Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Guide to remove Windows 8 on a VHD (Virtual Hard Disk)

Last week I posted a setup for installing Windows 8 on a VHD (Virtual Hard Disk). Have a look for that here: Guide to install Windows 8 on a VHD. Now I received some questions how to make the Windows 8 setup undone, so Windows 7 will be the default Operating System again. In this blog I will give some solutions for this!

First it's possible to make Windows 7 the default Operating System again, without removing the Windows 8 installation. This is the easiest one to configure. Just boot from hard disk then, and while on the "Choose an Operating System" screen select "Change defaults or choose other options".
Then select "Choose the default operating system" to select Windows 7 as default OS again. It's also possible to change the default timer (from 30 seconds to 5 seconds) for faster boot there.
That way another boot menu will be used (from Windows 7 OS) which is must faster for booting Windows 7 AND Windows 8. I prefer this one because it's faster, not for the better menu.

Now another solution for totally remove Window8 from the boot menu. There are a few possibilities to make this possible:
  • Use BCDEDIT and remove the Windows 8 boot entry
  • Rebuild the boot menu from the Windows 7 DVD repair option
  • Use BCDBOOT to repair boot files or create a new BCD store

It's of cource possible to remove the VHD file from hard disk. Then the boot menu will not be changed, and when selected "Windows 8" an error will follow:
Nothing to worry about, but not the better solution. It can be still part of a solution when using BCDEDIT, Windows 7 repair option or BCDBOOT. I will explain them all now.

With BCDEDIT many options comes available to add, delete, edit, and append entries in the boot configuration data (BCD) store. The BCD store contains boot configuration parameters and controls how the operating system is booted.

When not sure about BCDEDIT command first create a backup with: BCDEDIT /Export C:\BCDCOPY. Then delete the Windows 8 entry with the BCDEDIT /Delete command. For doing that the Identifier is needed. This can be found with the BCDEDIT command (without parameters):
The command for deleting Windows 8 here (in my case) is BCDEDIT /Delete {3b0c2878-9f48-11df-8e48-a2ba939022f2} /Cleanup. Let's have a try! I've deleted the Windows 8 entry and Windows 7 is booting immediately after reboot. Exactly what I want. No need to display the 30 seconds timer anymore, because there's only a single OS left.
When running BCDEDIT again my Windows 8 entry is gone, and Windows 7 will be the only OS left to boot. When I want to go back to Windows 8 again I choose: BCDEDIT /Import C:\BCDCOPY to have it all functional again.

The second solution is the Windows 7 repair option. Just start from a Windows DVD and choose "Repair your computer". Then select your OS (Windows 7) and choose "Startup Repair". The boot manager will then be repaired, and Windows 7 will be the default OS again. That way no rollback to Windows 8 is possible, because a clean boot manager is created.
If you click on “Startup Repair” then Windows will scan your system for common errors and will hopefully figure out that your boot manager is broken. A simple solution and maybe the most effective?

At last there is the BCDBOOT command. With BCDBOOT it's possible to copy critical boot files to the system partition and to create a new system BCD store.
I'm not that familiar with BCDBOOT, but for more information about this there is a TechNet post available: BCDboot Command-Line Options. It seems the most effective for creating a new BCD store or to add boot options to an existing BCD store.

For example, to create a BCD store on the default system partition with the optional locale parameter set to US English, you would use the following command: BCDBOOT C:\Windows /l en-us

Hope you have enough tools by now to remove Windows 8 from the boot menu and re-use Windows 7 as the only OS installed (if needed).


  1. Thanks Henk, I will definitely try it with my Windows 8, now. Thanks again for sharing this useful post.

  2. Will this also reallocate the hard drive space back to the main partition, or will you have to format it then reallocate it manually?

  3. You can use msconfig to alter the boot menu, too. Just run it and select the 2nd tab, works in Windows 7.

  4. BCDEDIT delete for the vhd worked great, thanks for the post