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Windows 7 Deployment from image using answer unattend file

    Question

  • It's been a long time since I've worked on corp OS deployment so I'm not very experienced with Win7 and unattend/answer file operation. The goal I'm trying to get to is to customize several parts of an OS image (Win 7 Enterprise) for use in WDS by desktop techs:

    1. Create a local admin user account
    2. apply a custom theme
    3. Bypass the Windows Welcome screen

    I'm using Windows SIM 6.1.7600.16385, opened the wim image and created an answer file with settings for PC name, locale, co name, reg user, etc- ideally everything the OS needs to boot into windows setup and complete without user intervention and without launching windows welcome.

    The answer file is named autounattend.xml and is copied to C:\windows\system32\sysprep on the target PC. I run sysprep /generalize /oobe /shutdown /unattend:c:\windows\system32\sysprep\autounattend.xml .

    Sysprep runs and displays messages saying it's processing generalize and perhaps one other section and then shuts the PC down. I then use WDS to capture the sysprep'd PC.

    I boot a PC to WDS->WinPE and then pull down the image copied up earlier of the sysprep'd PC.

    When Windows starts, it goes to the welcome screen. Further inspection reveals that nothing in the unattend file seems to have been applied to the PC. No user account created, no theme etc. The autounattend.xml file is still in the sysprep directory but the sysprep\panther directory does not have a copy of it (I think it should?).

    What am I doing wrong? I beleive this autounattend.xml should be retained and used during window setup but am I missing anything?

    Thanks in advance!

    Pete

    Monday, January 9, 2017 9:06 PM

Answers

  • Hi!

    Have you followed all the steps in the following article?

    https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc732723%28v=ws.11%29.aspx?f=255&MSPPError=-2147217396

    Best regards
    Andreas Molin


    Andreas Molin | Site: www.guidestomicrosoft.com | Twitter: andreas_molin

    • Marked as answer by Peteski Tuesday, January 10, 2017 6:53 PM
    Tuesday, January 10, 2017 7:54 AM

All replies

  • Hi!

    Have you followed all the steps in the following article?

    https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc732723%28v=ws.11%29.aspx?f=255&MSPPError=-2147217396

    Best regards
    Andreas Molin


    Andreas Molin | Site: www.guidestomicrosoft.com | Twitter: andreas_molin

    • Marked as answer by Peteski Tuesday, January 10, 2017 6:53 PM
    Tuesday, January 10, 2017 7:54 AM
  • Hi Peteski,

    According to your description, you want to custom the image using answer unattend file. The link below is a guide to preparing a Windows 7 Deployment Image using Audit Mode and Sysprep with an unattend.xml Answer File.

    http://sybaspot.com/the-complete-guide-to-preparing-a-windows-7-deployment-image-using-audit-mode-and-sysprep-with-an-unattend-xml-answer-file/

    Please Note: Since the website is not hosted by Microsoft, the link may change without notice. Microsoft does not guarantee the accuracy of this information.

    For the unattended Installation using Windows Deployment Services (WDS), we could check the steps in the link below.

    https://blog.augustoalvarez.com.ar/2012/04/28/deploying-windows-8-unattended-installation-using-windows-deployment-services-wds-part-ii/

    Hope it will be helpful to you


    Please remember to mark the replies as answers if they help.
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    Tuesday, January 10, 2017 8:33 AM
    Moderator
  • Thanks Andreas. I ended up figuring out my problem (which your link describes well) is that my basic understanding of what an answer file can do, how windows setup uses it and how WDS plays into it all, was flawed. My problem was I was reading articles on the net that described how to pack everything into an answer file that I presumed could just be referenced during the sysprep process and I was done.

    The answer, as you point out, is that with WDS, you simply must right click the install image file, choose properties and check the box "allow image to install in unattended mode" and select the answer file.

    Once I did this, it worked as expected.

    Thanks for your reply!

    Pete

    Tuesday, January 10, 2017 2:14 PM
  • Happy to hear that problem is solved! :)

    If you are happy with the answer, just mark it and others will find it too.

    Best regards
    Andreas Molin


    Andreas Molin | Site: www.guidestomicrosoft.com | Twitter: andreas_molin

    Tuesday, January 10, 2017 2:17 PM
  • Thanks Carl. Your second link was very helpful and described the steps needed to accomplish what I wanted.

    I ended up using a different link that described the process for Windows Vista which was close enough: Unattended Image Deployment Using Windows Deployment Services

    The key was understanding that WDS can perform the steps important to me by right clicking the install image file in the WDS console, choose properties and check the box "allow image to install in unattended mode" and select the answer file.

    I understand better now the "WinPE" configuration pass (disk setup, etc) can also be done via WDS but it requires an answer file be input into the "client" tab of the WDS server properties of the WDS console.

    I'm now looking to see if I can associate an answer file to the boot.wim / boot image so I can have multiple boot options that will automatically partition and drop the install image onto a client instead of the rather limited client tab method per architecture. If I can get that to work, I'll be in really good shape.

    Thanks gain for your help!

    Pete

    Tuesday, January 10, 2017 2:49 PM