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How to Create Your Own Custom Windows 10 Image

W-L

Please do not bump or revive older threads. 

 

 

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Posted · Original PosterOP

Preface

 

To start off what is a system image? Simply put a system image, from now on I will only refer to it as an image, is a snapshot of your system. By default it only includes the volumes/partitions needed for the operating system to run. Everyone who has ever had to do a clean install of Windows understands the pain of having to redownload and reinstall your programs, reconfigure your settings, have to redo any personalizations that you made to your OS. Hopefully by creating this guide, I will be able to save some headaches. Of course seeing as I like to get ahead of myself quite often, just point something out if it seems unclear.

 

 

This is going to be beginner guide and as such will not delve into the more advanced options of creating a custom image. Keep in mind that there are a few requirements going into this.

 

 

1. You will need a spare USB drive that is at least 4GB in size or use a DVD.

 

2. You will be required to do a clean slate install first, if you have knowledge you can do this all in VMs though I will not cover them nor will I give support about VMs.

 

3. You will need a regular Windows 10 .iso image from Microsoft to do the initial clean install.

 

4. You will need a second PC to perform some steps unless you prepare ahead of time. Having more than one USB or DVD makes this much easier but is not required.

 

 

 

Step One

 

This step is going to be completely about preparation. 

 

 

1. Go to this link and download the Windows 10 Media Creation tool.  https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/windows10/

 

2. Run the tool and select 'Create installation media for another PC.

 

3. Choose the edition you are going to use.

 

4. Continue following the prompts given in the tool to make a bootable USB or DVD.

 

Congratulations, you now have a bootbable media to continue on with the next step.

 

 

Step Two

 

Now comes the part where we make our first clean install of Windows. Follow my instructions exactly or you will go too far in the install process and have to start over.

 

 

1. Restart your PC and enter the boot menu. This is typically done by pressing a specific key during post, usually F2, F12, Delete, or Esc.

 

2. Select the USB or DVD you just made to boot from. 

 

3. Your PC will now boot from the media, once prompt appears click 'Install Windows.'

 

4. You may need to enter your licence key again unless you have already activated Windows 10 on your PC.

 

5. Accept the licence terms.

 

6. Now you will want to make a custom install. I suggest deleting all existing partitions. Then select the unallocated space and press 'Next.' This will create the default partitions which is fine for our needs.

 

7. Here is where the files will be copied over and installed. Wait for it to finish and then it will reboot automatically.

 

8. Now that your system has rebooted, you will need to select a network or you can just skip this step.

 

9. **STOP** Do NOT click anything here. Instead press Ctrl+Shift+F3. This will boot you into the built-in administrator, also known as the default profile or audit mode.

 

86165d1466538286-windows-10-image-custom

 

 

 

Step Three

 

Once you are to the desktop, you will see a box that says System Preparation Tool. You can just click the X or cancel to close it as we will not be using this.

 

Now you can customize Windows to your heart's content. Any application, personalization, or setting you select will carry over to your custom image. The only cannot be carried over are items pinned to the Taskbar and Start Menu as well as changes made to the Start Menu and Start Screen.

 

As I've said, set everything up as you would normally. This includes Windows Update, drivers, applications, wallpapers, really everything. Keep in mind that Windows MUST be activated for personalizations to be made. Another important detail is that Edge does not work in Audit Mode, you will have to use Internet Explorer. Another thing to note that every user you create on your system once you are finished with this guide will have these personalizations so if you share your PC, I would suggest not going over the top with customizations.

 

 

Step Four

 

Here is where the fun starts, or at least the more advanced part that most users will not know much about. You will need to create what is known as an Answer File. Typically these files can get a bit complex since this guide technically is about an enterprise feature. However, I already have a simple file content for you prepared.

 

1. Make sure your USB or disc is still inserted and recognized by the system.

 

2. Open Notepad and copy paste this code into Notepad.

 

 

 

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?><unattend xmlns="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:unattend">

<settings pass="specialize">

<component name="Microsoft-Windows-Shell-Setup" processorArchitecture="amd64" publicKeyToken="31bf3856ad364e35" language="neutral" versionScope="nonSxS" xmlns:wcm="http://schemas.microsoft.com/WMIConfig/2002/State" xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance">

<CopyProfile>true</CopyProfile>

</component>

</settings>

<cpi:offlineImage cpi:source="wim:X:/sources/install.wim#Windows 10 Pro" xmlns:cpi="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:cpi" />

</unattend>

 

 

 

3. If your OS is 64-bit, keep the highlighted "amd64" as it is. If your OS is 32-bit, change "amd64" to "x86".

 

4. In this part ---> wim:X:/sources/install.wim#Windows 10 Pro 

 

Change the location of the Windows 10 install media. In this example the media is on drive X:

 

Depending on your edition of Windows 10, you will need to change "Pro" to the appropriate edition that your license is for. It will either be Home, Pro, Education, or Enterprise.

 

5. Save your .xml file like so on your spare drive (really any drive as long as it's not the C drive): 

5972d1412449511-default-user-profile-cus

 

 

Part Five

 

One issue, or rather an inconvenience, this method has that your "last used folder" and "recent files" will carry over to every new profile that is created. To get around this we need to make a batch file.

 

1. Go to this exact location, you can just copy and paste into explorer, and create a batch file. You can name it something like RunOneTime.bat. 

 

%appdata%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Startup

 

 

2. The contents of the batch file should be this: 

echo Y | del %appdata%\microsoft\windows\recent\automaticdestinations\*
del %0

3. This batch file is saved the default profile's automatic start folder and will be ran as soon as any new profiles are created.

 

 

 

Part Six

 

Now we will use the Sysprep tool built into Windows to get our image ready. 

 

1. Make sure ALL open programs are closed.

 

2. Open a command prompt with admin privileges.

 

3. Enter the command to get to correct directory.

cd sysprep

4. There is a specific Windows Media Player service that can cause the sysprep tool to fail. Let's stop that now. Enter the command: 

net stop wmpnetworksvc

5. Now we will enter the command to run the sysprep tool.

sysprep.exe /generalize /oobe /shutdown /unattend:E:\customize.xml
  • sysprep.exe is the tool.
  • /generalize gets rid of hardware information associated with system.
  • /oobe will make the Windows setup start the next you boot the PC to finish installation.
  • /shutdown will make the PC shutdown after the tool is done running. You can also use /reboot and /quit (/quit won't shut the PC down and will keep you in Audit Mode).
  • /unattend:E:customize.xml You will need to change "E" to the appropate driver letter of your USB (or other drive). If you named your answer file something other than customize.xml, you will also need to change that.

6. Let the tool run and don't open anything.

 

7. DO NOT BOOT THE PC INTO THE WINDOWS INSTALLER!

 

 

Part Seven

 

Now comes the step where we actually make the image of the system so that we can store it for later use. We will make use of a WinPE .iso image that comes preinstalled with Macrium Reflect, a free imaging software. This is also where your second PC will come in handy.

 

1. Download the .iso here https://onedrive.live.com/?id=475A0A48CA6D4035!1812&cid=475A0A48CA6D4035

 

2. Make a bootable USB using the download .iso with a program such as Rufus or Universal USB Installer.

 

3. Follow these images (note I didn't make these myself and will include the appropriate source). Open the spoilers.

Spoiler

304632d1391397985-windows-7-image-custom

 

 

 
 
 
 
Spoiler

304627d1391397455-windows-7-image-custom

 
 
 
 
Spoiler

304628d1391397455-windows-7-image-custom

 
 
 
 
Spoiler

304629d1391397455-windows-7-image-custom

 
 
 
 
Spoiler

304630d1391397455-windows-7-image-custom

 
 
 
 

4. Remove the USB from your PC.

 

 

Part Eight

 

Finally we are on the last step which also happens to be easiest. Turn on your PC and complete the Windows Installation. Once finished you will notice that everything you customized beforehand will still be there. Enjoy!

 

 

Notes

 

I'm a Network Administrator for a school and we have been working on deploying Windows 10 Education to every machine in the building. It kind of inspired me to make this guide, which also happens to be my first guide on LTT. Yay!

 

Another thing to keep in mind is that I didn't do this on my personal machine as I was making the guide as that would have taken me a lot more time to create this as well as the fact that I need to it up and running 24/7. Due to this,  I made this off of memory as well as using online guides as a reference as well as some of the methods such as the actual imaging. At work we use WDS for imaging directly to and from a server but I had to use something much simpler for this. Hence the Macrium. I also apologize for some of the bad formatting when it comes to the numbered steps, I looked worse before but this is what we are going with.

 

Sources of info and pictures:

http://www.tenforums.com/tutorials/3020-windows-10-image-customize-audit-mode-sysprep.html

http://www.tenforums.com/tutorials/2110-default-user-profile-customize-windows-10-a.html

http://www.sevenforums.com/tutorials/73828-imaging-free-macrium.html


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you don't need a key to download a windows 10 iso btw.

 

and i just use acronis to make images, easy and painless.

 

Also what i do at work, imaged 250 computers in  one day  <3 acronis. 


 

 

 

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Posted · Original PosterOP
5 minutes ago, Arty said:

you don't need a key to download a windows 10 iso btw.

 

and i just use acronis to make images, easy and painless.

 

Also what i do at work, imaged 250 computers in  one day  <3 acronis. 

I've never used the one I listed personally since we use Microsoft's WDS to PXE boot to our one server where we can just capture the image. Super easy.


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I was looking for something like this a few days ago. No longer need it anymore but will come in handy next time I do


Hello

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Nice tutorial

I remember doing that a while back, with the WAIK. Got Win7 from 4GB down to 700MB! It installs, but nothing works. xD

And I thought you were really going to "customize" the windows image.

Did this one back then for XP. Did a Vista one, but I lost both the disc and how to instructions. :(

Not sure if this can still be done on Win10.

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Posted · Original PosterOP
57 minutes ago, NumLock21 said:

Nice tutorial

I remember doing that a while back, with the WAIK. Got Win7 from 4GB down to 700MB! It installs, but nothing works. xD

And I thought you were really going to "customize" the windows image.

Did this one back then for XP. Did a Vista one, but I lost both the disc and how to instructions. :(

Not sure if this can still be done on Win10.

 

If you download the PE for Windows 10 which is basically the very base necessities for Windows to function, you can completely build your own custom version of Windows. As I said though, this meant to be a basic tutorial. 


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On ‎7‎/‎19‎/‎2016 at 0:54 AM, DeadEyePsycho said:

If you download the PE for Windows 10 which is basically the very base necessities for Windows to function, you can completely build your own custom version of Windows. As I said though, this meant to be a basic tutorial. 

But is it against their Terms of Service?


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Posted · Original PosterOP
4 hours ago, AluminiumTech said:

But is it against their Terms of Service?

No, the point of PE is actually to create a lightweight environment for enterprise users where you can install enterprise tools. An example would be a PXE boot to a WinPE environment that is being used by SCCM to capture and deploy Windows images. Another example is a version in my guide that has Macrium Reflect installed and that you can boot to so that you can close an OS.

 

I'm not saying that it would be easy due to how advanced Windows 10 is now but you could create a very lightweight version of Windows that you could run without all the extra crap. It would require quite a but of work to get more advanced functions but I think it would be interesting to see how much you could add on.


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Great guide! I might try this, when I get my new build!

I am just wondering what would happen if one had to restart the PC during Step Three, because of Updates and installations etc.

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Posted · Original PosterOP
4 hours ago, Lubi97 said:

Great guide! I might try this, when I get my new build!

I am just wondering what would happen if one had to restart the PC during Step Three, because of Updates and installations etc.

The PC will continue to boot into Audit Mode until you run Sysprep, so restarting at that stage is perfectly safe.


Want to learn how to make your own custom Windows 10 image?

 

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14 hours ago, DeadEyePsycho said:

The PC will continue to boot into Audit Mode until you run Sysprep, so restarting at that stage is perfectly safe.

Ah! Thank you for clearing that up! :)

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Posted · Original PosterOP
Just now, AUniqueName said:

@DeadEyePsycho Out of curiosity, what did you use for your deployment? 

 

SCCM?

Yeah, SCCM.


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Posted · Original PosterOP
2 minutes ago, Jace1987 said:

having trouble at the cmd part It wont recognize the cd sysprep or the any others I'm doing it on hyper v

Got a pic?


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Posted · Original PosterOP
7 hours ago, Jace1987 said:

here you go

 

You have to execute the command while in the directory C:\Windows\System32\Sysprep\


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Posted · Original PosterOP
7 hours ago, Jace1987 said:

here you go

 

You also need to open a command prompt with admin privilege, not just the regular prompt as the built in admin.


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Posted · Original PosterOP
4 hours ago, Jace1987 said:

still having trouble

You have to use the CD command to change directories, you can't just type the directory itself.


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Posted · Original PosterOP
7 minutes ago, Jace1987 said:

What do you mean how do I do that

 

What you were doing in the first screenshot.

 

cd C:\Windows\System32\sysprep


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