Scenario: Service an Online Image

Applies To: Windows 7


This content applies to Windows 7. For Windows 8 content, see Windows Deployment with the Windows ADK.

Online servicing occurs on a running operating system, usually when the operating system is booted in audit mode. But it can also occur in other phases of deployment. Online servicing includes verifying modifications; taking inventory of what is installed on an image; and adding applications, drivers, system components, service packs, or language packs while the operating system is running. If you update or modify the operating system while it's booted in audit mode, you can also add applications like virus protection software before the first user logs on.

In a typical corporate scenario, you might have a customized Windows® image that you serviced offline. Some of the packages and drivers that you added or removed offline might be in a pending state. This is usually because a reboot is required to complete online actions. Booting the image in audit mode will satisfy the reboot requirement. It will also let you take inventory of your image, verify the installation state of drivers and other packages, and further service the running operating system.


These definitions will help you understand the terminology that's used in this scenario:

  • Technician computer. The computer where you install the Windows Automated Installation Kit (Windows AIK) tools and create answer files.

  • Destination computer. The computer that is destined for the customer.

  • Master image. A Windows image that you want to update.

  • Online pending actions. An installation that can't finish because it requires a reboot. This can happen when drivers and other packages are added to an offline image.

  • In-box drivers. Drivers that are installed by default with the Windows operating system.

  • Out-of-box drivers. Third-party drivers that aren't installed by default.

Process Overview

This illustration shows the workflow for this scenario:

To service an image online, start by using a Windows image to boot a destination computer in audit mode. Then, use the Deployment Image Servicing and Management (DISM) tool to take an inventory of what is installed on the operating system and to make sure that it's configured and operating correctly. You can also use other tools to add or remove Plug and Play drivers, add Windows service packs, or add applications and language packs while the operating system is running. When you're finished servicing the online image, you can make the computer ready for delivery by using the System Preparation (Sysprep) command-line tool and the sysprep /oobe /generalize /shutdown command to shut down the operating system.

Why use audit mode?

There are two modes that Windows can boot in during an unattended installation: audit mode and Windows Welcome (also called out-of-box experience or OOBE). Audit mode is the ideal environment for you to make additional changes and configurations to a Windows installation, without requiring activation or preparing the computer for the end user. You can use audit mode to install additional applications and device drivers, run scripts, or apply updates to a Windows installation. After you complete your additional configurations in audit mode, you can configure the computer to boot in Windows Welcome on the next boot by using the Sysprep tool.

Why use OCSetup?

You can install system component files, as .msi or .exe files from Windows Installer or Component-Based Servicing (CBS)–based installation packages, online by using the OCSetup tool. You can't install system component .msi and .exe files offline by using DISM. DISM can install only .cab files, .msu files, and .inf files.

Why use PnPUtil?

You can use the PnPUtil tool to add, remove, and enumerate plug-and-play drivers. The device does not have to be present. If you know that the end user will connect a device like a camera or a fax, you can install the appropriate driver so that the end user isn't prompted to install the driver.

Why use WUSA?

You can use Windows Update Stand-Alone Installer (WUSA) to install service packs and other software updates. Service packs must be installed online. They can't be installed offline.

Why use LPKSetup?

When you add language packs by using the LPKSetup tool, the licensing requirements are verified. You'll be alerted if you're running a single-language edition of Windows and can't install additional language packs.

Scenario Tasks

Before you begin, make sure that you have these:

  • A Windows image (.wim) file to service

  • A destination computer to boot the Windows image in

  • The drivers, update packages, and language packs that you'll use to service the image, stored in a location that's easy to access

Use the following table to find the step-by-step instructions and information that will help you complete this process.



Windows System Image Manager Technical Reference

Sysprep Technical Reference

Service the image

Use the following tools to service the operating system:

  • Use DISM to enumerate drivers, international settings, packages, and features, and to apply unattended answer file settings.

  • Use OCSetup to add system components (.msi and .exe files from Windows Installer or CBS-based installation packages).

  • Use PnPUtil to add, remove, and enumerate Plug-and-Play drivers.

  • Use WUSA to add service packs.

  • Use LPKSetup to add or remove language packs and verify licensing requirements.

Take Inventory of an Image or Component

Add or Remove System MSIs or Packages Online with OCSetup

Add a Driver Online in Audit Mode

Use PnPUtil at a command line to install a Plug and Play device

Description of the Windows Update Stand-alone Installer (Wusa.exe) and of .msu Files in Windows Vista

Add a Language Pack Online

Prepare the image for the end user

If the image is ready for deployment and delivery, shut down the operating system by using Sysprep and the sysprep /oobe /generalize /shutdown command.

Sysprep Technical Reference

Additional Information

Here are more options to consider as you develop your image management and servicing strategy:

  • Service an Online Image

    Describes how to modify or service a running operating system.

  • OCSetup Command-Line Options

    Describes the command-line options that you can use on a running operating system to install or uninstall .msi files, CBS files, and .exe files.

  • Lpksetup Command-Line Options

    Describes the command-line options that you can use to install language packs and configure international settings.

See Also


Understanding Servicing Strategies
Phase 5: Managing and Servicing Your Windows Image
Customize Windows in Audit Mode