Installing Windows 8 Developer Preview on your everyday machine

No more than few days back, as every eager technical guy would do, I decided to give Windows 8 Developer Preview a spin, however I did not considered building a VM with it, but rather using the VHD boot capabilities available on Windows 7.

For a while now, I’ve been building my development machine using the same option, so I’ve ended up knowing the commands almost by heart. This enables me to keep my current operation system configuration while being able to try different other.  Basically, I’m having 4 OS versions running, with different installation configurations which would conflict otherwise. Another gained advantage is that while I’m building a base VHD drive, by using EXPANDABLE type disk with the PARENT option while creating a VHD, I could build on what I have already. Basically, my base installation contains already Windows 7 SP1 with all updates & drivers, so I only install specificities on each other new drive I’m building

Before starting to sum up the order of operations, a disclaimer is imposed – all information in this blog entry is provided as-is without any responsibilities from the author, that is me, if you loose your files, crash or toast your machine, or any other unwanted & undesired side effect you might encounter while following procedures presented here. With this out of the way, let’s dive into doing some stuff:

  1. Grab yourself a copy of the installation kit for Windows 8 Developer Preview from Microsoft’s download center
  2. You have the option of either using any of the procedures available on the web on how to prepare an USB drive for Windows 7 boot, or choose a more confortable solution, that works every time, and download and install the tool provided by Microsoft itself for Windows 7 USB/DVD download tool . Important is that you need a USB drive of a more than 5GB as the installation package is 5.02 GB after copying.
  3. Reboot your machine, and make sure it will boot from the USB Drive 1st, where the installation files have been copied previously. As an example I’m having a DELL Latitude, and I almost always use F12 to launch the “One-time boot menu” which enables me to choose the drive.
  4. Create and attach the VHD drive to install onto it
    Once the screen with language & keyboard selection appears, while still on that screen, press SHIFT+ F10 to launch the Command Prompt window. Type DISKPART and wait. At the command line you need to execute the following commands to create a VHD file that shall become your installation drive.
    1. CREATE VDISK FILE=”e:\VHD\W8_DP_X64.vhd” TYPE=EXPANDABLE MAXIMUM=65535
    2. ATTACH VDISK
      Some explanations:
      1. If you previously created a VHD drive for this purposes you only need to use the SELECT command by specifying only the FILE parameter
      2. The 1st command basically creates a VHD file on my E drive, while specifying that the drive should be dynamically Expandable up to the maximum of 64GB. This will allow to spare some space as opposed to FIXED drives these will be resized dynamically based on the required needs. Do make sure you have enough space prior to creating disk. Failure to do so will result in blue screen because the lack of space
      3. The 2nd command attaches the disk freshly created/selected so that the installation procedures could copy files.
  5. With the above commands executed successfully you can exit the Command prompt window and resume your installation process as usual. I must say that the procedures are almost 100% the same as with Windows 7. So choose a CUSTOM INSTALL, and then make sure you select the newly created disk. Ignore the warning about the disk which might not be used for copying files. It works just perfectly.
  6. After about 3 automatic reboots later you shall find that the boot menu has been updated too, enabling menu selection via the TILE concept, available on WIndows Phone 7 and Windows 8.

At this stage you shall have a freshly installed copy of Windows 8, stating in the bottom right that it is an evaluation version, with a long GUID identification number. Do not forget that you need to activate it to be able to start personalizing your copy of Windows 8 Developer Preview.

Hope you enjoy it as much as I do,
c:\Marius

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