Windows 7 and Windows 8 Dual Boot from VHD

During the football games today, I decided to run some dual booting experiments using a ThinkPad T430s, Windows 7 Ultimate x64, and Windows 8 Pro x64.  In the ThinkPad is a 320GB HDD. 


On the initial test, I decided to split the hard drive right up the middle and create two partitions.  One for Windows 7 and one for Windows 8.  Conventional wisdom has always advised to install the most recent operating system last and I did just that. 

The Windows 7 install proceeded without issue.  Once I had verified that was operational, I popped the Windows 8 DVD into the machine and booted from it.  Windows 8 installed without issue and everytime the machine is booted, you are presented with a menu so the OS can be selected.  Since Windows 8 is the default, you can just let it boot or select Windows 7.

People have been booting from multiple partitions for years.  There’s just one problem, how do you take a partition and move it to another HDD or SSD and machine, then re-use it?  It isn’t easily done though tools like Acronis True Image Home 2013 certainly make backup and recovery easier these days.

Boot From VHD

When Windows 7 came out, there was a new technology called “native boot from VHD”.  For the uninitiated, VHD stands for virtual hard disk.  Native boot from VHD allows you to store the OS, apps and data inside a single VHD file.  By installing the OS into the VHD, it is rather easy to backup via a file copy, and of course move and use on another storage device.

Back in May of 2009, I spent a considerable amount of time documenting how to implement boot from VHD.  See the blog post at for that work.

Today I decided to see if the same techniques and commands would work with a Windows 7 and Windows 8 implementation.  I am happy to say the instructions worked very nicely.  The resulting Windows 7 VHD file was 7GB.  The resulting Windows 8 VHD file was 8GB.  Coincidence? LOL