I just finished holding a few Windows 8 / Windows Server 2012 Installfests both with IT Pros in mind and with Developers in mind. Time and time again, I got asked the same questions around how to create the VHD that has the Windows 8 installation in it. There are quite a few blog posts out there and so I didn’t create my own, but it became evident to me that the ones most often referenced are very hard to follow and require lots of command line utilities that make it hard for people to duplicate. For that reason, I have decided to create my own blog post with much simpler steps using mostly GUI based tools. The steps I am outlining below can be used to create a Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows Server 2008 R2 or Windows Server 2012 VHD.
I have placed the imagex.exe in my drop box folder so feel free to grab them: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/hwtz3hqtz589wgz/ug3YlEj_sb?m
In order to perform the steps in my blog, there are a couple of things that you will need to have access to – all of which are free. I will use a deployment utility called ImageX.exe from the Windows Automated Installation kit (WAIK). Also, you will need to have some way to either mount an ISO image or have the DVD or thumb drive with the Windows 8 installation media on it. I happen to use a freeware tool called Magic ISO CD/DVD Manager to mount ISO images.
Before I provide the detailed steps, let me just provide an overview of the process.
Now, for the details behind the above 6 steps. I will be providing screen shots of this process from a Windows 7 machine.
Create and mount VHD
The first time you boot to this installation, Windows 8 will detect your devices and install the appropriate drives and then reboot. Upon reboot, you will configure the computer name and a user account like you normally would on a new Windows 8 installation.
If you no longer want to have this option in your boot menu, use MSCONFIG (boot tab) to delete the unwanted entry.
Hopefully, this simple and easy to follow guide will help you to successfully create and boot to your own installations of Windows 8 (or Windows Server 2012).