Deploy Windows on a Virtual Hard Disk with Native Boot

Applies To: Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2


This content applies to Windows 7. For Windows 8 content, see Windows Deployment with the Windows ADK.

This topic provides general information about creating and deploying virtual hard disks (VHDs) with native-boot capabilities.

Creating VHDs

You can create virtual hard disks using the DiskPart tool or the Disk Management Microsoft® Management Console (MMC). The Hyper-V Manager Role is available in Windows Server® 2008 R2, but is not required to create or deploy VHDs. The disk-management tools can attach the VHD, so that it appears on the host as a drive and not as a static file. VHD files can then be partitioned and formatted before installing an operating system.

Deploying VHDs

You can deploy a Windows® 7 image to an attached VHD using disk-imaging software such as ImageX. For more information about creating a Windows 7 image and deploying it with ImageX, see Capture and Apply Windows Images. The VHD file can then be copied to one or more systems either to run in a virtual machine or for native boot.

A Windows 7 boot environment is required to natively boot a VHD. For more information, see Add a Native-Boot Virtual Hard Disk to the Boot Menu.

On first native boot, the specialize configuration pass will run and computer-specific information will be applied to the Windows 7 operating system on the VHD. The instance of the .vhd file cannot be copied onto another system or run in a virtual machine once the specialize configuration pass has completed. The original .vhd file with a Windows 7 image can continue to be copied and deployed to multiple computers, if the image has already been prepared for installation using the Sysprep tool with the /generalize option or by using the Microsoft-Windows-Deployment | Generalize setting in your answer file. For more information about the specialize and generalize configuration passes, see Windows Setup Configuration Passes. For more information on using the Generalize setting in an answer file, see the Windows® Unattended Setup Reference.

The Windows Deployment Server role supports deployment of VHD image files in addition to .wim files. Using Windows Deployment Server automates the network deployment of VHD images for native-boot usage. Windows Deployment Server can be used to copy the VHD image to a local partition, and to configure the local Boot Configuration Data (BCD) for native boot from the VHD.

In this section

Walkthrough: Deploy a Virtual Hard Disk for Native Boot

Provides guidance on the steps to create and deploy a VHD on a destination computer.

Add a Native-Boot Virtual Hard Disk to the Boot Menu

Describes how to update a computer with a Windows 7 boot environment and add a VHD to the BCD configuration.

See Also


Understanding Virtual Hard Disks with Native Boot