View Full Version : What to do with the automated xml file in Windows 7 Setup

13-08-2011, 11:36 AM
My question is where do I put the unattend.xml file for a custom installation of Windows 7? Yet sounds simple enough, after many years using the sysprep tool during the Windows 2000 and Xp days and now Windows 7 comes with a completely complicated way of doing a custom installation method.

My main reason is so I can have the user profiles on another partition instead of the usual default location where windows installs it like c:\documents and settings (for example).

I have tried putting the unattend.xml in the root of the cd, but the installation and custom settings I did was more of a miss than a hit needless to say.

I don't know if I should rename the .xml file to something else, or put this in the main windows 7 directory like the (i386) where I used to put my winnt file in Windows XP and Windows 2000.

I have no idea which one is the main directory for Windows 7; nor can I boot from bios with a flash drive to test more than once for each method.

Any suggestions?

13-08-2011, 11:40 AM
How did you make the unattended file ?

Done it many times using WAIK, and the unattended file was simply put onto a USB drive, then when booting the PC it looked and found that first and then the installation proceeded from the DVD, with all the details as per the Unattended file.

Only thing is, you have to pull the USB drive out during the first reboot, other wise it will start all over again :crying (found that out while I was on the phone)

Edited: it is still called unattended.xml

13-08-2011, 01:33 PM
FYI -- heres the documentation (http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd349348(WS.10).aspx) / method I use with WAIK. (Step by step)

13-08-2011, 02:54 PM
@Wainuitech. Yes that's the tool I used to create the xml file.

I downloaded the ISO from the Microsoft website a few months back while I was having an experiment using Windows 7 and the waik tool for the first time. I managed to use videos from YouTube, which helped me guide using the waik application, but many of them have failed to explain what you have to do once the xml is complete.

Are you supposed to put in the root of the cd or in the sources folder or rename it?

13-08-2011, 04:05 PM
Neither -- What I do is put the unattended file on a USB drive, plug that into the back of the PC, (not the front USB's as sometimes they wont work) or laptop, with the DVD in the drive, and the BIOS set to boot from the USB drive first, power it up and away it goes. It reads your .xml file and carries out the instructions / Options provided. On reboot, remove the USB drive, other wise it starts again :(

In the second post, the linked instructions under "Validate and Save Settings" , step 5 Copy the Autounattend.xml file to the root directory of a USB flash drive (UFD).

If you read the whole thing, you can of course ignore the OOBE, you can add in a volume License if you want or have one ( see screen shot) as well as any OEM information you want.

This method for example is making a PC then imaging it, and the image can be deployed over a LAN to how ever many PC's you want or are licensed for ( after sysprepping the original).

If you are only doing a few, it may be just as easy to put the .xml file on a USB drive, and install from the DVD.
I've had 3 going at once while building for customers, just have to manually enter in their product keys and user Names, ( not entered in the .xml file) but all the company details etc are in the .xml file.

13-08-2011, 06:28 PM
@wainuiTech. Dam. By the sounds of it, I need an up to date PC which will allow me to do the above steps such as booting from a usb in bios.

Looks I might just have to point my existing Windows 7 documents to my already made my documents in my E: partition drive instead.

Oh well, you can't win them all I guess.

13-08-2011, 06:47 PM
Dont go upgrading so fast :) I just remade the .xml file for my systems here, and it didn't work, where as my old one does.:confused:

I'll have to go through each stage and see whats the difference.

One thing that I made a opps on, it is actually called Autounattended.xml

Forgot the "Auto" :p

Out of interest, are you doing many installs using the autounattended ?

If its only one costume installation, then there are easier ways than using the .xml file.

13-08-2011, 09:44 PM
Found the problem with mine, one line wrong :crying.

Not having much luck here with its damn name either :mad: ( its right when I make it, some stupid reason I add in ed at the end here - its been a long week) its called Autounattend.xml

Just as a suggestion -- since sometimes the file, if not quite right will not work :rolleyes: in the WAIK install Folder, C:\program Files\Windows AIK \ Samples, is a autounattend_sample.xml file.
If you copy that out, rename it to autounattend.xml put it where you want to try, and see if it works. The sample is all in en-US, but at least it will allow you to see if it works OK before changing/making your own.

14-08-2011, 03:08 PM
@wainuitech. I'm only trying out on one computer at the moment as a test case basis. Until then once I get this autounattend.xml business sorted and working, on then will I decide to do on my other 2 Pcs.

Just a recap, regarding USB from Bios; I have several options in bios: USB-HDD, CD, ZIP. I think that's about it though. Does this qualify as being able to boot from a usb flash drive as well? I haven't used this method before, and don't know how to approach it.

"...If its only one costume installation, then there are easier ways than using the .xml file..." - I'm keen to hear what other installations you know I can do. Please share.

I will check that autounattend_sample.xml file. I can show you mine if that helps?

14-08-2011, 06:24 PM
Ok got this sorted:
The BIOS will accept the USB drive by the looks. Windows 7 goes looking for any .xml file on external drives when it installs during the setup stage.

You just have to make sure the USB drive is capable, as not all USB drives will be seen.

So far, after playing about with this most of the day, two things have happened. bit of :waughh: and a few DVD's "not quite right" oh well scissor time for them :lol:

Managed to finally get the autounattend to work as it should, 100% from USB and about 80% from a DVD.

I've looked over the new one I made since I wanted to include a default product key in its install options, that way only have to put in the new user.

Default Keys you may ask ?? Yep - Vista and W7 have default keys As listed here (http://www.wincert.net/tips/microsoft-windows/windows-7/1820-default-keys-for-vista-and-windows-7-deployment.html), they are designed for this purpose, using in unattend installs, as the site says
These keys of course will not activate, but you can enter them into your task sequences when you are prompted for a product key to use. This will make your setup more unattended. They give you 3 days to enter in a legit paid for key.

In the sample file, it also lists the OOBE ( step 7) if you remove this it wont boot and ask to reseal the PC -- Remember this process is normally used when building a PC, then resealing for the end user so they can enter in their own name etc.

Back to the .xml file if it on a USB drive it works perfectly, if I then add it to a DVD (making a new DVD) all of a sudden you have to select a couple of items, :confused: But it still enters in the company details ( if you select them) and default product key.

Why it worked 100% on a USB drive and not on the DVD I Have no idea, its the same .xml file.

Attached is a screen shot of the DVD layout, the .xml file is highlighted. The contents of the DVD were copied to a folder, the .xml file dropped in then using Imageburm, and THESE instructions to the letter (http://forum.imgburn.com/index.php?showtopic=11194) it worked OK.

If its only one costume installation, then there are easier ways than using the .xml file..." - I'm keen to hear what other installations you know I can do. Please share.
Theres several ways to do that - One way -- make up one PC, add in all your requirements manually, programs etc - then simply image it and then as long as the rest of the PC's have the same hardware, drop the image back onto them. You would have to change user names, PC names and product keys unless you have a multi user license.

If the Hardware is dis-similar, you should be able to sysprep/generalize the PC, then shut down, and capture a image using WinPE, this image can then be put onto a network drive or USB drive, and loaded into the other PC's.

Video here (http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/ee530017)Note: If it doesn't play you can download it at the bottom of the page ( called WMV)

The way I have done it in the past is with the WinPE CD, been a while so I would have to dig out the instructions if you want them.

EDITED: there is also another way to make the unattend DVD, not quite as detailed, you can use a program called 7Customizer (http://www.msfn.org/board/topic/139077-7customizer-a-windows-7-customization-and-deployment-tool/)

14-08-2011, 08:22 PM
One thing I forgot to mention above, if your .xml file doesn't work, try the install with the sample first, then alter the sample to your options.

For some stupid reason when making my own, even though the options looked OK compared to the sample it only partly worked.

By altering the sample it worked OK, main changes were altering en-US to en-NZ and adding in company details, product key and removing the OOBE.

15-08-2011, 09:21 PM
@wainuiTech, thanks heaps for your information. It was really helpful and useful. I will give this a try and try those other helpful tools you have also listed. Thanks man, it was a laugh to read too.