Dual-Boot: Windows 7 + Windows 8 on a VHD drive

The release of Windows 8 is just around the corner, and the test builds of the new system for developers can be freely downloaded from the Microsoft website. However, ordinary users also want to touch the beautiful (yet not very beautiful, if it is fair) world of the new OS. The safest option – installing the "eight" in a virtual machine – is at the same time the slowest. To allocate a special section for a new system or to put it on a second hard disk is not very desirable for many, and not always there is such an opportunity. Just in this case, you can slightly cheat and install Windows 8 inside the VHD virtual disk.

A Long Way to Release

Strictly speaking, this method has long been known. Similarly, you can install multiple copies of Windows 7. Just keep in mind that it will work only in the editions of Ultimate and Enterprise. In general, this method has several advantages at once. First, the main OS is not affected, since Windows 8 will actually be "locked" inside the VHD-disk. Secondly, you do not lose performance, because the system functions without unnecessary layers like a virtual machine. Thirdly, if something broke in the test system, or if it just did not like it, then it can be very easily removed – it all comes down to removing VHD and cleaning the boot menu.

Let's move from words to deeds. We will try not to climb again in the command line and dispense with graphical means. But first you will need to burn the ISO image of Windows 8 to an optical disk or a suitable USB flash drive using the USB / DVD Download Tool. After recording, you need to create a new VHD disk. Right-click on the "My Computer" icon and go to the "Disk Management" section. In the "Action" menu, select "Create virtual disk".

Specify the location of the future disk. It's better to save it to C :, but you can choose another logical or physical disk. Its size should be from 20 GB and above, while on the physical disk should be as much free space. Dynamic or fixed type choose based on your preferences – in this case it is not so important. The dynamic type is slightly slower in operation, but it does not take up unnecessary space. For example, you created a dynamic VHD-disk with a capacity of 100 GB and recorded a gigabyte archive with photos on it. In this case, the VHD file will occupy a bit more than one gigabyte. Alas, after removing the archive from the photo, the size of the VHD will not change. Working with a fixed type of disk is somewhat faster, but keep in mind that it will take considerably longer to create it, since you will actually have to write a file of the same size as the virtual disk itself.

After creation, the disk must be initialized and formatted in NTFS. This is done by standard "wizards", which are called by right click on a disk or partition.

Now you can start installing Windows 8. Boot from the installation disc and on the first screen, start the console with the keyboard shortcut Shift + F10. If you are experiencing this, you can disable all hard disks at the time of installation, except for the one on which Windows 7 is installed (and, of course, its bootloader), and the one on which the VHD file is located (if this is not, of course, one The same disc). We will have to determine the letter of the main section. Most likely, your volume C: will be recognized as D :, but not fact. You can simply sort through the letters of the volumes and watch their contents with the command dir .

Once you have defined the partition letter, run the diskpart utility and connect the VHD disk. This is done like this:

Select vdisk file = "D:  Win8.vhd"
Attach vdisk

After that, you can close the command window and continue the process of installing the OS. Be sure to choose a clean installation (Custom install), and not upgrade the installed Windows 7, otherwise the whole point of our idea will disappear.

In the drive list, select the virtual disk that you just connected. The installer's warning about the impossibility of installing the OS on the selected media boldly ignore.

With the further installation process you can manage on your own. The installer will determine the presence of Windows 7 and add a new item to the boot menu. But it's better to configure the boot loader so that the default is "seven". This is very simple – when you first start Windows 8, press, as usual, F8.

Select the "Use another OS" option, and in it go to the "Change defaults" settings. Well, there we already specify Windows 7 to start by default and change the waiting time for OS selection.

If you have changed the waiting timer, then the boot menu will no longer be so pretty.

But in the additional options of Windows 8 there are several interesting functions with which you can play a little and evaluate the new features of the system – various options for restoring the OS, rolling back to the factory settings (this option is often added to laptops) and just a nice interface before downloading Main OS. However, one hundred percent efficiency of these functions is not guaranteed by anybody – do not forget that we are dealing with a test assembly of the system.

Remove Windows 8 is even easier than installing. Using a small BellaVista utility, the Windows Developer Preview item is removed from the boot menu, and the VHD file is removed from the hard disk. All! If you suddenly manage to screw up with the bootloader, you will have to boot from the Windows 7 installation disk and use the standard system recovery tools.

The above method of installing the OS on a VHD-disk is difficult to call original. It is logical that the developers from Microsoft would not be likely to remove such a useful feature from the new OS. A much more interesting question is: will it be available not only in versions of Windows 8 for corporate or simply advanced users, but also in home editions of the OS? Well, let's see how it goes, but for the time being we will traditionally wish for a successful installation and stable operation.

If you notice an error – select it with the mouse and press CTRL + ENTER.

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