Planning: Create different product designs for different market segments

Instead of having one PC design that tries to fit everyone, Windows image management tools can help you can tailor different PC designs to meet the specific needs of various customers.

To get started, we recommend building a base image that includes branding, logos, and common apps. After that, you can modify these images for your different markets.

PC architecture

If you plan to deploy PCs based on both 64-bit and 32-bit (x86) architectures, you'll need separate base images. This guide assumes that you're deploying 64-bit PCs, but if you're also deploying 32-bit PCs, you must install the Windows ADK on a 32-bit PC, and replace the "x64" and "amd64" references throughout this guide to "x86". You'll also need x86-based versions of drivers, packages, and updates.

Retail customers and business customers

Decide whether to create separate designs for retail and business customers.

If you're building new PCs to sell to retail customers, consider the following:

  • You'll need to meet a set of minimum requirements. For info, see the Licensing and Policy guidance on the OEM Partner Center.

  • The Windows Hardware Certification Program helps you build products that customers trust and want to buy. If you have new or updated drivers, systems, or peripheral hardware that you want to be available for a Windows PC, you must certify them. When you certify your products for Windows, you help create high-quality, reliable end-to-end computing experiences. To learn more about the benefits of certification, see the Windows Hardware Certification web site.

If you're building PCs for businesses, you'll have fewer restrictions. IT professionals are allowed to customize their PCs in all sorts of ways. However, you should consider the implications of IT policies in addition to customer needs such as migrating data, activating security tools, and managing volume license agreements and product keys.

If your PC designs are relatively similar, you may decide to start with a single base edition such as Windows 8.1 or Windows 8.1 Pro, and then later upgrade it to higher edition such as Windows 8.1 Enterprise, as needed. For more info, see Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 Upgrade Paths.

Device types

Decide whether to create separate designs for different PC types, such as tablets, laptops, and desktops. Each of these styles has different sets of critical differentiators, such as battery life or graphics performance.

Although Windows includes base drivers for many common devices, some hardware requires specialized device drivers that must be installed and occasionally updated. To help you manage your images, many of these drivers are designed to be installed offline without booting the Windows image. This process is described in Update drivers and packages: Intro to offline servicing.

Use Windows Assessment tools to make sure that the apps and hardware that you're installing can perform well in a variety of circumstances. For more information, see Windows Assessment Toolkit Technical Reference, Windows Assessment Services Technical Reference, and Windows Performance Toolkit Technical Reference.


Consider creating different Windows images for different regions.

The resource files for Windows and Microsoft Office are large - some are several hundred megabytes. To save drive space, include only the languages you need for that region. Users can install more languages later as needed.

You may also need to choose different apps, based on language support and your users' preferences.

Build to order

Want to customize PCs for individual customers? We'll show you how to boot into a manufacturing mode called Audit mode, where a technician can add apps and other final touches before sending it out.

See Also


OEM Windows Deployment and Imaging Walkthrough