Customizing Windows 7

Uploaded by itfreetraining on 23.08.2011

So far we have looked a upgrading to Windows 7 and performing a clean install of Windows
7 using a number of different methods. These methods work well when you only have a few
computers to install Windows 7 on, but what do you do when you have 100's or even 1000's
of computers that you need to install Windows 7 on.
Even if you have only performed a few installs of Windows 7, you will start to notice that
you are selecting the same selections in the setup to the same questions. Microsoft have
created the Windows setup information Manager which is software to help you automate and
customize your Windows 7 installs. This is included in the Windows Automated Installation
Kit. Windows Setup information manger allows you to create an answer files for question
asked during the setup. An answer file provides answers to the questions
asked by the setup. This means you can automate the setup so no user interaction is required.
The answer file gives answers to the simple questions like which language and keyboard
to use. The answer file can accept the license screen and answer more complex questions like
how to format the hard disk. The answer file can also provide answers to
questions not asked during the setup. Microsoft have streamlined the setup process and thus
there are not many customization settings. Having said this, you may want to add additional
features to your install or remove certain features before you even add any 3rd party
software to your computer. One common example used in business is that you may want to remove
the games from windows. The setup does not give you the option to do this, but with an
answer file you can tell setup not to install any games.
The file is in XML format and thus you can create and edit it in note pad, however it
best to use the tools supplied by Microsoft. Once you have created the answer file it can
be placed in the root folder of a USB thumb drive, added to the root folder of the DVD
or if the setup is run from the command prompt, the answer file can be added with the command
line switch unattend. To create an answer file, I will change to
my Windows 7 computer. First I need to install Windows A I K on my computer. This is available
for download from Microsoft as an iso image. Once you have burnt the image to a DVD, insert
the DVD and the auto run will run. From the menu screen select Windows A I K setup to
the launch the setup. The setup is a simple one, just accept the license screen, choose
the path and next your way to the end of the install. You will notice that I am installing
this on Windows 7, however I could have installed it on Windows Vista or even Windows X P. The
choice of operating system used to create the answer file is relevant when creating
the answer file. Once installed, the next step is to insert
my Windows 7 DVD, browse to the directory sources and then in the sources directory
locate the file install.wim. This file then needs to be copied to the local computer.
This files contains all the source files for your Windows 7 install. You need to make a
copy on the local computer because Windows System Image Manager needs to create a catalog
file. For this file to be created, it needs to be able to write to the location where
the install dot w i m is stored. On this computer, it took about 10 minutes
to create the catalog file. Once created I can now create an answer file. In the computer
world it is often best not to reinvent the wheel. Instead of creating an answer file
from scratch I will select the option open answer file and then browse to the windows
a i k directory under program files. In this directory there is a sample directory which
contains a number of answer files all ready configured.
Once selected I one of these, I will get a message asking if I want this answer file
to be associate with the home premium image. The home premium image is the image that I
opened earlier. I will use this answer file with that image so I will select yes.
You will notice that I have a number of different sections. These are called passes. The first
pass is called Windows PE. When you boot off the DVD to install Windows 7 this will launch
windows PE and Window PE will launch the setup. Settings in this pass identify the windows
image that will be used to install from. Also you can configure the Windows PE operation
system like the firewall configuration that will be used by Windows PE.
The next pass is offline Servicing. Before your install of Windows 7 begins, you can
add additional drivers and updates to the image in this pass. The next pass is specialize.
This is the pass that you are most likely to add setting to. In this pass you can configure
things like the hard disk to install to and configure options like the network.
The next pass is generalize. Every install of windows has security ID's. These ID's are
used to identify the install of windows and forms the foundation of security on the local
computer. This pass is required to ensure that when duplicating different computers
on the network their security setting are different. The next pass, audit system, is run just before
the user gets the chance to logon. This is done to add final customization to the image.
This pass is only run when deploying computers when the system is configured to boot into
this mode. Later on in the course you will learn how to do this.
The audit user pass is run after the user logs in. Like the audit system pass, this
pass will only run when configure to do so. The last pass is oobe system or out of the
box experience. This pass is run before the windows welcome starts. If you have ever purchased
a new computer, the computer is most likely to have been configure to start up with the
out of the box experience. This may seem like a lot of passes, but you
can see that there are only 3 passes that were configured in this answer file. If I
expand down into the windows PE section, you can see that low level options like how to
configure the hard disk can be configured. You can configure items like the size of the
partition you want to create and the type of partition. If I expand image and down to
install to, you can decide which partition you want to install to. In the user data section
you can configure the product key that will be used. If you have an enterprise key this
is a great feature as it saves you entering the product key on every computer you install
the image on. If I go down to the specialize pass and configure
items like auto logon. If you want the computer to login automatically using a user name and
password you can configure this here. This is all well and good if the settings you want
were included in the sample file, however not every setting you want may be there. If
I now go to the components section of the image file, there are 100's if not 1000's
of settings you can add. For example, if I select the fax service I
can add it. Notice that these setting can only be added to pass 4 only. A lot of settings
can be added to multiple passes. Once added, I can now see fax related items in the answer
file. You could spent hours going through the settings and adding them to your answer
file. On an enterprise network you are mostly likely going to configure your computers using
group policy. When deciding which settings to add to the answer file I would ask myself
this question first. Which settings can I configure using group policy? If they can
be configure using group policy I would not worry about setting these settings in the
answer file since group policy can be changed at any time.
If I go down to the out of box experience, I can configure things like the default administrator
account and the password. On word of warning, when adding passwords to answer files, the
answer file is in XML format which is a text file. Anyone with access to this file can
read the file with programs like notepad and thus get access to any passwords contained
in this file. Once you have finished making changes, I need
to select the option save answer file, otherwise it will attempt to save over the sample file.
For the file name I will select auto unattend.XML. This is the default name that Windows 7 will
look for when setup starts. Down the bottom of the screen you will see
a warning stating that one of the components does not have any settings and will not be
saved in the answer file. This is the fax component I added, I did not configure it
so this is to be expected. If you want to check you answer file for mistakes,
you can do this at any time by selecting the option validate answer file from the tools
menu. It is best to make sure you check your answer file before you use them to make sure
that there are no errors otherwise your answer file may not even be read.
Once you have created your answer file, you can add it you the root of your USB drive
or the root of your DVD. It will be read and used automatically by setup. Answer files
are only one way to customize your Windows 7 install.
If you want to completely customize windows, an answer file is probably not the best way
to go about it. Answer files are good for providing a base system with the settings
and features that you want. For more advantaged customization you are best to create a reference
image which is the topic of our next video.