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Edit: If anybody comes across this in browsing for a solution to the same problem, the root cause turned out to be the USB drive I was using. You need to use one that is recognized as removable rather than fixed storage.


I am working my way through the steps on this page to prepare an unattended installation of Windows 7 Enterprise x64 for purposes of a college assignment which simply requires the process to be carried out and documented. Both the "technician" and "reference" computers are virtual machines created in VirtualBox 4.3.12, as will be the destination computer.

I seem to have successfully completed Step 1, building an Autounattend.xml answer file using Windows System Image Manager, in as far as the answer file validates successfully.

The problem arises when I try to install Windows on the reference machine from the DVD image in conjunction with the Autounattend file on a USB drive. I have tried a couple of different USB devices, and the devices themselves seem to be recognized, but the answer file does not, as instead of taking the configuration settings from the file the user interface appears as in a manual installation.

Has anyone come across this problem or a solution?

The xml created by Windows SIM is below for reference in case the problem is with the file itself.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<unattend xmlns="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:unattend">
<settings pass="oobeSystem">
    <component name="Microsoft-Windows-Deployment" processorArchitecture="amd64" publicKeyToken="31bf3856ad364e35" language="neutral" versionScope="nonSxS" xmlns:wcm="http://schemas.microsoft.com/WMIConfig/2002/State" xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance">
        <Reseal>
            <Mode>Audit</Mode>
        </Reseal>
    </component>
    <component name="Microsoft-Windows-Shell-Setup" processorArchitecture="amd64" publicKeyToken="31bf3856ad364e35" language="neutral" versionScope="nonSxS" xmlns:wcm="http://schemas.microsoft.com/WMIConfig/2002/State" xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance">
        <OOBE>
            <HideEULAPage>true</HideEULAPage>
            <ProtectYourPC>3</ProtectYourPC>
        </OOBE>
    </component>
</settings>
<settings pass="windowsPE">
    <component name="Microsoft-Windows-International-Core-WinPE" processorArchitecture="amd64" publicKeyToken="31bf3856ad364e35" language="neutral" versionScope="nonSxS" xmlns:wcm="http://schemas.microsoft.com/WMIConfig/2002/State" xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance">
        <SetupUILanguage>
            <UILanguage>en-IE</UILanguage>
        </SetupUILanguage>
        <InputLocale>en-IE</InputLocale>
        <SystemLocale>en-IE</SystemLocale>
        <UILanguage>en-IE</UILanguage>
        <UserLocale>en-IE</UserLocale>
    </component>
    <component name="Microsoft-Windows-Setup" processorArchitecture="amd64" publicKeyToken="31bf3856ad364e35" language="neutral" versionScope="nonSxS" xmlns:wcm="http://schemas.microsoft.com/WMIConfig/2002/State" xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance">
        <DiskConfiguration>
            <Disk wcm:action="add">
                <CreatePartitions>
                    <CreatePartition wcm:action="add">
                        <Order>1</Order>
                        <Size>300</Size>
                        <Type>Primary</Type>
                    </CreatePartition>
                    <CreatePartition wcm:action="add">
                        <Order>2</Order>
                        <Extend>true</Extend>
                        <Type>Primary</Type>
                    </CreatePartition>
                </CreatePartitions>
                <ModifyPartitions>
                    <ModifyPartition wcm:action="add">
                        <Active>true</Active>
                        <Format>NTFS</Format>
                        <Label>System</Label>
                        <Order>1</Order>
                        <PartitionID>1</PartitionID>
                    </ModifyPartition>
                    <ModifyPartition wcm:action="add">
                        <Format>NTFS</Format>
                        <Label>Windows</Label>
                        <Order>2</Order>
                        <PartitionID>2</PartitionID>
                    </ModifyPartition>
                </ModifyPartitions>
                <DiskID>0</DiskID>
                <WillWipeDisk>true</WillWipeDisk>
            </Disk>
            <WillShowUI>OnError</WillShowUI>
        </DiskConfiguration>
        <ImageInstall>
            <OSImage>
                <InstallTo>
                    <DiskID>0</DiskID>
                    <PartitionID>2</PartitionID>
                </InstallTo>
                <InstallToAvailablePartition>false</InstallToAvailablePartition>
                <WillShowUI>OnError</WillShowUI>
            </OSImage>
        </ImageInstall>
        <UserData>
            <ProductKey>
                <WillShowUI>OnError</WillShowUI>
            </ProductKey>
            <AcceptEula>true</AcceptEula>
        </UserData>
    </component>
</settings>
<settings pass="specialize">
    <component name="Microsoft-Windows-IE-InternetExplorer" processorArchitecture="amd64" publicKeyToken="31bf3856ad364e35" language="neutral" versionScope="nonSxS" xmlns:wcm="http://schemas.microsoft.com/WMIConfig/2002/State" xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance">
        <Home_Page>http://www.example.com</Home_Page>
    </component>
</settings>
<cpi:offlineImage cpi:source="wim://technician/users/user/desktop/install.wim#Windows 7 ENTERPRISE" xmlns:cpi="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:cpi" />

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I'm sure this will solve your issue. It is the type of usb that I believe causes the issue as in my experience the older ones never had this issue of the Autounattend.xml not being picked up by the installer. The process integrates the Autounattend.xml into the boot.wim and it is always picked up.

The answer can be found here http://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/windows/en-US/82410df7-2e70-47c7-a9dc-7dba7c17fbf8/autounattendxml-will-not-load-from-usb-hdd?forum=w7itproinstall in a post by Robbert Vennik

You need the following items beforehand

  1. WAIK
  2. The USB disk you make into a Windows 7 installation disk
  3. A Windows 7 working machine from which you do all the commands

Then do these steps:

  1. Mount the boot.wim image located on your USB HDD disk (in this example H: is the USB disk) using ImageX from WAIK

    imagex /mountrw H:\Sources\boot.wim 2 C:\temp

    (assumes you have a folder "C:\Temp")

    (the number 2 stands for Index 2 within the boot.wim image)

  2. Fire up your Windows Explorer and navigate to C:\Temp. Tadaa you will see your boot.wim image mounted and all. Drop your "autounattend.xml" file you created directly into this folder (right next the the Setup.exe file)

  3. Close Windows Explorer and unmount the image:

    imagex /unmount /commit c:\temp

  4. Remember to the unattend.xml or autounattend.xml from the root of the HDD!

| improve this answer | |
  • Belated thanks for the response. I'm still struggling a bit, but definitely making progress thanks to your assistance! – beagle Jun 6 '14 at 17:40
  • By following the steps it definitely solved the problem of the Autounattend.xml not being picked up by the installer for me. Maybe if you outlined the issues you are experiencing someone might be able to help you. I was only dealing with a simple file that was just designed to install a single copy on a single machine chose the version of windows and install the oem key so it was easy to do and trouble shoot as it was either picked up and worked or if it didn't I knew it hadn't been picked up. – bigbloke Jun 7 '14 at 1:44
  • Got it sorted in the end, thanks. It took a bit more work to get VirtualBox to install from the USB instead of looking for a DVD but once I managed that your approach did the trick. Much appreciated. – beagle Jun 7 '14 at 7:15
1

The issue I had was drivers not loaded. I slipstreamed the drivers into the boot.wim file for USB and for Sata inside the boot.wim file on image 2 (for setup)

| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    So After imagex /mountrw H:\Sources\boot.wim 2 C:\temp – TechAdmin Jul 8 '16 at 14:59
  • Dism /image:C:\temp /Add-Driver /Driver:"path to driver.inf" – TechAdmin Jul 8 '16 at 15:00

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