Building and Deploying an Image

For image-based installations you must create a preinstalled image of Windows Vista, commonly called a master installation. After you build the installation, you can deploy your custom image by using ImageX, Windows Setup, or Windows Deployment Services (Windows DS). The primary tools used in these methods are Windows PE and ImageX.

Deploying a Custom Image Using ImageX

The following diagram illustrates the basic build and deploy process using ImageX.

The process includes:

  1. Building a master installation using the DVD-boot method.
  2. Shutting down the machine and rebooting using Windows PE.
  3. Capturing an image of the installation using ImageX.
  4. Storing the image on a network share.
  5. Booting the hardware by using Windows PE and formatting the hard drive.
  6. Copying the image from the network share down to the new computer.
  7. Applying the image to the hard drive by using ImageX.

This basic process is sometimes called build-to-plan (BTP). You can modify this process to automate various steps. For example, you can script Windows PE to automatically connect to a network and copy down an image.

The walkthrough topics in this section describe core deployment methods. You can also design your own deployment method based on the core methods. To help you get started, see Walkthrough: Deploy an Image from a Network Share.

Deploying a Custom Image Using Setup

You can also deploy your custom image by using Windows Setup instead of using ImageX. This method provides more flexibility and other benefits over using ImageX. This method enables you to apply a second answer file (Unattend.xml) to your custom image. By using a second answer file, you can customize your image during deployment. For example, you can apply different disk configurations or add additional drivers and applications. This method is similar to previous build-to-order (BTO) methods.


The default image file (Install.wim) included with the Windows product DVD works only with Windows Setup (Setup.exe). Do not deploy this default image directly with ImageX.

For more information about Windows Setup, see Windows Setup Technical Reference. For an example of this method, see Walkthrough: Deploy an Image by using Windows Setup.

Deploying a Custom Image Using Windows DS

Windows Deployment Services (Windows DS) provides a complete server-based deployment solution. To make production more efficient, OEMs and corporations can start destination computers with the Windows Preinstallation Environment (Windows PE) by using Windows DS. Windows DS is a server component in Windows Server 2003 operating systems that replaces Remote Installation Services (RIS). By starting Windows PE remotely, the destination computers do not have to be started manually.

For an example of this method, see Walkthrough: Deploy an Image by using Windows DS.

See Also


Using Windows PE and ImageX for Deployment
Deployment Walkthroughs