Easy way of installing and testing several versions of Windows on same HDD

jimbo45

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Hi folks
Have to credit @cereberus who gave me the idea

I've been using separate WintoGo versions of Windows for testing etc etc in order to avoid messing around with altering HDD with current running versions of Windows -- however if you have a nice large external SSD it's much easier to use and boot from VHDX (virtual HDD's) drives.

Note these are s NOT Virtual machines -- you are running the physical OS with all its hardware just as you would be from your standard installation.

Advantage also is you can use your current installation so you don't have to install from scratch. Also good when you want Windows / Office etc in separate languages without having to switch / set primary OS.

So 1 ) create one or more VHDX virtual Disks on external device for each Windows installation you need -- ensure each VHDX disk is large enough for your Windows system

2) attach and initialise -- simply use Disk Mgmt from right mouse click on Windows menu button

3) clone current Windows to appropriate VHDX -- I use Macrium but any cloning software that works on Windows should be OK

4) now note driver letter of windows in vhdx : say E:\
5) from admin command prompt type : bcdboot E:\windows /p /d

6) Reboot pc and you can now select vhd to boot from.

I wish I'ds done this a lot earlier -- great way of testing various Windows versions without messing around with your standard HDD or doing endless backups / restores. !!!

Cheers
jimbo
 

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cereberus

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Hi folks
Have to credit @cereberus who gave me the idea

I've been using separate WintoGo versions of Windows for testing etc etc in order to avoid messing around with altering HDD with current running versions of Windows -- however if you have a nice large external SSD it's much easier to use and boot from VHDX (virtual HDD's) drives.

Note these are s NOT Virtual machines -- you are running the physical OS with all its hardware just as you would be from your standard installation.

Advantage also is you can use your current installation so you don't have to install from scratch. Also good when you want Windows / Office etc in separate languages without having to switch / set primary OS.

So 1 ) create one or more VHDX virtual Disks on external device for each Windows installation you need -- ensure each VHDX disk is large enough for your Windows system

2) attach and initialise -- simply use Disk Mgmt from right mouse click on Windows menu button

3) clone current Windows to appropriate VHDX -- I use Macrium but any cloning software that works on Windows should be OK

4) now note driver letter of windows in vhdx : say E:\
5) from admin command prompt type : bcdboot E:\windows /p /d

6) Reboot pc and you can now select vhd to boot from.

I wish I'ds done this a lot earlier -- great way of testing various Windows versions without messing around with your standard HDD or doing endless backups / restores. !!!

Cheers
jimbo,
Only problem with VHDs is that, if natively attached to host, they do not get upgraded when Windows moves to next major build (it is ok for cumulative updates).

I always install OS in Hyper-V first so it has all the partitions (MSR, Recovery) as well as main C drive. It also means you can carry on using pc whilst OS is installing.

That way, if you get a build upgrade, you can attach vhd to Hyper-V and then upgrade.
 

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    Yep, Laptop has one.
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    Realtek built in
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    1 TB Optane NVME SSD, 1 TB NVME SSD
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jimbo45

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Only problem with VHDs is that, if natively attached to host, they do not get upgraded when Windows moves to next major build (it is ok for cumulative updates).

I always install OS in Hyper-V first so it has all the partitions (MSR, Recovery) as well as main C drive. It also means you can carry on using pc whilst OS is installing.

That way, if you get a build upgrade, you can attach vhd to Hyper-V and then upgrade.
Also a good idea

Cheers
jimbo
 

My Computer

System One

  • Operating System
    Windows XP,7,10,11 Linux Arch Linux
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    CPU
    2 X Intel i7

SlicEnDicE

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Only problem with VHDs is that, if natively attached to host, they do not get upgraded when Windows moves to next major build (it is ok for cumulative updates).
Didn't MS change the way major upgrades are delivered? I think I read this somewhere. So should not be an issue anymore.

I could be wrong though... :think:
 

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System One System Two

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    Windows 11 Pro build 10.0.22478.1012 (Dev Channel)
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    Lenovo A485
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    Ryzen 7 2700U Pro
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    Lenovo
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    32GB
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    iGPU Vega 10
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    Windows 10 Pro, Windows 11 Pro build 10.0.22000.282 (VHDX, OfflineInsiderEnrolled to RP) , Linux Mint 20
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    Custom
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    i7-2600k @4.4GHz
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    Asus P8Z68-V PRO/GEN3
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    16GB 4x4GB 1600MHz CL9
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cereberus

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No - Dev versions are still done using the uup method rather than the CU method.

When Windows does the minor build upgrades like 21H1 to 21H2 that is done as a cumulative update. New pattern is 1 major upgrade per year (UUP), and 1 minor upgrade (CU) but whether that pattern is kept to is anybody's guess.
 

My Computer

System One

  • Operating System
    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
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