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With Windows XP, it was not possible to install it to a USB Hard drive (without diving deep into unsupported terrain). With Windows 7, it looks like VHD Support could solve that.

But is there a supported way to install either Windows Vista or Windows 2008 Server on a USB Hard drive?

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and can Windows 7 be installed onto a USB drive and move around to any machine (exlcuding the new drivers/hardware found etc..). Or does the desktop need to have a special entry in teh MBR... so u can't move it around anymore? – Pure.Krome May 27 '09 at 7:13
I haven't tested, but from Scott Hanselman's article, if it's inside a VHD (which is just an image file), you can just (manually) add it to an existing boot.ini and boot from it. VHD does not work as a primary OS, but that's not my intention. But as said, haven't tested. – Michael Stum May 27 '09 at 7:15
And more imporantly, will these operating systems boot from a "removable device", or does a USB connection prevent the system from booting correctly? – kdmurray May 27 '09 at 7:16
up vote 2 down vote accepted

It's not possible, from what I know, to install Vista nor 2008 on some USB drive. The best way to use Vista without disturbing your current system would probably be to use a vistualisation tool like VMware or others.

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Yes it can. I have a USB drive that I can boot a full Win 7 x64 Enterprise from. Its awfully slow, I wouldn't recommend it at all.

It was actually installed using an eSATA cable but it boots from USB and works. From experience i suspect that I would have bee nable to install via USB, but as eSATA was available at the time I used that instead.

I really wouldn't recommend it though. If you are looking for a portable operating system get a linux Live CD of some form. See -

If its trialling Windows on your current system, a second disk/partition dual boot process would be preferable.

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