Windows 8 Preview Version: Using Boot From VHD to run side by side with Windows 7 (2008 R2)

Yes, it works. It is possible to run Windows 8 Preview Version as a boot-from-vhd on your Windows 7 (2008 R2) machine. You do need a version of Windows 7 that supports Boot from VHD (Enterprise/Ultimate) for this to work.

I have played with this in both VM’s and in physical machines and so far no issues at all. To be honest it was bit scary the first time the new version was starting up because it did not show me the OS list, it just started Windows 8 Preview Version. But that is an easy fix, just reboot the Windows 8 Preview Version machine and press F8 and that will give a menu to choose OS from.

The reason for me to do boot from VHD is that a wanted to test Windows 8 Preview Version on my hardware, with drivers and all that stuff. If you just want to see Windows 8 Preview Version you can run it virtualized instead.

So, here are the step-by-step instructions:

First Step – Create the VHD

First we need to create a VHD file from the ISO image you have downloaded and there are more then one way of doing this. Here is the easy method

Download and install WAIK for Windows 7 (We just need Imagex.exe from that so if you have that you can just copy that file from the existing WAIK install)

Download WIM2VHD and store in a folder on your PC (C:\TOOLS\WIM2VHD as an example)

Mount the ISO image using some nice utility (Virtual Clone Drive from www.slysoft.com is my choice)

Open up an elevated command prompt (If you have installed WAIK, there is a special command prompt for the WAIK toolkit which will update the path to ImageX)

Execute the following: (In this case G: is the drive letter on the virtual CD/DVD)

cscript WIM2VHD.wsf /wim:"g:\sources\install.wim" /VHD:"c:\TOOLS\WIM2VHD\win8.vhd" /size:20000

Done! No you have a VHD file with Windows 8 Preview OS. A tip here is to take a copy of the file, that way you can easily “start” over by booting into Windows 7 and replace the file from the copy.


Second Step – Mount the VHD

In the same command prompt start DISKPART.EXE

Execute the following:

List Vol (it will show you all the volumes you have in your machine, take a note if this)
Select vdisk file="c:\WIM2VHD\win8.vhd"
Attach vdisk
List Vol
(Compare the list with the note you took, you should have a new volume, that is your Windows 8 Preview OS. Take a note of the drive letter for the new volume)


Third Step – Make the volume bootable and reboot

Still in the same command prompt, execute the following:

BCDBOOT E:\Windows (If E: was the new drive letter that is)



Shutdown –r –t 0

And wait until Windows 8 Preview boots up

Fourth Step – Configure Windows 8

Follow the Wizard to finish the installation


Just skip the Product key stuff, not needed now.


Licens stuff, Please read the first lines Smile


Give it a name:


Select express (modify settings later)


Create a local account:


Hey, you are logged on:


Press ctrl-alt-del and select restart.


Press F8 while rebooting to get into the menu



Select what OS you would like to be default:



Categories: Uncategorized

6 replies »

  1. Hey Mike,
    I followed the guide to this but used windows 7 instead.
    At the step where you have to attach the VHD it didn’t specify a drive letter afterwards when you do “list vol”. i did an “assign” and it got a drive letter, perhaps this could be useful for others trying this.


  2. I have tried this multiple times and the process seems to fail once I execute the WIM2VHD.wsf script using the command specified in the steps you’ve outlined blow. The error I get is as follows:

    The image file C:\Program Files\Windows AIK\Tools\ia64\imagex.exe is valid, but is for a machine type other than the current machine.

    The log file gives me the following error:

    “Error: 0: Command “%comspec% /c “”C:\Tools\WIM2VHD\imagex.exe” /INFO /XML “E:\sources\install.wim” >C:\Users\Test\AppData\Local\Temp\WIM2VHD.WSF\3DF4AE82-DEC5-41FF-B9BD-E40FD7EE4835\imagex.xml”” exited with error code 2″

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