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Imaging Vista

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  • Imaging Vista

    OK, this is related to my multiboot project, but concerns Vista specifically. For those not familiar with this, I have been tasked with creating a PC that can boot from Windows OSs from XP Home on up. This is what I had on my machine so far:

    XP Home
    XP Pro x86
    XP Pro x64
    Server 2003 Standard x86
    Server 2003 Standard x64
    Server 2003 R2 x86
    Server 2003 R2 x64
    Vista Ultimate x86
    Vista Ultimate x64

    Now, I threw that last one on there just for the heck of it. The point is to load up all the pre-Vista images, then Vista, then see if it can be imaged. The reason for doing this is because Microsoft changed the boot manager in Vista. However, that part is irrelevant.

    I have discovered that Vista does not like to be sysprepped if it is not on the C: drive. Well, this is fine for one installation of Vista, because even with all the other Windows versions on there, when you install Vista, it becomes the C: drive and moves everything else down one. However, throw another Vista on there and they can't both be the C: drive. I haven't even gotten to Windows 7, 8 and their server equivalents; I imagine they behave the same way.

    Does anyone have any tricks for getting Vista (and subsequent Windows' installations) sysprepped and imaged on a machine with multiple partitions? I only have 8 of these to do and I'm wondering if it wouldn't just be faster to load them individually at this point.

  • #2
    Re: Imaging Vista

    OK, decided to continue sans sysprep, since all PCs are the same model and it's easier to go into each OS and change its computername than it is to sysprep each installation. Still, I'd be curious to know if there's a better way to do it.


    • #3
      Re: Imaging Vista

      I would have to ask why this is needing done?

      I can understand dual boots but to have that would drive me bonkers.

      Maybe time to look into virtualising these setups and delivering the VM's to users.

      To answer your question though Vista is the same process as Windows 7 and Windows 8.


      Windows 7


      • #4
        Re: Imaging Vista

        Well, I work in QA and they want to recreate every possible environment our customers are using for testing purposes, which means using physical machines. I'm perfectly happy to test my features in VMs, but this is what the boss wants.

        Unfortunately, we still support things Microsoft does not. They originally wanted me to put Windows 2000 on here, but I couldn't get it to install. However, since my last post, I've added:

        Server2008 32bit
        Server2008 64bit
        7 32bit
        7 64bit
        Server2008r2 64bit
        8 32bit
        8 64bit
        Server2012 64bit

        Just 3 more to go!


        • #5
          Re: Imaging Vista

          Would you mind providing details behind the physical machine requirement? There are a handful of scenarios where this holds true, for example, when testing driver development or when utilizing applications which require direct connection to the hardware. In most cases however, virtual environments represent a vast leap forward in efficiency and effectiveness for testing.

          For example, the solution that I would recommend would consist of Windows 8.1 Professional or Enterprise workstation with Client Hyper-V and virtual machines for each environment to which you need access. To facilitate deployment of both the host and the virtual machines, I would recommend creating a deployment server with Windows Deployment Services (WDS) and the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT).

          To bring this configuration into being, you would start by bringing online a Windows Server 2012 R2 environment as a central virtualization environment and deployment server. Enable Hyper-V and WDS, install the Windows Assessment and Deployment Toolkit (ADK) and MDT and configure your deployment share. Then import your operating system installation media, application installers, and drivers. Under normal circumstances the next step would be to create a virtual machine in which to deploy Windows 8 and prepare the environment for the base image. In this situation however, the base image will require Hyper-V, as such it will need to be deployed to a physical workstation.

          On the newly deployed workstation you can install applications and configure the system in preparation for being captured as the base image including enabling Hyper-V. Once the system is in the desired state then use a Sysprep and Capture task sequence to bring the environment into the deployment share. Alternatively, you could deploy the unaltered operating system image through MDT directly into production, using the task sequence and answer files to install any necessary applications and necessary customizations and DISM to enable the Hyper-V role.

          Now you would have a working workstation image that has support for Hyper-V that can be deployed into production through a deployment task sequence. The next step is to prepare the virtual environments. There are two ways that you can prepare the virtual environments. The first is to install them in the central virtualization environment, configure them, then run Sysprep and shut down. You can then copy the VHD to a file share and copy it down to each destination workstation. Each destination workstation can then create a new VM and attach the VHD and quickly be up and running. You could even include these VHDs in your base image for Windows 8, providing a single image solution, though that image would be very large.

          The second is to continue to leverage MDT. Once you have configured the operating system in the central virtualization environment, run a Sysprep and capture task sequence to import that environment into the deployment share and prepare a deployment task sequence. To provide that environment on a destination workstation simply create a VM and boot to the MDT deployment media (over the network via PXE, or to USB or Optical Disk). The deployment will then provide a list of available task sequences with available operating systems. A user with a newly created VM could select between all of the available operating systems, and also for each operating system between any available applications.

          Through the second example, a user would be able to create a new VM and boot either via PXE or to an ISO which would provide them with a list of the available task sequences from the deployment share. See:
          They could then be provided with a list of available applications, such as a selection between different versions of Microsoft Office, different browsers and plugins, or custom line of business applications. The remaining questions posed by the task sequence can be addressed by answer file, leaving the minimum of user interaction while providing the maximum flexibility in the virtual environments.

          Deploying Windows 8.1 from a USB Stick- Walkthrough
          Deploy Windows 8 with MDT- Video

          Additionally, with Windows 8.1/Windows Server 2012 R2 support for Generation 2 virtual machines, the virtual environments could support UEFI boot including Secure Boot and support for GPT boot devices. Something a physical multiboot environment cannot. They do each have merits though, so select what works best for you.

          Lastly, I would recommend against using Sysprep in multiboot environments. The community additions section of this TechNet article provides one example of why. Also donít forget the upcoming Windows XP End of Support and what it means for those who are still on XP.

          Windows Outreach Team- IT Pro
          The Springboard Series on TechNet


          • #6
            Re: Imaging Vista

            Yes, I learned the hard way about sysprep on multibooters. Luckily, the hardware in these machines should be identical; after redoing everything from scratch, I imaged it without the sysprep and everything was peachy.

            As far as what we support, it goes a bit beyond what Microsoft does. Apparently we have a significant number of Windows 2000 users out there. They originally wanted me to install 2000 Pro and 2000 Advanced Server, but I couldn't get it to load at all.

            I would be ecstatic if all we had to test with were VMs, for one simple reason: snapshots. Even before I had to redo my multiboot machine for the 3rd time, I knew the value of being able to reset my machine to a pristine state instantaneously was phenomenal. We have virtual environments for all these setups, too, but as an employee that has only been here just under 5 months, I didn't think it was my place to tell my bosses what they should do with their money. I've been working with VMware for years, so I have no problem with it, but at this point in my job, what the boss wants, he gets. I did make a case initially against multibooting, but at 5 months in, I'm not pushing the issue. The squeaky wheel sometimes gets replaced.

            Thank you, however, for your excellent reply.