How to Install Windows 8 Consumer Preview, Dual Boot With Windows XP using Virtual Hard Disk

Like all geeks, I tried to download and play with the Windows 8 Consumer Preview that Microsoft put out the day before yesterday. Thing is, I’m primarily a Linux user (actually I’m a full time Linux user), and I have no spare space on my Laptop to install Windows 8. I do use VMware Workstation 7 though, so I tried to fire up a VM using that, and got a nice new BSOD. Yes, Microsoft has re-designed the Blue Screen Of Death too!

Windows 8 Developer Preview BSOD

So I decided to install Windows 8 on my brother’s PC, which currently has Windows XP, and again, no spare partitions. Microsoft has been supporting bootable Virtual Hard Disks since Windows 7, so I figured I could just install Windows 8 on a VHD and boot from it. I figured it’d take some geekdom, but I never thought it’d be so freakin’ eas

This guide is part of our series of Windows 8 Videos, Tutorials, Apps and How To

Windows 8 Start Screen / Desktop


Table of Content :

I got to understand the basic procedure from here,  however In this guide, they want me to create a USB drive, and create the VHD from inside Windows 7 before rebooting into Windows 8 setup. Since I don’t have Windows 7 and not even a 10 GB pen drive, I just directly booted into the Windows 8 DVD, created a VHD and installed it in there directly, and it worked.  This is what I did:

Download the Windows 8 Consumer Preview

Downloaded the ISO image from here. | You can also use Windows 8 Consumer Preview Setup file but if you do not plan to upgrade please do not use it, though it will be really easy to upgrade. Read more about it here.

Setting up a separate partition for Windows 8

I’d downloaded the ISO image, so I burned it to a DVD, and booted the computer using it. As soon as Windows Setup started, I selected the correct language settings for me, and hit Next. The big “Install Now” button came up. I didn’t press it. Yet. Because there’s some work to do.

Create :

Press Shift+F10. A Command Prompt is going to come up. In the prompt, type in “diskpart”, and press enter.

Diskpart will start. We have to create a Virtual Hard Disk to install Windows 8 to, so now type:


This will create a dynamically expanding Virtual Hard Disk with a maximum size of 60 GB. Remember to tweak the path to your preferences, and you can adjust the maximum size too. First calculate how many GBs you want, then multiply by 1024. For example, if you want 12.5 GB, the value for MAXIMUM is going to be 12.5 * 1024, which is 12800

Attach :

We’ll now need to attach the VHD to our system. To do that, type:


The VHD has been attached to the system.

Initialize :

We now have to initialize the Hard Disk. Type:


And that’s about it. Type “exit” once to close DiskPart, and once again to close the Command Prompt. Click Install Now, proceed to do a custom install, and when it asks you to select the partition to which to install to, select your VHD (Its disk number will be unique, eg. if all the others are Disk 0 Partition X, your VHD will be Disk 1 Partition 0).

Windows Setup will warn you that Windows cannot be installed to this partition. Just ignore it, and hit Next.

From now on, it’s a normal installation. You don’t have to do anything more to get Windows 8 to boot properly from a VHD. Windows Setup will detect that you’re trying to boot from a VHD, and will automatically configure the Boot Manager for you.

You’ll probably notice that Windows 8 has a new boot manager, which allows you to dual boot between Windows 8, Windows 7 and Windows Vista.

How to bring back Windows XP into boot menu

However, I was trying to dual-boot with Windows XP, and the new boot manager had no entries for Windows XP. It turned out I had to do this manually.

To do it, start a Command Prompt in Windows 8 (with Elevated Privileges – I had to manually navigate to C:WindowsSystem32, right click cmd.exe and select Run As Administrator). Now type:

bcdedit /set {bootmgr} default {ntldr}

And when I rebooted, I had an option to start the “Earlier Version of Windows”, but alas, the shiny new Boot Manager with a blue background, anti-aliased text and mouse was gone, to be replaced by the Windows 7 style boot manager.

VMWare Fix :

In case VMWare is giving you issues, it seems Windows 8 needs a new version of ACPI called ACPI 2.0. Most current Motherboards have this feature, but VMware sadly has not.

You can use VirtualBox to run Windows 8 virtually, and VMware 8.0 has been released yesterday with ACPI 2.0 support, but I couldn’t get it to install on my Linux box. Perhaps I’m missing something.

Author Credit

This article is contributed by Boudhayan Gupta, You can also follow him on twitter @BaloneyGeek

About Ashish Mohta

A Professional Tech blogger, Editor and Writer who talks about solving day to day problems of people who use computer. His expertise are in Windows 7, Microsoft Office, Software, Mobile Apps and Video Posts.

Leave a Reply