-smiley bluescreen with the message "VHD BOOT INITIALIZATION FAILED". Then it restarts and the next time I try to get into win8 it sais that the pc needs to be repaired, to use the recovery from disk, etc. Win7 still works and the bootloader is still the old one. Any ideas?
September 15, 2011 18:27
Great post, worked like a champ.
September 15, 2011 18:33
You are all crazy :)

Just do this:
September 15, 2011 19:05
Hey all, I cannot get the setup to see the VHD. I try to select it and it cannot find it. It's almost as if the setup can't see my c drive. Any thoughts, itchin' to get this going!
September 15, 2011 20:01
Does anyone know how to add another feed to windows 8 News app?
September 15, 2011 20:41
September 15, 2011 21:29
@Scott Hanselman - I didn't try this with Win 8, I am doing the reverse, I boot Win 7 from VHD and Win 8 from the hard drive. My Win 7 install won't enable Glass until I compute the Windows Experience Index. But on another machine, it enables Glass without computing it. Maybe if I find some updated drivers it will work. Thanks for responding.
September 15, 2011 22:14
If i remove the VHD after i'm done with Win 8 will this mess anything up? is there any chance of this happening? Only i've deleted partitions before which have had BETA OS installs on them and its stopped my computer from booting.
September 15, 2011 22:24
Guys i need help. I installed windows 8 iso file directly using demont tools. i expected once it is installed it would show me both win 7 and win 8 at boot up. I know it was a dumb thing to assume so and do it at-least i should have read the blogs before installing. any way now win 8 is running file but i want my old win 7 back. is there any way i can do it.

PS : i didtnot back up my data or meade restore point.
September 15, 2011 22:27
Guys i need help. I installed windows 8 iso file directly using demont tools. i expected once it is installed it would show me both win 7 and win 8 at boot up. I know it was a dumb thing to assume so and do it at-least i should have read the blogs before installing. any way now win 8 is running file but i want my old win 7 back. is there any way i can do it. I can still see all my win 7 files. Is ther any way i can unistall win 8 without losing win 7.

PS : i didtnot back up my data or made a restore point.
September 15, 2011 23:05
Hey guys, i need ur help!
My drives: Intel Raid 0 2TB and single 500GB HDD.
My Windows 7 installation is located on the RAID.

After attaching the VHD and selecting it, setup says "Setup was unable to create a new system partition or locate an existing system partition [...]".

I created it on the single 500GB HDD so it cant be a driver problem.
I even mounted the RAID driver but it didnt work.

Does anybody have an idea how i could get this running?


September 16, 2011 0:18
darrix - I had the same problem. I was installing to a 2nd out of 3 Hard drives. I had to unplug the other 2 and just install to the one I was using. I've now got Windows 7 on C and Windows 8 on B. Works fine. Just need to edit my boot menu now! :D. Thanks guys!
September 16, 2011 0:18
Did you get a mention in the day 2 keynote? At 1m08s? Well played!
September 16, 2011 0:50

Thanks for this post. Quick question: Can you turn Bitlocker back on once this process is complete and have everything work?
September 16, 2011 0:52
Done and Done...if you follow the instructions to the letter here, you will have no problems. Thanks for posting this! The only thing I had an issue with is a bad image initially. Just re-downloaded it and rebuilt the USB and it worked flawlessly.

Now, I just need to change the default boot to Win 7 and should be good to go. Oh, that and learning my way around Win8 in general. Took me 15 minutes to figure out how to shut it down! (Hint: Windows Key + I).

I am excited about it, just need to find time to figure it out.

Thanks again!

(And yes, I think he did get mentioned in Day 2 Keynote!)

September 16, 2011 2:03
I followed your instructions and it worked beautifully, but I used my camera's Memory Stick (Sony Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo HX 4GB), and now my camera can't recognize it. I tried reformatting it on both a windows computer (using both the Disk Management msc and diskpart) and on a macbook (using Disk Utility), but nothing makes the camera recognize it. It says something along the lines of "Reinsert Memory Stick" and won't let me reformat it. I think it's because the ISO tool made the stick bootable. What should I do?
September 16, 2011 2:14
Cristian, Scott and Magnus,

Thank you for your suggestions, but it is still no-go.

Yes, I followed the steps closely (as I did on the other computer where it worked superbly).

I tried closing diskpart and the console without luck.

I also looked through the Bios without any changeable parameters (this is a fairly special pc - it's a 10' tablet - luckily with usb so I can use keyboard and mouse while doing this...).

I think I'll end up making myself a good backup of the current system, and try it directly on the hardware.

Take care,
September 16, 2011 2:31
Hi, i made usb flash and i have 30gb partition on my asus 1215N, but like in your post, during the installation process you see partitions, i just simply not.
interestingly when i look for driver, all my partitioons are visible. I throw some intel driver for the nm10 chipsett on the root of the usb key, nothing helps me. I am sad. Can i install within windows 7 to a new partition?
September 16, 2011 2:38
Hi Scott - great post I was glad to read that Windows 8 supported boot to vhd - i'm a massive fan. I've got it setup and working nicely now. I do have one question though - if you delete the vhd later and the boot entry how do we remove the windows 8 boot manager? as I guess we will be left with it?


September 16, 2011 10:25
Getting the whole, VHD_BOOT_INITIALIZATION_FAILED And am not familiar with BCDedit... Can someone please help me??
September 16, 2011 11:26
Thank you, worked for me! Win8 installed boot loader.
I had problem with VHD_BOOT_INITIALIZATION ERROR, cause is dynamic VHD. If you choose 60 gigs for size, and if current size of VHD + free space on host drive are less than 60 gigs => VHD_BOOT_INITIALIZATION ERROR
This somewhat defeats the purpose of dynamic VHD :)
September 16, 2011 11:44
I have 105GB free after making the VHD, which is 70gb. It isnt expandable.. I have tried everything. still not working... *frustration* I have been at this for almost 5 hours now, to no avail. sadly, I am stopping for the night, and getting some rest. hopefully I will have it all figured out soon.. =// any tips, or if someone knows how t fix this... i will greatly appreciate it. =]
September 16, 2011 13:43
Justin, and anyoene else who I took down the wrong path to hell, sorry, I copy-pasted wrong string, my problem was VHD_BOOT_HOST_VOLUME_NOT_ENOUGH_SPACE

September 16, 2011 19:14

Turns out the tool was failing for me because I was trying to use it to create the bootable x64 version of Windows 8 from a x86 version of Windows 7. That doesn't work.

I found a workaround. I posted about it here. You can in fact do this with an 8 gig stick.
September 16, 2011 20:22
Hello Scott!
Thank you for sharing your experience!

What if I want to boot from an existing VHD?

I already have a VHD with deployed Windows Developer Preview. Is it possible to add an entry to the BCD of my Windows Server 2008 R2 with Service Pack 1 that would point to that exiting VHD? I would love to boot to already created installation rather than install the OS from scratch.

The reason I am asking is due to the following points:

1. To be on the safe side, I'd love to avoid overwriting existing BCD with the new loader from the Windows 8.

When the next public build is out, I will only need to re-create the VHD without having to suffer from the obsolete boot loader.

2. If I managed to boot from the VHD, I believe, that would allow me to easily boot into Windows 8 both from physical loader and the Hyper-V.

Here is what I've done:

1. Created a new Hyper-V VM and installed Windows 8 on it.

2. Within the VM I ran the following command:

C:\Windows\System32\sysprep>sysprep /generalize /shutdown

That would've helped to get rid of configuration changes I've made to the OS after installation.

3. Returned back to the Windows Server 2008 R2 environment and followed the steps, provided in this article that you've written back in 2009.

Now here's the problem. When I restart my server, I get the following two records in the boot menu:

Windows Server 2008 R2

Windows 8

However, when I choose Windows 8, I bet I get into the Recovery Console, because I see recovery window with a drop-down box allowing me to choose from accounts that I have in the SAM database of Windows Server 2008 R2.

What am I doing wrong?

Possibly Windows 8 does not support the Windows Server 2008 loader?

Could you please help me here?

Thank you!
September 16, 2011 20:56
As someone mentioned - I'm also getting the "A required CD/DVD device driver is missing. If you have a driver floppy disk, CD, DVDm or USB flash drive, please insert it now. Note. If the windows installation media is in the drive, you can safely remove it for this step." message.

I installed the small x64 version off a DVD yesterday no problem, but the the big version on a 16GB USB stick fails :(
September 16, 2011 22:20
I get stuck at the point where it says Windows can't be installed on the partition since it's not bootable. Scott, you say to just ignore the warning and skip ahead, but my Next button is disabled (unlike yours in the screenshot above).

Any ideas?
September 16, 2011 23:35
Thanks for the approach. Tried exactly what you suggest in your blog and got Disk error when booting from UFD. Any clues?

I remember back when I was messing with installing Windows Server 2008 R2 M3 I used this method. And it worked. I am puzzled, your method doesn't seem to have any flaw.
September 16, 2011 23:36
Christian, I beg your pardon, my post was @Burke Holland. Please disregard.
September 17, 2011 3:27

I'm getting "windows could not complete the installation. to install windows on this computer restart" error after complete install and restart for first time.

Any idea. Can you please help?

September 17, 2011 4:06
When you're through experimenting and want to restore your Windows 7 bootmgr, just launch an admin console and enter:

"bcdboot %WinDir%"

and everything should be back to normal.
September 17, 2011 8:03
Scott, I've been following a different procedure since I have a tiny and full internal HDD and a gigantic, empty USB HDD. I'm trying to install windows 8 to the external HDD and everything is cool except the "unsigned" error at the boot. As you said:

"unsignedfileguy - my instructions here DO upgrade your bootloader. All these WIM and ImageX and scripting solutions that you guys are doing do not include a step with BCDBOOT to update the WIn7 bootmgr to the Win8 code, that's why you all are seeing these errors. You can either do it manually or let the system do it automatically during setup."

Can you offer some info on how to manually update the bootmgr? Also, can you describe how to change it back to the windows 7 one at a later time?

Thanks a lot,
September 17, 2011 11:59
I am totally honored to be the only guy in the world trying to install the big ISO via USB on a T410s. I passes the "frustrated" threshold a while back :-/
September 17, 2011 21:49
You can also Install Windows 8 with Windows 7 without using USB, see
September 18, 2011 13:31
I tried but at the time of installation it is not showing HD partitions however it shows a message "No device drivers were found. Make sure that the installation media contains the correct drivers, and then click ok" I am using DELL inspiron 1525
September 18, 2011 16:59
This post is fantastic! The procedure worked like a charm. I installed the Lync 2010 client on it, and now I can show Windows 8 to other people by sharing my desktop. Thanks Scott!
September 19, 2011 1:54
I have Ubuntu and I used KVM to install Windows server 2008. I would like to install Windows 8 in the same way is that possible?

September 19, 2011 2:44
I followed the instructions above and installed on my PDC09 laptop. (I skipped step 1 as I already had a bootable USB Stick from Build). Seems to be working like a charm. This seems to be a pretty good system to use for this since it is touch capable. It's not going to break any speed records with a Celeron Processor and only 2 GB of RAM, but it is running so far and the performance seems bearable.
September 19, 2011 7:25
Same problem as Justin S, getting the VHD_BOOT_INITIALIZATION_FAILED, any idea how to fix it.

Mario P
September 19, 2011 14:31
I followed this guide and created a growing 60gb VHD.

I run win8 setup from a booted USB and attach the VHD and see it in the select drives window.

However when I come to install it, I get the 80300024 error, can't install to the selected location.

There is plenty of space for the 60gb VHD, and its attached fine and shows. Anyone any ideas as to why this error occurs?
September 19, 2011 17:17
Thanks for the instructions. It worked exactly as you have described.
September 19, 2011 18:55
So have this working with a Lenovo W510. Works great, curious can I also boot the same VHD from within Windows 7 without screwing anything up?
September 19, 2011 19:44
Thanks, Scott!

Worked like a dream. I messed up a little though and this is why.

I'll add a notice, maybe this will save a couple of minutes to the other.

The thing is: I firstly tried to use an existing VHD that I used to use under Hyper-V. That was a 500 Gbyte expandable VHD formatted and compress with NTFS. The VHD had had a Windows Developer Preview setup, which had been sysprep'ed by me.

1. I prepared the bootable USB stick (a Universal Flash Drive) using the Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool. Typical solution suggested by Burke didn't work for me. (Anyways, thanks a lot, dude! I did't know you can patch the boot sector!)

2. The UFD booted nicely into the Windows 8 setup.

3. I chose to use existing VHD by pressing SHIFT+F10 and typing at the command prompt:
DISKPART>select vdisk file=d:\vm\win8\win8.vhd
DISKPART>attach vdisk

I proceeded with setup and got a message that setup discovered an existing Windows installation on the disk. Heck, I expected a re-install or a quick update when it finished with complete fresh install and renaming of existing Windows folder.

Okay, I went further, waited until the reboot and...

The Windows Developer Preview label appeared for a minute on the screen and... a second after a shiny new blue screen of death grinning with a smile and VHD_NOT_ENOUGH_DISK_SPACE (or similar).

That has driven me mad because I couldn't get out of this error since MSFT decided (as it had been before) to set zero-second delay for the Windows 8 boot record in the boot menu. (By the way, any clue how to resolve this problem?)

4. I finally decided to install to a new VHD and tried to create a new one using this:
D:\cd /d d:\vm\
D:\vm>mkdir d:\vm\wdp\
DISKPART>create vdisk file=d:\vm\wdp\wpd.vhd type=expandable maximum=60000

and... I got this (I can't reproduce the exact message):
Cannot create a virtual disk. Virtual disk should require a NTFS disk that should not be compressed or encrypted.

Heck my D:\ drive is compressed but D:\vm is has compression attribute unchecked so that mkdir should've created an uncompressed folder. Seems like it did not!

I ended up with

compact /U /S /A "D:\vm\wdp\"

to set NTFS compression of. Eventually it cleared compression bit from all the folders under D:\VM\... But it worked! Once I did so, the diskpart created virtual disk with no problem.

After I created a new blank VHD, setup ran flawless.

For anyone else who, like me, didn't know for lack of support for NTFS compression, please be aware that

"Using compressed or encrypted VHDs for native boot. VHDs that have been compressed by NTFS or encrypted using Encrypting File System on the host volume are not supported for native boot."

Does anybody know how to edit the new Windows 8 boot menu? I have remnants of obsolete Windows 8 boot records there that are not needed any longer.
I know you can do that with bcdedit /d but I hesitate to run in. If there's no other way to edit it but using bcdedit, do I understand it right that I should use the bcdedit from under the Windows 8 environment? What if I run it under Windows Server 2008 R2 session? I think that would quirck the boot menu completely and brick the boot, am I right?

Thank you everybody!

September 20, 2011 3:27
Hi I have a problem when selecting the virtual partition created I get this error: "SETUP WAS UNABLE TO USE IT BECAUSE THE EXISTING PARTITION DOES NOT CONTAIN THE REQUIRED free space" but I doubt it since they create the virtual partition on a physical volume of 107GB and assign to the virtual drive and not 50000MB me back ..... ANY SOLUTION?
September 20, 2011 5:58
Scott, if you installed Win7 or WS08 using the instructions below it would have also handled the BCDEdit for you. The only reason you had to BCDEdit in the Win7 post is that you were pointing at an existing Win7 VHD. If you go through setup all of this magic happens for you.
September 20, 2011 8:04
Wondering if someoen can help me. I followed this method pretty much to the T, created a VHD in Windows 7 using the GUI from Computer > Manage. Then I install to it following the instructions. My problem is when I want to go back to Windows 7. When I select it I end up going to the System Recovery Options instead of Windows 7. Why is that?
September 21, 2011 3:33
"Setup was unable to create a new system partition or locate an existing system partition. See the setup log files for more information."

My system partition (the one Win7 is installed on) is a RAID 0 volume which isn't detected by the Win8 setup. Loaded the driver for the RAID controller manually and refreshed the drive list, but no luck.
September 21, 2011 11:46
Scott, many thanks for this. Works perfectly on 2 machines so far.
September 21, 2011 21:38
Scott, Tried to follow the instructions and created the VHD on the G: drive on my machine, which happens to be a secondary partition on the main and only (physical) drive of the laptop. Creating the VHD works great, except that when I go into the Windows 8 Setup, there is no G: drive. In your instructions, the D: drive you used just seemed to be available... is there something I need to or can do to get that to show up and attach the VHD?
September 22, 2011 6:33
I got this message before being able to select a drive to install on like a few others. No one has mentioned a solution yet:

A required CD/DVD device driver is missing. If you have a driver floppy disk, CD, DVDm or USB flash drive, please insert it now. Note. If the windows installation media is in the drive, you can safely remove it for this step.

Gary Davis
September 23, 2011 0:45
looks pretty clean. can't wait to try it
September 23, 2011 21:29
I've got to the point of creating and attaching a VHD with Win7 Disk management.
It is initialised, 60 Gb Dynamic, formatted and set as active and shows in explorer as drive T:

so can anyone please help by explaining how do I get the preview onto the VHD. I don't have a large USB stick or a large format DVD writer. I do have Virtual Clone Drive if that helps.
September 24, 2011 2:43
When I get to the first re-boot, I'm getting a 0Xc0000428 error - Windows cannot verify the digital signature for the file. The file is Winload.exe.

Anyone have any suggestions?

Richard McEnery
September 24, 2011 3:55
Beware if you have a dual boot system. The installer installed the preview in my vhd, but obliterated my linux boot partition, which now contains a windows bootloader only
September 25, 2011 1:48
I'm having a problem installing W8 from USB.

Can someone please help me out on this?
September 26, 2011 10:57
Superb Tutorial!
Blew out my mind, and worked like a champ!

September 26, 2011 18:29
gave up on the VHD and swapped a spare 250Gb drive into the machine, wacked the unpacked ISO onto a USB HDD booted with ERD for win7 and ran setup off the USB HDD.

I can honestly say, I do not like what I've seen, too much glitz and bloat.

Looks like another attempt at XP Media Edition, May come over better when more touch screen devices become standard. Time will tell.
September 27, 2011 5:14
Worked out great. Thank you very much.
September 28, 2011 4:46
Instructions worked perfectly! Even the Gigabyte motherboard USB boot instructions were spot on!

Eventually I will need to try the dismounting and removal process. I'm kinda curious how the bootloader will react. I would expect to be able to revert back to the Win7 bootloader, right?

Maybe there will be a write-up for that when the time comes ;-)

September 28, 2011 19:22
Great posted, worked perfectly on my first attempt.
September 30, 2011 22:46
I got this to work on my HP tm2 convertable laptop first time - no problems.

Multi-touch works. Metro works good on it.

Now all I need to figure out is how to get the screen to rotate and disable the touchpad when I flip it into tablet mode.
October 02, 2011 17:15
You are a God among men. Had tried the setup by using the default instructions with no success. Your instructions worked bang on the first time.

Bravo! And, thank you for being you. I typically find anything you post be be extremely helpful.

October 03, 2011 9:15
Check this out.
I am successfully using this now with my win7.
October 05, 2011 18:11
Shift-F10 does not bring up the command prompt in setup. Anyone else run into this problem?
October 06, 2011 4:18
I've been running my win 7 machine with VHD since your first post. Thanks for getting me through the developer preview.

I burned a DL DVD of the .iso. I think that stands for dual layer. Holds 8GB.
October 06, 2011 15:35
I follow the excellent guide, but during install I get the following error, when the system reboots:

Your PC needs to be repaired
The application or operating system couldn't be loaded because a required file is missing or contains errors.
Error code: 0xc000000f

Have tried re-installing a couple of times, but with same result. Booting from install USB and running repair does not help eihter.

Anyone else experience this? - any clues?
October 14, 2011 1:40
My coworker gets the credit for this ... but the reason for the nice new bootloader is that it is touch friendly ... i.e. you can touch to choose which OS you want to load.

Maybe that's obvious to everyone ... but it wasn't to me when I first loaded Windows 8 on a different machine (which didn't have a touch screen).

I think it's very cool!

When Microsoft said they were designing from chipset to user experience ... they weren't kidding!
October 14, 2011 1:48
One other comment. I changed my default OS (on boot) to be Windows 7 and it reverted to the old, original Windows 7 bootloader.

Later, when I wanted to show off the shiny, new Windows 8 bootloader to a colleague, I reset the default OS to boot ... to be Windows 8. However, upon doing so, it only booted Windows 8 and didn't offer me a choice to boot to Windows 7.

I was a little scared that I might have to reinstall my whole Windows 7 machine at that point, but I was able to change the default OS to boot (through the System Properties)_back to Windows 7 ... and once again, I got the Windows 7 boot loader which offered me both choices again.

Just thought I would share ... in case others run into this.
October 17, 2011 15:44
while installing updates it shows windows cannot update the computer's boot configuration..
what to do i did everything as mentioned above..
pls help!!!
October 17, 2011 22:56
it works like a charm... and win8 is kinda cool!
October 25, 2011 3:37
I'm struggling on selecting the new VHD during installation. I created it on my C drive but when I try to select it, it errors saying it can't find it. I following your method with a bootable usb stick. Any thoughts??
October 31, 2011 20:43
Excellent Post - worked first time. Thanks & Regards.
December 07, 2011 15:50
Hey does any one know if there is a way to boot windows 8 off a USB key?

Can I download an ISO of Windows 8 when its actually ON someone's HDD?

I know that Windows 8 Enterprise has an app to turn a USB key in to a Portable Workspace.

January 09, 2012 23:00
I get the same issue as Thomas S, everything goes smoothly until I reboot and get the following error:

Your PC needs to be repaired
The application or operating system couldn't be loaded because a required file is missing or contains errors.
Error code: 0xc000000f

January 11, 2012 18:45
Can't even create a vhd:

DISKPART> create vdisk file=c:\VMs\Win8.vhd type=expandable maximum=60000

DiskPart has encountered an error: The system cannot find the path specified.
See the System Event Log for more information.

I'm running Windows 7 64bit, bitlock disabled.
January 11, 2012 18:49
Got the vhd created and all however when running setup off usb flash drive (8GB Corsair), I get this error:

A required cd/dvd device driver is missing. If you have a driver floppy disk, cd, dvd, or usb flash drive please insert it now. No device drivers were found. Make sure that the installation media contains the correct drivers, then click ok.

Running Corsair 8GB Flash Voyager Drive
ASUS UL-20A Netbook.
January 14, 2012 23:01
Scott - the top of your article says the Dual boot option of running Win7 or Win8 "ALWAYS ends on tears. And sometimes blood.".


Reading this article, it appears to be a recommended method:

January 19, 2012 1:59
Hi, maybe I'm missing something but if you are effectively forced into changing the bootloader anyway what is the point of using a VHD at all? Why not just create a new partition on your HDD and install direct to that, ie a normal proper dual-boot setup?
January 21, 2012 6:04
If your "System Reserved" partition is low you might have to use something like partition wizard to buy some space for that sandwiched reserved partition.
January 23, 2012 1:44
If anybody want to get their Windows Xp back in boot menu after installing windows 8 then just go with these tutorials it worked for me :)
January 28, 2012 1:42
I follow all steps of tutorials, but last step

bcdboot Y:\Windows gives me error:

When copying files to the boot failed

I have the rights of administrator.

What can I do?

February 01, 2012 4:27
Hey, thanks so much!

I could not get this to work through win's gui partition manager. In the end I used the command line and it worked perfect. I need to get over my command line fears.

Worked perfect for me in the end.
February 05, 2012 14:51
Hi Scott,

Might be worth posting a note about some rules around where bootable VHD files should go, as per the technet docs here.

The VHD should go on the same physical disk that Windows 7 is installed on (it'll be the one that has the "System Reserved" partition on it). If you put the VHD on a different physical disk (like I did the first time round) then when Win8 is installed into the VHD, the physical disk the VHD resides on will get its own boot sector. The problem here is that your windows 7 boot sector does not get upgraded, or have the Windows8 entry added to it, and you only get to boot the OS which lives on the highest priority boot drive in your system.

In my case, the drive I put the VHD on happened to be the highest priority one (although it had never been bootable before so I didn't realise until then), and I was left wondering why I couldn't boot Windows 7.

Just a trap for new players.

February 06, 2012 0:03
The last two Gigabyte boards I've had, for USB boot, you select Hard Drive, and it will show up there.
February 08, 2012 23:42
I am unable to follow the instructions through to completion. I was able to create and attach the vdisk, however when I try to install Windows 8 to it I get the following:
Windows cannot be installed to this disk. The selected disk has an MBR partition table. On EFI systems, Windows can only be installed to GPT disks.

Windows cannot be installed to this disk. This computer's hardware may not support booting to this disk. Ensure that the disk's controller is enabled in the computer's BIOS menu.

The last message was mentioned in the article above, but the first message was not. Unfortunately I am unable to find a solution at this time.
February 09, 2012 0:37

If you're encountering the following:

Windows cannot be installed to this disk. The selected disk has an MBR partition table. On EFI systems, Windows can only be installed to GPT disks.

You need to delete all volumes from that VHD, and then convert it to GPT. Once this is done, recreate the volume on the drive, and proceed to attempt your install again.

This worked for me.
February 13, 2012 13:48
This works EXACTLY as you wrote in your article! Great work! Cheers!

Now another research left to do. How to remove the Win8 from your system now. It looks terribly simple that just booting from Windows 7 and deleting the VHD file could solve the matter, but I think its going to be more tedious than this.

I haven't tried it yet, want to hear it from you first. If I delete Win8 VHD file, will the boot loader cause trouble? I don't think the Win8 boot loader will magically disappear afterwards. And since theres no Boot.ini in Windows7, there will be a need to do some tricks to cleanly remove Windows8 entry from boot loader. Any suggestions?
February 13, 2012 14:19
I used bcdedit /v to get the {GUID} of the boot information for Windows 8, then I used bcdedit /delete {THATGUID} to remove it. Make sure you are deleting Windows 8 and not your boot info for Windows 7!
February 13, 2012 14:29
Thanks Scott. It worked. But I tried a different software... EasyBCD. It had a graphic interface so I simply selected Windows 8 from it and removed it. Works fine! Checked by restarting and also checked in System Properties (system booting section).
February 19, 2012 15:44
Can you use a usb hard disk instead of the USB key ? You were using a 16gb usb key and i want to know will a external hard disk perform the same role ?
February 23, 2012 20:27
I installed W8 on my laptop using same procedure and it’s running perfectly both windows 7 and 8, after a few days my W7 is creating problem and it isn’t startup same time W8 is also disabled in boot option
Ex: Select which windows
1- W7
2- W8
these option isn’t display in boot time for solving this issue I reinstalled my W7 and now my W8.vhd file is present in another partition and it’s also shows allocated space 10.5GB. Please tell me a solution how to restore my w8.vhd file and my laptop shows two option at boot time.
February 28, 2012 8:48
But then after I will install it to VHD, how I can remove it and not corrupt BCD?

For example, I finished playing with Windows 8, and I want to have only Windows 7 and automatically boot to it - like before the installation of Windows 8?
February 28, 2012 11:17
Reader - You can run MsConfig.exe as an admin while in Windows 7 and use the Boot Tab to set Windows 7 as your default boot option, and delete Windows 8. Then you can delete the VHD.
February 29, 2012 20:18
What do I need to do to upgrade my Windows 8 to the new Consumer Preview. Do I go back into 7, switch the default boot option and then reformat the VHD and follow original instructions?
March 01, 2012 6:51
Just a note, I have successfully installed CP over DP.

Follow the exact same procedure, after mounting the vdisk, i formated my VDisk it in the setup screen, and then install CP on it.

Works perfectly.
March 01, 2012 13:25

thanks Ed, it worked :)
March 02, 2012 1:48
Alas, no success. Everything went OK until the reboot. Windows 7 booted instead of Win8. Fixed that with Bcdedit. However upon choosing Win8 I always end up with System Repair.
March 03, 2012 20:02
Thanks for the article.
Used it to install Win8CP just now.

I used my Cowon J3 media player to boot from, and to be exact - a microSD 4 GB flash card that was plugged into it. Everything went fine!

Someone wrote earlier that you have to use the same physical drive that the one with Win7... Well, I created a VHD on a separate HDD - and everything is just perfect. I can still boot to both Win7, and Win8CP.

In Win8CP I selected Win7 as the main Win to boot and now I have an ordinary Win7 Boot screen, though earlier I had a Win8 graphical boot screen.
March 04, 2012 1:26
Thanks for this wonderful post, especially the screenshots! Installed Windows 8 CP... just followed your screenshots and command blocks, it was so quick !!
March 04, 2012 14:41
Nice on. Tried it with a spare PC with Hyper-V on (just playstuff) and it works without a hitch.
March 05, 2012 10:30
When installing everything is going good until I have to press Shift-F10 which does not bring up the console command-prompt --- any ideas as to what is wrong
March 06, 2012 19:38
I had a similar experience as others, after all said and done it boots to the windows repair. I can however choose F12 at boot, select the partition for the VHD and boot into windows 8 no problem. I just can't get it to work with the boot loader. I suppose it has something to do with the options selected in the boot loader.
March 07, 2012 9:34
I followed this guide and everything worked great, thanks!

I am reformatting my Win7 partition but would like to reuse my Win8 VHD. How can I add the Win8 VHD to my Win7 boot menu?
March 07, 2012 10:46
Zak - Add a new entry with BCDedit and point it to your old VHD.
March 07, 2012 18:55
Thanks Scott for the useful Guide! A couple of questions though:

- Win7 VHD can boot from an empty drive with BCD & Bootmgr added to it. Will similar approach work for Win8 VHD?

- No-one on the web seems to know the actual CHD boot sequence. A BCD boot entry for a VHD contains offset to an active partition on the VHD, and also path to Winload.exe on that partition. To use that path, VHD must be mapped and mounted first, meaning native Virtual Disk Driver must be launched by Bootmgr to mount it. But when VHD is booted from an empty drive without Windows installed on it, how it can happen? Does that mean, Bootmgr actually mounts the VHD (thus acting as a driver), and then starts Winload.exe from it? Then Winload.exe starts native driver which hot-swaps the VHD, thus allowing the boot to proceed?
March 07, 2012 21:45
Thanks Scott for the reply.

Is it better to have the VHD drive on the same drive as the primary OS? Currently I have my primary OS (Win7) on the C: drive and my Win8 VHD on the root of the C: drive. Is this ok or would it be better if I create another partition and stored the VHD there?
March 07, 2012 21:59
Zak - Totally OK to put it on another partition as long as that partition is on an internal drive (not USB).
March 07, 2012 22:07

Performance wise, does it make a difference?
March 07, 2012 23:25
Zak - Nope, as you're not IN a VM. There's a single digit % hit for being the HD being virtual, but that's it.
March 08, 2012 2:20
Richart, Thomas and Ian: I've created this question in SuperUser
March 08, 2012 9:52

Most often such errors result from corrupted BCD entry (i.e. wrong partition offset or such) for the OS on VHD. In most cases can be fixed by recreating the BCD entry, or repairing BCD with Virtual BCD Editor, EasyBCD or similar.

I still ask Scott to fid out with Virtualization Team, how VHD is mounted during boot, when booting from an empty drive with no Windows installed. It looks like Bootmgr also acts as device driver similar to Grub.
March 09, 2012 16:40
Here is perfect solution to get back ur Windows XP/7 when u install windows 8 ,it works perfectly check here
March 09, 2012 21:26
For people with this error "Setup was unable to create a new system partition or locate an existing system partition. See the Setup log files for more information"

Try it this way:

I had success.
March 10, 2012 22:33
Scott I installed this without even thinking will it erase my files? help me pleaseee
March 10, 2012 23:11
I just tried this with the Consumer Preview, and it worked great! (Posting from Win8 now!)

I think my setup is pretty similar to Scott's, with an SSD for OS and a large storage drive. I created the VHD on my storage drive exactly as in the tutorial, and the bootloader magic just worked.

A couple notes:

I created the VHD in the Disk Management snap-in, but after creating and attaching it, I didn't see an option to create a partition. Everything was greyed out when right-clicking on the attached vdisk. So I ended up using DISKPART to select the vdisk (was already attached) and create the partition. Maybe I just didn't stumble into the right menu, but if the option really isn't there, it may be worth noting in the tutorial.

Also, I have an ASUS motherboard, and my flash drive was showing up under hard disks in the BIOS, not under "removable", so I had to change the hard drive priority order to boot from it.

Finally, if you rushed out like I did and downloaded the Consumer Preview ISO and the USB/DVD tool without really reading anything on the page, you may have forgotten to grab the product key. Save yourself a forehead smack later and write that down first. :)
March 12, 2012 1:27

You stated to use bcdedit to add my Win8 VHD to my Win7 boot menu. I tried the guide below but I get a message that it couldnt locate my VHD file, which is located C:\win8.vhd.

Do you have a guide on how to add VHDs to an existing Win7 boot menu?
March 13, 2012 9:25

I figured out my problem. It turns out that Win8 doesnt like to be added to the Win7 boot menu. After following your steps using BCDEDIT, I tried selecting Win8 on bootup and it went to a Windows Repair screen. It ended up repairing my Windows 7 installation and pretty much removed all my apps and set it as if I just installed Win7. No big deal since it was a fresh install anyway. I found the method below and it works!

In Windows 7 (non-VHD)

1. Attach the Win8 VHD using Disk Management. For this ex, its mounted to the E: drive.

2. Open an elevated command line window, goto C:\Windows\System32

3. Enter, C:\Windows\System32 bcdboot.exe E:\Windows

4. Once this is complete, reboot and you will get the Win8 boot screen with an option to boot Win8 or Win7.

5. Choose Win8. Once Win8 is loaded, open up msconfig, click on the boot tab, then choose Win7 as the default OS.

6. Next time you reboot, you will get the Win7 boot menu (which is a lot faster than the Win8 boot menu).

March 13, 2012 18:17
After installed Windows 8,I have the two operating systems at startup,but when I select Windows 7,it actually doesn't start,but appears a thing that tries to repair my Windows 7.I tried it a lot of times,but my 7 keeps not starting.Help me !
March 19, 2012 1:37
I just created a video using this how-to as a guide. You're more than welcome to embed it in your site if you want:
March 19, 2012 4:54
Thanks for the post, I am having an issue with the install in that when i try and click next from the windows setup after selecting the vms partition (Drive 2 Unallocated Space), it does not move forward in the installation. Rather it it shows an additional error "We couldn't create a new partition or locate an exisiting one. For more information, see the setup log files." I have the virtual drive selected and everything, but it just wont move forward.
March 27, 2012 1:05
Scott, thanks for the instructions. It worked exactly as you described. Others have mentioned this, the diskpart select vdisk command initially failed. Seemed the installer remapped the drives. My vhd was on c:\_vms\..., but it got remapped to e:\_vms\...

So, just check what drives you have if initially the command fails. I too was awestruck when the graphical boot UI, even though scott also described this....very nice.

I'm preparing for the MS Windows 8 Camp in Vancouver, and thought I'd use this method.

Before doing anything, I used bcdedit to export my boot settings. When I'm done, I'll just import the backup and it'll restore everything and I can just delete the vhd.
March 30, 2012 18:13
Only two hitches with Win8 Consumer Preview when I followed this procedure with an Acer Aspire 1420P PDC Edition. 1) As others noted, the installer remapped C: to E: so it took a while to find the VHD. 2) I created the VHD using the Disk Manager GUI but it did not create the partition. I had to do that using DISKPART during the installation.

While the Win8 boot manager may be slow, I'm impressed that it is touch enabled!
April 14, 2012 23:14
I could not get my laptop to boot from the USB, so I created a DVD instead. It worked just fine, but note that booting from the DVD drive TAKES FOREVER (you'll see a logo for 5 minutes so be patient)! After that, just let the install do its own thing(rebooting w/o removing the DVD just worked)

April 19, 2012 11:21
It would be a lot easier if Microsoft provided prebuilt VHD's with a dev stack pre-installed. Similar to what Oracle does with their Virtual Box dev vm's
April 21, 2012 2:55
works like charm thanx man
May 12, 2012 3:46
Great guide. I have just installed successfully using a 4GB USB stick, using the instructions above. It is not necessary to use a larger USB stick - the current ISO image is just 3.3Gb.


June 01, 2012 12:12
Is there an easy way to upgrade the Consumer Preview installed on a VHD to RC? Or do I have to repeat all those steps?
June 01, 2012 23:54
Thanks for sharing that! It helped me in the past. But today I've tried to upgrade my Win8 CP to RC and setup told me:
"You can't upgrade Windows on a virtual drive".
This is sad :(
June 01, 2012 23:56
I tried to apply this method to the new Win8 Release Preview with no luck. Could get installation past the first pass (e.g. copying files, installing features, etc...), and would attempt to load the new install, with some "loading" graphics animated. However, it would hang here or later show me a light blue splash screen indicating that there were errors.

I did confirm that installation added the bcd records correctly, as per here:

Anyone else having more luck?
June 02, 2012 4:37
@Thomas: My advice is go for clean install, rather than an upgrade - although I haven't tried the upgrade.

@David Cuccia: I have had more luck - the Release Preview installed perfectly first time, using a 4Gb USB stick, as described above.

It took about 40 minutes to install, start to finish, on an average quad core I5 processor system.
June 04, 2012 16:16
For a clean install, do I need to repeat all those steps? Or can I just wipe the vhd during setup and make put a new intallation on it?
November 07, 2012 16:59
I followed this guide and created a growing 60gb VHD.
I run win8 setup from a booted USB and attach the VHD and see it in the select drives window.

However when I come to install it, I get the 80300024 error, can't install to the selected location.

There is plenty of space for the 40gb VHD, and its attached fine and shows. I try with 40gb of VHD FIXED SIZE.

Anyone any ideas as to why this error occurs?

December 28, 2012 9:44
Used this tutorial and everything went well. When the pc restarted, it booted into windows 8, it end up on a blue screen saying :

Anyone knows how to fix it?

p.s. i was able to boot back into my windows 7
January 08, 2013 13:08
My Release Preview expires on 1/15/2013 which is next week.

When I tried to upgrade it to the full version, I got this message - You can't upgrade windows on a virtual drive.

What options do I have? Do I make a partition instead of a VHD?


January 08, 2013 14:31
i created the VHD just as you have said.
and i started installing win 8.. n have made the system boot from the VHD.... if i want my windows 7 back??? is there any way i can change the drive to the win7 c drive??(ALL MY DATA AND DRIVES ARE INTACT) from which my system is booting????
January 08, 2013 23:27
Priyanka - You can't upgrade, you'll need to make a new VHD and delete the old.
January 09, 2013 8:43
Thanks Scott,

I just installed the Upgrade version in place of the Release Preview. Everything works...
January 12, 2013 12:35
MrDoc - That almost always means that there wasn't enough free disk space for the VHD to expand to it's full size. If you made a "40 gig VHD" but have only 22 gigs free you'll get that error.
January 12, 2013 18:29
Thanks for respondinf Scott. I have tried with dynamic expanding VHD as well as with bigger size (upto 80Gigs), I still keep getting the same error.
January 12, 2013 18:41
and I have over 150 gigs free on my HDD..
January 17, 2013 21:27
Hey Scott,
assuming one installed the W8 using the process above, and it is about to expire, how does one remove this version, and use the same (or another?) VHD for the full retail version? Do we have to remove/uninstall the demo W8?

Comments are closed.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.