A. Microsoft has released WAIK, which you can download at http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=c7d4bc6d-15f3-4284-9123-679830d629f2&DisplayLang=en . The kit comprises all the elements needed for the automated installation of the Windows Vista OS, including:

  • Documentation consisting of whitepapers and compiled HTML that discusses the technologies
  • Microsoft Windows Preinstallation Environment (WinPE), which is the basis for the capture and deployment of Vista
  • The WAIK tools, which by default are installed to C:\Program Files\Windows AIK\ and consist of the Windows System Image Manager to enable the management of answer files to be used for automating installations; tools to manage WinPE instances; and Imagex, which is used to mount and modify the content of Windows Image (WIM) files.
Using these tools you can
  1. Build a CD-ROM that contains an in-memory WinPE instance with the imagex.exe tool.
  2. Build a reference Vista PC with the applications required and then run Sysprep (which is now part of the OS in the c:\windows\system32\sysprep folder): c:\windows\system32\sysprep\sysprep.exe /oobe /generalize /shutdown
  3. Boot to the CD-ROM and capture the contents of the reference machine with the Imagex command, as the following example shows: d:\imagex.exe /compress fast /capture c: c:\vistawithoff2007.wim "Custom Vista Install with Office 2007" /verify
  4. Copy the image to a network location.
  5. Boot a new machine with the WinPE CD-ROM, copy the image, and extract it to the machine by using the Imagex command again, as in this example:

    d:\imagex.exe /apply c:\vistawithoff2007.wim 1 c:
    where the 1 is the image number contained in the WIM file.

This is a very manual process, so the WAIK download also includes the Windows Deployment Services (which is another topic but essentially replaces Remote Installation Services for Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1--SP1--servers). These services support the WIM format for automated Vista deployment over the network using the answer files created with the Windows System Image Manager tool.