WDS Deploying Windows  Part 3: Carry Out an Unattended Deployment

KB ID 0000738


In part two we built our reference machine and took an image of it using WDS. Now to automate the deployments we need to create some unattended answer files, these will answer all the questions that the Windows 8 machines will ask while they are building. We will take those files and import them into the WDS server we configured in part one. Finally to make sure everything is working we will deploy Windows 8.


Download and Install the Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit for Windows 8

1. We used to have the WAIK for Windows 7, now this has been replaced with the ADK. (download link).

Windows Assesment and Deployment Kit Download

2. It’s a MASSIVE download, it will take a long time.

Windows Deployment Tools

Create a WDS Distribution Share

1. On a drive that has some room (Approx 5GB should be fine,) create a folder.

distribution share

2. Launch the System Image Manager.

System Image Manager 2012

3. In the top left section > Right click ‘Select a Distribution Share’ > Select ‘Create Distribution Share..’

Create Distribution Share

4. Navigate to the folder you created earlier.

Locate Distribution share

5. Now you don’t need to do this next part, but I copy the full contents of the Windows 8 DVD into this folder as well.

Copy over Windows 8 Media

6. Like so.

Windows 8 media

7. Then in the bottom left section > Right click > ‘Select Windows Image..’.

Select Windows Image Catalog

8. Navigate to the Windows 8 Media > Sources Directory > Select ‘install.wim’.

Note: The install.wim MUST match the version you are going to deploy, it’s no good pointing to a Windows 8 Pro image if you are going to deploy Windows 8 Enterprise.

Install.wim location

9. Select the version you are going to deploy > OK.

wim Windows Images

10. This is normal, select yes to create a catalog file. It will take a while, it has to mount the image, interrogate it and create all the components. Now would be a good time to put the kettle on.

Create Catalog File

Create the Unattended file for WDS (WDSUnattended.xml)

This unattended file will be just for the WDS settings, it will not be applied to the image you are going to deploy. It sets the keyboard and language settings for WDS to use, then it gives the credentials to connect to WDS, and wipes all the partitions from the target machines hard drive. It then repartitions it ready for deployment.

WARNING: As reiterated below, the disk configuration settings below will wipe the target machines drive of ALL partitions, even manufacturers rescue partitions. If you are imaging machines anyway this should not be a problem, but don’t email me to complain of you lose the recovery files for a laptop/PC while you were practicing!

1. Create a new answer file.

Create Answer File Windows 8

2. The components may not start amd64 (if you are deploying x86 images) and some of the numbers might be different on yours. But the main titles of the components will be the same. Locate Microsoft-Windows-Internationa-Core-WinPE.


3. Add it to Pass 1. If you are unfamiliar with SIM, you add a component (or a sub component) to one of the ‘Passes’ in the center, then you can select that component (or sub component) and set the values for its settings in the top right hand section. The SIM builds an XML file in the background which will become the unattended answer file.

Pass 1 windowsPE

4. You will now see this component under pass 1, select it and set the following settings. (These are for my local English Great Britain settings, you may need to change your settings according to your locale).

InputLocale = en-GB SystemLocale = en-GB UILanguage = en-GB UILanguageFallback = en-GB UserLocale = en-GB

Unattend Language

5. Select the SetupUILanguage sub component.

UILanguage = en-GB

Input Local Answer File

Wiping the Targets Hard Drive and Partitions with WDS

6. Locate the Microsoft-Windows-Setup component > Disk Configuration sub component.

Unattend Wipe All Disks and Partitions

7. Add to Pass 1.

Flatten Drive via WDS

8. Right click > Insert New Disk.

WDS Create New Disk

9. Expand > Disk > Create Partitions > Right click > ‘Insert New CreatePartition’.

WDS2012 New Disk Configuration

10. Select the DISK.

Disk ID = 0 WillWipeDisk = true

Disk ID

11. Select the Partition.

Extend = true Order = 1 Type = Primary

WDS Primary Disk

12. Right click ModifyPartition > Insert New ModifyPartition.

WDS 2012 Modify Partition

13. With the new ModifyPartition selected.

Action = AddlistItem Active = true Extend = false Format = NTFS Label = SYSTEM Letter = C Order = 1 PartitionID = 1

Create System Drive

Select Partition to install Image to

1. Locate the WindowsDeploymentService sub component, (also in Microsoft-Windows-Setup).

Deployment Services

2. Add to Pass 1.

WDS WindowsPE Settings

3. Expand Image Selection > Install To.

Disk ID = 0 PartitionID = 1

Install Image to Partition

4. Expand Login > Credentials.

Domain = {Your domain name i.e. petenetlive.com would be PETENETLIVE). Password = {Of a user with administrative rights – IT WILL GET OBFUSCATED*). Username = {Of a user with administrative rights).

Credentials for WDS

*I used to say ‘encrypted‘, but thats NOT the case, they are simply Base64 encoded.

Attach the Answerfile to the WDS Server

1. Save the file you have just created.

Save Answer File

2. Place it in your Remoteinstall folder in the WdsClientUnattend sub folder.


3. Launch the Windows Deployment Services management console > Expand Servers > Right click your server > Properties.

Set WDS Answer File

4. Client tab > Tick to enable unattended installation > I’m deploying x64 bit images so next to that option > Browse.

WDS Unattended File

5. Navigate to and select the file you have just created > Open > Apply > OK.

Locate Answer File

Create the Unattended file for Your Image (OOBEUnattend.xml)

1. Create a new answer file.

Create New Answer File

2. Locate the Microsoft-Windows-Shell-Setup component.


3. Add to Pass 4.

Pass 4 Specialize

4. With the component selected.

ComputerName = * CopyProfile = true (Unless you don’t want to copy the profiles from your source image). ProductKey = Your 25 character Windows 8 unlock code Note: Only put in a code of you are deploying with MAK keys or Retail Keys, if you are planning on using KMS leave this option blank RegisteredOrganization = Your business name. RegisteredOwner = Your owners name. ShowWindowsLive = false {now depreciated for Windows 8} TimeZone = GMT Standard Time Note: For other time zones see here

Windows 8 Unlock Code

Automatically Join the Domain

1. Locate the Microsoft-Windows-UnattendedJoin component


2. Add to Pass 4.

WDS Join Domain

3. With Identification selected.

JoinDomain = {Your domain name i.e. petenetlive.com would be PETENETLIVE). UnsecureJoin = true

2012 WDS Auto Join Domain

Set the Image Language and Keyboard Settings

4. Locate the Microsoft-Windows-International-Core component.


5. Add to Pass 7.

Pass 7 OOBE

6. With the component selected.

InputLocale = en-GB SystemLocale = en-GB UILanguage = en-GB UILanguageFallback = en-GB UserLocale = en-GB

Unattended Set Keyboard

7. Locate the Microsoft-Windows-Shell-Setup component > OOBE sub component

Set OOBE Settings

8. Add to Pass 7.

Answer File OOBE

9. With the OOBE sub component selected.

HideEULAPage = true HideLocalAccountScreen = true HideOnlineAccountScreen =true HideWirelessSetupInOOBE = true NetworkLocation = Work {sets the firewall settings} ProtectYourPC = 1

Windows 8 Remove EULA

Set the Local Administrator Password and Add a Local Administrator

Note: The local admin account is disabled by default, so here I’m setting the local admin’s password, and then creating a new local admin user called Sysadmin.

1. Locate the Microsoft-Windows-Shell-Setup component > UserAccounts sub component

Windows 8 WDS Add Local User

2. Add to Pass 7.

Unattended Windows 8 Step By Step

3. With AdmnistratorPassword selected set the password value.

WDS Windows 8 Set Local Administrators Password

4. Right click LocalAccounts > Insert New LoacalAccount.

WDS Add new local user

5. With LocalAccount selected.

Action = AddListItem Description = Sysadmin DisplayName = Sysadmin Group = Administrators Name = Sysadmin

Add administrator via WDS

6. Then set the password value.

Set Local Users Password Via WDS

7. Save the answer file.

Image Answer File

8. Save the file as OOBEUnattand.xml


Attach the Answer file to the Windows 8 Image

1. Launch the Windows Deployment Services Management console.

WDS Management Console

2. Locate the Windows 8 Image you are attaching the answer file to > Right click > Properties.

Apply Unattended File to Image

3. Tick the option ‘Allow image to install in unattended mode’ > Select File > Browse.

Image Anserfile Windows 8

4. Select the OOBEUnattend.xml file you created earlier.

Locate Answerfile

5. Note: It makes a copy of the file and stores it elsewhere calling it ImageUnattend.xml (watch out for this if you need to edit the answer file and nothing changes!)

Win 8 Unattended Install

Deploy Your Windows 8 Image.

1. Boot your target machine to the network via pXe > Press F12 to boot from the WDS.

Network Boot F12

2. Install an Image.

Deploy a Windows 8 Image

3. Select the image you want to deploy.

Select Windows 8 Image

4. After the install, the machine should reboot and present you with a domain logon.

Imaged Windows 8

5. And your programs and settings will be pre-configured.

Windows 8 Deployed Via WDS 2012

Related Articles, References, Credits, or External Links

2012 – WDS Deploying Windows 8 Part 2: Prepare Windows 8, and Capture to WDS

Author: Migrated

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