Simple way to try new Windows OS using Boot to VHD

Try out new windows 8 release preview  or  windows server 2012 operating systems without install using Boot to VHD.

Boot to VHD is feature in Windows 7 (higher) system , that allows to boot windows operating system from the VHD file ( virtual hard disk file ). Basically Windows 7 systems boot loader understands , how to boot from VHD file.

Typical way of using boot to VHD feature involves , using command line tools such as diskpart and bcdedit which is cumbersome. Recently I was watching videos from TechEd North America 2012 , in one of the session presenter showed simple way to do the same.

Advantage of using boot VHD  over running in virtual machine ( Virtual Box or VMWare workstation) is  , OS present in VHD will get full access to actual physical hardware instead of virtualized hardware. This will allow OS perform better compared to virtual machine.

Here are the steps,

1. Download Windows Server 2012 VHD file from Microsoft site.   If you want Windows 8 release preview  , you need to create one. I will explain how in the next blog post.

2. Once you have VHD file , use run disk management tool “diskmgmt.msc”.

3. Select “Attach VHD” option from the “Action” Menu.


4. “Select/Enter” path to VHD location


5. Windows will mount the VHD and assigns drive letter. Note down the drive lettter. In my case it is mount as “G” drive. Now from the explorer you can see the “G” drive.


6. Launch command prompt in “Administrator” mode. Type following command to make entry in the windows boot loader

c:\Windows\system32\bcdboot G:\Windows

Note: Replace “G” with the drive letter depending on you system where VHD is mounted.


7. Launch “msconfig.exe” from the “Administrator” command prompt to verify that new boot entry is added in the boot loader.


You can change the boot order from here.

Note: Replace “G” with the drive letter depending on you system where VHD is mounted

8. If you reboot the system, now you will have option to boot into new OS.

9. Using same steps you can try out new Windows 8 client OS , if you have VHD file.


1. Windows 2012 RC VHD file

2. Creating Windows 8 Release preview VHD from ISO.

3. Watch “The Busy Developer’s Guide to Virtualization”  talk on Channel9


2 thoughts on “Simple way to try new Windows OS using Boot to VHD

  1. Pingback: Create Bootable VHD from the Windows 7/Windows 8/Windows 2012 ISO « Technology Bits & Bytes

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