Customizing Vista Setup

This capability of Vista Setup came up in a number of conversations during the recent WHQL event on campus.  I don't think it has much application in the driver development and testing space but apparently it is an interesting capability so I'll share it with the rest of the world here.

As you know from reading this blog, Vista is built using the same imaging technology we make available to you, Imagex (a.k.a. Ximage).  You can get the Imagex executable and supporting files from the OEM Preinstall Kit, Windows Automated Install Kit or the Windows Driver Kit.  Because you have the same tools, you can create an image and replace the image on the Vista DVD with your own. 

The process would look something like this...

  1. Install Vista on a reference system.
  2. Install all of your apps, drivers, etc.
  3. Make your configuration changes.
  4. Run Sysprep on the system to remove all the system specific information.
  5. Image the system using Imagex; name your WIM file install.wim
  6. Copy the contents of the Vista DVD to a share.
  7. On the share, replace the install.wim file from the DVD with the custom WIM you just created.

Users can now browse to your share, run Vista's setup.exe and they'll get your custom image.

Again, I don't see much application for driver development and testing but I can see why corporate IT people would get excited about this option.