Windows Setup Technical Reference

Applies To: Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2012 R2

Windows Setup is a bootable program that installs the Windows operating system.

Practical applications

  • You can install or upgrade the Windows operating system on a PC from a DVD, USB key, or network device.

  • You can automate the Windows installation process, including the configuration of drivers, packages, files, and Windows system settings by using answer files created from Windows System Image Manager (Windows SIM).

  • You can use Windows Setup as an installer for your own customized Windows images.

  • You can use the menus in Windows Setup to prepare the hard drives before installation.

What's New

  • Windows 8.1 upgrades are different from previous Windows upgrade scenarios. For more info, see Windows 8.1 Upgrade Scenarios for OEMs.

  • Windows Setup cannot be used to perform automated upgrades to most editions of Windows 8.1.

    For volume-licensed editions of Windows, we've added a new command-line option, setup /auto, to help enable upgrades. Note, we only plan to use this option for upgrades to Windows 8.1, and we may remove the option in future versions of Windows. For more info, see Windows Setup Command-Line Options.

See also

The following table contains links to resources related to this scenario.

Content type References


Windows Setup Scenarios and Best Practices | Windows Setup Automation Overview


Windows Setup Installation Process | Windows 8.1 Upgrade Scenarios for OEMs | Boot from a DVD | Install Windows from a USB Flash Drive | Deploy a Custom Image | Run Windows Setup from Windows PE


Automate Windows Setup | Use a Configuration Set with Windows Setup| Add Device Drivers to Windows During Windows Setup | Add a Custom Script to Windows Setup | Multilingual Windows Image Creation | Boot Windows to Audit Mode or OOBE

Tools and settings

Windows Setup Command-Line Options | Windows Setup Supported Platforms and Cross-Platform Deployments | Windows Setup States | Windows Setup Edition Configuration and Product ID Files (EI.cfg and PID.txt) | Windows Setup Log Files and Event Logs | Windows Setup Configuration Passes

Related technologies

Windows SIM (System Image Manager) | Unattended Windows Setup Reference | Sysprep (System Preparation) Overview | WinPE for Windows 8: Windows PE 5.0