Interesting Dilemna: Dual booting with vhd

PC eye

Distinguished Member
With the new version of Windows 7 the updated version of the MS Virtual PC is also the option for the new XP Mode as most are aware of. Upon performing custom installations of Windows on VHDs or Virtual Hard Drives which can also be attached and mounted just as if they were regular internal drives the screens here show the attempt of using the option to set up a dual boot or actually more like a triple boot with Vista installed onto a vhd using the latest #105 build of EasyBCD.

The first image here shows where the option for this is located while viewing the ongoing updates for the Vista install onto a VHD seen behind the EasyBCD #105 screen while browsing to select the particular vhd file.


The next image shows the "Force portable entry" item being checked off before clicking on the Add Entry button.


The third for the time being shows the new entry as it appears along with the present Vista/7 dual boot.


You can the indicator markings there to point out which is the VHD entry just having been added into the 7 bcd store. The problems run into however are getting the vhd to initialize and load once selected from the boot options menu at startup. When selected everything simply stalls.

Note that the particular vhd has been moved out to the root of the 7 C primary as well as having gone into the Disk Management tool to see it attached there in order to be mounted as a drive and still no results as far as seeing that particular vhd installation or others in working multiboot. I thought I would share this problem as well as making the inquiry since the EasyBCD program has always been a working champ at working with dual and multi booting as a rule.
You can't always just plug in a VPC VHD into the BCD and expect it to work. Drivers, chipsets, etc. will conflict.
On any VM you wouldn't see the same driver installation available there. The video memory and sound are shared resources with the host OS being Windows 7 in this case.

The main problem seems to be getting the VM to initialize at startup when selecting it from the boot options menu since the host OS's Virtual PC installation there isn't even loaded. The same applies to vhds attached in the Disk Management tool there as well as since you are bypassing the host OS entirely in order to boot into the VHD's Windows installation there.

Once in a VM however the network sharing for files, printer, clipboard, etc allow the intergrated components to be enabled for direct access to internal drives and devices like usb printers, flash drives, external drives. The only thought on this so far would be adding the Virtual PC as a startup item being pointed at one particular VHD in order to see that start up along with the host.
What I mean is, the physical PC environment has driver requirements that are not present in the virtualized PC environment.
I am aware of that one but had wondered about the option for adding a virtual HD into the 7 bcd and how that would work for these types of custom installations. That would allow people to run previous versions when only one physical drive is installed and the size is too small for splitting it up for dual booting purposes.

The option for iso images however is a totally different situation since that would be used mainly for live images rather then seeing them burned to removable media. That should work well for netbook users in particular there.
A slight bump to update a few things here. i'm running into a few references on just how to go about adding on bootable VHDs for 7 and likely should be good for previous versions..

The first reference goes into using the command line method for editing the BCD store titled: "Less Virtual, More Machine - Windows 7 and the magic of Boot to VHD". That can seen at

The second is a blog published last fall a month prior to 7's lanch date using the DiskPart tool to create the intended vhd as well as editing the BCD store while booted live. "Expand the number of Windows 7 installs with bootable VHDs"

Now to see if following one of them but naming the entry with the EasyBCD 2.0 beta as well as the actual entry being added reflecting on one of those two will see results since the option is present for configuring a vhd into the boot loader. That would show another option for going with EasyBCD as well. :grinning:
What I mean is, the physical PC environment has driver requirements that are not present in the virtualized PC environment.

Given an XP installation on a VHD, is there a way to update the VHD so that the VHD can boot the physical PC environment - using whatever method is normally used to transfer Windows drives from one computer to another that contain different hardware? Maybe by pointing a Windows XP installation CD at the VHD?

I haven't used the Windows 7 VHD stuff. Can you install Windows XP normally using the physical environment and use that installation for the VHD? For example, I installed Windows physically on my Mac (by booting the Windows installation CD and installing to a real partition) then pointed Parallels Desktop (virtualization software) at the installation which then installs the drivers for the virtual environment so that the installation can boot in both physical and virtual environments.
Presently I have both XP and Vista installed on virtual drives as well as having the XP Mode and XP Mode's vhd in use on the VMware Lite's Workstation. When custom installing onto a vhd while booted in Windows you have the installation disk already in the drive when starting up the new VM for that OS once a new vhd is created for it.

The start up process looks for bootable media and proceeds to run the Windows installer or on other then the MS Virtual PC the OS installer such as for various Linux distros. Once the installation is complete you either select the VM from a main menu of VMs installed such as with the Oracle Virtual Box or other VM type player.

For custom installing onto a vhd while booting up from the XP, Vista, or 7 disk the DiskPart comands for creating a new vhd and seeing it attached first while booted in the 7 dvd's repair tools command pormpt is needed before rebootind and starting up the Windows installer to select the custom option and point the installer to the vhd according to the article there.

To see if XP for example not seeing the same boot loader shared by both VIsta and 7 would work is another project. Even with a custom install onto a vhd there is one thing to know however.

At times installing and enabling the integrated components feature seen with the Virtual PC and other VM wares doesn't always work. Direct access to internal drives and devices other then the host optical drive and if present 3 1/2" floppy drive are the only two available.

Simply copying the XP boot files over to the Windows 7 root however wouldn't work as you typically see with a custom dual boot on phyysical drives however. VHDs are generally self conatined in that sense.
XP HVD boot entries are unspported, while Vista/W7 entries well work. You haft to use the version of diskpart that ships with Windows 7 for the installation though if you're creating the VHD booted from a Windows disc.
I suspected XP would immediately run into problems and it was installed on VHDs through the Virtual PC or on other VM wares while in 7. For the test here however it would be with Vista and 7 mainly in order to see where EasyBCD itself could be used once the vhd is created and the version of Windows is installed.

That would be by following the guide seen on the page there while the inquiry is mainly concerning the option for vhds and iso images seen in EasyBCD itself for adding new entries and if that could also be utilized for similar projects. This would be one advantage available for laptop/notebook even netbook users where drive space and dual boot options are generally limited.