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).
Harold - This is great. Thanks for posting.
Oh, your files at http://aka.ms/hwitcampfiles are offline [or otherwise].
Ed, I'm not sure what you mean by offline. They are live and fully accessible. There should be 5 files in the folder.
Thanks for post, it is very usefull
Wouldn't it be possible to take these vhd files and use them as templates for imaging, or do they need to be converted to wim files first?
I am getting an error.
This account's public links are generating too much traffic and have been temporarily disabled!
1. Issue with Dropbox and Error 509: I have contacted Dropbox to resolve this issue. Please be patient while I work through this.
2. You cannot use the VHD as imaging templates. You also can't convert a VHD to a WIM.
Thanks, I'll pass on the 8 GB VM's but the knowledge is good to have.
Are these also VHDs that I can mount and use in Windows 7 Virtual PC? I have created the new VMCX file, mounted the VHD in disk manager, but when i try and power these devices on, I get an error. It says Encountered an error when attempting to use one of its virtual hard disks.
Normally, you would be able to use VHDs created in this fashion in Windows 7 Virtual PC. The reason the ones I created don't work is that I installed 64 bit Operating Systems in these VHDs and Windows 7 Virtual PC does not emulate 64 bit hardware - only 32 bit. Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows Server 2012 only come in 64 bit so those cannot be run in Windows 7 Virtual PC. If you use the Windows 8 VHD to boot from, you can enable Hyper-V and create 64 bit VMs and use the two Server VHDs in your VMs.
files at http://aka.ms/hwitcampfiles not available...
Sorry about the error. It seems Dropbox has not fixed the issue with bandwidth utiliziation on my account. I am working to correct this. If you are not able to download in th enext few days, I will have the files on a thumb drive at the event.
thanks for the tutorial
thanx for the guide but when i use bcdboot to create a start for a vhd image, at restart the boot menù change to windows 7 style. :(
Everything looks good with the attached VHD and the volume is there but it goes away when I restart. I get a boot error because it can't find e:\windows.... The e volume isn't there. How do I make the e volume stick so it's there after restarting?