One of the great new features in Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 is ability to boot the operating system from VHD file. Why? Look at this example. My colleague, Ales Rosina, Microsoft Student Partner from Slovenia recently wanted to have Windows7 as a virtual operating system inside VirtualPC, for quick access, testing… But, virtual operating systems doesn’t have direct access to hardware, every peace of hardware is emulated and sometimes you want direct access to hardware, for example to test your application. Ales wanted sometimes to run Windows 7 in virtual environment, and sometimes to run in as host machine… I gave him solution.
To do this, you have to create virtual operating system, for example virtual Windows Server 2008 R2, and vhd file which will hold all the files. Then you just need to add that virtual hard drive file to boot process, and that’s it. Among the other operating systems that you might have as dual boot, Windows Server 2008 R2 will be there also, and it will use VHD file as his hard drive. And of course, if you later want to use same Windows Server 2008 R2 in virtual environment, you just need to attach VHD file in Hyper-V virtual machine.
How to do this? I won’t describe the whole process, Keith Combs wrote everything you need to know in his post Dual Boot from VHD Using Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2.
For more information, visit Keith post, and Native VHD Support in Windows 7 from Microsoft Virtualization team. Also, Marin Frankovic wrote about his experience in post Boot Windows Server 2008 R2 RC from VHD within Windows 7.