Step #1

Install Windows 7 (Enterprise) from CD or USB flash drive, when you arrive at the welcome screen and it asks you to create a username, hit ctrl+shift+f3.
This will reboot your machine and put your windows build in ‘audit’ mode.

Step #2

On reboot, you’ll automatically be logged in under the built-in Administrator account. A sysprep GUI box will appear, but you can close it and NOW begin to customize your profile.

Step #3

Install any software/drivers, make any profile customizations, etc.
If you need to reboot, the computer will boot you back into the Administrator account. You will be stuck in this audit mode until you run sysprep with the /oobe parameter. After doing so, sysprep will delete/clean up the Administrator account, but if you have copyprofile=true in your unattended answer file, it will copy the customized Admin account to the default profile before deleting it.

Step #4

On the PC you are going to be running sysprep on, you need to create a folder called scripts in this directory: %WINDIR%\Setup\. Now you are going to create a CMD file within the %WINDIR%\Setup\Scripts directory. Right click and make a new text file called SetupComplete.txt. Remove the .txt extension and replace that with .cmd. You now have a SetupComplete.cmd file which windows will read the first time it boots up from the sysprep. We need to place a script inside the CMD file. Edit the cmd file with notepad and insert this line: del /Q /F c:\windows\system32\sysprep\unattend.xml. This script will delete your unattend.xml file after it has been used. The unattend.xml file is also copied to the C:\Windows\Panther directory, so you will want to add a second line to the CMD file, del /Q /F c:\windows\panther\unattend.xml. If you have passwords or cd keys stored in that xml file you don’t have to worry about it being left on the computer.

UPDATE AS OF JUNE 16TH: Read my Taskbar Icons Tutorial before continuing.

Step #5

Once you have everything configured correctly, Copy or move your unattend.xml file to : C:\windows\system32\sysprep. Now to run sysprep, navigate to that sysprep folder, hold SHIFT and right click and select “Open New Command Windows Here”. Next, input the following commands:

sysprep /generalize /oobe /shutdown /unattend:unattend.xml

Step #6

Turn the computer back on and boot to WinPE 3.1 environment (USB stick or CD/DVD). You can use my theITBros WinPE3.1 BootLoader to boot up from USB or CD and capture your image. Capture image and save image to network location.
Dell 960 or GX755 is a good standard for capturing when you want a generic image for use with multiplesystems. Might require injecting additional drivers for 3rd party brands, HP, etc. Most should work though right out of the box.

Step #7

On reboot, Windows will run out of the box, as the /oobe is intended. As long as you put your cd key into the unattend.xml file, windows will be activated automatically in the background, you will be automatically logged into the administrator account, and the unattend.xml file is deleted. You are now ready to use the computer or join it to the domain. Enjoy!


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