Winclone 6 Pro with a VHD file

Possibly nobody has tried this yet, but I am interested in the possibility of using Winclone 6 Pro to capture a Windows partition that has been set up to boot a VHD file rather than a normal OS install. This requires some twiddling in the boot options for the Windows partition, which is the part it seems most possible Winclone wouldn’t handle. For details on the overall method I’m hoping to use, see Chuck Steel’s presentation from Labman 2017.

The goal is to use Winclone to deploy a VHD that connects to my Config Manager (SCCM) server and deploys the full Windows image, using the very same image and workflows as my Dells do. If I could use JAMF to deploy the Mac side and the Winclone package that then gets the Windows side from ConfigMgr, I could get rid of DeployStudio, and that prospect would get me approval to buy Winclone 6 Pro in a hot second. But you see my chicken and egg problem here. :slight_smile:

We are investing a process that may work like this:

  1. Use Winclone to create a package from a WinPE USB drive
  2. Deploy the package to a Mac and it creates a small WinPE partition and a larger Boot Camp partition.
  3. Boot to WinPE and use the MDT / SCCM process to restore to the boot camp partition.

Would this work? How would a VHD differ from the WinPE iso/wim file?


Hi Tim,

I think that is nearly the same thing… in fact a WinPE USB drive is what I would be taking the boot.wim from to put into the VHD. I haven’t actually implemented this yet, but as I understand it, the VHD ends up sitting on the same partition as Windows is installed into, so one less partition on the drive - but I don’t care all that much as long as I end up with the two I need that boot, and the other one hidden away to minimize the chances of anybody reimaging the Windows side when they’re trying to boot it.


I’ll use this thread of post my updates as I investigate more. Let me know what you find out as well, if you would be so kind.


Definitely made some progress. At PSU MacAdmins conference last week, I had some good discussions about PXE booting Macs. I did some further digging and testing, and there appear to be a bunch of options:

  1. Create a partition on the Mac and directly boot a WIM file that has WinPE on it.
  2. Create a netboot set that has a EFI bootloader than support PXE booting. You select a standard netboot image that has a iPxe bootloader swapped for the standard Mac bootloader. The Mac then starts up via the iPxe bootloader, and discovers the PXE boot server, loads the WinPE environment, and starts up from there.
  3. Create a Mac partition that has the Mac boot loader (normally in /System/Library/CoreServices/boot.efi) swapped out with the iPXE EFI bootloader.

I came up with #3 because it was faster to get into the PXE environment. After booting in to the PXE environment, I was able to boot WinPE from files located on Amazon S3. Here is what I did:

  1. In Windows, downloaded and installed Windows Assessment and Deployment Toolkit. Instructions here were very helpful:

  1. Created the WinPE files:

mkdir C:\temp\winpe
copype x86 C:\temp\winpe\x86
copype amd64 C:\temp\winpe\amd64

(turns out I didn’t use the x86 files).

  1. Copied those files to an Amazon S3 bucket (since it was an easily available web server).

  2. Create an EFI boot file. I had some trouble with dependencies when compiling both on the Mac and on Linux, so I got some success with However, for testing, I just grabbed the EFI bootoader at

  1. To get the Mac to boot from this, I created a new partition and formatted it as HFS+. I copied a system folder over, and replaced the boot.efi file with the file (and renamed it boot.efi). I did some experimentation and discovered for it to be recognized as a startup disk, I needed these files:

    └── System
    └── Library
    ├── CoreServices
    │ ├── SystemVersion.plist
    │ └── boot.efi
    └── Kernels
    └── kernel

  2. I rebooted the Mac and it didn’t work :). However, it was due to the USB ethernet dongle I was using on my Mac not being recognized. I found that if I plugged it in before it started probing the network for an IP address, the USB dongle worked fine.

  3. I was then presented with a menu and selected the Windows option. You define a base url (which was the URL to the bucket) and then it prints out the URLs to these files:


based on the base URL. I had to move things around a bit, and change the case of BCD and boot.wim to match, but after that, I was able to boot Windows. Windows PE booted and I was dropped into a Windows PE command prompt.

A couple of interesting notes:

I had concern when booting off the disk directly with WinPE that the partition could not be erased. However, using this method, the only file on disk that is used is the boot loader (boot.efi), and all the others files needed are off a webserver. I strongly strongly suspected that I could erase the partition that had the boot.efi, but don’t have a Windows imaging environment to test. I did, however, test with Linux. I did a similar procedure and booted into linux, and was able to format the partition I was booted off of.

The next step is to install Windows from the WinPE environment, or perhaps set up (or visit a site) with SCCM to try imaging the partition.

There is a couple of ways that Winclone could help set this up:

  1. Winclone could prompt for the URL for a host WinPE environment, and then produce a package that would install a iPXE boot loader file on a new partition. The boot loader file would have the URL built in. Once you select it to boot, you select the same partition to restore and then Windows is installed. There may have to be some post fixing to make sure it boots. i’ll know more once I image the partition.

  2. This could be done without installing anything on the client. Winclone could host a netboot set that had the iPXE boot loader and a DHCP server for the attributes to discover the URL get to to WinPE (or it could be hardcode in the boot loader). Macs on the same subnet would netboot, and when the load the Winclone netboot bootloader, it would boot into the iPXE environment and then chainload the WinPE environment from the URL.

  3. Winclone could use the ISO created by Windows Assessment and Deployment Toolkit and install it on a partition. We tested doing this a bunch, but there was difficulty getting the BCD correct for a RAM disk boot version of Windows.

I was initially excited about #3, but #1 or #2 would mean that the boot loader would rarely need to be updated. I am going to investigate further. Let me know if you have any input on how this would work in your environment.

Hi Tim,

Glad to hear you had a productive week at the conference! I did too.

#3 would actually be best for me as, at the moment, we do not have PXE set up (though ConfigMgr certainly could support it - we just haven’t configured it as we have a zillion vlans that all need helper addresses added, and our ConfigMgr use is spread out enough that booting from a flash drive is manageable).

I’m hoping to have some time to play with the VHD angle in the next week or so, though I fear other priorities may ambush me once they hear I’m back in the office.