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Microsoft's Self-Contradicting OPK Help Files

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It starts off by saying this:

A basic method for using the Windows Preinstallation Environment (Windows PE) is as follows:

Start the newly assembled computer with Windows PE.

Run any relevant hardware diagnostic applications.

Configure the hard disk.

Deploy the operating system to the computer by:

Copying an image from the network.


Running Winnt32 at the command prompt in Windows PE and installing the operating system.

Restart into the installed operating system by using Sysprep in Factory mode, or seal the operating system by using Sysprep, and then shut down the computer.

Ok, fine. So we use winnt32 from WinPE.

But then it says:

The Windows OPK CD is a bootable copy of Windows PE (32-bit edition). This default version of Windows PE on the Windows OPK CD starts and runs the command factory -winpe.

Alright so... when do we get to run winnt32?

To start a computer by using Windows PE on a CD

Insert the Windows PE CD (non-OEMs) or the Windows OPK CD (OEMs) into the computer.

Configure the computer's basic input/output system (BIOS) to start from the CD before starting from the local hard disk.

Start the computer, pressing any key to start from the CD if the computer contains a formatted local hard disk.

When the Factory tool starts, it first locates a Winbom.ini file by searching these locations in this order:

The path and file name specified by the registry key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Factory\Winbom

The root of all removable media drives that are not CD-ROM drives, such as a floppy disk drive

The root of all CD-ROM drives

The location of Factory.exe, usually the %SYSTEMDRIVE%\Sysprep folder

The root of %SYSTEMDRIVE%

After locating the intended Winbom.ini file, the computer connects to the network as specified in the [WinPE.Net] section. Plug and Play installs only the network adapter, and then the Factory tool installs networking services and binds the network protocols.

What happened to running winnt32?

Just wait.. it gets better:

Preinstalling Windows

After processing the [OEMRunOnce] and [OEMRun] sections, Windows PE then installs a configuration set as specified by the [WinPE] section.


Installing a configuration set from Windows PE may require a long time because Setup copies the i386 directory as part of the installation. The OEM License Agreement requires that you include a complete copy of the i386 directory on destination computers.

The files are copied to the C:\i386 directory by default. If you include the SourcePath entry in the [ComputerSettings] section of Winbom.ini, then the i386 directory is placed in the location specified by SourcePath. For example:


SourcePath = %WINDIR%

Finally, Windows PE processes the [updateSystem] section of the Winbom.ini file, and restarts or shuts down the computer based on the value of the Restart entry in the [WinPE] section.


Ok so if the Factory tool just used winbom.ini to install windows, why would we run winnt32?

Now take a look at this.. remember according to the quotes above, we are running Factory -winpe.

Factory.exe processes Winbom.ini entries, depending on the value of the WinbomType entry in the [Factory] section of the Winbom.ini file.

If WinbomType contains the value WinPE, then the only Winbom.ini entries that are processed are those used by Windows PE when you run the Factory -winpe command.

If WinbomType contains the value Factory, then the only Winbom.ini entries processed are those used to control Sysprep in Factory mode when you run the Sysprep -factory command.

If WinbomType contains the value OOBE, then the only Winbom.ini entries processed are those used to configure Windows XP during Windows Welcome. After you run the Sysprep -reseal command, Windows Welcome runs the next time you start the computer.

But take a look at the highlighted section of the table.


You see that? First it says SourcePath under [ComputerSettings] is used to determine the location of the i386 folder. But if you look at that table, in winpe mode, we don't process that entry.

Anyone know what REALLY happens when you run factory -winpe?

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Moved per member request.

Sorry I cannot offer much help betamax, I never really work much with unattended CDs but I know you'll get excellent help. :)

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Anyone know what REALLY happens when you run factory -winpe?

1) Configures your WinPE environment as specified through winbom.ini (or via it's own defaults, ie, add network support).

2) If the winbom specifies the configset, Lang, etc., copy over all files necessary to run setup

3) launch winnt32 to finish staging files.

What running winnt32 does (without factory -winpe):

1) Requires that you have access to local Windows setup files (either staged on CD/HDD or network share)

2) Stages the files and starts setup.

Essentially, factory -winpe was supposed to make it easy for you to image home or pro via a single file. All it accomplishes is copying over the i386 folder (and components if staged correctly) to your local drive (again, specified in winbom.ini) and launches the winnt32.exe file.

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But the problem is: the copy destination is determined by the SourcePath entry under [ComputerSettings].

However, when running factory -winpe, the SourcePath entry isn't read (see image above).

How then, is factory.exe supposed to know where to copy the source files?

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WinPE, its environments, factory.exe and others, are not used for setting up Windows at all. What these do is to create the Windows PE environment.

%systemroot% refers to the directory that contains Windows PE (either harddrive:\minint or cdrom:\i386) Windir likewise points to these directories. You could, for example, have both WinPE (on d:\i386) and a copy of what is to be copied to the hard drive (eg \c\i386), on the same cdrom. When you build the hard disk (prepared and formatted by WinPE), you then run the install with a source of c:\i386 [so the files are available to the user] by using Winnt.exe.

You can use, eg a version of Windows PE based on XP SP1 to set up Windows 2000, for example.

The stuff about 'sealing' and 'resealing' has little to do with the end user. What these do is to reset the default countdown for the validation to undone, and allow OOBE to run.

Factory.exe is a kind of menu-program, that runs different apps for different programs. It apparently loads up the run-once menu before this is run, and this is run when the system boots. It can, for example, run things like connect to a network for the source diskettes.

FACTORY is used to copy the i386 directory, et al, from some off-computer source to the local computer, eg over a network, or from some other location (flash-disk or cd-rom). Files from the directory d:\winxp\i386 on the cdrom to, say c:\source on the hard drive. This is required, because the new owner of the computer must have the full i386 directory.

WINNT is used to actually set Windows up. The source directory is the directory that contains the i386 directory, eg if the source is installed to c:\source\i386, then the source directory in WINNT is c:\source. Windows then copies the required files from here to $WIN_NT$.~BT and $WIN_NT$.~LS, the first on the boot drive, the second on the drive where the \WINDOWS directory is to eventuate.

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