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Windows 7: WAIK->Win PE3.0->Acronis Boot Media Builder for Disk Director

20 Feb 2017   #1

Trying to move to Windows 7 Professionsl 64 bit
WAIK->Win PE3.0->Acronis Boot Media Builder for Disk Director

Hello All


This is my first venture into the Win 7 Blogosphere or should I say 'Forumosphere', so I thought a little background might help to start with.

I'm a 73 year old engineer; this might not sound too good from a computer skill viewpoint, but it gets worse. I'm building probably the last PC I will use. I've always done this in the past, using other people's discarded hardware. In order to prevent my brain from going mushy, I use the PC's for engineering work, revisiting some of the projects and problems I've come across in my professional career where I've always been unhappy with the end result, and trying out different methods and more modern techniques.

For a very long time, I've been quite happy running Windows XP Pro with SP3. However, quite a lot of pre-owned kit available now has components that no longer support XP, so I am taking my first steps towards Win 7.

These steps are complicated by the fact that I use at least 4 applications that were written for Win XP, and will never be upgraded to Win 7 because their authors have now departed for the big terminal in the sky and are no longer with us. I know there is a big change in the move to Win 7 which I believe to be due to, amongst other things, a change in the driver model for graphics intensive applications. However, to counterbalance this, Win 7 has something called 'Compatibility Mode' for previous Windows application software and I am keen to try this out as.

Strategy Statement

Because of the need to run these legacy programmes, my strategy is to build a dual boot machine with Win XP Pro (64 bit version) and check out the legacy stuff under this OS, and then to install Win 7 Pro (again the 64 bit version) and check out the Compatibility Mode. If this is OK, then I will use Win 7 exclusively, if there are problems then I will retain the dual boot set-up. I have investigated virtualisation but there seems to be a lot to master to get it running reliably and I am clearly a person with limited system level skills.


The target hardware is a Dell Optiplex 780, Intel Core Duo, upgraded to 16 GB RAM, 512 GB SSD for OS's, paging partition and utilities, 2 TB HDD. There is also a 2TB NAS on the network, and for help I can use Mrs. John Pat's ancient Dell 4400 which runs Win 7 slowly, but is the 'reference machine' for all the preparation necessary.

Problem Statement

For disk management, especially at the bare metal stage, I use Acronis Disk Director V11. This has all the disk management features I need and has built into it a 'Media Builder' which allows the creation of bootable versions of Disk Director and the Recovery Agent. The problem is to create the bootable media with Disk Director in it.


The use of Media Builder requires quite a lot of preparation work.

1. I have now discovered how to generate generate a bootable USB memory stick under Win 7. This stick has a full version of Win XP Pro on it, to test bootability.
2. From the Acronis User Guide, I have become aware of the need to use the Windows Automated Instruction Kit (WAIK) to create a Windows Preinstallation Environment (WinPE).
3. I've selected Win PE3.0, and downloaded the .iso file from the Microsoft website.
4. I've unpacked the .iso to see what is inside it. Curiosity!
5. Following the Acronis user Guide I have installed (from the WAIK) the .Net Framework V2 and the XML Parser v6, and checked that these service are available on the reference machine. This was all done from the unpacked files on a USB stick, see next 6
6. As I was targeting creation of a bootable USB stick, I put the WAIK .iso, and also the unpacked file set, on a USB stick and tried to install the WAIK from it. This was a waste of time and is impossible as after about 25% the install the system asks that you put a DVD into an optical drive.
7. Next I created a DVD with the .iso on it. From this I was able to get to the screen where you could ask for the WAIK to be installed.
8. I carried out the installation of the WAIK - apparently successfully or so the system told me. The install was placed on the reference machine hard drive in the Utility partition, which is F:. The contents of the folder on this partition are in fact exactly the same as the unpacked .iso file, which I thought a little unusual, as I would have expected to find something like waik.exe.

At this point I thought I was nearly there. However, there is no programme group, not icon or indeed no WAIK entry in the all programmes list. This means I cannot access the WAIK to extract the WinPE I need.

So what have I done wrong?

What would be really useful is if someone with better system skills than me could tell me:

A. How can I check the WAIK has been installed correctly?
B. Can someone send me a list of the files that should be present?
C. Does anyone have any experience of producing a bootable USB memory stick with WinPE 3.0 on it?
D. Is there any one out there who has actually done all of this and successfully produced bootable media with Acronis Disk Director on it?

Apologies for the length, and thanks in advance for any comments that can help me solve this.

If any one needs any more information, post on the forum.

Kind regards

My System SpecsSystem Spec
20 Feb 2017   #2

win 8 32 bit

Welcome to the forum. Your making this a harder job than it needs to be. There are now lots of free partitioning software like acronis which is now out of date. Searching Google for free partition software will give you lots of free ones bang up to date and they come with a fully bootable CD or USB.

The second thing is instead of duel boot which can be a lot of agro install 7 8 or 10 try compatible mode if it doesn't work use free virtual box and run XP virtually or any other system you want. The big difference is you may not get drivers for XP on a new PC but virtual box uses its own drivers and will run XP, win,3.1,95,98 Linux and anything else
My System SpecsSystem Spec
23 Feb 2017   #3

Trying to move to Windows 7 Professionsl 64 bit

Hello Samuria

Thanks for your quick reply.

Looking at this from an engineering viewpoint, I think we can both agree that any machine, be it a machine tool or computer needs a control program. In the case of a lathe it is either a human or an NC control system. In the case of a computer, my understanding is that the operating system is the control system.

If one is using an Excel spreadsheet, then opening a new worksheet requires the application (Excel) to request a file to be loaded and opened. My understanding of how software is constructed is that the file operations are carried out by the control program/operating system. After the file has been loaded and opened, control is handed back to the application for further work to be done.

If one inserts a blank USB memory stick into a USB port, then depending what is meant by blank, the stick might require formatting before it can be used, or it might require partitioning, letter assignment, etc.. Again these are operations carried out by the operating system. Similarly, I think that any operation carried out on a computer requires an operating system to control the computer's components.

When Windows is installed, my understanding is that before the installation is complete, a minimal, reduced functionality, version called Win PE is actually running on the machine before the full operating system is ready to boot. In fact Win PE is on every installation disk.

If you look at the 'free' partitioning tools you will find some interesting points:

1. Not all of the free ones have the facility to create a bootable USB stick at all.
2. Those that do have the facility have it buried in a more fully featured version that one has to pay for.
3. These bootable versions require a minimal, reduced functionality operating system.
4. In all cases I have come across, this minimal operating system is in fact Win PE.

See for example EasyUS, a very popular, notionally free, system.

Conclusion: one needs to make bootable partitioning software using Win PE or one needs to make a bootable USB and then install Win PE on it before merging the partitioning software.

Now in their infinite wisdom Microsoft forgot to include a command within Win 7 (or at least I cannot find it) to make a bootable rescue USB stick that contains Win PE.

To make a bootable USB stick one has to go to cmd.exe and then diskpart.exe to prepare the stick before, at cmd.exe, carrying out the boot sector generation form the Win 7 source disk. At this point you have a bootable, but no Win PE on it, so you cannot carry out the manufacture of a bootable USB stick with good quality disk partitioning software on it.

Despite the fact that Win PE is on the source disks, the official way to get at it is by using WAIK as the source; hence my original mail.

There are other possibilities outside Planet Windows to create partitioning software that will function on the hardware of a PC. The control program could be a minimal version of Linux and the partitioning application could be for example GParted from the open source community. Generating a bootable USB for GParted is simplicity in itself and consists of two steps taking in total about 5 mouse clicks. (1) Download a .iso file and (2) Run LiLi (acronym for Live Linux) which will format, partition and load a minimal Linux based on Debian with the correct settings all in one hit. This has a the options of GUI or command line interfaces

However, what I am trying to do here, in addition to to building a machine, is to vastly improve and extend my knowledge and capabilities in the Windows ecosystem. And figuring out how to generate Win PE from WAIK is, at the moment, central to this.

If you have any further ideas that can help me achieve this objective I'd gladly look at them.

Kind regards
My System SpecsSystem Spec


 WAIK->Win PE3.0->Acronis Boot Media Builder for Disk Director

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