Hardware

Create a bootable USB flash drive for Windows 8 installation

Download the Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool from the Microsoft Store

This gallery is also available as a post in the TechRepublic Windows and Office Blog.

In last week's post, Get the free 90-day evaluation of Windows 8 Enterprise, I showed you how to download the free 90-day evaluation copy of the final version of Windows 8 Enterprise and burn the ISO file to a bootable DVD using Windows 7's Windows Disc Image Burner tool. While installing from a DVD is suitable in most situations, you may want to be able to install Windows 8 from a USB flash drive. Fortunately, doing so is not as difficult as it once was. In fact, Microsoft has a utility called the Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool that will allow you to convert the ISO image so that it can boot from a USB flash drive. (Keep in mind that while the tool has Windows 7 in its name, it will still work for Windows 8.)

In this article, I'll show you how to download, install and use the Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool to transfer the Windows 8 Enterprise evaluation ISO to a bootable USB flash drive. Keep in mind that while I'll use the Windows 8 Enterprise evaluation ISO as my example, this procedure will work with any Windows 7 or Windows 8 ISO.

What you need

To install the Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool, you need at least a Pentium 233 MHz processor and 50MB of free hard disk space. You can install the tool in Windows XP SP2, Windows Vista, or Windows 7 (32-bit or 64-bit). Your USB flash drive must be at least 4GB and it should not have any other files on it. In fact, I recommend that you perform a full format of your USB flash drive; just to be sure that it is error free.

If you are running Windows XP, you will need to download and install both Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0 and Microsoft Image Mastering API v2 before you install the Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool. Keep in mind that the most current version of the .NET Framework is 4.5, but if you only want to download 2.0, previous versions are available on the .NET site linked above.

Downloading the tool

Downloading the tool is easy. To begin, head over to the Microsoft Store's Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool page and scroll down until you see the download link. When you click it you'll be prompted to either Run or Save the tool. For my example, I chose to save the file so that I could experiment with the tool on various machines.

Images by Greg Shultz for TechRepublic.

About

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.

7 comments
imcontreras
imcontreras

WIndows tools are never bullet proof so what I did it's make my usb bootable using command prompt , follow this: Coming back to bootable USB guide, here we assume that you are using either Vista or Windows 7 to create a bootable USB. 1. Insert your USB (4GB+ preferable) stick to the system and backup all the data from the USB as we are going to format the USB to make it as bootable. 2. Open elevated Command Prompt. To do this, type in CMD in Start menu search field and hit Ctrl + Shift + Enter. Alternatively, navigate to Start > All programs >Accessories > right click on Command Prompt and select run as administrator. 3. When the Command Prompt opens, enter the following command: DISKPART and hit enter. LIST DISK and hit enter. Once you enter the LIST DISK command, it will show the disk number of your USB drive. In the below image my USB drive disk no is Disk 1. 4. In this step you need to enter all the below commands one by one and hit enter. As these commands are self explanatory, you can easily guess what these commands do. SELECT DISK 1 (Replace DISK 1 with your disk number) CLEAN CREATE PARTITION PRIMARY SELECT PARTITION 1 ACTIVE FORMAT FS=NTFS (Format process may take few seconds) ASSIGN EXIT

myangeldust
myangeldust

I thought this was allow me to run Windows 8 on a PC or laptop via a flashdrive. But this is just to install Win8 itself.

slemay2
slemay2

Greg - a lot of the new Windows 8 images that Microsoft is allowing partners to download (and assuming SA customers) are now in .IMG format instead of ISO's. This tool doesn't work for those. Have you discovered how to do this with IMG files yet?

Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

... IMG to ISO that you can find at http://www.imgtoiso.com/ You can use it to convert your IMG file to an ISO file which you can then use the Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool to create a bootable USB.

slemay2
slemay2

I tried this program about 2 weeks ago - it doesn't work. Something with the IMG file that Microsoft creates. I get an error, "Error, cannot create vdisk.". No error logs or any other information is available. Dunno why this IMG file is any different - but it is. My question really is WHY did Microsoft have to change formats and what about this change is not allowing it to be converted (short of burning it to a DVD, then re-ripping it as an ISO).

slemay2
slemay2

Rromanowski - it's not a question of burning to a CD/DVD - it's a question of putting an IMG file onto a USB drive. ImageBurn doesn't help with that... but thanks.