Installing Windows 8 Release Preview on a .VHD file from a bootable USB-Pen


There are quite a few steps to do, so I’ll write it down for my records.

Specifically, I have installed the Windows 8 Release Preview on a on a Samsung Slate Series 7 Tablet, but on a .VHD with native Boot:


For more info about .VHD with Native Boot, see (Updated: May 31, 2012 Applies To: Windows 8): 


- You’ll need a USB keyboard plugged into your tablet.

- A USB-Pen with at least 8 Gb.


Backup your data on your Series 7.

Update BIOS

(this step is optional – unsupported developer BIOS will resolve hardware button incorrect mapping when Windows 8 is installed.) Use at your own risk.
Download the last BIOS for the Series 7 Slate from the Samsung Support web site and install it following the provided procedure.

STEP #3 - Configure BIOS (do this even if you don't update the BIOS.)
Enter BIOS setup: Power off the PC. Power the system back on and at the same time, press the “HOME” hardware key on the bezel. Select “ENTER SETUP” (note: if you do not have a USB keyboard attached you can use the VOL+/VOL- keys to select, Rotation Lock button as “enter”, and both vol buttons at the same time to go back.)

- Select the ADVANCED menu option in the BIOS menu
- Change “Allow UEFI boot” to YES
- Save settings and exit.


Get the Windows 8 Release Preview bits (ISO image)

First of all, you need to get the bits. I want an .ISO image so I’ll burn it on an USB pen.

You can download the .ISO image from here:

Then, having an empty USB pen (it will be formatted), just burn it on it. You can use the Microsoft Store USB/DVD Download Tool. Grab it from here: 

Once installed, you run the tool and you’ll get a wizard where you specify the origin .ISO image and the destination bootable USB Pen:

So, ready to start the real process!.

STEP #4 - Booting the Windows 8 Release Preview from the USB-Pen

- Plug the bootable USB-Pen into the USB slot in your Tablet.

- Start the tablet, but almost instantly (after half a second), press on the small “HOME/WINDOWS” hardware key  on the center of the tablet. This will show you the BOOT-MENU, so I can boot from the USB-Pen:


Again, in order to select the right option (USB DISK), if you do not have a USB keyboard attached you can use the VOL+/VOL- keys to move up/down on the Boot menu, and then select the option pressing the second small harware key on the right of the tablet (beside the ‘on’ key).

You will see a “Windows” word over the black background (no more the small fish of the Consumer Preview) when starting the Windows 8 setup:


Then, you’ll see the initial “Windows 8” setup Window:


STEP #5 – Creating a .VHD file drive from the Windows 8 setup process

Instead of installing Windows 8 on the plain hard-drive, we’re going to create .VHD file and then we’ll install Windows 8 on that .VHD file. The booting start will be native (no HyperV), having the same performance than installing it on the plain hard-drive, but it is a much cleaner way. When I get another version of Windows 8, I’ll install it on a different .VHD file. It is a nice, clean and great way to handle native Dual/multiple booting.

- Select keyboard and ‘time & currency’ preferences for the setup, and then press the ‘Next’ button. You’ll see a Windows 8 window with a single “Install now” button. Press on the ‘Install button’ button (This is a different way than when doing a similar setup procedure using Windows 7).


- Carry on with the typical screens (Product Key, License, etc.) until you get to the ‘Installation type’. Select ‘Custom Install’:


Go until the Drive selection screen.



- CAUTION: You’ll get to the Drive selection Window. Now, pay attention here.

DO NOT PICK AN EXISTING HARD DRIVE. As shown in this screenshot, instead hit SHIFT-F10 to get to a console command-prompt. We want to create and attach our VHD file and install Windows 8 to THAT instead!!.


- Now we finally get a Command prompt Windows where we’ll be able to create a native bootable .VHD file-drive. We’ll install Windows 8 on that .VHD file, afterwards.

- Explore de drives you can see from the command prompt (C:, D:, E:, etc.). When installing Windows, it usually creates several small initial partitions, therefore, when you do the following steps, you have to specify E:\ drive instead C:\ drive (At least, that is my case). If you try with C:\ and you get an error message saying something like "You don't have space enough". Try specifying E:\ drive, and check the partition where you are going to create the .VHD file.

- Run the Diskpart command-tool writing Diskpart.


- Now, we create the .vhd file. I’m going to create a 30GB expandable file. You can create it bigger or smaller.

Type: Create vdisk file=E:\Windows8.vhd maximum=30000 type=expandable

- Select the .vhd file so the Windows 8 setup is able to see it as a drive

Type: select vdisk file=E:\Windows8.vhd  

- Attach this drive to the setup system:

Type: attach vdisk

and Finally get out of the DISKPART tool, too.

Type: exit (you will exit DISKPART) 

- Finally get out of the command prompt, another ‘exit’:

Type: exit (you will leave the Windows Command-Prompt, but Do Not Reboot!!)

- We return now to the ‘Drive selection Window’.

- Press the ‘Refresh' button, and you’ll see our new .VHD drive!:


- Install Windows 8 on this attached .VHD. First you'll need to create a partition & format it, selecting the drive which is really our .VHD file, and then clicking on the "Drive Options (Advanced)". From tha tmenu you can create a partition within the .VHD file and format it, afterwards.

You might get an error/warning saying that your computer hardware might not support this disk, just ignore it and press ‘Next’..


-It will reboot, etc., and you got it!!!!

- When starting, I have now a native & multiple-Boot, for Windows 8 (Release Preview), Windows Consumer Preview and Windows 7, because I already did similar setup processes with older OS versions:



Remember, the great thing here is that even when we are starting Windows 8 from a .VHD file, it is booting in a native way, so performance will be good (graphics card, etc.). Starting like that, Windows 8 runs smoothly in this Samsun Tablet.

I have my native operating systems stored in just a few files, so my hard drive is kept clean, for the future (next versions, etc.).

Something like the following files:



There you have it, the first METRO screen of Windows 8  Release Preview:


Enjoy Windows 8 Release Preview!



You might want to change dual boot options, option string names, etc. 

When you want to configure the boot options of windows you can use bcdedit.exe to modify the boot settings.

For instance, once you have booted in Windows 8 (any boot, you might have 2 'Windows 8' option strings... ;-)), you might want to change those boot options strings. In order to do so, start a CMD prompt and run bcdedit.exe (in \Windows\System32) to see the GUID of your boot options:

bcdedit /v

Remember/copy the GUID of your VHD installation and type the following line, of course, changing my 'xxxxxxxx' stuff to your GUID.

bcdedit /set {xxxxxxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxxxxxxxxxx} description "Windows 8 .VHD Image"

You can put the description you like, but the above line will change the description for your VHD installation boot option.

You can also change the order of the boot options typing the following:

bcdedit /displayorder {xxxxxxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxxxxxxxxxx} /addlast


Finally, once you have these kind of .VHD images, you can copy it and have as many BOOT options as you want.

The easiest way is to copy an originall boot menu option, like:

bcdedit /copy {Original_GUID_Number} /d "my new description"
bcdedit /copy {current} /d "my new description"
bcdedit /copy {default} /d "my new description"

Type again the following to see the new GUID for your new copied boot option:

bcdedit /v

Copy that GUID to a notepad or a paper...

After that, you must change the 2 pointers within the menu option, so they point to the new/right .VHD file:

bcdedit /set {My_new_GUID_Number} device vhd=[C:]\MyNewVMFile.vhd

bcdedit /set {My_new_GUID_Number} osdevice vhd=[C:]\MyNewVMFile.vhd

Comments (21)

  1. Plz halp says:

    I successfully did this on a computer and wish to copy over the vhd file with the installed windows 8 onto another computer. Is it possible with some bcdedit trickery to get this new computer to boot into the windows 8 bootmenu with the option of selecting win7/win8? I've tried simply copying the {current} and setting the device to the vhd / osdevice to the vhd but this did not work.

    Need help.

  2. Thank you! That would be nice if you could also add some lines on how do you install the OS to the VHD on a GPT partition.

    I'd add that you can generate a GUID for your new unique boot record in the Boot Configuration Database by running this PowerShell command:

    That's handy because copying current record to a new record by running

    bcdedit /copy {current} /d "my new description"

    won't allow you to delete this newly created record in the future because the deletion is made by the GUID which will be the same as the one used for your original boot record.

  3. Cesar de la Torre says:

    The whole post is updated now, including pictures of Windows Release Preview running on a .VHD with native Boot, on a Samsun Slate Series 7.

  4. Cesar de la Torre says:

    Btw, here you have a link in TECHNET posted yesterday (May 31) talking about "Understanding Virtual Hard Disks with Native Boot" and WINDOWS 8.…/hh825689.aspx

  5. Cesar de la Torre says:

    @ Andrej

    I have checked and updated the post. It works the same way using Windows 8 Release Preview, I've been follwoing the same procedure using the RELEASE PREVIEW.

    The only thing I didn't update yet are the pictures.


  6. Andrej Gregoric says:

    This blog takls of release preview but in reality, it is about consumer preview.

    Release preview does not support  this procedure. I have done this with Consumer preview and it works. In Release preview it doesn't anymore. it says, vhd is not supported.

  7. If anyone has trouble booting to a USB thumb drive created with the Microsoft Store USB/DVD Download Tool, it's probably because the tool formats the drive with NTFS.  To boot a UEFI system from a thumb drive, it may need to be FAT32.  This is the case for the Samsung slate from the Build conference in September, 2011.  See more here:…/how-to-create-a-bootable-usb-drive-from-an-iso-image-for-uefi-systems.aspx.  As of today, March 2012, that device's firmware does not allow booting from NTFS thumb drives.

  8. samuel says:

    @cesar. what I mean is when we press F5 during booting process to enter recover mode. is windows  8 erase this ability?maybe in the futures I want to restore to original state.

  9. Cesar says:

    @Samuel do You mean recovery booting for Windows 7 from Samsung?. In any case, if you install Windows 8 you have to deal with recovering tools coming from Microsoft, as it is a beta version. Nothing coming from Samsung but some of the drivers.

  10. Cesar says:

    @Nishant – I don't have that issue (pague file) in any of the computers where I installed Windows 8. Sorry.

  11. I have everything working great except for every time I log into windows I am forced to set my page file again and again, the page file settings are not retaied, I tried all 3 options for page file however it doesnt help. Are you seeing this issue as well?

  12. samuel says:

    If I install dual boot of Windows 8, how about the recovery booting mode from samsung?

    Any idea?

  13. Michael says:

    When installing everything is going good until I have to press Shift-F10 which does not bring up the console command-prompt   —    any ideas as to what is wrong

  14. I agree on the keyboard issue. I was working properly in the Developer Preview. It is a bug in current Beta.. 🙁

  15. Blech says:

    Ah, keyboard only works if the tablet is plugged in. I should have thought of that.

    Another observation:

    The on-screen keyboard is crap. And this is independent of the flaky touch controls. If it shows the little popup with the key and plays the "tok" sound of a key pressed there is absolutely no excuse for not registering that key-press.

    It's slow in general and has massive issues with fast typing as well as a effectively non-existent auto-correction.

    You can make the argument that it's still early for most of the metro stuff but something as fundamental as the keyboard should be in better shape at this point in time. If there are still major issues now I don't see how they can get the spotless polish something so essential needs by the end of the year.

  16. Regarding how to create the partition on the .VHD file, just select the drive on the "Drives Window" and then click on the "Drive Options (Advanced)". You can do it from there.

  17. I installed W8 Consumer Preview downloaded from MSDN, and its licence number was also taken from MSDN. But the global setup process should be similar for a copy downloaded from the public site.

  18. G says:

    Ah. MSDN doesn't list a relevant license for this consumer preview; I found a working license a couple of links down the bing results, on a thread, via 'windows 8 license key'.

    Thanks for the blog!

  19. G says:

    Enter the product key to activate windows?

    You missed out that bit.

  20. help says:

    "you'll need to create a partition & format it, first." how?

  21. Thanks says:

    But why does this WCP no support Refresh&Reset on VHD?

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