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Windows 7: Want to format. Build an image with installed apps on virtual machine?

25 Apr 2014   #11
reyna12

Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit 7601 Multiprocessor Free Service Pack 1
 
 

I have a retail disk, custom built PC.


My System SpecsSystem Spec
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25 Apr 2014   #12
Kari

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by reyna12 View Post
Thanks. Does this also save any documents etc? Or am i best just putting them on usb manually?
It is not a good idea to include your personal data to a general image. Follow the instructions in the tutorial, install Windows Updates and your software as told. Deploy the image to your PC and then restore your personal user data from an external backup.

In my previous post I told about one change you need to make if doing this on another PC or vm, not on the PC you will then use it. I forgot to mention about the other change: tutorial tells you to install all drivers, too, but that's something you should not do; the Generalize option I mentioned in my previous post removes all hardware related information and drivers in any case, to prepare your image so that it can later be deployed to any computer.

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by whs View Post
Before you do anything I suggest we discuss what kind of installation disc you have. Is it a retail or an OEM disc.

With the OEM system you could not move it from a virtual partition to a real PC. Those would be considered 2 seperate systems and would require 2 seperate OEM (or other) product keys.

With a retail disc, there would not be that problem.
Wolfgang, the tutorial I linked to shows how to create an initial, first system image in Audit Mode. When installing Windows 7 you enter Audit Mode from post-install OOBE dialogs, before any user accounts are created and before user has been asked for the product key. This way the image can be created without a product key, and even if the user has an OEM version of Windows 7, the key is only needed when the image is finally deployed.

Kari
My System SpecsSystem Spec
25 Apr 2014   #13
whs
Microsoft MVP

Vista, Windows7, Mint Mate, Zorin, Windows 8
 
 

Quote:
Wolfgang, the tutorial I linked to shows how to create an initial, first system image in Audit Mode. When installing Windows 7 you enter Audit Mode from post-install OOBE dialogs, before any user accounts are created and before user has been asked for the product key. This way the image can be created without a product key, and even if the user has an OEM version of Windows 7, the key is only needed when the image is finally deployed.

Thanks Kari. I suppose that system would work OK for 30 days.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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25 Apr 2014   #14
Kari

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by whs View Post
Quote:
Wolfgang, the tutorial I linked to shows how to create an initial, first system image in Audit Mode. When installing Windows 7 you enter Audit Mode from post-install OOBE dialogs, before any user accounts are created and before user has been asked for the product key. This way the image can be created without a product key, and even if the user has an OEM version of Windows 7, the key is only needed when the image is finally deployed.

Thanks Kari. I suppose that system would work OK for 30 days.
That is totally wrong and I feel I need to clarify this to future readers of this thread. There's something quite essential you misunderstand here.

When you do a clean install install of Windows and it after last reboot comes to the first post-install OOBE dialog where it asks your username and computer name, press CTRL + SHIFT + F3:
Windows reboots now to so called Audit Mode using built-in administrator account. At this point Windows has not asked any product key.

You can now prepare your system image, customize, install software, everything. Then create the image, which will be valid years if you want to, at least as long as the media you stored the image stays readable. You can then deploy this image to any Windows PC.

When the PC you installed this image is then turned on, it boots to this same post-install OOBE dialog you were when you pressed CTRL + SHIFT + F3, asking for the initial (first) username and computer name, and in next dialogs the product key, time zone and so on. The image itself has no traces of a product key nor any user profiles.

I am still using a Windows 7 Ultimate image created like this on 30th of October 2009, entering Audit Mode from post-install OOBE before it even asked the product key. The image has no user profiles, no product key and as it is done with the sysprep /generalizing switch in Audit Mode, it can be deployed (installed) on any PC capable of running Windows 7 and activated with any valid retail or never-before-used OEM key, or with an OEM key previously used on the same computer.

As I happen to know you are experienced with virtual machines, I recommend you to test it yourself. Remember, creating image as told in this tutorial you do not need a product key as you will not install Windows to keep, you just install it to create an image.

A more complete method also based on Audit Mode explained in this tutorial. Also this one does not require a product key while creating the image. I recommend at least you to watch the shorter of the two videos in this tutorial.

Kari.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
25 Apr 2014   #15
reyna12

Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit 7601 Multiprocessor Free Service Pack 1
 
 

do partitions etc. matter. as i have set a 60gb partition for the virtual machine but have a 500gb hard drive

i presume once this image is created i just follow this? System Image Recovery
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25 Apr 2014   #16
Kari

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by reyna12 View Post
do partitions etc. matter. as i have set a 60gb partition for the virtual machine but have a 500gb hard drive

i presume once this image is created i just follow this? System Image Recovery
Regarding partition size, only one thing matters: the resulting image can only be deployed to a HDD or SSD same size or bigger than the drive it was created. If you use a 60 GB VHD to create the image, it can be then deployed to any VHD, HDD or SSD which is 60 GB or bigger.

In case the target drive is bigger, only the 60 GB you used when creating the image will be allocated to C: and you need then after first Welcome boot when finally landing on Windows desktop use Windows Disk Management or any third party tool to expand the C: drive if needed.

Kari
My System SpecsSystem Spec
25 Apr 2014   #17
whs
Microsoft MVP

Vista, Windows7, Mint Mate, Zorin, Windows 8
 
 

Hmm, this is a lot fancier than I thought. You live and learn. Thanks again for the detailed explanation.
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25 Apr 2014   #18
gregrocker

 

Reyna, do you want to make this installation "generalized" meaning you can install it on any PC, or is this just for reinstalls on the present computer? For reinstalls on the same PC there's no need to generalize. Just save the image after you set up Win7 on C.

But if you want to invest in a single image that can be transferred to any PC and then activated with the retail Product Key for that version or that PC's Product Key on COA sticker, then generalizing is worth it.

There is also another option which is to apply the image made for one PC to another PC and then Adjust Win7 to boot on new hardware with Paragon Adaptive Restore CD which is easy enough I use it instead of SysPrep Generalize.

So it depends on what your goal is for the image, and then you have a choice of methods.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
25 Apr 2014   #19
Ztruker

Windows 10 Pro X64
 
 

Won't the image created from a virtual PC be using different (virtualized) hardware, and not the hardware that is actual on the computer? If so then Paragon Adaptive Restore would be need, right?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
25 Apr 2014   #20
Kari

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Ztruker View Post
Won't the image created from a virtual PC be using different (virtualized) hardware, and not the hardware that is actual on the computer? If so then Paragon Adaptive Restore would be need, right?
No, built-in Windows tools are fully capable in doing what's needed.

The "rules" using built-in Microsoft Windows 7 tools only:
  • If the image is created on a vm or any other machine other than the final target machine, sysprep /generalize takes care of the hardware independence and the image can be used for deployment on any machine capable of running Windows 7
  • If the image is created on the final target machine and will only be used on that same machine (not deployed to any other machine, virtual or physical), it does not need to be generalized
Kari
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 Want to format. Build an image with installed apps on virtual machine?




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