There are a couple of ways to test drive Windows 10/8.1 operating system on your computer. You can install Windows 10/8.1 in dual-boot with Windows 8/7/Vista, use virtualization software such as VirtualBox to install Windows 10/8.1 without having to make any changes to your system, or install Windows 10/8.1 on a VHD without using third-party tools.
As all above mentioned guides require you go through the installation procedure, we have come up with this smart guide. By following this guide, you’ll be able to run Windows 10/8.1 on a VHD without having to walk through the installation procedure.
The other advantage of this method is that Windows 10/8.1 will be able to make full use of your system resources. Uninstalling or removing this setup is also fairly simple.
Step 1: Download Windows 10/8.1 ISO from Microsoft. You can download either 32-bit or 64-bit version. If your PC is equipped with 4GB or more RAM, go for the 64-bit ISO.
Step 2: Next, you need to extract the ISO image contents to a folder. Again, if you’re running on Windows 8 or later, you don’t need to extract the file as you can easily mount the ISO file. And if you’re on Windows 7, Vista, or XP, use WinRAR, WinZip or 7-Zip (free) to extract the ISO file contents to a folder.
Step 3: Download PWBoot executable from this page. PWBoot is a portable software and it doesn’t require an installation.
Step 4: Run PWBoot software, select Install Windows option, and click Next button.
Step 5: In the following screen, click the Browse button next to Windows installation image (install.wim) box to browse to the install.wim file located in Sources folder of Windows 10/8.1 ISO file. If you have mounted the ISO file, open up the mounted drive, open up Sources folder to select install.wim file. And if you have extracted ISO file using a file archiving software, open up the folder containing extracted files, double-click on Sources folder and then select install.wim file.
Next, select Windows image as Windows 10/8.1 Pro. Uncheck the option titled Enable boot from USB interface capability option before clicking the Next button.
Step 6: Here, select Virtual hard disk (VHD) image and click Next button to continue.
Step 7: In this step, you need to select a location to save the VHD image and specify the space that you would like to allocate to the VHD.
Click on the Browse button to select a location to save the VHD, and then enter VHD size in MB. We recommend you allocate at least 10,000MB. Select the option titled Dynamic (expandable) and then click Next button.
Step 8: Here, you need to select system boot partition (usually it’s “C”). Select your Windows installed drive, uncheck the options titled Update bootcode (MBR), Overwrite existing BCD store (create new), and add boot entry to BCD Store before clicking the Install button. Not need to enter Windows boot description as it won’t appear when you add this VHD image entry to the boot menu using EasyBCD software.
Click Yes button when you see the confirmation prompt.
We are unchecking the above three options as we can safely add VHD entry to the boot menu using EasyBCD tool.
Step 9: The tool will take a few minutes to complete the installation. Once done, you’ll see Finished message. Close PWBoot software.
Step 9: Download and install EasyBCD free edition from here. Run the setup file and follow the on-screen instructions to complete the installation.
Step 10: Launch EasyBCD, click Add New Entry button. Under Portable/External Media section, click on Disk Image tab, select Type as Microsoft VHD, enter name as Windows 10 or 8.1, and click the browse button next to the Patch box to browse to the location where you have saved the VHD image in Step 7. Click Add Entry button.
Once added, you’ll see “Drive added to boot menu successfully” message on the lower-left of EasyBCD window.
Step 11: Reboot your system to see Windows 8.1 entry in the boot menu, select Windows 10/8.1 entry, and then press Enter key to boot into Windows 10/8.1.
Step 12: You’ll be asked to enter the product key (see how to get Windows 8.1 product key)and create user account using your Microsoft account. That’s it! Your Windows 10/8.1 is ready!
From this time onwards, you need to select Windows 8.1 entry in the boot menu to begin testing the newest version of Windows.
How to remove Windows 8.1 entry from the boot menu and delete the VHD:
Step 1: Turn on your PC and then boot into the other version of Windows that you were using before ‘installing’ Windows 10/8.1. For instance, if you were using Windows 7 before ‘installing’ Windows 10/8.1, you need to boot into Windows 7.
Step 2: Run the previously installed EasyBCD software. Click Edit Boot Menu button, select Windows 10/8.1 entry that you have added and then click Delete button to delete Windows 10/8.1 entry from the boot menu. Click Yes button when you see the confirmation dialog.
Step 3: Next, navigate to the folder where the Windows 10/8.1 VHD is located, select the VHD file and then press Ctrl + Shift + Delete keys to permanently delete the file. Good luck!