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A common execution you will use for sysprep looks like the following:
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c:\windows\system32\sysprep\sysprepexe /oobe /generalize /shutdown
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This command removes the unique information from the machine, con gures the Windows Welcome to run on next boot-up, and shuts down the OS ready to be duplicated Although SYSPREP solved the problems associated with duplicating an image of an installation, the actual method of creating and using an image was provided by third parties Microsoft s rst foray into image deployment was with Automated Deployment Services (ADS), which was available as a feature pack for Windows 2003 Enterprise edition It was designed with the deployment of server OSs in mind and not client OSs ADS used a new image format that was able to capture a machine at either the hard disk-sector level or the actual les the OS installation consisted of The capture and deployment of an OS was facilitated via the ADS deployment agent; this was a highly scaled-down version of Windows 2003 (similar to Windows Pre-Execution Environment [PE]) that contained the components for network and disk access required for image-based installations The deployment agent enabled virtual oppy disks to be used during an installation, which enabled steps such as updating the BIOS of a server or performing hardware RAID con guration This enabled the entire process of standing up a server in an environment to be automated through a sophisticated set of actions, which are con gured via an XMLbased task sequence ADS was a great technology, but it was for server OSs only it did not catch on in many environments, as its initial setup and con guration was not considered a great time investment when the OS could be manually installed fairly quickly Of course, this ignored the advantages of automated installations, one of which consistency is crucial when supporting larger environments A parallel installation methodology was being investigated at Microsoft; the company realized that as the OS grew in size, complexity,
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and number of components, the traditional installation method installing the OS one component at a time, with each component having its own set of con guration steps was going to result in extremely long installation times for Windows Vista It was decided instead to rst perform the installation of Windows Vista at Microsoft, and then a SYSPREP installation would be captured to an image An image-based installation would then be performed for end users and businesses This meant Microsoft needed an image format of its own and a method to distribute the image for both home and business users Microsoft created the Windows Imaging Format (WIM) that, unlike many other technologies, was a le-based format for storing information in a single cabinet format-type structure This enabled the format to use single-instance storage, which saved space by storing any duplicate les found in an installation only once instead of multiple times This may not seem to be a big deal However, consider the Windows Resource Protection that Windows Vista employs to protect the OS (the replacement for Windows File Protection present in Windows 2000 and XP) It includes the duplication of key les needed to boot Windows Vista that are stored in the %Windir%\winsxs\Backup folder and take up around 500MB With singleinstance storage, this duplicated 500MB is not stored twice, saving 500MB from the size of the image Coupled with compression technologies, a WIM le of an OS is typically one third the size of the partition it is capturing This single-instance storage enables another cool feature Over the years, the number of editions of Windows has grown However, these different versions share mostly the same core set of les, and so Microsoft now ships all versions of Windows Vista on one media, with all sharing a single WIM le Because the Windows media now contains all the versions of the OS, Microsoft can enable another interesting feature: Anytime Upgrade If initially you install a lower version of Vista and want to upgrade, all you need is a new product key; the Vista DVD and the components that are part of the upgrade Vista will be installed This new key is available via the Windows Anytime Upgrade component of Vista The Windows Anytime Upgrade (as with any upgrade) performs a full Vista upgrade in the same way as upgrading XP to Vista; new components are not just installed, but the entire OS is redeployed to the machine, with the previous settings and programs migrated to the new OS The rst support for the WIM format was via the System Management Server OS Deployment Feature Pack, which used an early 09 version of the WIM format, but utilized PE-based wizards to capture and deploy
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