This document contains detailed information on how to set up and operate the distribution share that contains the complete Windows unattended installation process. This process uses a build server that contains all the Windows media, applications, device drivers, and build scripts. Computers can then use Windows PE to connect to this server and build new computer images. The goal of this process is the creation of disk images that meet the requirements defined in the Functional Specification.

Automation of operating system installation is a modular process, allowing separate management of each system component without having to reengineer the entire process. The goal of the design is to provide the scripts necessary to install, configure, and customize the Windows platform. The system is intended to provide a robust starting point and framework for building systems that are easily and broadly extensible.

This guide is intended for a technical audience. It includes information about how to install and configure the build environment on a server and how to execute scripted installations of Windows. It also documents how the process is run and how to customize the system to meet specific requirements. The following sections describe the complete details of the unattended installation process by project phase. It is intended that this system be installed in a lab environment.

On This Page

Background Background
Assumptions Assumptions
Education and References Education and References
Lab Requirements Lab Requirements


This document and the work it entails typically begin in the MSF Developing Phase, where the images are designed and built. The work continues into the Stabilizing Phase, where the images are tested, piloted, and approved for release to the Deploying Phase.

The primary consumer of this work is the MSF Development Role Cluster, because most of this document focuses on the development work needed to create images. The developers work with the technologies and processes described in this document to create and implement modular changes to a base installation of Windows that results in the computer out-of-box experience.

The imaging process uses the information in the Functional Specification to build the computer images that the Release Management Role Cluster will use as the baseline computer configuration. These images are then given to the Test Role Cluster for testing, validation, and acceptance.

The input into this process is the Functional Specification, and the outputs from this process are the images and pertinent documentation and knowledge obtained during the development.


Those who use this system should be familiar with the concepts of unattended installations, including concepts and technologies such as:

  • Unattended setup answer files (Unattend.xml and Unattend.txt).

  • Microsoft Windows System Image Manager (Windows SIM).

  • Microsoft Windows Automated Installation Kit (Windows AIK).

  • Hardware device drivers and hardware-specific applications.

  • Microsoft Visual Basic® Scripting Edition (VBScript).

  • Disk imaging technologies and concepts (System Preparation Tool [Sysprep] and ImageX).

Education and References

The following resources for education and reference can be helpful for those starting automation projects:

  • Windows AIK documentation (Windows Vista only). The Windows AIK includes documentation for customizing and servicing Windows Vista images. The guidance includes a reference for Windows Vista unattended setup answer files (Unattend.xml), documentation for customizing Windows PE, and technical information about each Windows Vista deployment tool (Windows SIM, ImageX, Sysprep, and so on).

  • Deploy.chm and Ref.chm in the file in the Support\Tools folder on the Windows XP CD-ROM (Windows XP only). These Help files, titled the “Microsoft Windows Corporate Deployment Tools User’s Guide” and “Microsoft Windows Preinstallation Reference,” describe how to configure Windows XP for deployment. Deploy.chm describes Sysprep, Diskpart, and Winnt32.exe. Ref.chm describes each setting in Windows XP Unattend.txt and Sysprep.inf answer files.

  • Microsoft TechNet Desktop Deployment Center at This Web site includes links to sources of information about deploying Windows operating systems, including solution accelerators, resource kits, white papers, documentation, and many other online sources.

  • Microsoft TechNet Script Center at The TechNet Script Center provides one-stop shopping for information technology (IT) professionals wanting to manage their Windows computers using scripting technologies.

  • Microsoft Help and Support at This Web site contains the fully indexed and searchable Microsoft product knowledge base, updated daily with the latest information on Microsoft products. Quickly and easily resolve many issues and questions by using this site.

Lab Requirements

BDD 2007 copies large volumes of files between the build server and destination computers. Because of these high-volume data transfers, BDD 2007 teams should establish a lab that is physically separate from the production network. To the extent possible, however, configure the development lab to fully represent the production environment, with at least the following items readily available:

  • Lab hardware:

    • Network switches and cabling. 100 megabits per second (Mbps) or faster is recommended to accommodate the high volumes of data.

    • Keyboard Video Mouse (KVM) switches. It can be helpful to have the client computers connected to a KVM switch to minimize the floor space required to host the computers.

    • CD or DVD burner. A system should be available in the lab for creating CD-ROMs or DVD-ROMs.

    • Client computers. Any unique type of computer configuration found in production must be duplicated in the lab to allow for testing each hardware configuration.

      Note   Windows Vista requires Advanced Configuration and Power Interface (ACPI)–compliant computers.

    • A build server (a computer running Windows XP , Microsoft Windows Server® 2003 , or a newer version of Windows) in the domain to host the build files and images. This system can be a client- or server-class computer. Although the system has no specific dependencies on the build computer, the computer should have at least 50 gigabytes (GB) of disk space and backup equipment, such as a tape drive or a storage area network (SAN).

  • Network services:

    • A Windows domain for the computers to join and to host user accounts. This domain could be a Microsoft Windows 2000 or Windows Server 2003 domain.

    • Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) services. DHCP provides TCP/IP addresses to client computers.

    • Domain Name System (DNS) services. DNS provides TCP/IP host name resolution to client and server computers.

    • Windows Internet Naming Service (WINS). WINS provides NetBIOS name resolution to client and server computers. This service is optional.

    • Microsoft Windows Deployment Services (Windows DS). Windows DS delivers Windows PE to computers that do not yet have an operating system. Windows DS servers require a Windows Server 2003 or later domain.

    • Internet access. The lab (or a portion of the lab) should have access to the Internet for downloading software updates.

      Note   Windows protects users against malicious programs by warning users when they try to run a program that they downloaded from the Internet. Users must acknowledge the warning to continue. This warning, however, prevents packages downloaded from the Internet for inclusion in a disk image from running automatically. After verifying that the file is safe, disable the warning by right-clicking the file, clicking Properties, and then clicking Unblock. Windows does not display this warning when files are downloaded from sites listed in the Trusted Sites security zone, and Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1 (SP1) does not allow program downloads from untrusted sites.

  • Installation media:

    • Windows media (x86 and x64 editions) and product keys. (Windows Vista, Windows XP Professional with SP2, Windows XP Professional with SP2, and Microsoft Windows XP Tablet PC Edition 2005 are available on the volume-licensed media [Select CDs].)

    • Microsoft Office media and product keys. (2007 Office system is available on the Select CDs.)

    • Any additional application media to be included in the images.

    • Any hardware-specific software, such as drivers, CD-ROM burner software, and DVD viewing software.

BDD 2007 includes a sample scenario—Woodgrove National Bank—that shows how Woodgrove National Bank applies the solution. This sample specifically requires the media that the Client Build Requirements job aid describes.


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