How to enable Windows 8.1 Windows 2012 R2 dual boot – boot to VHD

Windows 8.1

With another exam and more training coming up I need to setup my home lab again to help with studying.

I’m currently running Windows 8.1 and although I have Hyper-V running, I’m going to be following a guide by Kevin Remde to build a Virtual Lab, so I’ve decided to rearrange some storage and boot to a Windows Server 2012 R2 VHD image located on an SSD,

Read on for step by step instructions.

Firstly, Kevin’s Virtual Lab blog post can be found here. It comprises of 2 x nested Hyper-V servers, a DC, Systems Center Virtual Machine Manager, and a File Server with some shared storage. Amazingly all this can be run on a system with 16GB of memory and 200GB of free disk space.

1. On your Windows 8 or 8.1 machine download the Windows Server 2012 R2 VHD from here.

Windows 2012 R2 Datacenter VHD Download2. Once downloaded create a folder and call it BootVHD.

BootVHD Folder3. Copy the VHD file to the folder.

4. Press Windows Key + X, and select Computer Management.

5. Expand Storage and select Disk Management.

6. Right Click the Action menu, and select Attach VHD.1. Attach VHD7. Browse to the VHD image and click Ok.

Attach VHD28. Look in Disk Management and make a note of the drive letter assigned to the VHD.

9. Backup your current Boot Configuration Data (BCD) file. From an Administrative Command Prompt run the bcdedit command:

bcdedit /export c:bcdbackupbcdbackup20140222

bcdedit export10.  Again from an Administrative Command Prompt run the bcdboot command to copy boot-environment files from the VHD Windows folder to the system partition. This is where you need to know the drive letter of the mounted VHD file.

Bcdboot L:Windows

bcdboot11. Run bcdedit /enum /v  to view the changes made to your BCD.

bcdedit enum all12. Reboot your computer and select the Windows Server 2012 option in the boot menu. The image will probably need a couple of reboots while it detects your hardware. But once complete you have a dual boot Windows 8.1 / Windows Server 2012 system.

The instructions are identical for Windows Server 2012 R2. The images used above depict Windows Server 2012. I went on to add a Windows Server 2012 R2 boot to VHD as well. Tod o this make sure the original VHD file is attached in Windows 8.1 before you attach the new VHD image, otherwise when you attach it it will use the same driver letter.

Useful Resources:

Technet – BCDboot

Technet – BCDedit

Chinnychukwudozie – Deploying Windows Server 2012 R2 in Dual-Boot Configuration using Windows 8.1 Native Boot-to-VHD capability

Related Posts:

1. How to enable Hyper-V on Windows 8.1 in VMware Workstation 9

2. Free ebook: Introducing Windows Server 2012 R2

3. Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V Best Practices

2 thoughts on “How to enable Windows 8.1 Windows 2012 R2 dual boot – boot to VHD

  1. Keith Smalling

    Attached my vhd disk using disk part but horror just needed last few steps to add to load Win2012 VHD to load menu Grrr re-certfication but what a great help your post has been

  2. T_Frederick

    Thank you very much for taking your time (even though ur machine has Tons more RAM than mine) .. you still used that valuable time to help others!!! And that is super BADASS


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