There are number of ways to try out the new operating systems, either on a spare box sitting around in your home or office, or on a virtual machine, or dual-boot along with your primary OS. We’ve covered 4 best ways to try out Windows 8, and it still stands the same when we head over to Windows 8.1. Among these 4 methods, building a native VHD boot side by side with the current system I have, either Windows 7 or Windows 8, is still the one I like the most.
Here, let’s go over again how to set it up to build a Native VHD Boot Windows 8.1 dual boot with Windows 7 or 8.
Step 1: Get and prepare your own bootable installation media.
First, head straight over to download the Windows 8.1 Preview ISO files page, scroll down the page to the middle, and pick the right package to download. the average size is around 3.8GB, so it will take a bit time to download onto your computer.
Once you have the ISO image downloaded, build a bootable USB or DVD using Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool, or WinUSB Maker.
Step 2: Prepare your VHD.
The easiest way is to create a blank VHD from Disk Management GUI.
1. Click on Action from the top menu, and select Create VHD (Figure 1).
2. Specify the location and the size of the VHD file. Be sure the free disk space is big enough to host the maximum size you put in VHD (Figure 2).
3. Click OK.
Step 3: Boot to Windows 8.1 media
Follow the installation wizard until you get to the point to select the partition to install the OS. Instead of select what’s listed on the screen, hit shift+F10 to bring a Command Prompt window (Figure 3).
Type in Diskpart and press Enter. Then:
DISKPART:>select vdisk file=d:\vms\win8preview.vhd
Basically, like this in Figure 4:
Then, shift back to the partition select window, click Refresh to refresh the list (Figure 5).
Select the one you just added, and click Next to carry on.
Here is the jaw-dropping one. Once the installation process is finished and machine rebooted, you automatically get prompted with this awesome bootload that automatically provides you the choice of both Windows 8 and Windows 7.