Windows 8 Installing Windows 8 to a specific partition on removable media (dual-boot USB)


New Member
Sep 18, 2016

I've recently been trying to get Windows 8.1 Pro and Arch Linux to dual boot on a USB (specifically, the Sandisk - SDCZ88-128G-G46 - 128GB Extreme PRO), but am having no luck due to inherent restrictions on what Windows can be installed on.

When installing Windows from a removable medium, in the setup stage where you select what partition to install onto, only internal drives are shown - my NTFS partition on my to-be-dual-boot USB doesn't show up, nor does any other non-internal device. At the same time, the third party WinToGo software doesn't appear compatible with such a setup either, as it doesn't allow installing to a partition only, and demands to wipe an entire removable device before proceeding to install Windows to it. The official Windows To Go tool also isn't an option as my USB is not one of their few approved devices.

Is there any way that I can simply install windows to a single partition, when there already exists other partitions on the device managing multiple OSes (GRUB, specifically), and other OS in place (encrypted Arch installation)?

Any help greatly appreciated!
I know it's possible/someone who has this setup - and was hoping someone could give some hints on how to go about this. I don't have direct contact with this person so I decided to post here in case a solution popped up quicker than the several days it would take for me ask the colleague of a colleague how they got theirs working.

One possible method would be to get an adapter to wire up the said usb as the 'internal' hard drive of a computer, which would allow it to be detected at the setup stage. However, I only own laptop/s, and am looking for a more elegant solution that doesn't involve taking apart a PC and buying an adapter that pretty much has no other purpose.
Thinking over this more, you could create two VMs using VHD files. Set one up with Windows and one with Linux. You could then copy the Windows bootmgr and a BCD file and boot directly into the VHD files having a dual boot USB with 1 partition.
Thanks for the suggestion. I imagine that'd be a viable way to do it.

In case anyone else comes across this thread looking for possible solutions - the solution I've opted to go for involves first partitioning a USB to have the Windows system, boot, Linux boot, root partitions, and use WinToUSB to install a Windows ISO to the 2 windows partitions, then install Linux to the encrypted linux partitions.

Note that WinToUSB actually allows installation from a number of formats: ISO/WIM/ESD/SWM/VHD/VHDX so if you have any VMWare machines, they can be directly installed to removable media as well. VirtualBox images aren't natively supported by the software, but I believe they provide some sort of export tool to convert to the VMWare format.
I haven't seen this done, but if neemo thinks it can be done, I should add it to my list of projects. I'm still trying to get time to setup a Virtual Machine, but one thing I can add to this conversation is that you CANNOT use the SanDisk Cruzer USB flash drives to boot any USB with W8.1 that is created from the Microsoft ISO file you get from the MCT bootable media download page.:ohno: It also doesn't work with W10 either. We had multiple people test this out when we heard about the "bug" in the Microsoft MCT tool back in May; and it's been independently verified. If you continue to fool around with making the dual-boot USB (W8.1+Linux) configuration, make sure to use any other brand of USB. We've tested PNY, VERBATIM, and EMTECH so far with W8.1 and W10. It's something you might not be aware of.

Let us know how it goes. It's an interesting challenge.:D
<<<BIGBEARJEDI>>> :cool:
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