Compare XP Embedded and Standard 7 Technologies (Standard 7 SP1)


Many of the deployment technologies that are used in Windows XP Embedded have changed in Windows Embedded Standard 7.

The following sections provide a brief description of how previous tools and procedures correspond to the Standard 7 deployment tool set:

  • Overview
  • Windows Embedded Standard 7 Toolkit
  • Image Management
  • Image Builder
  • Language Packs
  • Sysprep
  • Windows Preinstallation Environment (Windows PE)
  • Windows Welcome
  • Windows Deployment Services (WDS)
  • Windows 7 Deployment Image Servicing and Management (DISM)


The following table summarizes the changes in Standard 7 and Windows Embedded Standard 7 Toolkit as compared to Windows XP Embedded. Windows Embedded Standard 2009 is the current version of Windows XP Embedded.

Feature Area

Windows Embedded Standard 7

Windows XP Embedded

Windows technologies

Windows 7 Ultimate or later versions

Updates available on Windows XP Professional

For example:

  • Windows Media Player 11
  • Internet Explorer 7

Image Build tools

Standard 7 Toolkit:

  • Image Builder Wizard
  • Image Configuration Editor
  • Target Analyzer
  • Windows 7 WIM support
  • Footprint estimation
  • Search
  • Better performance
  • Easier third-party software and driver integration
  • XML image configuration

Embedded Studio Toolkit:

  • Target Designer
  • Component Designer
  • DB Manager
  • Target Analyzer
  • SDI support

Image Build model

  • Image can be configured on the device or on the development computer
  • Image is assembled on the device
  • Features, drivers, and language packs can be added or removed from the image online or offline
  • Image is configured and assembled on the development computer
  • Image is deployed on the device

Processor support

  • 32-bit (x86), 64-bit (x64)
  • 32-bit (x86)

OS Image Footprint

  • Minimum Image size > 500 MB
  • Minimum Image size > 40 MB

OS Building Blocks

  • Feature packages ~100s
  • Drivers ~1000
  • Components ~1000
  • Drivers ~9000


  • Documentation
  • OS Image
  • OS Image only

Deployment tools

  • Windows Deployment Services (WDS)
  • Deployment Image Servicing and Management (DISM)
  • Windows PE or later versions
  • USB Boot
  • PXE Boot
  • Remote Installation Services (RIS)
  • CD Boot
  • USB Boot
  • Remote Boot

Embedded Enabling Features

  • Parity with Windows XP Embedded, except for CD/DVD Boot
  • File -Based Write Filter (FBWF)
  • Enhanced Write Filter (EWF)
  • EWF/HORM (Hibernate Once/Resume Many Environment)
  • USB Boot
  • CD/DVD Boot
  • Custom shell support


  • OEM Servicing
  • Device Automatic Servicing (Windows Update)
  • Device Manual Servicing
  • OEM Servicing
  • Device Manual Servicing


  • Embedded Activation using assigned Volume License Runtime key
  • Not required

Customer connection to the product team

  • Support for Software Quality Metrics (SQM) in developer tools
  • Links to forums, MSDN, and product team blogs
  • Links to team blogs and forums

Windows Embedded Standard 7 Toolkit

Windows Embedded Standard 7 Toolkit contains the tools that you use to customize and deploy Standard 7.

  • Standard 7 Toolkit contains the tools and documentation required to configure and install Standard 7.
  • Standard 7 Toolkit provides specific information about licensing requirements and policy guidelines.

Image Management

Standard 7 images are Hardware Abstraction Layer (HAL)-independent. You can maintain a single Standard 7 image that applies to all HAL types. However, you must maintain different images for different processor architectures (32-bit and 64-bit platforms).


ImageX is a Microsoft imaging technology that is designed specifically for deployment. ImageX supports the latest Standard 7 image (.wim) file format that is used in Standard 7. ImageX is a command-line tool built on the imaging APIs for Standard 7.

For more information, see ImageX Technical Reference.

Image Builder

Setup has changed significantly in Standard 7. The following list describes some of the changes.

  • Image Builder replaces the previous Windows XP Embedded Setup programs Winnt.exe and Winnt32.exe.
  • Image Builder Wizard is a GUI-only tool. The previous text-mode Setup is deprecated.
  • In earlier versions of Windows XP Embedded, you were able to create a Winnt.sif file that was automatically used by Windows XP Embedded Setup. For Standard 7, the unattended DVD-boot method is replaced with a more thorough implicit answer file search. By naming your answer file Autounattend.xml and making it available at the root of a floppy disk or UFD device, this file can be automatically consumed by Image Builder. You can copy answer files to the root directory of the floppy disk drive and to other locations on the computer where Image Builder automatically uses the answer file before installation. $OEM$ is still supported in Standard 7. For more information, see Distribution Shares in Standard 7.

Adding Out-of-Box Drivers

You can now add device drivers to an offline Standard 7 image before installation. This enables you to add boot-critical device drivers before you install Standard 7.

The previous method of using OEMPnPDriverPath as a mechanism to add device drivers to Windows XP Embedded is not supported in Standard 7. You must add device drivers to your answer file by using Image Configuration Editor, or during setup.

Image Builder in Unattended Mode

In previous releases of Windows XP Embedded, the unattended installation process was automated by the creation of a master runtime image and then sealing it using the System Cloning Tool and deploying the cloned images through custom deployment mechanisms. Note that multiple text-based answer files, such as Unattend.txt and Winbom.ini, used in a limited capacity with Sysprep on Windows Embedded Standard 2009 files to support System Center Configuration Manager's Operating System Deployment functionality enabled automation during a particular phase of setup and deployment. Because some unattended setup settings were valid during more than one pass, there was a significant duplication between the files, especially in Unattended.txt and Sysprep.inf.

In Standard 7, the unattended installation process uses a single XML-based answer file (Unattend.xml) for all phases of setup and deployment. These phases of deployment are called configuration passes. Unattended setup settings can be applied in one or more passes. Unattend.xml behaves like the previous implementation of multiple unattended setup files.

You use Image Configuration Editor to create and to maintain answer files. For more information, see Image Configuration Editor Technical Reference.

Configuration Passes

Different settings can be applied during different phases of installation. These phases of installation are called configuration passes. These passes include windowsPE, offlineServicing, generalize, specialize, auditSystem, auditUser, and oobeSystem.

In previous versions of Windows XP Embedded, multiple answer files were used, such as Unattend.txt, Winbom.ini, and so on. For Standard 7, a single answer file ,Unattend.xml,is used to automate installation and deployment. This single answer file is divided into a different section for each configuration pass, which correspond to the different answer files.

The following table maps the previous Windows XP Embedded answer files to the new Standard 7 configuration passes.

Windows XP Embedded answer files

Standard 7 configuration passes


generalize, specialize


generalize, specialize

Winbom.ini WINPE


Winbom.ini FACTORY

auditSystem, auditUser

Winbom.ini OOBE




Image Configuration Editor

Image Configuration Editor is the replacement for Target Designer and Component Database Manager. Image Configuration Editor enables you to view the existing settings on a Standard 7 image, create an answer file to modify those settings, and create and manage distribution share contents and configuration sets.

Running Additional Commands using Image Builder

The Cmdlines.txt file is replaced by the RunSynchronous setting in the WinEmb-Deployment component. To mimic Cmdlines.txt, this setting must be specified in the specialize pass.

Additionally, the [GUIRunOnce] section is replaced with the FirstLogonCommands setting in the WinEmb-Shell-Setup component.

There are several ways to run additional commands during installation:

  • Add a RunSynchronous command to an answer file. RunSynchronous commands are available in the WinEmb-Setup and the WinEmb-Deployment components.
    For more information about RunSynchronous commands, see Using an Answer File With Sysprep.
  • Edit the Setupcomplete.cmd file. This file runs after setup is complete and any commands in this file are executed.

Language Packs

Language packs in Standard 7 replace MUI files from earlier versions of Windows XP Embedded. Unlike MUI files, language packs can be added to an offline Standard 7 image.


Sysprep has changed significantly for Standard 7. For additional details about how Sysprep works in Standard 7, see Sysprep Technical Reference.

  • Sysprep for Standard 7 is independent of the Hardware Abstraction Layer (HAL). You can create a generalized x86 Standard 7 image and transfer that image to any x86-based operating system. 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Standard 7 require separate images.

  • The sysprep.exe /reseal command has changed to the sysprep.exe/generalize /oobe command. OEMs are required to run the Sysprep /oobe command before delivering a computer to an end-user.

  • Factory mode is renamed to audit mode.

  • Settings in Sysprep.inf are replaced with settings in the Unattend.xml answer file.

  • Sysprep includes updated command-line options.

    Previous Sysprep options

    Standard 7 Sysprep options


    No change.


    Replaced by the /audit option.


    Replaced by the /oobe option.


    Replaced by the /generalize option.


    Remove security IDs (SIDs) by using the /generalize option.


    No change.


    No change.


    No change.






    If the SkipRearm setting is specified, reset activation by using the /generalize option. Use the SkipRearm setting to remove licensing-specific information from a Standard 7 operating system.

Windows PE

Windows Preinstallation Environment (Windows PE) 3.0 is an updated version of Windows PE based on the Standard 7 kernel. Like previous releases, Windows PE provides a platform for starting un-imaged hardware. In previous releases of Standard 7, Windows PE had limited availability. For Standard 7, Windows PE customization tools are available in Standard 7 Toolkit.

Windows PE has the following new features:

  • Support for Secure Socket Layer (SSL).
  • Tools for .wim file management. You can customize and start .wim files that have the ImageX command-line tool.
  • New boot support. You can start Windows PE from the .wim file on the Standard 7 DVD, the Standard 7 Toolkit DVD, or by using the ImageX tool with the /boot option.
  • 72-hour restart support. The Windows PE restart clock is extended from 24 hours to 72 hours.
  • Plug and Play support. Hardware devices can be detected and installed while Windows PE is running. This supports any in-box Plug and Play device. This includes removable media and mass-storage devices. By default, Plug and Play support is enabled.
  • Drvload tool. Use this new command-line tool to add out-of-box drivers to Windows PE when it is started. Drvload installs drivers by taking driver .inf files as input.
  • Boot Configuration Data (BCD). Use this new boot configuration file to customize boot options. This file replaces Boot.ini.
  • Boot Sector (Bootsect) tool. Use this tool to enable deployment to earlier versions of Standard 7 by changing the earlier version of Standard 7 boot code to support the boot manager (Bootmgr) for Standard 7. This tool replaces FixFAT and FixNTFS.
  • Automatic writable RAM drive. When you start from read-only media, Windows PE automatically creates a writable RAM disk (drive X) and allocates 32 MB of the RAM disk for general-purpose storage. By using compressed NTFS, the 32 MB is addressable up to 60 MB.
  • [LaunchApps] section in Winpeshl.ini. This section is expanded to enable command-line options.

For more information, see Windows PE Technical Reference.

Windows Welcome

Windows Welcome, also known as OOBE, has changed significantly for Standard 7. In earlier versions of Windows, the term OOBE was used as an acronym for the "Out-of-Box Experience", and as the name of a folder in the System32 directory. In Standard 7, Oobe.xml is the content file for OEM-provided information that is to be displayed in Windows Welcome, ISP Sign-up dialog boxes, and Welcome Center.

Windows Welcome is redesigned and streamlined to help end-users access the desktop more quickly and easily. There are fewer pages in Windows Welcome, end-users are required to enter less information, and takes less time for end-users to start by using Standard 7.

Welcome Center is a new starting point for several optional, yet important Standard 7 tasks, and a starting point for OEM-defined tasks. Welcome Center offers a rich surface for OEMs to use to expose additional value to customers. Welcome Center provides information from Microsoft about how to transfer files and settings, adding new users, and managing performance of Standard 7. OEMs can also add information about and links to ISP signup, as well as other offers for end-users.

For more information about Oobe.xml, see Oobe.xml Technical Reference, Customize Windows Welcome, and Customize the Welcome Center.

Windows Deployment Services (WDS)

Remote Installation Services (RIS) is replaced by WDS. For more information about WDS, see this Microsoft Web site.

Windows 7 Deployment Image Servicing and Management (DISM)

DISM is a new command-line tool for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 that combines multiple core image management tools found in the Windows Automated Installation Kit (AIK) into a single tool.

See Also

Other Resources

Standard 7 Toolkit Technical Reference