Before We Begin: Setting up your Virtual Hard Disk

As I mentioned in my previous post, there’s still an issue with Vista installing on blank hard drives, including newly created VHDs.

If you try to install it on a totally blank (i.e. unpartitioned and unformatted) disk, you’ll be told that Windows won’t be able to install, and that you should check your BIOS settings to ensure that the drive was detected properly.

So how does one go about getting around this? Simple – partition and format the drive before you try to install Vista.  There are a few ways to do this, but I think this one is pretty easy, and if you’re installing Vista, you already have all the resources you need.

When booted to the Vista CD, don’t click on the option to Install.  Instead, click on the option to repair problems with startup. You’ll be asked to select a Windows installation (the list will be blank – don’t worry, just click next), and then to choose a tool to run. Run the Command Prompt.

From the Command Prompt, run DISKPART to set up the partitions on your disk. Once in DISKPART, run these commands:


Now, close the command prompt, and click Restart. When the system restarts, Vista will be able to recognize your disk, and you’ll be able to install.

Comments (8)

  1. Fernando Cima says:

    Hi Mike, great tip. With the release of this CTP I finally decided starting running Vista on my VS R2, and you’ve just got me past my first stumbling block. Thanks!

  2. cszeto says:

    You can also just create the virtual disk under a different Virtual Machine and then present it to the Vista setup.

  3. Installing Vista under Virtual Server 2005 R2 is significantly easier than installing under VPC or Virtual…

  4. The MAZZTer says:

    I’ve found using the CD’s GUI partitioning tool works.  Trying to make the initial partition results in an error, but then if you try again it works.  Then format it.  Then, the CD won’t let you immediately install onto it, but it will if you reboot the VM. 🙂

  5. mikekol says:

    MAZZTer, that’s true – the GUI does work for partitioning the drive, but you’re still required to reboot.   The thing that really annoyed me about that was that I had to type my product key twice in order to go about formatting the drive that way.

    It’s not that big of a deal, but it was annoying enough for me to look for a different way.  Of course, now I have my product key memorized, so… 😉

  6. I was unable to install Vista using Virtual PC because it didn’t seem to recognize the virtual drive….