Step-By-Step: Installing Windows Server 2012 RTM from thumb-drive creating a “New” bootable Virtual Hard Disk – By Blain Barton


Here are my latest notes for boot to .VHD without messing up your bare metal.

This process can be used for Windows Server 2012 or Windows 8.

Here’s what you need to have in your IT Toolbox for this exercise.

-          USB Drive (4GB or larger)

-          .ISO File of Windows Server 2012 RTM Eval 180-Days

-          The Windows 7 USB/DVD Download

Native VHD boot is supported only by Windows 7, and it is restricted to the following editions:

    • Windows® 7 Enterprise
    • Windows® 7 Ultimate
    • Not Professional

      My understanding of this is that Native VHD Boot of the Windows 7 OS is only supported on Enterprise and Ultimate.  However, using BCDBOOT, I’ve seen other OS’s booted on a PC that originally had Windows 7 Home, Pro, Enterprise and Ultimate installed as its native OS. Thanks Keith.

Get your Windows Server 2012 RTM Eval and Windows 8 Eval .ISO downloads at:

Check your BIOS – Boot and do an F2 – or whatever your BIO enablement is (F10, ThinkVantage Blue Button or whatever to boot into your BIOS). 

Check the following:

o    Enable “Virtualization Technology [VT]” (Processor)

o    Enable “Data Execution Prevention [DEP]” (Security)

o    Enable “Second Level Address Translation [SLAT]”

o    Change boot sequence to allow media (USB Drive)

Get a USB Thumb Drive. 4GB – 8GB (Note: 4GB will work for .ISO boot as the files are 3.44GB.  The drive will be formatted!)

You can use the GUI (Graphical User Interface)   Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool that is in the parking lot of the This is a great tool at the Microsoft Store location at:

Or you can do the CUI (Character User Interface) later in the post.

It is all Step-By-Step.  Want to have it easy? 

Start the USB Boot Tool -


Choose the .ISO


Choose the Media – USB or DVD -  It’s that Easy


Insert USB Device


Create the USB Bootable Device


If you want to do the CUI for the USB Thumb Drive which ends with the same results, do the following:

Open upCommand Prompt

diskpart - enter

list disk enter. Find your USB drive letter.

(CAUTION: Be sure to select the CORRECT DISK before formatting)

select disk 1  (Replace disk 1 with your disk number)


Sample below:


create partition primary

select partition 1


format fs=ntfs

(Format process may take a couple of minutes)



Sample below:


Copy the Windows files from the .ISO to your USB drive with Windows Server 2012 90-Evaluation downloaded from

Sample below:



Make sure your computer BIOS is set to boot to USB

Boot from USB (it will do this automatically if you build the USB to be bootable above!)

CAUTION!  If you want to keep you OS and dual boot, do not delete your primary on System Partition on Drive 0 and OS partition on Drive 1.

Create a new partition for your boot to VHD.

To to this, go through the Windows Server 2012 install until you see the partitions screen.

Hit SHIFT + F10 to open a command prompt window,  find the installation drive (dir c:, dir d:, dir e: and keep this drive) usually c:


create vdisk file=e:\BootDemo.vhd type=expandable maximum=40000

attach vdisk

Hit REFRESH to see the partition, to see a video go to my buddy’s Dan Stolt’s at

Continue and the install will begin and start loading the files.

FYI - Note:   Windows Product Key is not required for this 180-Day Evaluation Edition. You can always add your Product Key in later with “Activate with a new key”.


This is what you will see on the desktop on first boot.


Take the defaults on the Language screen Click Next

Click Install now on the install screen

If Installing Windows Server 2012 Datacenter (Server with a GUI) x64

Note: Click the 4th line item for the GUI.


 The default install is now Server Core click Next

Read License Agreement, Click checkbox I accept the license terms then Click Next

The disk you are using should be listed. If not, you will need to Load driver. Select the disk you will be installing on. Select the 39.9 partition want to change drive options Click Next

It will then start copying files. This will take a while (could be 20 minutes or so depending on hardware performance)

It will reboot a couple times (automatically) after the first reboot it will no longer be running off of the USB (if you see the Install screen, take out the USB, cancel the Install and Reboot.

The install for the Boot to VHD routine will continue….

In the Password box enter a new password for this computer. It must meet complexity requirements. Re-enter the password in the second password box then click Finish

If you are using Windows Server 2012 Press Ctrl-Alt-Delete at the same time to get the login screen

Enter password and press <ENTER>

If you are using Windows Server 2012 - The Desktop will be displayed and Server Manager will be opened automatically.

If you are using Windows Server 2012 Press Windows Key on the keyboard will bring up the start screen (formerly known as Start Menu)

If you Right-Click on Computer you will see the new right-click menu is on the bottom of the screen instead of in a dropdown box. Select Properties

We can now change the computer name by clicking on Change Settings

If you are using Windows Server 2012 Type new computer name you would like to use and click OK

Click OK on the information box

Click OK to allow a restart

Then click Restart Now on the final dialog box.

When the computer restarts it will have the new name,

Note: You will see the dual boot to boot to .VHD which is usually your Volume 2, and the NATIVE operating system is usually Volume 1.


Deleting the Boot to the Virtual Hard Disk Scenario

To get your machine back to boot off of the NATIVE operating system (ie. Volume 1) Hit the Windows Key + C then go to SEARCH, or click the lower right-hand corner and go to SEARCH and type in MSCONFIG (under APPS).

In MSCONFIG, go to the BOOT tab and Delete the one you want to disguard but keep the Current OS as that will be your bare metal installation of Windows.

Click “Ok”.

To delete the .VHD and dual boot go to Desktop and Windows Explorer and delete the BootDemo.vhd file, Click Continue in the message box, then empty the Recycling Bin.

If you have issues- boot to the Native Operating System DVD and use the System Repair in Windows.


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