31 - Boot and install Windows 7 or Vista or Server 2008 (both 32 and 64 bit) from ISO files from a single bootable USB install drive

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Attention: New Tutorial #32 is easier and quicker to set up and use!


This tutorial will show you how to have a bootable USB drive (flash drive or HDD) which can contain any number of Vista, Win 7, Server 2008 or later Installation DVDs (both 32-bit and 64-bit) and boot from any one of them. You can then install that OS onto your PCs hard drive just as if you had booted from the DVD. This method does not load the ISO file into RAM and is just as fast as running from a flat-file USB drive and faster than booting from an install DVD.

For a quick and dirty method of adding Windows Vista/7 ISOs to your existing grub4dos USB drive (and if you don't mind having to type a few command line commands each time) see the ADDENDUM at the end of this tutorial.

Note: Tutorial #32 is an enhancement of this method but is fully automatic and very easy to set up.

The basic idea behind this is simple. You boot to WinPE, you use ImDisk to mount an ISO as a Volume letter, you run Setup.exe from the new volume letter. The only complication is that you cannot run a 64-bit Setup.exe from a 32-bit WinPE environment, so we need two WinPE versions on the same USB drive. To test this I used an 8GB USB Flash drive and Windows 7 SP1 64-bit Enterprise edition ISO and a 32-bit Vista Spanish edition.

If you also want to add OS installs from XP ISO files to your USB drive - see Tutorial #30.

This tutorial allows you to have a grub4dos boot menu that contains 2 entries

1. Install a 32-Bit Windows OS
2. Install a 64-Bit Windows OS

The basic grub4dos menu

When you select one of these two grub4dos menu choices, the USB drive will then boot to either WinPE v3 32-bit or WinPE v3 64-bit.

The USB drive loads WinPE (either 32-bit version or 64-bit version)

At this point you will be presented with a list of ISO files and you can choose which one to run.

This menu can be easily modified to contain all your 32-bit ISO files

From then on it is just as if you booted from the DVD.

The files on the USB drive will be:

\boot folder
\sources folder containing two boot.wim files - boot1.wim and boot2.wim
\ImDisk folder containing ImDisk driver and some script files which you can edit
\ISO folder for all your Windows ISO files

A suggested Menu.lst is:

title Windows 32-bit OS Install Menu (bc1)\nIf you want to install a 32-bit OS
map --mem /bootmgr (rd)
write --offset=0x105E (rd)+1 \xEB\x08
write --offset=0x54696 (rd)+1 1
chainloader (rd)+1
root ()

title Windows 64-bit OS Install Menu (bc2)\nIf you want to install a 64-bit OS
map --mem /bootmgr (rd)
write --offset=0x105E (rd)+1 \xEB\x08
write --offset=0x54696 (rd)+1 2
chainloader (rd)+1
root ()

title Boot from 1st Hard Disk \nBoot from MBR of first hard disk
map (hd0) (hd1)
map (hd1) (hd0)
map --hook
chainloader (hd0)+1
rootnoverify (hd0)

N.B. If you already have a different version of the WAIK installed, you can use that instead, but you will need to change the patch bytes as follows (use 1 for the first menu and 2 for the 2nd menu):

For Windows 7 Bootmgr SP0 build 7600 (CRC32: EE471B58)
write --offset=0x105E (rd)+1 \xEB\x08
write --offset=0x54696 (rd)+1

For Windows 7 Bootmgr SP1 build 7601(CRC32: ???? from SP1 WAIK)
write --offset=0x105E (rd)+1 \xEB\x08
write --offset=0x54735 (rd)+1

For Windows Vista Bootmgr SP2 build 6002 (CRC32: E6CDE422)
write --offset=0x1058 (rd)+1 \xEB\x08
write --offset=0x48C20 (rd)+1

For Windows Vista Bootmgr SP1 build 6001 (CRC32: 6442A4AD)
write --offset=0x1058 (rd)+1 \xEB\x08
write --offset=0x4883C (rd)+1

For Windows Vista Bootmgr SP0 build 6000 (CRC32: 543E715A)
write --offset=0xE28 (rd)+1 \xEB\x08
write --offset=0x54B6C (rd)+1

For a CRC32 utility to obtain the checksum of your bootmgr file, download CRC32 from the Beta Downloads section.

Sidebar: The BC1 and BC2 files I provide have already had the commands:
bcdedit -store c:\WINISO\boot\bc1 -set {bootmgr} nointegritychecks 1
bcdedit -store c:\WINISO\boot\bc2 -set {bootmgr} nointegritychecks 1
run on them to prevent bootmgr complaining that it has been corrupted when it is patched by the grub4dos write command. If you still get a 'corrupted' message it indicates that the first 'write' patch in the menu.lst entry is not the correct patch for your bootmgr file - check the CRC32 signature!

You will require source Microsoft ISOs for Vista/Win7/Server 2008 (note OEM DVDs should work also - some MS Win7 ISOs can be downloaded from here - use the Digital River links, some other links on this page may be broken). You can make an ISO file from a DVD if you use WinImage or similar software.


1. Prepare an empty folder on your main Windows computer hard disk (e.g. C:\WINISO)

2. Download and install the Windows 7 (RTM) WAIK - Note: it must be the RTM first release version and NOT Vista or Win7 SP1 version - check the CRC32 value of bootmgr if in doubt!

3. Run the WAIK command prompt (from Start Menu - Deployment Tools Command Prompt) and type the command: COPYPE x86 C:\x86 to make an 32-bit version of WinPE v3

4. Type the command: COPYPE amd64 c:\amd64 to make a 64-bit version of WinPE v3

5. Download the WINISO.ZIP file from the Beta Downloads - Tutorials section of this website and extract the contents to C:\WINISO

6. Copy the WinPE.wim file from C:\x86\winpe.wim to C:\WINISO\Sources\Boot1.wim and rename it

7. Copy the WinPE.wim file from C:\amd64\winpe.wim to C:\WINISO\Sources\Boot2.wim and rename it

8. Copy the bootmgr file from C:\x86\ISO\bootmgr to C:\WINISO\bootmgr (should be 14 July 2009 383,562 bytes in size if correct version of WAIK is installed - please check!) - see here for patches for different versions of bootmgr.

9. Copy the whole folder from C:\x86\ISO\boot to C:\WINISO\boot

10. Now we need to add some commands to the boot1.wim file and the boot2.wim file so that they will automatically find and run the RunISOxx.cmd file when WinPE boots.

Option: If you want to leave this bit until after you have tested your USB drive, you can skip the next two steps (skip step 10 and 11) - it just means you will have to find and run IMDISK\RUNISO32 or IMDISK\RUNISO64 manually when WinPE boots.

To modify each bootx.wim file:

Create an empty folder at C:\MOUNT
At the WAIK command prompt, type:

imagex /mountrw c:\WINISO\sources\boot1.wim 1 c:\MOUNT

then use Windows Explorer and Notepad to find and edit the C:\MOUNT\WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\STARTNET.CMD file which should contain just one line (wpeinit). Add the following text AFTER this line:

@echo off
for %%I in (C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z) do if exist %%I:%TARGET% set USBDRIVE=%%I:
If NOT "%USBDrive%"=="" echo Found %USBDRIVE%%TARGET%
IF "%USBdrive%"=="" (
goto :EOF

Save the file, close ALL Explorer windows and then type at the WAIK command prompt:

imagex /unmount /commit c:\MOUNT

11. Now repeat this step again using boot2.wim but this time add the following text to the end of startnet.cmd (the only difference is in line 3)

@echo off
for %%I in (C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z) do if exist %%I:%TARGET% set USBDRIVE=%%I:
If NOT "%USBDrive%"=="" echo Found %USBDRIVE%%TARGET%
IF "%USBdrive%"=="" (
goto :EOF

You should now have this folder structure (files included in the WINISO.ZIP download I supply are highlighted):