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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).
i downloaded this twice and it tells me the file is invalide
Thanks for this, but I am getting errors when trying to copy the burnt dvd image file to to the virtual drive. Any ideas please?
Microsoft Windows [Version 6.1.7601]
Copyright (c) 2009 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
C:\Windows\system32>C:\IMAGEX /APPLY F:\SOURCES\INSTALL.WIM 1 K:\
ImageX Tool for Windows
Copyright (C) Microsoft Corp. All rights reserved.
[ 41% ] Applying progress: 10:47 mins remaining
[ RETRY ] Restoring K:\Windows\WinSxS\x86_microsoft-windows-t..predictionengine.
de_31bf3856ad364e35_6.2.8400.0_none_7dc788dca5621de5\lm.de-DE-1901.dat again (Error = 23)
[ 43% ] Applying progress: 12:33 mins remaining
[ RETRY ] Restoring K:\Windows\WinSxS\x86_microsoft-windows-s..chrecognizerenu.a
le_31bf3856ad364e35_6.2.8400.0_en-us_575d2f5c80e5c65c\l1033.ngr again (Error = 23
le_31bf3856ad364e35_6.2.8400.0_en-us_575d2f5c80e5c65c\l1033.ngr again (Error = 23)
[ 44% ] Applying progress: 13:29 mins remaining
[ ERROR ] K:\Windows\WinSxS\x86_microsoft-windows-s..chrecognizerenu.ale_31bf385
6ad364e35_6.2.8400.0_en-us_575d2f5c80e5c65c\l1033.ngr (Error = 23)
Error restoring image.
Data error (cyclic redundancy check).
Serian: I'm not sure what you are trying to tell me regarding the boot menu.
Peter: When you mount the VHD, it is not persistent. Upon rebooting, the VHD is dismounted and not automatically remounted. So long as you did things correctly, the entry that is created doesn't really refernve a drive letter (e: in your case) but rather a disk number and partition number.
If you download each dile individually from dropbox, you are fine. If you click the Download option from the folder, Dropbox will zip up all the files in the folder and make it available as a single download. Using this option, you will get a corrupted file due to the overall size of the files.
Brandon: It looks like your source files might be corrupt. Have you tried another source?
Worthless info this was awful
Mike: Can you please tell me why you think this information is worthless and aweful? Thanks.
Harold, thank you for your reply. You were right, some files on the dvd I burnt from the Windows 8 image file were corrupt. I burnt another dvd on another disc using Windows image burner & all is now OK.
Thanks again, Brendon.
Harold, thanks again for the 'boot' camp. I liked the .VHD booted 2012 RC so much it turned into a favorite workstation. Oops. Any hack to copy profile from Server 2012 RC off so I can build again with RTM? All research into user profile tools seem focused on Client OS. Maybe if I make my profile roam...
#1 If my vhd is on a usb stick, Can I boot to different computers that only have installed Windows 7 on their HDD?
#2 Is it possible if I will attach it later to Hyper-V and run it from there?
1. In order to perform a Boot to VHD, the VHD file must be stored on a drive that is accessible during the initial boot process (no drivers needed). USB devices require the OS to install the USB driver before these devices are accessible. Therefore you CANNOT perform a Boot to VHD with a VHD file stored on a thumb drive.
2. Depending on how you create the VHD, you can definitely attach it to Hyper-V.
Awesome tutorial. Worked like a Charm. @Serian, I know what you mean about the "Windows 7 boot options". Windows 8 has a nice new sexy boot options window that comes up if you do the "traditional" dual boot by carving out a 2nd partition and installing Windows 8 manually to that partition. If you want that boot loader, then make Windows 8 your default OS. I did that once and it came up then. If you leave it on 30 sec timer you'll have time to switch to Windows 7 on boot up if Windows 7 is still your primary OS.
@Harold - I was the guy at your Windows 2012 IT Boot Camp in San Diego last month who couldn't get his Lenovo Thinkpad W520 to boot from VHD. As a FYI, after completely reinstalling Win7 to a new SSD drive, I finally got it to work. It could have had something to do with the drivers/firmware of the SSD b/c it was a ported over Windows install to that SSD from a standard hard drive. Ironically, when I decided to try booting to Windows 8 via VHD, I found your blog! P.S. As a funny aside, I also had a heck of a time getting Win7 reinstalled on the W520 via USB stick and thought it had to due with SSD firmware issues. Turns out I had to use the USB port on the BACK of the laptop (USB2.0) and not on the side of the laptop (USB3.0)! Windows 8 installer supported the USB 3.0 controller but not Windows 7.
@Mike - Care to elaborate? I thought it was a pretty clever use of ImageX to get a Windows installation onto a VHD. You got a better method if a premade VHD is not available?
I followed your article and everything went fine but I didn't find any entry in the MSCONFIG (boot tab) please help?
Asmar: Thanks for posting and giving me the update. I'm glad you were able to get things going finally on your W520!!! Interesting that you have to use the USB2.0 port on the back to boot to a Windows 7 bootable thumb drive. I was pretty sure my W510 supported a Windows 7 Bootable Thumb drive in the USB3.0 ports on the side of my laptop. Now, I'll have to go test that out just so I know.
JP: It may be best for you to email me at Harold.firstname.lastname@example.org with screenshots and such or even call me at (425) 706-3501.
by default AIK install in Program Files\AIK|Tools\... so I have execute by these path (x86 subdir) and with my big surprise I have received (also to performing vkd at 25Gb):
C:\Program Files\Windows AIK\Tools\x86>imagex /apply i:\sources\install.wim 1 g:
Error loading image [i:\sources\install.wim, 1].
There is not enough space on the disk.
Where I wrong?
I have mounted and created a windows 8 32bit vhd for virtual pc, but it just spins at DHCP... and later says Reboot and Select proper Boot device or Insert Boot Media in selected Boot device. What am I doing wrong?