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Dual Boot Two Separate Win 8.1 Environments On 512GB Pro 2

ellswrth

New Member
I have a new in box 512GB Pro 2 which I have not opened as yet.

I am looking for a way in which I could "clone" the Windows 8.1 installation so as to have two separate Win 8.1 environments. The intention is to have one set of .NET/SQL Server dev tools in one environment, and a separate set of PHP/MySQL tools in the other.

I realize I could do something like this with VirtualBox or the like, but I have my laptop set up in this dual boot fashion and it's perfect for my way of working. I used Acronis Disk Director Home 11 to set this up on the laptop and could theoretically do the same on the Surface Pro 2.

I used to use a VM for the PHP/MySQL side but the dual boot is much faster.

Any thoughts on how this could be accomplished?

TIA
 

jrapdx

Member
I have a new in box 512GB Pro 2 which I have not opened as yet.

I am looking for a way in which I could "clone" the Windows 8.1 installation so as to have two separate Win 8.1 environments. The intention is to have one set of .NET/SQL Server dev tools in one environment, and a separate set of PHP/MySQL tools in the other.

I realize I could do something like this with VirtualBox or the like, but I have my laptop set up in this dual boot fashion and it's perfect for my way of working. I used Acronis Disk Director Home 11 to set this up on the laptop and could theoretically do the same on the Surface Pro 2.

I used to use a VM for the PHP/MySQL side but the dual boot is much faster.

Any thoughts on how this could be accomplished?

TIA
Good timing, I've been contemplating related questions lately. First of all, when you say "two separate" environments it's not clear what you mean. Mainly, are the two "environments" intended to share information or are they really separate, that is, running one at a time, not both at the same time.

If entirely separate, you are dual booting or equivalent. If both are Win 8.1 you could have separate installations in different disk partitions. Another way would be to install Win 8.1 in a Virtual Hard Disk, a VHD or better, an xVHD. I'm learning it's possible to boot from the VHD by attaching the VHD to the primary file system and adding the VHD (as drive E: or however it's assigned) to the Windows boot menu.

OTOH, if your idea is that the environments run simultaneously and communicate, it's even easier. Win 8.1 Pro comes with Hyper-V built-in. Hyper-V is an excellent virtualization technology accommodating many OS, but Win 8.1 will readily run in a VM with all the advanced bells and whistles available. The host and guest OS can exchange info. As a bonus, I can even imagine you could set up the second Win 8.1 VHD to be started from the boot menu, so you'd have a choice which way you'd like to use it (as a standalone OS or guest OS in a VM).

Exciting times! OS-wise, looks like you can have it all.

Edit: This might help, especially part 5 of the series: 5 excellent uses of Windows 8 Hyper-V | Virtualization - InfoWorld
 
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OP
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ellswrth

New Member
First of all, when you say "two separate" environments it's not clear what you mean. Mainly, are the two "environments" intended to share information or are they really separate, that is, running one at a time, not both at the same time.
I definitely want dual-boot, yes.

I'll describe my laptop environment. I have a 960GB SSD which has three partitions, for discussion called NET, PHP, and DATA.

The NET partition contains a copy of Windows 7 with all the .NET tools installed.

The PHP partition contains another copy of Windows 7 with all the PHP tools installed.

The DATA partition contains data files only, nothing application related.

I can then select to boot into either Windows 7 environment. Each environment has full access to and control of all the hardware on the system with no emulation or surrogate devices involved.

All three partitions are accessible to either environment but obviously get different drive letters.

In the NET environment, I have

C:\ NET
D:\ DATA
G:\ PHP

In the PHP environment, I have

C:\ PHP
D:\ DATA
G:\ NET

This is more or less what I'm trying to end up with on the Surface.

Except ... I prefer to do it using the "native" Surface Win 8.1 Pro for each environment. That's really my question, better phrased. I want to extract the factory image off the Surface and then install it twice.

We are a Microsoft MVLP customer so I can download Win 8.1 Pro and install but I would then have to accumulate the Surface Pro 2 drivers which doesn't seem like it would be straightforward. I can have a separate key for each environment (as I do on the laptop).

If entirely separate, you are dual booting or equivalent. If both are Win 8.1 you could have separate installations in different disk partitions. Another way would be to install Win 8.1 in a Virtual Hard Disk, a VHD or better, an xVHD. I'm learning it's possible to boot from the VHD by attaching the VHD to the primary file system and adding the VHD (as drive E: or however it's assigned) to the Windows boot menu.
Now that's interesting ... how exactly is the VHD attached? Still some overhead decompressing the VHD but ...

Addendum - is this what we're talking about here? Understanding Virtual Hard Disks with Native Boot

Oh, and what's an 'xVHD'?

Any thoughts you or anyone else have on this would be appreciated.
 
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jrapdx

Member
I definitely want dual-boot, yes.

Oh, and what's an 'xVHD'?
I'll have to get back to your post later--only have a second right now. But 'xVHD' was a slip of the typing fingers. Should be VHDX, the extended VHD format, VHD with enhanced capabilities.

More later...
 

jrapdx

Member
I definitely want dual-boot, yes.

I'll describe my laptop environment. I have a 960GB SSD which has three partitions, for discussion called NET, PHP, and DATA.

The NET partition contains a copy of Windows 7 with all the .NET tools installed.

The PHP partition contains another copy of Windows 7 with all the PHP tools installed.

The DATA partition contains data files only, nothing application related.

I can then select to boot into either Windows 7 environment. Each environment has full access to and control of all the hardware on the system with no emulation or surrogate devices involved.

All three partitions are accessible to either environment but obviously get different drive letters.

In the NET environment, I have

C:\ NET
D:\ DATA
G:\ PHP

In the PHP environment, I have

C:\ PHP
D:\ DATA
G:\ NET

This is more or less what I'm trying to end up with on the Surface.

Except ... I prefer to do it using the "native" Surface Win 8.1 Pro for each environment. That's really my question, better phrased. I want to extract the factory image off the Surface and then install it twice.

We are a Microsoft MVLP customer so I can download Win 8.1 Pro and install but I would then have to accumulate the Surface Pro 2 drivers which doesn't seem like it would be straightforward. I can have a separate key for each environment (as I do on the laptop).



Now that's interesting ... how exactly is the VHD attached? Still some overhead decompressing the VHD but ...

Addendum - is this what we're talking about here? Understanding Virtual Hard Disks with Native Boot

Oh, and what's an 'xVHD'?

Any thoughts you or anyone else have on this would be appreciated.
From evberything I've read, setting up dual-boot with two Windows installations, the preferred method is to install the 2nd version into a VHD(X), and then using the VHD as a partition to boot into. There are tons of articles on the web describing how to do this, and various free tools make it pretty straightforward to do.

One tool is EasyBCD which has a setting to use a VHD as an entry in the boot menu. I've used EasyBCD in the past and it worked as expected. I haven't used the current version, but it seems similar to the prior versions.

In any case, the setup isn't difficult. The MS article you point to is a fairly simple approach. I stepped through it just to enlighten myself. For an old unix hand, the command-line actions weren't too hard at all. I'm guessing you can accomplish it without a whole lot of sweat.

I would recommend adhering to the advice to backup the bcd before doing anything with bcdedit. The backup has saved my bacon when I was trying out things that ultimately just screwed it up. Oh well, it's often expected from "unauthorized" experiments...
 

CreativeLemming

Active Member
Except ... I prefer to do it using the "native" Surface Win 8.1 Pro for each environment. That's really my question, better phrased. I want to extract the factory image off the Surface and then install it twice.

We are a Microsoft MVLP customer so I can download Win 8.1 Pro and install but I would then have to accumulate the Surface Pro 2 drivers which doesn't seem like it would be straightforward. I can have a separate key for each environment (as I do on the laptop).
Consider using Disk2VHD (Disk2vhd) to create your system image from your existing OS install, so you won't need to worry about installing a new OS and drivers.

If you really want a fresh install, other tools like Wim2VHD are available for imaging a VHD, as you can't 'install' to them the normal way.
 
OP
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ellswrth

New Member
Consider using Disk2VHD (Disk2vhd) to create your system image from your existing OS install, so you won't need to worry about installing a new OS and drivers.

If you really want a fresh install, other tools like Wim2VHD are available for imaging a VHD, as you can't 'install' to them the normal way.
Thanks for the suggestion, but I think there's a problem with that - from the web page you linked to

Note: do not attach to VHDs on the same system on which you created them if you plan on booting from them. If you do so, Windows will assign the VHD a new disk signature to avoid a collision with the signature of the VHD’s source disk. Windows references disks in the boot configuration database (BCD) by disk signature, so when that happens Windows booted in a VM will fail to locate the boot disk.
I do use Disk2VHD but I think in this case I need to build a separate installation.
 
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