Walkthrough: Deploy Windows by using a Configuration Set

This walkthrough describes how to deploy Windows by using a configuration set. The benefit of this method is that all the files required for installation are contained in one location. A configuration set can be located on a network share or any portable media.

If you intend to transfer a Windows image to a different computer, you must run sysprep /generalize, even if the computer has the same hardware configuration. The sysprep /generalize command removes unique information from your Windows installation, which enables you to reuse that image on different computers. The next time you boot the Windows image, the specialize configuration pass runs. During this configuration pass, many components have actions that must be processed when you boot a Windows image on a new computer. Any method of moving a Windows image to a new computer, either through imaging, hard disk duplication, or other method, must be prepared with the sysprep /generalize command. Moving or copying a Windows image to a different computer without running sysprep /generalize is not supported.


To complete this walkthrough, you need the following:

  • A configuration set. For more information, see Walkthrough: Build a Configuration Set.
  • A Windows Vista product DVD.
  • A removable media if you intend to install without a network, such as a USB flash device (UFD).
  • A bootable Windows PE media if you intend to install from a network. For more information, see Windows PE Walkthroughs.

Deploying a Configuration Set without a Network

This method requires a removable media, such as a UFD, and a product DVD.

  1. Turn on the new computer.
  2. Insert both the removable media containing your configuration set and the Windows Vista product DVD into the new computer.
  3. Restart the computer (CTRL+ALT+DEL).


This example assumes that the hard drive is blank.

  1. Windows Setup (Setup.exe) begins automatically.
    By default, Windows Setup searches all removable media for an answer file called Autounattend.xml. Autounattend.xml must be located at the root of the removable media.
  2. After Setup completes, validate that all customizations were applied, and then reseal the computer, by using the generalize option.

As an OEM, you are required to reseal the new installation by using the System Preparation (Sysprep) tool. Sysprep clears various user settings and resets the computer, so that the next time the computer restarts, your customers can accept the Microsoft Software License Terms and add user-specific information.

You can automatically run Sysprep after the installation by setting the Microsoft-Windows-Deployment | Reseal component in your Autounattend.xml file as follows:

ForceShutdownNow = true, Mode =OOBE

You can also run Sysprep manually from a running Windows operating system by typing the following command.

c:\windows\system32\sysprep\sysprep.exe /oobe /shutdown


When you run the sysprep /generalize command, out-of-box device drivers are removed from the Windows image. If you add out-of-box device drivers during installation and you intend to capture the Windows image, to persist out-of-box device drivers, in the Microsoft-Windows-PnpSysprep component in the answer file, set PersistAllDeviceInstalls to True. When you do this, Sysprep does not remove the detected device drivers. For more information, see the Unattended Windows Setup Reference (Unattend.chm).

Deploying a Configuration Set from a Network

This method requires space on a network to store both the configuration set and product DVD source files. You will also need a bootable Windows PE media to start the new computer.

Step 1: Copy files to network share

  1. Create two folders on a network share to store the product DVD source files and your configuration set. For example,

  2. Copy the content of the product DVD to the \Sources folder.

  3. Copy your configuration set to the \Configsets folder.


On your technician computer, you can save your configuration set directly to a network share.

Step 2: Install from the network

  1. Boot the new computer with a bootable Windows PE media.

  2. At a command prompt in Windows PE, map a network drive to your network share. For example,

    net use y: \\network_share
  3. Run Windows Setup from the network and reference your answer file within your configuration set. For example,

    y:\source\setup.exe /unattend:y:\configsets\autounattend.xml
  4. After Setup completes, validate that all customizations were applied, and then reseal the computer, by using the generalize option.

Next Step

You can further customize your answer file to include additional options, including customized actions to occur during or after setup. For more information, see Customization How-To Topics.

See Also


Deployment Walkthroughs