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Using Windows 7 Virtual PC to create a virtual machine, I know you can sysprep the VHD and then you are able to use it to dual boot using the Win7 boot from VHD mode.

However can you take that VHD later and load it in Virtual PC? I suspect another sysprep will be needed to change the drivers.

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The phrase "duel boot" is hilarious to me ("Windows 98 versus Windows 7-- FIGHT!" ... "My OS can kick your OS's ass!"). I probably should edit the question to fix the word, but homophones are such a rich vein of humor to be mined. – Evan Anderson Dec 4 '09 at 14:22
up vote 1 down vote accepted

You're correct that the drivers would almost certainly be completely different between your physical hardware and the virtual machine "hardware". So while you could move the VHD back and forth between boot-to-vhd and boot-in-VirtualPC, it's not really practical. The substantial hardware change would trigger the re-authorization every time you switched modes and after a couple of switches your product key isn't going to work any longer.

I've done a similar thing to convert old hardware to a virtual machine and it's not horribly difficult to get a physical image to run in a VM as long as the host machine isn't too different from the physical machine.

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On a Mac, when you launch a Boot Camp (dual boot) partition in VMware Fusion, Windows will ask to be re-activated once. Sometimes this requires the dreaded phone call to India, but in my experience MS finds the explanation to be valid and approves the reactivation. Contrary to what is indicated here, Windows does not ask to be activated a third time when it goes back to running on bare metal. It seems to be smart enough to remember the prior hardware signature. I don't know whether identical results are possible on non-Apple hardware, but one would hope... – Skyhawk May 22 '10 at 20:37

Yes, and you can go both ways - from a boot from vhd image and to running in VPC or Hyper-V, or the other way. Sysprep would be required if you are going the other way, so that the minisetup runs to detect the various drivers when going from a VPC/HyperV vhd to a boot from vhd. This is to prevent the boot from vhd image from running the integration disk drivers when running on the real hardware.

An interesting utility recently released that you may want to check out is SysInternals Disk2vhd. It can do some hal fixups when going back to VPC:

It uses the volume shadow copy feature of Windows XP/2003 or later to create the image. I recently created a vhd from a ThinkPad T61P, and it started up fine on Hyper-V.

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-1: This isn't about going between Hyper-V and VPC. This is about going between Win7 Boot from VHD and VPC. Hyper-V is very different from the boot from VPC option. – Robert MacLean Dec 7 '09 at 6:32
I was referring to boot from vhd to VPC. – Greg Askew Dec 7 '09 at 14:03

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