One of the most popular methods used to try Windows 10 without changing the configuration of the system and partitions is to install the operating system in a virtual machine (for example, with Virtualbox; Download Windows 10 and install it on VirtualBox ). A valid alternative to installing Windows 10 in the dual boot without changing the system configuration is using a VHD file.
Windows 10 can be installed within this file, which will act as a container for the latest Microsoft operating systems. Nothing of the system configuration will be changed except the boot menu. After installing Windows 10 inside the VHD file, every time the system starts, you will be asked whether to load Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 or install Windows 10.
It is, in fact, a dual boot between Windows 7 and Windows 10 or between Windows 8.1 and Windows 10. The advantages deriving from installing Windows 10 in dual boot through the use of a simple VHD file are undeniable:
- 1) You can try Windows 10 without any limits and without the need to install virtualization software (Virtualbox, Vmware Player,…).
- 2) The dual boot, using the VHD file, does not imply the alteration of the partitions or, in any case, the configuration of the hard disk.
- Windows 10 files are only kept in VHD storage.
- You can try Windows 10 while keeping Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 as the primary operating system on the machine.
- The installation of Windows 10 inside the VHD file will be perfectly able to access the other disk drives/partitions present on the system in use and all the shared resources on the local network.
- The situation before the installation of Windows 10 can be quickly restored (see below).
Before Continuing: Make Sure You Are Using Windows 7 Or Windows 8.1
To install Windows 10 in dual boot, it is essential to have Windows 7 or 8.1 installed on the system. They contain the tools to configure dual boot properly.
Install Windows 10 in dual boot with a VHD file: a practical guide
ALSO READ: Can Too Many Desktop Icons Slow Down Your PC?
- 1) The first step is downloading the Windows 10 image in ISO format from Microsoft servers. Currently, the most recent version is the Technical Preview build 9926 (see the articles Download Windows 10: here’s what’s new in the new form and How to download Windows 7, Windows 8.1, and try Windows 10 ). The ISO must be burned onto DVD media using a program such as CDBurnerXP or inserted into a bootable USB stick (see Install operating system from USB or boot from a post).
- 2) Boot the system from the previously burned Windows 10 DVD or the USB stick containing the ISO of the operating system.
- When the window shown in the figure appears, press the key combination SHIFT+F10 to raise the command prompt. At this point, by typing the drive letter corresponding to the partition where you want to create the VHD file that will act as a container for the installation of Windows 10, you will have to type the following commands: D: cd\ MD VHD diskpart We want to create the VHD file in a \VHD folder, starting in the D: drive. However, nothing prevents you from replacing the identifying letter D: with the letter C: The diskpart command will start the command-line-based partition management utility (like Disk Management in Windows). As soon as the DiskPart prompt ( DISKPART > ) appears, you can type the following commands: Create disk file=D:\VHD\win10.vhd type=fixed maximum=55000 select disk file=D:\VHD\win10.vhd attach vdisk exit
Exit The first command requests creating an empty VHD file of a fixed size of 55GB. The size of the VHD file, which will be seen by the Windows 10 installation procedure as the amount of space available on the virtual hard disk, can still be chosen freely (obviously compatible with the space open on the “physical” hard disk). We recommend staying below 30-40 GB even if Windows 10 requires 16 GB of freedom as a minimum requirement. The following two commands allow you to select the VHD file just produced and “mount” it making it accessible as if it were a standard disk drive. You can continue by clicking on the Next button and then on Install.
- Once you have accepted the user license agreement terms, you must click on Custom: Install Windows only (advanced option).
- The following window will appear similar to the one below. You will find the actual “physical” drives and then an “Unallocated space drive N,” which corresponds to the previously created and “mounted” VHD file on the system. The size specified above for the VHD file should roughly match the size listed in the Total Size column. The values shown in the Total Size and Available Space columns must also be identical (the VHD file contains nothing yet). The message suggesting that it is impossible to install the operating system on the indicated partition (“Windows cannot be installed on this unit “) can be ignored entirely by continuing by pressing the Next button. Windows 10 will thus perform a standard installation of the operating system by settling inside the virtual disk drive (VHD file) previously created.
- As soon as the installation procedure is completed, by restarting the machine, it will be possible to choose whether to run Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 (already installed on the hard disk) or whether to run Windows 10 by drawing on the content of the VHD file:
The first option of the boot menu ( Windows Technical Preview ) allows you to start Windows 10, while the second, in our case, is the operating system installed on the hard disk (Windows 7).
How To Restore The Previous Configuration And Remove Windows 10
If you want to remove Windows 10 from the dual boot and return to the situation before its installation, you can follow a few simple steps.
- Start Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 or the operating system installed on the “physical” disk.
- Start the MSCONFIG utility by pressing the Windows+R key combination and typing MSConfig.
- From the Boot Options tab, you must select the entry corresponding to the Windows 10 installation in the VHD file and then click the Delete button.
- Restarting the machine, the start menu should have disappeared, and the only operating system that will automatically run will be Windows 7 or 8.1.
- When you return to Windows, you can eventually delete the \VHD folder. Windows 10 will not leave any trace of itself and its “passage” on the system.