Screenshots: Dual-boot Windows 8.1 Preview with VHD

Accessing the Windows 7 File Recovery tool from the Start screen is easy

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

Are you interested in taking a look at the Windows 8.1 Preview? If so, then you'll want to know that when it comes to experimenting with Beta software, the best approach is to install it on your Windows 8 system in a dual-boot configuration using a VHD (Virtual Hard Disk).

When you use a VHD in a dual-boot configuration, you really get the best environment on which to experiment with the Windows 8.1 Preview. First, you will not have to mess with repartitioning your hard disk because the VHD exists as a file. Second, even though the hard disk is virtualized, you will get full benefit of your physical hardware such as the video card, USB connections, and amount of RAM. Third, when you are done experimenting with the operating system, undoing the dual-boot configuration as easy as deleting the boot entry and the VHD file.

In order to install the Windows 8.1 Preview on a VHD, you'll first need to download the ISO image and burn it to a DVD. Next, you'll create a VHD using the Disk Management tool. Then, you'll install the Windows 8.1 Preview onto the VHD.

In this edition of the Windows Desktop Report, I'll show you how to perform each one of these operations so that you can safely experiment with the Windows 8.1 Preview. I'll then show you how easy it is the undo the dual-boot configuration.

Note: Keep in mind that while I am going to show you how to perform this procedure in Windows 8, you can essentially follow the same set of steps if you are using Windows 7.

Creating a System Image

Now, even though installing Windows 8.1 Preview in a dual-boot configuration using a VHD is a very easy and safe procedure, there's no sense in throwing caution to the wind. Therefore, I recommend that the first thing that you do is create a complete backup image of your hard disk using Windows 8's Windows 7 File Recovery tool. That way, if anything out of the ordinary were to occur as you follow the steps for creating a dual-boot system, you will be able to return to your current configuration using the System Image Recovery procedure.

To launch the Windows 7 File Recovery tool, use the [Windows] + W keystroke to access the Search Settings page. Then, type Windows 7 File in the text box and click Windows 7 File Recovery in the results panel, as shown in Figure A.

Credit: Images by Greg Shultz for TechRepublic

By Greg Shultz

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.