Windows 7 / Getting Started

Preparing Images Manually

The deployment share tells Windows Setup how to install and configure Windows 7 on the destination computers. It includes the settings (answer file) as well as device drivers and packages that you want to add to the operating system. It might also contain applications that you want to install.

A common way to deliver operating systems to users is to create an image of the desired configuration. This is particularly true when the deployment share includes other files, such as applications. Creating an image that you install on each destination computer is quicker and more efficient than installing the uncustomized Windows 7 image and then installing applications on each destination computer.

Sysprep prepares a Windows 7 installation for imaging or delivery to end users. Sysprep removes all user-specific information from a system and resets any system-specific security identifiers (SIDs) to allow the system to be duplicated. Once duplicated, systems using the duplicated image will register their own SIDs with the domain in which they are deployed. Sysprep has several command-line options to control its behavior, listed in Table below.

Sysprep Command-Line Options

/auditRestarts the computer into audit mode. In audit mode, you can add additional drivers or applications to Windows Vista. You can also test an installation of Windows Vista before it is sent to an end user. If you specify an unattended Windows Vista setup file, the audit mode of Windows Setup runs the auditSystem and auditUser configuration passes.
/generalizePrepares the Windows installation to be imaged. If you specify this option, all unique system information is removed from the Windows installation. The system's SID is reset, any System Restore points are cleared, and event logs are deleted. The next time the computer starts, the specialize configuration pass runs. A new SID is created, and the clock for Windows activation resets (if the clock has not already been reset three times).
/oobeRestarts the computer into Windows Welcome mode. Windows Welcome allows end users to customize the Windows operating system, create user accounts, name the computer, and complete other tasks. Any settings in the oobeSystem configuration pass in an answer file are processed immediately before Windows Welcome starts.
/rebootRestarts the computer. Use this option to audit the computer and to verify that the first-run experience operates correctly.
/shutdownShuts down the computer after Sysprep completes.
/quietRuns Sysprep without displaying on-screen confirmation messages. Use this option if you automate Sysprep.
/quitCloses Sysprep after running the specified commands.
/unattend: answerfileApplies settings in an answer file to Windows during unattended installation. You can create this answer file in Windows SIM.
answerfileSpecifies the path and file name of the answer file to use.

When you create a Windows 7 installation that you plan to image, you then use Sysprep to generalize the system. The following command generalizes the system and prepares it to run the Windows Welcome Wizard on the next restart.

sysprep /oobe /generalize

Most organizations use this command. If you are a system builder or an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM), however, you can also use Sysprep to create build-to-order systems. The following command lets you place a system into audit mode on the next restart, wherein you can install additional applications and modify configurations.

sysprep /audit /generalize /reboot

The following command then completes the customization by preparing the system to run the Windows Welcome on the next boot, which is a typical requirement in a retail environment.

sysprep /oobe

When all system preparations have been made, the system is ready for imaging. You can use the ImageX command with the /FLAGS parameter to capture an image of the system. You can then burn the image onto a DVD, import it into a deployment share, or leave it on the system for use on the next system start.

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