This is version 2 of a step by step guide on Sysprepping a Windows 7 machine from start to finish. I cannot take full credit on this because my first article had so many helpful comments and discussions that this is simply a combination of all the good advice written into a working guide. (I would especially like to thank George for his input on Cscript for auto activation and Nathan for input on Sysprep Audit Mode). This will guide you through the following:

- Audit Mode
- Building the unattend.xml file in WSIM
- copyprofile=true command to copy the default profile (no manual copy)
- Prompt for a computer name
- Enable Administrator account
- Administrator account logs in first time automatically
- Activate windows automatically with Cscript;
- Successfully copy over taskbar icons;
- Delete unattend.xml file automatically upon completion of re-image.

Here is a list of what you will need:

- WAIK RTM : KB3AIK_EN.iso Version 3.0 (Read our Tutorial).
- Supplement for WAIK SP1 : waik_supplement_en-us.iso (Read our Tutorial).
- Windows Vista or Windows 7 Machine to build the XML file on
- ISO or DVD of Windows 7 Installation (x32 or x64)
- WinPE Boot Environment : theITBros WinPE 3.1 BootLoader

First we are going to walk through building the unattend.xml file (answer file) and then we will walk through the actual Windows7 imaging process.



Step #1

If you have a Windows 7 installation DVD, insert it now. Or if you have an ISO of 7, go ahead and extract it to a folder on your desktop. (I recommend 7-zip).

Step #2

Launch Windows System Image Manager. Your start menu should look like the image below:

Windows 7 WAIK Version 1

Step #3

Under the “Windows Image” header, right click and select new image.

Windows System Image Manager

Step #4

You will now want to browse to the .CLG file in your Windows 7 installation (I am using Windows 7 Enterprise x64 in my example). It is located in the sources folder. See Image below. You can select either the .clg file or the install.wim. Both will have the same result.

Selecting CLG File - WSIM

Step #5

Now we need to create a new answer file. Go to the file menu and select “Create New Answer File.” Right after creating one, go ahead and simply go to file menu and select “Save Answer File.” This will give your XML file a name and save location. I chose to name mine unattend.xml. Now you see we have two category folders, Components and Packages. Under the Components folder you see that we have 7 options:

-1 windowsPE
-2 offlineServicing
-3 generalize
-4 specialize
-5 auditSystem
-6 auditUser
-7 oobeSystem

Step #6

These are very important as these are the steps in which the unattend.xml file is sequenced.
The next part is a little confusing. You are going to add components, from under the “Windows Image” section on the bottom left hand side to the passes on your Answer File. To add a component, you can right click on them and select “add to # pass”. There are many different options you can add, but they have to be done in a certain order and pass otherwise your sysprep might fail. I am simply going to use the one I created as the example.

Answer File - Unattend.xml

Here is more information about adding options under the passes:

1 windowsPE

Nothing required in my example.

2 offlineServicing

Nothing required in my example.

3 generalize


Set 1 for SkipRearm to allow up to 8 rearms

4 specialize


        1. Order:


              net user administrator /active:yes






SkipAutoActivation: true


Computer Name: Leave blank (we will deal with this at the end)
CopyProfile: true
Registered Organization: Microsoft (you must leave this in this section)
Registered Owner: AutoBVT (you must leave this in this section)
ShowWindowsLive: false
TimeZone: Pacific Standard Time

(Please view TimeZone settings here ->

You can delete other sub-header components if you don’t need them.

5 auditSystem

Nothing required in my example.

6 auditUser

Nothing required in my example.

7 oobeSystem


InputLocale: en-us
SystemLocale: en-us
UILanguage: en-us
UserLocale: en-us


RegisteredOrganization: Your Company Name
RegisteredOwner: Your Name

  • AutoLogon
    1. Password
        : Administrator Password

Enabled: true
LogonCount: 5
Username: administrator

  • FirstLogonCommands
    1. CommandLine:
          cscript //b c:\windows\system32\slmgr.vbs /ipk XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX (windows 7 license key)






          cscript //b c:\windows\system32\slmgr.vbs /ato







  • OOBE






  • UserAccounts
            1. Password:
                Administrator Password

          Action: AddListItem
          Description: Local Administrator
          DisplayName: Administrator
          Group: Administrators
          Name: Administrator


AdministratorPassword: Administrator Password

If you have questions, look at my image above to see full layout of components, it should help.

Step #7

K, now go ahead and save your answer file as unattend.xml.

Step #8

If you want the sysprep to prompt for a computer name you need to remove a line from your XML file. Open up your XML file you saved with notepad and remove the following line:

Unattend.xml Computer Name


I also recommend reading this article, “Windows 7 Sysprep – Tips & tricks.”