Scenario: Deploy from Media

Applies To: Windows 7


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

This scenario describes how to install a Windows® operating system from media onto a new computer. This deployment method is sometimes known as bare-metal installation or the DVD-boot method. This scenario will guide you through an unattended installation using an answer file rather than the standard Windows Setup. This process is ideal for low-volume businesses, such as system builders and small corporate organizations that build only a few computers. This process does not require a network.


Technician computer

The computer on which you install the Windows Automated Installation Kit (Windows AIK) tools and create answer files.

Answer file

An XML file that contains the settings and configurations to apply to a Windows image during installation.

Configuration Set

A file and folder structure that contains the necessary files to control the preinstallation process and define the manufacturer's custom information.

Windows Catalog

A catalog file provides a list of all of the settings and packages within a Windows image.

Destination computer

The computer on which you will install Windows.

Process Overview

You begin the deployment process by creating a configuration set using Windows System Image Manager (Windows SIM). A configuration set contains an answer file and additional source files, such as custom drivers and applications, needed to complete your installation. You must name the answer file Autounattend.xml. You then store the configuration set on a removable media device such a USB flash drive (UFD).

Next, you insert removable media and the Windows product DVD into the new destination computer. Start the computer, and Windows Setup will apply any settings specified in the answer file to the destination computer. When Windows Setup is finished, you can make any additional customizations and run tests. Finally, you must run the sysprep command with the /oobe, /generalize, and /shutdown options. This will prepare the installation for final delivery to your customer.

The following diagram illustrates the deployment process.

Why Use an Answer File?

You use an answer file to customize Windows installations so that the versions of Windows you deploy to each destination computer are the same. There are two kinds of Windows installations: attended and unattended. In attended installations, you respond to Windows Setup prompts, selecting options such as the partition to install to and the Windows image to install. In unattended installations, which offer many additional options, you automate this process to avoid the installation prompts.

Before you begin, for example, you should identify all of the requirements of your environment. Consider the following possible requirements:

  • Hard drive partitions

  • Support for Windows BitLocker™ Drive Encryption or a recovery solution

  • Additional out-of-box drivers

  • Support for multilingual configurations

  • Other modifications to Windows after installation, such as installing additional applications

Why Use Windows SIM?

Windows SIM provides a simple graphical user interface that helps you organize and define your Windows customizations. Windows SIM is the primary tool for creating a configuration set and answer file. Manually authoring answer files can be prone to errors, which increases the likelihood of failures. Windows SIM provides validation for answer files and context-sensitive help for each Windows unattended setting.

After you have created an answer file and configuration set, you are ready to install Windows to the destination computer.

Why Use Sysprep?

The Sysprep tool removes system-specific information and resets the computer, so that the next time the computer starts, your customers can accept the Microsoft Software License Terms and add user-specific information.

To automatically run the Sysprep tool after the installation, set the Microsoft-Windows-Deployment\Reseal component setting in your Autounattend.xml file as follows: ForceShutdownNow = true, Mode =OOBE

To run the Sysprep tool manually from a running operating system, at a command prompt type c:\windows\system32\sysprep.exe /oobe /shutdown

Scenario Tasks

Before you begin, make sure you have the following:

  • A technician computer with the Windows AIK tools installed

  • Windows installation media, such as a Windows product DVD

  • An assembled destination computer

The following table lists, in the typical order they are executed, the tasks required to deploy a Windows operating system from media onto a new computer.

Task Description For more information

Identify your requirements

Consider the different ways you can customize your Windows image. Make sure your customizations comply with your license terms.

Create a Windows catalog file

Before you can create an answer file, you must create a Windows catalog file using Windows SIM. A catalog file provides a list of all of the settings and packages within a Windows image.

Create a distribution share

A distribution share is a local folder that contains the additional source files, such as drivers and applications, that you will need as part of your Windows installations. You can create this folder manually or by using Windows SIM.

Create an answer file

With a Windows catalog and distribution share in place, you are now ready to create an answer file using Windows SIM.

Add applications and drivers

With a basic answer file in place, you can now add custom applications and drivers to your installation. This process requires you to add the sources files to your distribution share and then reference them within your answer file.

Create a configuration set

After you have defined your answer file, you will create a configuration set. A configuration set is a Windows SIM feature that packages your answer file and any source files defined in your answer file into a single folder structure. You will copy this folder structure onto removable media or a network share and use it, along with a Windows product DVD, to complete your installation.

Install Windows with your configuration set

Boot the computer with the Windows Setup media in the DVD drive and the configuration set available on an external drive. Windows automatically detects the answer file and uses it during installation.

See Also

The following list shows additional options that you might want to consider as you develop your Windows deployment strategy:

See Also


Windows Automated Installation Kit Scenarios