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Windows 10 Unattended Guide

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  • 7 months later...

I would also be interested!

There are two deployment tools:

  • Windows System Image Manager
  • Windows Image Configuration Designer

Which one should be used?

I've tested both and was not satisfied with them - both had issues.

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Well, WSIM is the program to create XML files. I rarely ever use it, but if you are new to making these types of files, it is the way to go. The only function of WSIM I find particularly useful is the ability to check syntax vs an image. There are some instances where an XML will work fine on the stock DVD, but not work on a custom image.

So I wouldn't put WSIM down as a deployment tool in the same way as ICD. ICD is an evolution of the EDT (Express Deployment Tool) and is like an entry level version of MDT. MDT seems to be the good thing to use, but even it and ICD have the same issues to me. They are designed specifically for use in the Enterprise Channel and are not very useful if you are in the OEM Channel due to imaging requirements being different.

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 3 years later...

Ten step unattended Windows 10 Guide v. 06.005.2022

What you will need:

  • An internet connection, if you don't have a genuine Windows 10 ISO, and the Microsoft media creation tool.
  • A working Windows 10, Windows 8.1 or Windows 7 installation on a PC, with at least 10GB of free disk space that you will use to create the unattended Windows 10 setup.
  • A USB 3.0 drive with at least 16GB of storage capacity.
  • NTLite, Win Toolkit or DISM++ all of which provide a GUI for Windows's DISM utility to tweak Windows 10 by removing or adding components and integrating Windows updates, drivers etc. before creating the unattended install.
  • An archive utility like 7-zip or WinRar and the bootdisk creation utility,  Rufus .
  • A strategy for your unattended install.

Working backwards from the last bullet point, you need a strategy if you don't want to waste a lot of time experimenting with Windows' setups. There are at least three ways to go: (1) a basic setup that installs stock Windows 10 but may not be ready to use when setup is completed because it lacks some critical NIC or video driver; (2) basic install with a few additional components like legacy DotNet, XPS Document viewer (to print and manipulate so-called "secure" .pdf forms) unneeded Windows components removed for your specific work or play environment and integrated drivers for any hardware missed by a stock setup and (3) a de-bloated and fully customized Windows 10 install that's tweaked and ready to use as soon as you log on to your desktop. 

In most cases, especially if you are installing Windows on multiple PCs with similar hardware at home or in a small office, I recommend you use strategy No. 2. Afterwards, you can tweak Windows 10 to your specifications, then make an image of the install to clone to the additional computers. Generally speaking, imaging is much faster at installing Windows than unattended installs. Unattended installs are best saved for new, unfamiliar PC upgrades that you need to customize. Therefore, you want to create the most universal setup you can so there won't be any hiccups. 

  1. Use the Windows media creation tool to make a Windows 10 *.iso on your PC; or, better yet, use HeiDoc.net to download your preferred version of Windows 10. I have found version 1709 to be the fastest and most reliable. (Make a backup after your fresh install and do not update unmless you need a critical security update; if the OS gets hosed or infected with a virus, replace the corruped OS with your pristine working install.
  2. After the *.iso is created, use a file compression utility like 7-zip or WinRar to extract the ISO to a folder on your PC. In most cases, you simply right-click on the Windows.iso file, choose your archive manager from the context menu and let WinRar or 7-zip extract the ISO to a folder on your PC with the largest amount of free disk space, e.g. D:\Folder1.
  3. Use Double Driver to identify and export your device drivers and save them to a folder. 
  4. Now convert the encrypted install.esd file inside the Windows "sources" folder you just extracted to a file called install.wim. This will enable you to modify your Windows 10 setup. There are lots of ways to do this. Here are instructions using the freeware DISM++ : Launch DISM++ | choose "Toolkit" from the left hand column | choose "ESD to WIM Conversion" (the text may be truncated) from the panel on the right hand side | enter the path to the install.esd file inside the Windows sources folder you just extracted, e.g. D:\Folder1\sources\install.esd | in the second field, put the path for the converted file, e.g. D:\Folder1\sources\install.wim.
  5. After the conversion is finished, delete the original install.esd file or move it to another folder outside of D:\Folder1.
  6. Now, create an additional folder, call it "D:\Mount" (Wiin Toolkit may automatically create a mount folder on your system drive). After creating the folder launch NTLite, Win Toolkit or DISM++  and follow their instructions to mount the install.wim file to the "D:\Mount" folder and, then, follow their instructions for adding or removing drivers, third party software and other components, etc.. For those of you using Nvidia graphics cards, I highly recommend you use NVslimmer to make a custom Nvidia video driver without telemetry and other unwanted addons.
  7. After you finish, save and unmount your Windows 10 image (Win Toolkit does this automatically, DISM++ needs manual attention). Now it's time to automate the install.
  8. Now, create three special text files to automate the Windows install: Autounattend.xml, the Windows  answer file that contains setup instructions, pid.txt that contains the generic product ID that authorizes the installation to proceed and the ei.cfg, which tells setup which of the nearly one dozen versions of Windows 10 (i.e. Enterprise, retail, etc.) you are installing. Go here for details on how to create the pid.txt and ei.cfg files. For Autounattend.xml you can create one online or use the annotated one in the archive in the last paragraph of this post.
  9. Finally, place the Autounattend.xml file at the root of your USB as shown in the picture below. Then place the  pid.txt and ei.cfg files inside the sources folder. Finally, you can optionally create a batch file to register windows and auto-setup networking information once Windows is setup. Although you can now copy the modified Wndows image to a cleanly formatted USB drive, I like to use DISM++ or Win Toolkit to compress the Windows files in D:\Folder1 and create a new modified Windows.iso.
  10. Then, insert your USB drive, fire up the boot drive creation tool, Rufus, select your newly created Windows.iso, chose GPT install and NTFS formatting and let Rufus copy the iso files to the USB disk. And you are done.

Download pre-configured autounattend files here:  AutoFiles_2.7z Following these instructions will create an automatic Windows setup that will only require user intervention to partition the hard drive and register Windows after setup is completed.  Because I dual boot with Linux, I have wasted countless hours trying to completely automate Windows setup so that I could boot the setup USB and go have coffee. But I've found it is better to invest that time in customizing and then imaging a Windows installation so that you can clone it to another computer.  So that's it; any corrections, oversights or other forum input is welcome.


Rufus.gif.b4c659160432cc141d70b1f7cf5a5eb3.gif                   AllN1.gif.d1c297638b5b7442109af685c38f142e.gif

Edited by BYTE-ME
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17 hours ago, BYTE-ME said:

A working Windows 10 or Windows 8.1 installation on a PC, with at least 10GB of free disk space that you will use to create the unattended Windows 10 setup

Why this particular requirement? Is there something besides ADK components that require it?

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Not sure. I had not tested the procedure on Windows 7, so to be on the safe side I limited my advice to Windows  8.1. and 10 since 7,8 and 10 have different versions of DISM. Also, I see there are some spelling glitches in my gif's I need to fix when I get a chance :rolleyes:


Edited by BYTE-ME
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