Slideshow: Use VHD to dual boot Windows 7 and 8

I'll use an external hard disk to create my system image

In my last blog post, Dual-boot Windows 7 and Windows 8, I showed you how to configure your Windows 7 system to dual-boot Windows 8 from a partition on your existing Windows 7 hard disk. You can use that technique in all versions of Windows 7. However, if you have Windows 7 Ultimate or Windows 7 Enterprise, which provide the Boot from VHD (Virtual Hard Disk) feature, you can install Windows 8 on a VHD.

In this edition of the Windows Desktop Report, I'll show you how to prepare and configure your Windows 7 system to dual-boot Windows 8 from a VHD. While I'll be using the Windows 8 Release Preview for this article, I've heard that the procedure should be very similar with the actual release version. Even so, I'll revisit this topic in the near future once Windows 8 is available to the general public.

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


For this article, I'm going to assume that you have already visited the Windows 8 Release Preview site and followed Microsoft's instructions for downloading and converting the ISO file to a DVD in Windows 7. If you haven't, you should do so before you get started with this article. The process is pretty straightforward and Microsoft has documented the steps you need to follow.

Creating a System Image

The first thing that you'll want to do is create a System Image from within Windows7's Backup and Restore. When you do, you'll end up with a complete image of your hard disk. 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. Furthermore, I recommend that you also create a separate backup of your data. Maybe just make copies of all your data files on CD/DVD or on an external hard disk. While it may sound like overkill, having an extra backup will give you peace of mind.

To create a system image, you'll need to have a CD-RW/DVD-RW drive, an external hard disk, or access to a network drive. To access Backup and Restore, click the Start button, type Backup in the Search box, and press [Enter] when Backup and Restore appears in the result pane.

Once you have Backup and Restore up, select the Create a System Image option and choose your backup location. As you can see, I used an external hard disk attached to this system.

Credit: All images created by Greg Shultz for TechRepublic.

About 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.

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