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passmaster16

Looking to Create Windows 7 Universal Image

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What we are looking to do is create a *universal* Windows 7 image that could be used on any of our desktops (HP & Gateway). We would create a separate *universal* image for our laptops (HP & Dell). We would be creating the Windows 7 environment (OS + Essential Applications) on a reference machine then use Sysprep combined with an unattended file to complete the setup on target computers.

Right now, this is relatively straightforward with our XP build. We created our "base build images" years ago, and now we simply update our images every few months to include the latest patches and application updates. Then we run sysprep and use Ghost to make an image of machine. With XP, we can drop the image, update, sysprep, and push the image back as many times as we want. My first concern with Win7 is if sysprep /generalize can only be run 3 times, this would seem to prevent us from updating our images on a regular basis. After the third time, I assume it will no longer allow sysprep /generalize to be run. Right now, we probably update our XP images at least 3-4 times a year. So, my question is how does a corporate customer who constantly updates images handle this situation? We really wouldn't want to have to go back and build a fresh image of Win7 for the sake of running sysprep /generalize three more times. We are a volume licensed customer and will be using Win7 Enterprise. We would be using MAK activation. According to the WAIK documentation, it mentions setting the SkipRearm setting to 1 during the generalize phase but then set it back to 0 prior to deployment. Would this mean I would need two separate images? One image that is my base image that would be used for modification would have skiprearm enabled while my "gold" production image would not have skiprearm?

My second concern is related to driver installation. I know that I could inject the drivers into the WIM, but I'd rather just let Windows PNP handle the work as was done with the OEMPnpDriversPath in XP. I read a thread http://www.msfn.org/board/unattended-driver-paths-t137538-pid-880434.html/page__p__880434__hl__OEMPnpDriversPath__fromsearch__1#entry880434 here that talked about adding a drivers path to either the AuditSystem or OfflineServicing passes. Has anybody done this with success? What about issues with unsigned drivers? Would it be better to install drivers during AuditSystem or OfflineServicing? My thought was to install them during OfflineServicing because that pass runs during Windows Setup. I would assume that to do it during AuditSystem would actually require Sysprep to be run twice, once to enter Audit mode and again to exit Audit mode and to start OOBE. Is this correct?

Right now, I'm more or less being proactive in learning as much about the product as possible as we do not have any immediate plans for rolling out Win7 in the near term future.

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There is no harm injecting the drivers into the WIM because Windows is still going to use PNP to install them. Setup will NOT install drivers for devices that are not present, if this was your concern. Yes you can only generalize an image 3 times, but in my experience, Sysprep is likely to complain on the third time, not the fourth.

So far I've never had to use skipReArm in the registry yet. The images I store have 1 generalize on them, so they can survive a second. I have 1 custom image that has 2 generalize done on it, so it can't be done again. If there is something totally wrong with that one, I'd have to recreate it. That doesn't take too long, I've done it 3 times already.

As far as your "updates" go, you have a couple options. You can specify commands in your sysprep.xml that run files or programs from a network share. You can have it run this during OOBE pass or setupComplete. This way in order to change what you are installing, you change it on the share and not the image.

I'm pretty certain that one of the generalize phases gets used up during installation.

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And if recreating a baseline image exactly the same as the previous (to avoid multiple generalize passes on an image), consider MDT or SCCM for image build and deployment, or something similar.

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