Can you “swap” the Sysprep answer file in Windows 7

deploymentsysprepwindows 7

I have a load of new Lenovo laptops which I am due to distribute in my company. We are distributed in multiple locations and I want to ship the laptops "boxed" and untouched by IT hand for distribution.

We are using LANDesk to do all the software distribution and provisioning, but are currently falling at the first hurdle as when booted, the laptops kick into the Lenovo mini-setup wizard.

I assume this is because they have been sysprepped at Lenovo. In order to keep with our (almost) zero touch strategy I want the users to PXE boot into a PE of some sort, which will run a script on startup which replaces the sysprep answer file with one of my own. (i.e. prepopulated with product key, company info etc.) and then reboot to complete Sysprep.

The plan is that this will run, and then install the LANDesk agent as a post-sysprep task, which in turn will complete the provisioning.

Anyone have any experience / know any pitfalls to look out for / can suggest a suitable, PXE-bootable PE environment?

Apologies for the verbosity of the question – it takes a bit of explaining!

Thanks in advance,


Best Answer

You can simply just replace the unattend.xml file found in C:\windows\Panther. I've done this before for deployments with no problems at all. I would grab a copy of Lenovo's file and modify it as needed. They are probably using an OEM product key with a BIOS lock so if you duplicate that, you won't need to supply your own key or worry about activation. As far as a pxe environment, I'll have to apologize as I don't know a perfect solution. I'd consider using Windows Deployment Server to distribute a custom WinPE image that runs a script to replace the unattended answer file and reboot the computer. Find a tutorial on making a custom WinPE image using WAIK (this technet tutorial should be a good place to start and add the script to %windir%\System32\startnet.cmd on the image. Someone out there may have a better way of doing this. This was just the first thing to pop into my mind.