5

I want to make an unattended install of Windows 8.1 with the following features:

  • It has to be actived
  • It metro apps removed from the system
  • Some freeware applications installed such as CCleaner
  • Registry modifications to boot up directly to the desktop

Problems

When I have an ISO file and load it up into the Windows System Image Manager I can only modify registry settings and not install or remove software wich is automatticly getting installed by Windows.

I saw i can pre-install software with the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2013 program, but I dont like that because its not unattended.

Question

How can I make an unattended installation (with already software removed and installed) ISO file of Windows 8.1 without using the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit?

  • 1
    @Ramhound What? I dont really get you. – Bas Oct 18 '14 at 12:10
  • But with the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit i wont get an unattended ISO file, you get an custom installation procedure of this program itself. Wich i dont want, or dont you mean that? – Bas Oct 18 '14 at 12:22
  • You need to prep your image (WIM) using the tools available and make sure you have the unattend files correct to answer the setup steps. You then make a bootable WinPE disk that has your WIM + unattend XML file(s) on at the same time. To fully automate the install you need to write a script that the WinPE Disk can run which will partition the hard disk for you and then apply the WIM "unattended". When the image is applied you can reboot the machine (write this into the script if you'd like) and it'll be ready. – Kinnectus Oct 18 '14 at 12:36
  • 1
    @BigChris Thanks alot, but vould you explain this more specificly into an answer? What do you mean by preparing my image? Do you mean a Windows 8.1 machine that is already running with the specific programs – Bas Oct 18 '14 at 15:03
  • You can use the MDT to do unattended, you just have to configure it that way... – Tamara Wijsman Oct 25 '14 at 21:10
2
+50

What you are trying achieve is creating a custom image.

You don't have to use Microsoft Deployment Toolkit for this purpose. Thing is, you could do this with MDT easily if you knew how to use it. Otherwise, it is quite confusing at the beginning. (With all those task sequences and stuff.) I found that creating custom images manually gives you more understanding about the imaging process.

With that said, there are guides on the internet about how to do this. This one is a really good example. One thing that is not mentioned in this guide that if you want a fully unattended installation, you would want to skip computer name dialog. To do this, use an asterisk for computer name in unattend.xml.

Please note that some 3rd party programs such as antiviruses (in my case it was NOD32) may prevent sysprep process and fail when you are deploying the OS.

After you are done sysprepping and machine is shut down, boot with Windows installation media and once you are at setup screen, press Shift + F10 to open up command line. Here you can use dism to capture an image. For example:

Dism /Capture-Image /ImageFile:E:\my-windows-partition.wim /CaptureDir:C:\ /Name:"My Windows partition"

Where E: could be an external HDD or something else, while C: being Windows installed partition. (If you don't have an external HDD you can simply create this file in C: drive too.)

Then you will replace that my-windows-partition.wim with install.wim in Windows 8.1 media.

To do that, copy contents of an 8.1 ISO to a folder. Replace install.wim in sources folder with your customized my-windows-partition.wim It has to be named as install.wim though.

Then you can use a 3rd party tool to create an ISO from that content.

While all these things may require quite some effort to do, you will achieve exactly what you want.
By the way, for having an easier and more fluent process, you should use virtual machines if you are able to.

I would like to explain all the steps that you are going to do but this is impossible due to how this subject is really extensive. So here are some references:

How to Create a WinPE ISO
How to Capture an Image
How to Create a Bootable ISO From Files and Folders
Also: How to Bypass Metro Start Screen

Edit Here:

I felt this post was not so explanatory to beginner users. So, i will explain like this:
Let's say you are replacing your computer. But you want to transfer everything exactly in its current state. Can you do that? Well, yes. You would sysprep your computer so your OS would be hardware free. Meaning you could install your OS on other computers. But how can you transfer it? Well, you could make images of your partitions. Let's say, whole C: drive to a single wim file. Then you could restore everything, using this wim file, on another computer. So it will work just like how it was working on the old computer. Cool, right? Yeah, but, what if i said that you could replace that wim file with the one in Windows 8.1 DVD? What would happen? You could install Windows with that image file to every computer, lol. Yes, you can do that. Basically, Windows installation uses a base image file in Windows 8.1 DVD to install Windows. What you have done here is, changing that wim file with your customized one.

So, i tried to explain the logic behind windows installation to clarify my answer. There are more things to consider about wim files, sysprep and windows installation but, i don't want to make this post any longer, cause it is already very long.

  • 1
    So, what i understand from this is when you sysprep your machine and dont reboot yet, and then make a WinPE image, you get your current installation of Windows into an install.wim file? – Bas Oct 25 '14 at 12:12
  • 1
    Exactly. You install Windows. Configure it howewer you want. And when you capture it into a .wim file, you can reinstall with the same settings. Sysprep is necessary because of removing hardware specific settings from windows so you can install it on any computer. – Haplo Oct 25 '14 at 13:35
  • alright, i didnt know that, thanks. But a WinPE boot iso is'nt a install.wim right? How would i create that install.wim then? and what are other nessecary functions inside that winpe then? – Bas Oct 25 '14 at 14:18
  • I have to edit my first comment, sorry. You don't make a WinPE image :) You make an image file with WinPE. WinPE is a bootable command line environment. To capture an image, all you need is a tool like ImageX ( older version ) or DISM ( newer version ). WinPE provides that. BUT you can have access to DISM tool with Windows 8.1 DVD! When you boot from Windows DVD, you can have access to command line at any time by pressing Shift+F10. So, you can use that too. Additional information on how to capture an image with dism:Here – Haplo Oct 25 '14 at 15:22
  • Can you edit that into your answer? I dont really get it as you describe it into this comment, but you still gotta make a winPE envoirment out of your current OS? – Bas Oct 25 '14 at 20:15
2

You can use NTLite for this purpose.

  • For installing windows which is already activated you may need to add some windows 8.1 activators which automatically activates windows 8.1 on application startup.Then you can add that software to the list of freewares you need to install.
  • For removing all the metro apps you may create a powershell script with command Get-AppxPackage -AllUsers | Remove-AppxPackage for removing all the metro apps for all users
  • for your last requirement there is no registry tweak yet, so you need to do that manually after installing windows 8.1.
  • Thanks but would'nt it be more educational to do it myself then let a program do it for me? From so far i understand i can do that with WinPE? – Bas Oct 21 '14 at 9:58
  • maybe that will help but using a tool will rather make your task more quicker. and some of your requirements may not be fulfilled with WinPE i think !! – sameer Oct 21 '14 at 10:10
  • It's a wonderful tool, i'll say nothing about that, but can you give me an example what you can do with this tool compared what you cant do with WinPE? (Without the fact that you can work much quicker ofcourse) – Bas Oct 21 '14 at 10:12
  • i haven't used WinPE yet, so maybe i won't be able to answer your question. but i haven't came across any case where it has been used for modifying a windows8.1 installation disc. – sameer Oct 21 '14 at 10:17
  • 1
    you can use NTLite for bussiness purpose after buying its license, but for modifying installation disk you will need to have the permission. – sameer Oct 21 '14 at 10:22
0

I saw i can pre-install software with the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2013 program, but I dont like that because its not unattended.

Deployment with MDT can be completely automated, to where you boot from the media (network or USB stick) and the deployment is run without pressing a single button or completing a single prompt. See the Getting Started with Windows Deployment for Windows Server 2012 or Windows 8 Using Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) blog post.

How can I make an unattended installation (with already software removed and installed) ISO file of Windows 8.1 without using the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit?

If you are concerned with a need for network connectivity to deploy with MDT, such as using PXE boot with WDS or just connecting from the MDT boot media back to the deployment share, you can also generate separate offline boot media with MDT that allows you to include all of the deployment process on a USB stick or DVD. See Deploy Windows 8.1 from a USB stick.

@TomWijsman i just saw an video that is is possible, but i dont like it because its not as educational as the other way. plus it still shows the ui of MDT.

I am not sure what you mean by “not as educational”, but if the concern is that by using MDT you do not learn deployment technologies and methods which can be applied to other scenarios, nothing could be further from the truth. MDT is the recommended method for deployment of Windows. Learning to use MDT can be one of the most beneficial endeavors an IT pro can undertake. MDT allows you to perform deployments with varying levels of automation, from full-touch to zero-touch; with varying levels of granularity, from simple imaging of completely configured systems to complete granularity with independently managed applications, drivers, and updates; and scales to organizations of any size, from a few computers to tens of thousands.

If you still do not want to use MDT, you could accomplish the scenario you outlined by creating a basic image. Customize a machine with the desired modifications through the Administrator account, then run Sysprep to prepare the machine for deployment with the CopyProfile setting configured in an answer file to write the Administrator user account configurations to the Default user account.

Also note that get-appxpackage and remote-appxpackage only remove the application for the user. To remove them from the image and prevent new users from receiving the apps, get-appxprovisionedpackage and remove-appxprovisionedpackage must also be used. See Removing Built-in Applications from Windows 8.

  • MDT is a great tool but it needs configuration. Which means knowledge. I feel like there is need of a task sequence for a basic task like this. Standard Client Task Sequence has just so many needless steps for this job. – Haplo Oct 30 '14 at 19:26

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.