Everyone is able to create a customized Windows 10 reference image with the thing called Sysprep or Windows System Preparation Tool. Everything, including all apps, drivers, and updates, can be installed in the image. Once it is done, you are able to spread the Windows image to the computers of the users within your company.
In this page, you will be shown how to use the Sysprep to make a reference image on Windows 10 1909 (18363.592) build. Feel free to use this guide if you want to create a Windows image that is ready and you are able to distribute it on both a physical or visual machine (VDI solutions).
The reference Windows Image has to be customized in the Audit Mode. When you are on the installed Windows 10 OS, you are able to boot Windows 10 to the Audit Mode or OOBE. It can be done by pressing Shift + Ctrl + F3 key combinations at the same time on the OOBE or out of box experience user experience or the Windows Welcome screen.
Apart from pressing the key combination above, another method to enter the Audit Mode is to use the Sysprep. Here is the command that you will need to follow:
In the window called the System Preparation Tool window, please choose one of the options below:
- Press the OK button
- System Cleanup Action: Enter System Audit mode
- Shutdown Options: Reboot
The computer that you have will automatically restart and boot to the Audit Mode. Also, Windows 10 will automatically boot and log in with the built-in administrator account when in the Audit Mode. After that, this account will be disabled. No matter how many times you rebooted the computer, the Windows 10 will boot in this mode until the Sysprep is running.
Apparently, there is only a sign that can be seen if you want to understand that you have entered the Windows 10 Audit Mode desktop. It is the Sysprerp dialog which is located in the middle of the display. When you see it, please do not close the Sysprep utility window as you will need it at the end of the configuration step. Instead, it is better for you to minimalize it.
In the Audit Mode, the Windows 10 reference image can be configured. Here are some popular steps that usually used:
Step 1: Install OEM Information and Logo
Your company branded info is able to be set in the computer properties windows. OEMLogo, Company name, working hours, and tech support web site will be configured in this example. The simplest way that you can try to configure these settings is via the registry. Please make a text file oem.reg and then enter or copy and paste the following code into it:
Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00
“Model”=”Windows 10 Pro 1909”
“SupportHours”=”9am to 5pm ET M-F”
Take note to first make the graphic file C:\WINDOWS\oem\OEMlogo.bmp with the company logo.
If you want to apply the reg file, you can just double click on it and accept the registry changes. In the end, these settings will be imported into the registry. Once you have rebooted in the System Properties, you are able to see the branded info.
Step 2: Install the Drivers and Apps
Feel free to install the drivers and the third party programs that you want to see in the Windows 10 image. They are able to be installed manually or using the integrated Windows 10 package manager called Chocolatey. In order to install Chocolatey, you will need to run the PowerShell console with the administrator privileges. Please enter these following commands:
Set-ExecutionPolicy Bypass -Scope Process -Force;
iex ((New-Object System.Net.WebCLient). DownloadSting (‘https://chocolatey.org/install.psl’))
Then, restart the PowerShell console. Now, more programs can be installed with just a single command. For example, if you want to install Google Chrome, Opera, Adobe Reader, VLC, 7Zip, Zoomit, and K-Lite Codec Pack Full using choco, you can run the command:
Choco install 7zip, Opera, google-chrome, vlc, adobereader, k-litecodecpackfull, zoom
Apart from that, you are also allowed to install the drivers for each computer and laptop model that you want to distribute this reference Windows image. All that should be done is to download and extract the driver packages to a certain directory and then look for all *.inf files and inject every driver described there to the Windows image with the below command:
For /f %i in (‘dir /b /s *.inf’) do pnputil.exe -i -a %i
If you have to reboot the Windows in order to install the application or update, feel free to do so. After the process of reboot is complete, the system will return to the audit mode.
Step 3: Disable Telemetry and Data Collection in Windows 10
The information about the operation or users on the computer is gathered by Windows 10, such as handwriting and voice samples, error reports, location information, and calendar contents, which all of them are able to be sent to the servers owned by Microsoft.
You can disable the Telemetry and Data Collection services if you do not want for the OS sending data to the telemetry servers of Microsoft. To do so, please run the elevated Command Prompt and execute these commands below:
sc delete DiagTrack
sc delete dmwappushservice
echo ““ > C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Diagnosis\ETLLogs\AutoLogger\AutoLogger-DiagTrack-Listener.etl
red add “HKLM\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\DataCollection”/v AllowTelemtery/t REG_DWORD/d 0 /f
In addition, you are also allowed to disable the Windows tracking by using the tool from GIthub named DIsableWinTracking.
Step 4: Install Windows Security Update in Audit Mode
With Windows 8.1 and later, you are not allowed to install updates using the Windows Update Center in the Settings panel in the auditing mode. The Windows Update Center will do its job on checking if the system has completed the OOBE stage. If not, it means the update is not done.
If you want to update the system from the console, it is better for you to take the PSWindowsUpdate module provided by the TechNet Gallery.
In order to install the Windows Security Update in audit mode, firstly, you will have to save the PSWindowsUdpate.zip archive to a USB drive. Please do not skip it as it is really important. Once you have done it, right click on it and go to Properties > Unblock. Then, extract the PSWindowsUpdate.zip to both folders:
You will need to run these following commands if you want to download and install all available windows updates:
PowerShell -ExecutionPolicy RemoteSigned -Command Import-Module PSWindowsUpdate;
Get-WUInstall -AcceptAll -IgnoreReboot
That’s are the steps that you should follow. By following all of them, all available updates will be downloaded from the Windows Update servers and installed automatically.
Step 5: Uninstall Built-in UWP Apps
Also, the built-in UWM apps can be installed but the decision is on your hand. Please skip this step if you do not feel like want to uninstall the built-in apps. If you want to do it, you can enter or copy and paste the following commands onto the PowerShell console and press Enter:
Get-AppxPackage *3dbuilder* | Remove-AppxPackage
Get-AppxPackage *windowsalarms* | Remove-AppxPackage
Get-AppxPackage *windowscalculator* | Remove-AppxPackage
Get-AppxPackage *windowscommunicationsapps* | Remove-AppxPackage
Get-AppxPackage *windowscamera* | Remove-AppxPackage
Get-AppxPackage *officehub* | Remove-AppxPackage
Get-AppxPackage *skypeapp* | Remove-AppxPackage
Get-AppxPackage *getstarted* | Remove-AppxPackage
Get-AppxPackage *zunemusic* | Remove-AppxPackage
Get-AppxPackage *windowsmaps* | Remove-AppxPackage
Get-AppxPackage *solitairecollection* | Remove-AppxPackage
Get-AppxPackage *bingfinance* | Remove-AppxPackage
Get-AppxPackage *zunevideo* | Remove-AppxPackage
Get-AppxPackage *bingnews* | Remove-AppxPackage
Get-AppxPackage *onenote* | Remove-AppxPackage
Get-AppxPackage *people* | Remove-AppxPackage
Get-AppxPackage *windowsphone* | Remove-AppxPackage
Get-AppxPackage *photos* | Remove-AppxPackage
Get-AppxPackage *bingsports* | Remove-AppxPackage
Get-AppxPackage *soundrecorder* | Remove-AppxPackage
Get-AppxPackage *bingweather* | Remove-AppxPackage
Get-AppxPackage *xboxapp* | Remove-AppxPackage
Definition of Sysprep or Windows System Preparation Tool
Before distributing the Windows image on the computers of the users, you should configure a reference image. Please install the important applications, drivers, and configure the other Windows settings. Keep in mind that the resulting image has to be generalized. It can be done by deleting some certain information on the computer such as SID, GUID, and so on. The Windows image is able to be generalized with the Sysprep tool.
With Sysprep, you can delete all the information which have something to do with a certain operating system. Some of them include the Windows activation reset, unique identifiers (GUID, SID, and so on), and installing apps and drivers in the Audit mode.
Apparently, each configuration of the operating system prior to running the Sysprep will be remain untouched. Those include the personalization and network settings, installed software, installed and pinned Metro apps on the start screen, File Explorer, and the other parameters.
For those who have no idea, the Sysprep.exe utility is located in the folder C:\Windwos\System32\sysrep in Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016.
Once a prepared reference Windows 10 image has been installed and has been configured in the correct ay with particular installed software, with the operating system settings, and with the specified permissions and restrictions, it is time for you to distribute it to all computer of the company by using WDS< MDT, SCCM or manually.
Pros and cons of using Sysprep
- The Windows image is able to be distributed by using the answer file. After the process of the installation is finished, you do not have to choose some different kinds of options on the original Windows 10 setup screen.
- You are able to extract the image, make changes to it, and update it with the deployment tool whenever you want.
- The customized reference Windows 10 image has the ability to quicky distribute a ready to work environment on the computer of the user. You will not be required to install programs, drivers, and security updates. Aside from that, you also do not have to configure the custom Windows Settings on every computer.
- You will need to update the versions of the programs and drivers injected into the reference image every once in a while.
- The size of the Windows reference image can be significantly bigger compared to the clean Windows 10 installation ISO image.
How the Windows 10 reference image is created?
The reference WIM image of the Windows 10 is able to be created by following this guide below:
- The first thing that you will have to do is to do clean Windows 10 install from the ISO image and then enter the Audit Mode.
- Then, install the drivers, the apps, and configure ethe system settings.
- The next thing that should be done is to prepare the system using the Sysprep utility.
- After that, boot into the Windows PE and Capture an image using the DISM tool.
In the end, the resulting image WIM can be added to the installation disk or distributed using some different tools such as MDT< DISM, WDS, or ImageX.
How do you generalize Windows 10 image using Sysprep?
If there is a static IP address configured on your computer, you can specify that the address needs to be obtained automatically from a DHCP server. It can be done in the network adapter settings. Once you have configured everything, you can run the Sysprerp and choose the options:
- Check the Generalize option
- Shutdown Options: Shutdown
- System Cleanup Action: Enter System Out of Box Experience or OOBE
How do you use the answer files with the Sysprep for unattanted Windows 10 installation?
The answer file can be used at the same time with the Sysprep tool. This one allows configuring unattended Windows Setup settings. It is actually optional. You can use it if you want to automatically specify some various parameters that have to be configured when the image is at the first run. If you do not want to use this method, please skip it.
It is possible for the answer file to have the answer to each question. it has to be selected when you are installing Windows and selecting the initial settings (product key, language, regions, account, privacy settings, keyboard, and so on). You will have to follow the instructions during the OOBE or out of box experience.
On my daily job, I am a software engineer, programmer & computer technician. My passion is assembling PC hardware, studying Operating System and all things related to computers technology. I also love to make short films for YouTube as a producer. More at about me…