How to Install Windows 8 with Native Boot to VHD

Windows 8 Consumer Preview released this past Wednesday following the announcement at Mobile World Congress. During the 24 hours that followed, the Windows 8 Consumer Preview was downloaded over 1 million times. Some might be installing it on separate hardware, but if you’re like me, you’d like it on your good day-to-day hardware. I run multiple OS’s on my day-to-day laptop and I do that by using a feature introduced in Windows Server 2008 and Windows 7, Boot to VHD aka Native Boot. Native Boot allows me to have my entire system inside a VHD, but still take advantage of my hardware and not be restricted to virtualized hardware. This makes it easy to add and remove OS’s to my PC without affecting anything else. I can also backup and restore an entire machine by copying one file. The following video will walk you through adding a Windows 8 Consumer Preview OS to your Windows 7 PC using Boot to VHD aka Native Boot.

If you’d like to follow a written guide, the following are the steps to setup Windows 8 Consumer Preview with Native Boot.

  1. Download Windows 8 Consumer Preview ISO
  2. Download and Install a tool to mount ISO, SlySoft Virtual CloneDrive
  3. Download and Install Windows Automated Installation Kit for Windows 7
  4. Create a directory on your hard drive for your Windows 8 VHD

Create a VHD for Windows 8 Using Diskpart

  • Open Command Prompt as Administrator

create vdisk file=<VHDPath>\<VHDName>.vhd maximum=<MaxMB> type=expandable
select vdisk file=<VHDPath>\<VHDName>.vhd
attach vdisk
create partition primary
assign letter=<VHDDriveLetter>

  • Using an ISO Tool like Virtual CloneDrive, Mount the Windows 8 Consumer Preview ISO

Copy Windows 8 to VHD

  • Run the Deployment Tools Command Prompt as Administrator
    • Programs > Microsoft Windows AIK > Deployment Tools Command Prompt

imagex /apply <Windows8ISODrive>:\sources\install.wim 1 <VHDDriveLetter>:\

Add Windows 8 to Boot Menu

  • Open Command Prompt as Administrator

bcdboot <VHDDriveLetter>:\Windows

Reboot and Select Windows 8 Consumer Preview at Boot Menu