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A first look at the Windows Server 10 Technical Preview

Jonathan Hassell | Oct. 7, 2014
Windows 10 on the client side has a lot to answer for, given the panning of Windows 8 by large swaths of the Microsoft user base, but on the server side, Windows Server 10 seems in this preview release like a very solid march forward on all fronts.

An option for checking out the preview: Boot to VHD
Let me also take this opportunity to point out how you can test Windows 10 and Windows Server 10 on real hardware to get a sense of performance and usability without resorting to either a virtual machine within another real install or mucking up your daily driver PC. You can boot from a VHD (virtual hard drive) with Windows 10 or Windows Server 10 preinstalled, use your real hardware and then boot back to your real installation.

It is better than a dual-boot because all of your Windows 10-related files, settings, applications and more are contained within one file -- the VHD -- that sits on your drive and can be backed up, moved to other PCs, run as a virtual machine and so on.

To configure boot to VHD, do the following:

  • Download the Windows or Windows Server technical preview ISO from either the Windows Insider site or from your MSDN or TechNet subscription.
  • Use the Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool to make a bootable USB flash drive; any drive with 8 GB or more of space should work fine. And yes, this tool works with the preview with no issue despite the fact that the name has not been updated since the days of Windows 7.
  • Open up Windows PowerShell and then type the following command to create a new 60GB VHD in the directory C:\VHD:

New-VHD -Fixed C:\VHD\WindowsTechPreview.vhdx -SizeBytes 60GB

Adjust those inputs as necessary for your own preferences.

  • Reboot your computer using the bootable flash drive you created with the technical preview ISO loaded into it.
  • Navigate through the installation wizard until you get to the "Which type of installation do you want?" screen that has two options on it: Upgrade and customer. Once you are there, hold down Shift and hit F10 to bring up a command prompt within the Windows Preinstallation Environment session.
  • Type dir C: to make sure that Windows sees your volume with the VHD on it. It might also be at D: or E: depending on how your disk is set up.
  • Once you have the right volume, type diskpart to enter the partitioning utility.
  • Enter the following commands:

select vdisk file = c:\VHD\WindowsTechPreview.vhdx

attach vdisk

exit

  • Close the command prompt window.
  • Select the Custom option on the "Which type of installation do you want?" screen.
  • Choose your VHD and click Next, and let Setup complete its process.

When your PC reboots, you will see a startup menu with the technical preview option and your existing OS listed as well. You can toggle between them at will. When you are done looking at the technical preview for good, you can simply boot into your previous OS, delete the VHD file and then use the MSCONFIG utility to adjust the boot menu to get rid of the technical preview option.

 

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