Saturday, 3 March 2012

Windows 8 or Windows Server 8 installation to VHD (Not a VM)

Okay, so you want to preview Windows 8 Consumer Preview or Windows 8 Server Beta but you dont want to use a VM or wipe out or do any repartitioning of your systems. Well your in Luck... heres how to go about it.

This is not for any XP based system unfortunatly, but for any system with Windows 7 or Vista installed as we are going to make use of the newer BCD store, though there are ways of using this with a native XP installed, but thats another story.

So first things first. if you havent already got your copy of the Windows 8 Consumer Preview make your way to here:

Help yourself to the ISO of chioce and take note of the key, you will need it for Windows 8 install. Burn the ISO to a DVD and away we shall go.

I will be using Windows 8 Server Beta to do this, but the initial preperation for the drive is identical whether you use Win 8 Server or Win 8.

Shall we start?
Okay, the usual boot option when booting froma DVD Drive, hit a key at this point as always if you want the DVD to boot.

When the DVD has booted choose your Time and currancy format and click next.

When you are at this screen do not continue right away.

Use the key combination of SHIFT - F10 to bring up a command prompt and type 'diskpart', this is what you should see.

Now here is where the magic happens.
The first thing you want to do is list the available Hard Drives by entering 'LIST DISK'.

Now we need to select the disk you wish to use for this procedure, enter 'SELECT DISK 0', where '0' is the drive you want to use, I'm usin the only one on the system so '0' it is.

Next list the Volumes on the now selected disk by entering 'LIST VOLUME'. As you can see there are a few here, the one you want is the volume that holds the Win 7 install, in this case the biggest one at 39Gb, take a note of the drive letter it is using.

Now, this is where we create the VHD for our installation. there are various options for creating a VHD file, but ill not go into this for this article, just to say that the following command will create the VHD needed for Win 8 to install into one.

Execute the following command to create a 20Gb VHD file that is not Dynamic:
Notice that the location of the file uses the letter of the volume I want it to be in.

Now we need to select the newly created VHD file, execute the following comand:
'SELECT VDISK FILE=d:\win8.vhd'

Next we attach the VDISK so the current environment sees it as a drive, execute the comand:

Now we need to partition the virtual disk: 'CREATE PARTITION PRIMARY'

And format it: 'FORMAT FS=NTFS QUICK'

A drive letter needs to given to the VDISK now, not entirly sure if this is necessary but it doesnt hurt.

To see what all that has done do a 'LIST VOLUME' and you will see a new volume with the letter V ready to be used.

If you want, you can do a 'LIST VDISK' to see the attached Virtual disk you have created.

Type 'EXIT at the prompt twice to return you to the windows setup screen.

Now you can start the install.

As I was installing Windows 8 Server Beta is was not asked at any point for a serial number, but be assured that the Windows 8 Consumer Preview will, so at some point you will need the serial from the download page.

I decided to install the full GUI version of Win 8 Server.

Accept the usual Lic Terms.

Go for the Custom Install to do a full installation.

and when you cat to the part asking where you want to install windows, you now choose the Virtual Drive you created, in this case its Drive1 Partition 1. You may notice that there is a warning that it cannot be installed there, but it will anyway so ignore it.

And off it goes

let it reboot

then let it reboot again, here you can now see that is now in the selectable options for booting between Windows 7 and Windows Server 8 Beta.

Windows Server now askes for a password for the Administrator account

It goes through a finalisation phase.

And here it is ready.

CTRL - ALT - DEL and your ready to log in.

Win 8 Server starts at the Desktop screen and starts Server Manager by default.

Server Manager Dashboard

As you can see Server 8 has the same METRO UI as Win 8 and acts in the same way.

And you shutdown the same way as do Win 8

Click on Power

You get to Shut Down or Restart

It will ask in the usual server way why you are shutting down

Though now there are more options.

Hit Continue.

And it surprisingly shuts down. :)

Well lets hope this was informative and useful to some.