Copy and Paste VM Installs Windows 2000, XP, W6-7-8  


Perhaps the quirkiest way to install Windows 2000, WIndows XP, Vista, Windows 7 or WIndows 8 in VirtualBox.

It's basically copying and pasting all files from an existing VHD OS install into an empty VHD, with a tweak or 2.

While I've only tested this using VirtualBox, I can't see any reason for it not to work with a
physical install - although given the futzing around involved in doing it I think it's not worth the effort.

So far I've tested it with Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 and they all work fine
(I haven't tested this with Vista and Windows 8 but they use the same boot method as Windows 7 and 8.1).

If you want to try it for yourself, here are the things you'll need:
  • For the simplest option, which is Windows 2000 or Windows XP:
    • VirtualBox (or equivalent)
    • 1 x VHD with Windows 2000 / XP installed and working without issues
    • 1 x VHD that is < un-initialised and unformatted > and large enough for the install
    • Optionally, 1 x Windows 2000 / XP install CD (in case you encounter errors - I didn't)
    • 1 x VM with any version of Krusty the Clown's favourite OS (Linux) for the file copy process
    • A sense of humour
  • For the not quite as simple option, which is Windows 6 - 7 - 8 - 8.1
    • VirtualBox (or equivalent)
    • 1 x VHD with Windows 6 - 7 - 8 - 8.1 installed and working without issues
    • 1 x VHD that is < un-initialised and unformatted > and large enough for the install
    • 1 x Windows 6 - 7 - 8 - 8.1 install CD or install CD image/ISO that < must > have the Recovery option included - I'll assume you have this as you've already done an install into a VM using it
    • 1 x VM with any version of Krusty the Clown's favourite OS (Linux) for the file copy process
    • An even bigger sense of humour

Please note - I use "VHD" for the virtual machine's hard disk image - yours could be VDI, VHDx, QCOW, etc. and "VM" for the Virtual Machine created by the virtualisation software (in my case VirtualBox).




The copy process for Windows 2000 or Windows XP:
  • Have a VM running Krusty's favourite OS (aka Linux) or your preferred joke OS available
  • Have a VM with the Windows OS you want to copy available ("Win-Old")
  • Create a new VHD to copy the Windows OS to ("Win-New")
  • Attach the "Win-New" VHD to the Windows 2000/XP VM you've already installed the OS on ("Win-Old")
  • Boot the VM
  • In the VM, right click "This PC" or "My Computer" select "Manage" then select "Disk Management"
  • A dialog will appear asking to initialise the new disk, click OK (or whatever)
  • When initialised, create a new simple (NTFS) volume on the new disk using the whole disk space
  • Set the partition "Active" - this is important as it sets the disk as a boot volume and writes the correct OS specific boot code to the MBR
  • Your disk is now ready for the OS copy process
  • Right now you'll be tempted to simply copy the OS files from the hard disk you booted from to the new hard disk you just initialised and formatted - but that won't work as Windows will refuse to copy certain system files and you'll not get a bootable install. You must use a non-Windows OS for the file copy (i.e., Krusty's favourite OS)
  • Shut down the Windows VM
  • Release both Windows VHDs from your Windows VM
  • Attach both VHDs to the VM that has Krusty's favourite OS, or your preferred joke OS
  • Boot Krusty's favourite OS
  • In the VM, open Krusty's file manager - you'll see both the "Win-Old"and "Win-New" VHDs showing as 2 drives that are both "Unmounted" drives
  • Mount both of these (Windows) drives and then open each drive in a separate file manager window
  • Now for the guts of it - select all the files in "Win-Old" and copy them to "Win-New"
  • Krusty's file manager will copy without whining about protected files, permissions, etc.
  • Unmount both drives and shutdown Krusty's favourite OS
  • Detach both Windows VHDs
  • Attach the "Win-New" VHD to the Windows VM that you used to format it
  • Boot the VM
  • Welcome to Windows 2000 or Windows XP
  • This process worked fine for me with both Windows 2000 and Windows XP. In the event this doesn't work for you and you get nothing / a BSOD / Windows hangs then your optional CD comes in
    • Re-boot the VM using the original Windows install CD and on the "Enter to Install" screen select the "R to Recover this PC" option
    • This will take you to a command prompt where you'll enter your credentials to log in to Windows (no GUI)
    • After logging in, at the command prompt type "FixMBR" then "Y" to confirm
    • Then remove the CD and reboot the VM
  • Welcome to Windows 2000 or Windows XP


The copy process for Windows 6 - 7 - 8 - 8.1:
  • The same process as detailed for Windows 2000 / XP above - but when you shut down Krusty's favourite OS after copying the files to "Win-New" and attach the VHD to your Windows VM, the following restore boot files process < must > be done - NeoSmart Technologies https://neosmart.net/wiki/fix-mbr/ has a good guide on doing this - just ignore the advertising for the Easy Recovery Essentials software at the top of the page
  • The restore boot files process is: 
    • Re-boot the VM using the original Windows install CD and on the "Enter to Install" screen select the "R to Recover this PC" option (lower left of screen)
    • This will take you to a command prompt where you'll enter your credentials to log in to Windows (no GUI)
    • After logging in, at the command prompt enter 4 commands (one at a time):
      • bootrec /FixMbr 
      • bootrec /FixBoot
      • bootrec /ScanOs
      • bootrec /RebuildBcd
    • After each command, wait for the operation to finish before entering the next command
    • When complete, remove the CD and reboot the VM
  • Welcome to Windows 6 - 7 - 8 - 8.1


Both of these processes worked for me in installing Windows 2000, XP, 7 and 8.1.

If it doesn't work for you . . . you'll need to consult Dr. Web.


And when it does work and you're thinking "Hey, I'll use this to update Nan's PC" you'll need to sysprep the hard drive done using this method before attaching it and booting a real PC, otherwise you'll get a BSOD.

And if you're wondering what sysprep is . . .
you'll need to consult Dr. Web.



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Updated  15 November 2022      
Shotter_Nail