Walkthrough: Deploy Windows by Booting from a DVD

The simplest method for installing Windows onto new hardware is to start directly from the Windows Vista product DVD with an answer file (Autounattend.xml). This method provides flexibility when network access is not available or when you are building only a few computers. This is the same method used to build an initial image in an image-based deployment scenario, commonly referred to as a master installation.

The answer file enables you to automate all or parts of Windows Setup. You can create an answer file by using Windows System Image Manager (Windows SIM).


To complete this walkthrough, you need the following:

  • An answer file stored on removable media, such as a floppy disk or a USB flash device (UFD). The answer file must be called "Autounattend.xml" and be located at the root of the media. For more information, see Building an Answer File.
  • A Windows Vista product DVD.

Install Windows from the Windows product DVD

  1. Turn on the new computer.
  2. Insert both the removable media containing your answer file (Autounattend.xml) 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.
  2. After Setup completes, validate that all customizations were applied, and then reseal (use the generalize option) the computer.

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.

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.

You automatically run Sysprep after the installation by setting the Microsoft-Windows-Deployment\Reseal component setting in your Autounattend.xml where ForceShutdownNow = true, Mode =OOBE

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

Next Step

This walkthrough illustrates a basic unattended installation with no user input. You can manually add more customizations to the newly installed operating system. If this is a master installation or an installation used for image deployment, shut down the computer and capture an image of the installation by using ImageX or any third-party imaging software. For more information about deploying an image, see Building and Deploying an Image.

See Also


Deployment Walkthroughs