Upgrading to Windows 8 Consumer Preview Just Got Easier–Using VHD Tools to P2V

As you already know, Windows 8 Consumer Preview hit the market just over a week ago.  The 1 million downloads in the first day sheds some light on the demand and I’m sure that many of you are clambering to get it on your devices and find out what all the buzz is about.  Same here.

The risk for me is that I wanted to upgrade my Lenevo T420s to Windows 8 but I was fearful of it causing a strong delay in my ability to get my job done.  Why?  This laptop is my work laptop and I depend on it daily to do my job and my craving for the hot sizzle might very well get in the way of my job.  In this economy, no thank you.

Luckily, our team built a little known tool called the Configuration Manager Physical-to-Virtual Migration Toolkit which aims at helping enterprise administrators safely P2V their servers using Microsoft technology.  I outlined in some depth how to use the VHD tools included in this solution (which will be released in the near future) in a past blog post.   For your convenience, I’ve attached a zip file that includes the binaries only to do P2V.

In today’s post, I wanted to share step-by-step how I moved to Windows 8 seamlessly with *no* productivity loss as I safely ran my original Windows 7 desktop as a virtual machine using Windows 8’s Hyper-V.  Let’s go…

Step 1:  Read Blog & Download VHD Tools

I really don’t mean to plug a set of blogs of mine but it literally has every step you need to get up running…

Step 1a: Install Windows 7 WAIK on your Source Machine

In order to utilize P2V in offline mode, you need the ability to boot your system.  The P2V Migration Toolkit allows you to easily create a bootable USB flash drive or a DVD though the tool requires the Windows 7 Automated Installation Kit (WAIK) to be installed.  This is a large download, and I apologize that this is a requirement but it is the “easiest” method to build a bootable Windows system.

NOTE:  If you would like to create your own bootable media using another method, this is quite ok.  You simply need to copy over the 32-bit or 64-bit version of the VHD tools to the machine and then follow the steps outlined below.

Step 1b: Use WinPE Creator (Internal Name) to create offline P2V environment

Using my blog titled ‘Using WinPE Creator to Create Virtual Hard Drive (VHD) of your physical server” , follow the steps to create the bootable media needed to do an offline clone of your physical disk.  To help you understand a bit, an offline backup means that your entire OS (in my case Windows 7) is *not* running and therefore is at no risk of losing any data or information.  Thus, you boot to a temporary OS (such as WinPE) and you can easily and effectively copy the partitions you are interested in with no problem at all.

Other tools, such as Sysinternals Disk-to-VHD, are great tools though they use Volume Shadow Copies (VSS) to create the clone of the disk and do not guarantee the preservation of your data at all costs.

Step 1c: Boot using USB/DVD, Create VHD using VHDCapture Wizard

Lastly, you can use the instructions under VHD Capture Wizard to get a graphical layout of your partitions and set your target destination (external drive or network) and then watch as your P2V clone is created.  Depending on the size of your physical drive, this can potentially take hours to complete – a small price to pay to ensure you aren’t scrambling tomorrow in my opinion.


After you’ve completed the copy, you can safely reboot your computer.

Step 1d: Creating a Hyper-V Friendly VHD

The last step is to use the VHD Prep functionality to ensure that your VHD is ready to be hosted in Hyper-V.  To do this, you can easily use the command-line functionality and can do this within the full operating system you just cloned.  You should be aware that anything you change within the OS after the clone is not carried forward to your VM.

To run VHDPrep.exe, you do the following::

  1. Open the path \bin\VHDPrep
  2. Type vhdprep.exe {path to VHD}

For more details, please see my blog post to learn more.

After you’ve done this, I’d verify that you have your vhd created by opening the location (USB or network) and verify the VHD is there -


Step 2:  Install Windows 8 Consumer Preview

The next step is to download Windows 8 Consumer Preview and install.  I don’t have much to offer here other than just follow the instructions. <grin>

Step 3:  Install Hyper-V

The next step is to enabled Hyper-V within Windows 8.  This is a rather painless experience but without the Start button, and the newness of Windows 8 I will help you a bit -

  1. Navigate to the Right corner of the screen with your mouse (or finger if touch)
  2. Click the Search button
  3. Type control panel
  4. Click Programs and Features
  5. Click Turn Windows features on or off
  6. Click Hyper-V (for ease, I’d select at minimum Hyper-V Platform & GUI)
  7. Restart when prompted

NOTE: You will need to ensure that you have virtualization enabled in your Bios otherwise Hyper-V will install though your service will fail to work.

Step 4:  Create Virtual Network for Hyper-V

The next step is to create your Virtual Network Switch which is designed to bind your physical NIC to a virtual NIC so that your VM can get on the network.  The assumption here is that you want your P2V’d machine to work on the network – <grin>

To do this, do the following -

  1. Navigate to the Right corner of the screen with your mouse (or finger if touch)
  2. Click the Search button
  3. Type Hyper-V and click Hyper-V Manager
  4. In Hyper-V Manager, click Virtual Switch Manager under Actions
  5. Click New virtual network switch
  6. Select External and click Create Virtual Switch
  7. Provide a name for your new Switch (like Hyper-V Shared or something)
  8. Select the appropriate external network card
  9. Click Ok

After the configuration is updated, you will now be ready to create your VM that you will host your newly created VHD with.  I recommend you do this first as to simplify the copy step as you can ensure that all your VM information is created in the same folder (e.g. \VMs\MyWin7Box).

Step 5:  Create Virtual Machine for hosting your Windows 7 VM

The next step is to create the VM and in this step we will *not* attach the VHD and instead we will just create it for now.  This makes it is easy to complete the next step to copy the VHD into the same folder as the VM.

To create a new Virtual Machine in Hyper-V on Windows 8, do the following:

  1. Navigate to the Right corner of the screen with your mouse (or finger if touch)
  2. Click the Search button
  3. Type Hyper-V and click Hyper-V Manager
  4. In the Specify Name & Location, give the VM a name (e.g. Chris’s Win7 Desktop) and select the location for the virtual machineimage
  5. In the Assign Memory, select your startup memory (using dynamic memory is up to you and can help your memory so I personally suggest it but up to you)image
  6. In Configure Networking, select connection name from the drop-down and select the network created in Step 4image
  7. In Connect Virtual Hard Disk, choose Attach a virtual hard disk later radio button which we use in the next stepimage
  8. Click Finish

This should now create the directories for your virtual machine allowing us to move to the next step.

Step 6:  Copy & Attach Virtual Hard Disk

The last step is to locate where you stored your virtual hard disk (VHD) and now do a copy to the appropriate directory.  This is rather straight forward so I will shy on the side of brevity here.  The last step after the copy completes is to go back into the VM settings and attach the disk.  To do this, follow these steps -

  1. In Hyper-V Manager, right-click on your VM and click settings
  2. Click IDE Controller 1, and click Add
  3. Choose Hard Disk and select the option to use an existing VHD
  4. Browse to the VHD you copied in the previous step and then click Save

That’s it.  Yes that is it.


The end result is your ability to try out all the new features and functionality available in Windows 8 Consumer Preview while ensuring that you don’t have a complete impact to doing your work.  It works – trust me I’m living proof.  If you follow these 9 steps, you can safely ensure that what you did yesterday (before you took the plunge) is doable today yet you are playing with all the sizzle of Windows 8.

If you have any problems using the tools, the great news is that this solution built by our team is still not released and you can provide direct feedback to us using Microsoft Connect.  Happy upgrades to Windows 8!