We are a small computer shop, and got asked to build 20 computers, all the same (basically) for a company. I have fiddled around with Audit mode before, and know it can be used for creating an image that we know works, then "sealing" the installation for the customer. So we have installed the drivers, installed their software they want running, all on one computer. Nothing is activated yet. When I run SysPrep (rather, when it pops up on the next reboot), I know I need to select 'Enter System Out-of-Box Experience (OOBE)', but do I also need to Generalize? And do I need to reboot or can I just shutdown? Once that's done, can I then image the hard drive to the other 19?
It's been a while since I've done this, but from memory the order is:
You can probably get away with imaging it after OOBE if this image is only going to be used on an identical set of computers. You don't want to generalize an OOBE (I don't think you can anyway).
We generalize before duplication because it stops the activation clock and allows up to use the same image on different computers for more than a month (as well as setting it to perform hardware detection on the next boot).
You don't want to boot again after OOBE, and you want to avoid sending a customer a new machine with a running activation clock.
PS: We use a duplication machine to dupe our drives; if you're doing a lot of machines, one of these will save you days of time over a year. :)