Virtualization Create Windows 11 Virtual Hard Disk (VHDX) at Boot to Native Boot


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This tutorial will show you how to create a Windows 11 Virtual Hard Disk (VHDX) file at boot and natively boot it to dual boot with Windows 10 or Windows 11 Pro, Education, or Enterprise editions.

Native Boot allows you to create a virtual hard disk (VHDX), install Windows to it, and then boot it up, either on your PC side-by-side with your existing installation, or on a new device.

A native-boot VHDX can be used as the running operating system on designated hardware without any other parent operating system. This differs from a scenario where a VHDX is connected to a virtual machine on a computer that has a parent operating system.

Native boot for Windows 11 requires the .vhdx format, not the .vhd format.

VHDXs can be applied to PCs or devices that have no other installations of Windows, without a virtual machine or hypervisor. (A hypervisor is a layer of software under the operating system that runs virtual computers.) This enables greater flexibility in workload distribution because a single set of tools can be used to manage images for virtual machines and designated hardware.

Windows 11 minimum system requirements:

If you’d like to see if your current PC meets the minimum requirements, download and run the PC Health Check app.


You must be signed in as an administrator create a Windows 11 VHDX file, and to setup and Native Boot the Windows 11 VHDX file.


After you have created the Windows 11 VHDX file in this tutorial, you will also be able to Native Boot the VHDX using the method in the tutorial below.

Native Boot Windows 11 Virtual Hard Disk (VHDX)



EXAMPLE: Dual boot Windows 10 with a Native Boot Windows 11 VHDX

Native_boot_Windows11_VHDX.png



Here's How:

1 Boot from a Windows 11 installation USB flash drive on your computer.

2 When you see Windows Setup, press the Shift + F10 keys to open a command prompt at boot. (see screenshot below)

Native_boot_Windows11_at_boot-1.png

3 Type diskpart into the command prompt, and press Enter. (see screenshot below step 4)

4 Make note of the drive letter (ex: "D") you want to create and save the VHDX file at. (see screenshot below)

Native_boot_Windows11_at_boot-2.png

5 Type the command below into the command prompt, and press Enter. (see screenshot below)

create vdisk file="<drive letter>:\<file name>.vhdx" maximum=<size> type=fixed

Substitute <drive letter> in the command above with the actual drive letter (ex: "D") from step 4.

Substitute <file name> in the command above with the name (ex: "Windows11") you want for the VHDX file.

Substitute <size> in the command above with how many MB (1GB = 1024MB) you want the VHDX size to be. Windows 11 requires 64 GB (65536 MB) or larger.

For example: create vdisk file="D:\Windows11.vhdx" maximum=65536 type=fixed



Native_boot_Windows11_at_boot-3.png

6 When creating the VHDX is completed, type attach vdisk into the command prompt, and press Enter. (see screenshot below)

Native_boot_Windows11_at_boot-4.png

7 When attaching the VHDX is completed, type Exit into the command prompt, press Enter, and close the command prompt. (see screenshot below)

Native_boot_Windows11_at_boot-5.png

8 Continue at step 5 in this tutorial (click on link) to clean install Windows 11 to the attached VHDX file. (see screenshot below)

Native_boot_Windows11_at_boot-6.png

9 When you get to step 11 in the clean install tutorial (click on link), select the Unallocated Space that is for the attached VHDX created from step 5.

Native_boot_Windows11_at_boot-7.png

10 When you have finished with the clean install of Windows 11 to the attached VHDX, Windows 11 will be the default OS in your dual boot with the attached Windows 11 VHDX and installed Windows 10 or Windows 11 OS on PC.


That's it,
Shawn Brink


 
Last edited:
I use vhds a lot but they have one weakness - you cannot do build upgrades (actually not true if the build upgrade is via a cumulative update) when booting from them natively.

The workaround is to load the vhdx in Hyper-V or similar and update in vm. I always install in Hyper-V first so you have the boot files in vhd.
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 10 Pro + others in VHDs
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    ASUS Vivobook 14
    CPU
    I7
    Motherboard
    Yep, Laptop has one.
    Memory
    16 GB
    Graphics Card(s)
    Integrated Intel Iris XE
    Sound Card
    Realtek built in
    Monitor(s) Displays
    N/A
    Screen Resolution
    1920x1080
    Hard Drives
    1 TB Optane NVME SSD, 1 TB NVME SSD
    PSU
    Yep, got one
    Case
    Yep, got one
    Cooling
    Stella Artois
    Keyboard
    Built in
    Mouse
    Bluetooth , wired
    Internet Speed
    72 Mb/s :-(
    Browser
    Edge mostly
    Antivirus
    Defender
    Other Info
    TPM 2.0
I use vhds a lot but they have one weakness - you cannot do build upgrades (actually not true if the build upgrade is via a cumulative update) when booting from them natively.

The workaround is to load the vhdx in Hyper-V or similar and update in vm. I always install in Hyper-V first so you have the boot files in vhd.

You should be able to update via Windows Update as usual for the Native Boot VHDX.
 

My Computers

System One System Two

  • OS
    Windows 11 Pro for Workstations
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Custom self build
    CPU
    Intel i7-8700K 5 GHz
    Motherboard
    ASUS ROG Maximus XI Formula Z390
    Memory
    64 GB (4x16GB) G.SKILL TridentZ RGB DDR4 3600 MHz (F4-3600C18D-32GTZR)
    Graphics Card(s)
    ASUS ROG-STRIX-GTX1080TI-O11G-GAMING (11GB GDDR5X)
    Sound Card
    Integrated Digital Audio (S/PDIF)
    Monitor(s) Displays
    2 x Samsung Odyssey G75 27"
    Screen Resolution
    2560x1440
    Hard Drives
    1TB Samsung 990 PRO M.2,
    4TB Samsung 990 PRO M.2,
    8TB WD MyCloudEX2Ultra NAS
    PSU
    Seasonic Prime Titanium 850W
    Case
    Thermaltake Core P3 wall mounted
    Cooling
    Corsair Hydro H115i
    Keyboard
    Logitech wireless K800
    Mouse
    Logitech MX Master 3
    Internet Speed
    1 Gbps Download and 35 Mbps Upload
    Browser
    Google Chrome
    Antivirus
    Microsoft Defender and Malwarebytes Premium
    Other Info
    Logitech Z625 speaker system,
    Logitech BRIO 4K Pro webcam,
    HP Color LaserJet Pro MFP M477fdn,
    APC SMART-UPS RT 1000 XL - SURT1000XLI,
    Galaxy S23 Plus phone
  • Operating System
    Windows 11 Pro
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    HP Spectre x360 2in1 14-eu0098nr (2024)
    CPU
    Intel Core Ultra 7 155H 4.8 GHz
    Memory
    16 GB LPDDR5x-7467 MHz
    Graphics card(s)
    Integrated Intel Arc
    Sound Card
    Poly Studio
    Monitor(s) Displays
    14" 2.8K OLED multitouch
    Screen Resolution
    2880 x 1800
    Hard Drives
    2 TB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD
    Internet Speed
    Intel Wi-Fi 7 BE200 (2x2) and Bluetooth 5.4
    Browser
    Chrome and Edge
    Antivirus
    Windows Defender and Malwarebytes Premium
I tried this and it worked well. But the boot menu didn´t appear, Windows 11 became the default, and the system always booted directly from it.
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 10
I tried this and it worked well. But the boot menu didn´t appear, Windows 11 became the default, and the system always booted directly from it.
Boot into Windows 11. Open System Properties. Advanced. Then go to Startup & Recovery. Tick Show System Menu at bootup. Choose 10 seconds. Use drop down and select default OS / VM. Then Apply and click okay. Menu should now appear at boot time. Hope this helps.
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 11, 10, 8.1, 7, XP, 2K, Debian, Mint, Arch, SuSE, PuppEX, Cent
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Asus, GigaByte, SuperMicro, PowerEdge
    CPU
    Xeon, Intel, AMD, Risc
    Motherboard
    itx, atx, u1, u2, card, virtual
    Memory
    32gb --> 256gb : varies with system
    Graphics Card(s)
    ATI, Nvidia
    Sound Card
    Realtek, SB, Alessis
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Samsung, Dell, Sony, Google
    Screen Resolution
    1024 SD --> 8K UHD varies with system
    Hard Drives
    Hitachi, WD, Samsung, Seagate, PNY, Intel, Fujitsu, Sandisk
    PSU
    Corsair, Thermaltake, IDT Systems, HP, Dell
    Case
    Lian, Thermaltake, Dell, RackMount
    Cooling
    Water, Fan, Air
    Keyboard
    Standard BT, Wireless, and PS2.
    Mouse
    PS2, BT, Wireless
    Internet Speed
    Fibre Channel, GigE, Cable, 5G Ultra,
    Browser
    Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Safari, Brave, Edge
    Antivirus
    Eset, McAfee, Defender, Symantec, Kaspersky
    Other Info
    Home Lan: GigE 2 24 port Smart Switches, Cisco Fibre Channel switch, 2 Nighthawk 5g Ultra Wideband Wireless AP's
Holy smokes this actually still works!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 

My Computers

System One System Two

  • OS
    Windows 11 Pro 22631.3374
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Lenovo
    CPU
    Intel Celeron N4000 @ 1.10GHz Gemini Lake 14nm
    Motherboard
    LENOVO LNVNB161216 (U3E1)
    Memory
    8GB Ram
    Graphics Card(s)
    Intel UHD Graphics 600 (Lenovo)
    Sound Card
    Realtek High Definition Audio Intel Display Audio
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Generic PnP Monitor (1920x1080@60Hz)
    Screen Resolution
    1920x1080
    Hard Drives
    512GB Western Digital WDC PC SN530 SDBPMPZ-512G-1101 (Unknown (SSD))
    Keyboard
    Laptop Keyboard
    Mouse
    G5 Gaming Mouse
    Internet Speed
    50mbps/50mbps
    Browser
    Chrome/Edge
    Antivirus
    Microsoft Defender
  • Operating System
    Windows 10 Pro
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Lenovo
    CPU
    Intel Celeron N4000 @ 1.10GHz Gemini Lake 14nm
    Motherboard
    LENOVO LNVNB161216 (U3E1)
    Memory
    8GB Ram
    Graphics card(s)
    Intel UHD Graphics 600 (Lenovo)
    Sound Card
    Realtek High Definition Audio Intel Display Audio
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Generic PnP Monitor (1920x1080@60Hz)
    Screen Resolution
    1920x1080
    Mouse
    G5 Gaming Mouse
    Keyboard
    Laptop Keyboard
    Internet Speed
    50mbps/50mbps
    Browser
    Chrome/Edge
    Antivirus
    Microsoft Defender
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