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Lenovo Windows 7 pre-imaged system not allowing me to image, Sysprep causes reboot loop

    Question

  • I have purchased 4 new Lenovo ThinkCentre A63 5043 machines.  I have setup our Windows 2008 Server to be able to modify and create images for deployment using the Windows Automated Installation Kit for Windows 7.

    I prepared a machine for imaging by going through the setup process and the used Sysprep to generalize the image and then shut down.

    Once that is done I image the installation using a WinPE 3.0 disk and imagex.

    When I use imagex on another machine to restore the image it appears to do so without problem.  When I restart the machine, however, It keeps rebooting after the "Starting Windows" screen.  When I use advanced options to stop the reboot on error it shows a blue screen (I can get exact details if you need them).

    When I go back to the original machine and try to start it up again it does the exact same thing.

    I've done this every way I can think of, changing whatever variable in these steps can be changed and it has always come out to the same situation.

    I have one last thing I am trying, and if it doesn't work I will be at my whits end.  After reading the Microsoft Online Documents I found that I could start the machine in Audit Mode by pressing Ctrl, Shift, and F3 at the same time when I get to the welcome screen (instead of going through the setup process).  On restart I did nothing but set Sysprep to generalize the image with OOBE and shut down.  I am now imaging that machine using the same steps I outlined above and will apply that image on one of the other machines.  Is this the process I should have been using in the first place?  Or is it not possible to image an already factory-imaged machine?

    Does anyone have any ideas as to why this won't work?  Or am I just doing it completely wrong?

    Thanks for your time in reading this and any answers you might have for me.

    • Edited by TAP SA Tuesday, May 18, 2010 3:51 PM Formatting
    Tuesday, May 18, 2010 3:50 PM

Answers

  • It seems that you are bitten by a version of Windows.

    There are basically three versions of Windows:

    • OEM version
    • Retail version
    • Volume Licensing (VL) version

    There are also some additional versions such as

    • Upgrade version
    • Evaluation version
    • Possibly more (not for resale or NFR)

    If you want to use your "imaging" rights, you should use VL version. After all that's how it is supposed to work legally. For example, Windows 7 Enterprise edition is only available as an upgrade. This usually means that you buy computer with OEM version and then reimage with VL version. That's how we do it at the place I work.

    As far as OEM version is concerned, there are two types of activation for OEM Windows 7 which you already discovered.

    One is Token based activation. This means that large OEM's like Lenovo have one master key which is tied to BIOS and particular hardware resources (motherboard). These systems are already activated, and don't need further activation.

    The other one is single license activation. Each copy of Windows have to be licensed separately.

    All in all, you have two options.

    1. Use OEM media and OEM recovery procedures. You have to use what you've got and you cannot do modifications.
    2. Use VL media and activate using MAK key or KMS.

    Good luck

    Tuesday, May 18, 2010 7:22 PM
  • Additionally, please visit:

     

    Preserving OEM Activation in Windows Vista and Windows 7

     

    Best Regards

    Dale

    Wednesday, May 19, 2010 3:00 AM
    Moderator

All replies

  • After the last try I got the same results - a reboot loop.

    Does anyone have any ideas?

    Tuesday, May 18, 2010 4:50 PM
  • I was able to do a clean install of Windows 7 and that allows me to do a sysprep and have everything work fine.  It seems to only happen for me when I use Lenovo's preinstalled image.

    That woudln't be a problem if I knew how to activate Windows 7 Pro with Lenovo's already activated keys, but when I install it I have 3 days to activate.  When I try to use the key on the side of the machine I'm told that it's invalid.

    Tuesday, May 18, 2010 6:35 PM
  • It seems that you are bitten by a version of Windows.

    There are basically three versions of Windows:

    • OEM version
    • Retail version
    • Volume Licensing (VL) version

    There are also some additional versions such as

    • Upgrade version
    • Evaluation version
    • Possibly more (not for resale or NFR)

    If you want to use your "imaging" rights, you should use VL version. After all that's how it is supposed to work legally. For example, Windows 7 Enterprise edition is only available as an upgrade. This usually means that you buy computer with OEM version and then reimage with VL version. That's how we do it at the place I work.

    As far as OEM version is concerned, there are two types of activation for OEM Windows 7 which you already discovered.

    One is Token based activation. This means that large OEM's like Lenovo have one master key which is tied to BIOS and particular hardware resources (motherboard). These systems are already activated, and don't need further activation.

    The other one is single license activation. Each copy of Windows have to be licensed separately.

    All in all, you have two options.

    1. Use OEM media and OEM recovery procedures. You have to use what you've got and you cannot do modifications.
    2. Use VL media and activate using MAK key or KMS.

    Good luck

    Tuesday, May 18, 2010 7:22 PM
  • Additionally, please visit:

     

    Preserving OEM Activation in Windows Vista and Windows 7

     

    Best Regards

    Dale

    Wednesday, May 19, 2010 3:00 AM
    Moderator