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I am using the Windows 8 Enterprise 90-day trial to evaluate the latest version of Windows for a private school. The way I work is that I use sysprep to prepare an generalized image, then I clone it to the school's computers.

When I follow the instructions and try sysprep on my installation of Windows 8 in VirtualBox, sysprep thinks briefly and gives me an error message:

Fatal error occurred while trying to sysprep the machine.

Once I acknowledge it, sysprep closes. I checked the Windows Event Log, and there's nothing there that I could see.

I also followed some instructions to cure this problem, but nothing changed. The error remains.

My best guess is that the 90-day trial prohibits the use of sysprep, but I can't be sure. It might also be my use of VirtualBox, or who-knows-what. Has anyone had success with this, or encountered the same issue on real hardware?

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Disregard all of the below. First paragraph on the link you gave states SkipRearm is no longer valid. Who knew!

There's a number of reasons this can show up, but the one that has bit me on the backside is that you can only sysprep an image 4 times before that error message appears - once it shows up, you're SOL. You'll need to reinstall from the original media.

The way to get round this is to use the SkipRearm setting in an answer file while you're originally building your image. This means the sysprep counter isn't incremented, but it also doesn't reset your activation grace period. You should use this setting while you're making your customisations, then sysprep, then test, then once you're happy, remove the settings and sysprep one last time.

It's discussed in more detail here:

Of course the best way to do it is install from original media every time using Microsoft Deployment Toolkit and an Answer files to automate everything, as advocated here:

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So... do you want me to disregard your whole message, or just some part of it? – Philip Oct 31 '12 at 15:41

You must purchase license from Microsoft to sysprep it!

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Do you have any source for this? – Philip Oct 21 '12 at 22:45… look at ttetzloff Jul 26, 2010 at 08:37 AM – Davidenko Oct 21 '12 at 22:53
To legally deploy the machines, yes you need a license. But not having the license will not keep you from running sysprep. No more than not having a drivers license will keep you from driving a car. The car isn't going to say "no sir, you don't have a license, I'm not going to start". – Brain2000 Oct 30 '13 at 16:19

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