Booting Windows from a compressed image

Dream Start

Executing WIMBoot

You can now provide a WIMBoot-optimized WIM image in the command prompt. To this end, you should first completely format the C: drive, which you can do easily in WinPE. Afterward, use the WIM image you created yourself or an image you created using the install.wim file and assign it as a WIMBoot image:

dism /apply-image /imagefile:"C:<\path\your>.wim" \
  /index:1 /applydir:C:\wimboot

Reboot your computer once the operation is completed. Windows 8.1 will now start in a conventional installation. However, the WIM image looks like a conventional system hard drive within the Windows 8.1 installation. You also need to add data to the boot manager, using

bcdboot X:\windows /s X:\

where X is the drive with the WIM image.

Conclusions

With WIMBoot, you can distribute preconfigured Windows 8.1 systems and save some space on your hard disks. However, an important prerequisite is that you use an up-to-date environment. As an alternative, you can also use the open source tool wimlib to boot previous versions of Windows as images (see the box called "Alternative: wimlib" for more information).

Alternative: wimlib

The open source application wimlib [9] is a simple variant for implementing these operations. A WIM bootable image of an installed computer can be created with relative ease. You will need a WinPE image that you can create using the methods described here or with QuickPE and Rufus. Then, use the wincapture.cmd tool to save the current installation of Windows 8.1 Update 1 in a WIM image on a second drive:

wimcapture.cmd C:\ e:\ install.wim --wimboot

If you are creating a WinPE image with QuickPE, the tool is in the C:\extra\wimlib directory. To assign this image to your computer, use:

wimapply.cmd e:\install.wim C:\ --wimboot

The advantage with QuickPE is that the tool can also then create WIM bootable images if the WinPE disk is not based on Windows 8.1 Update 1. The technologies required for WIMBoot are included in wimlib.

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