How to create a Windows 7 image

How to create a Windows 7 image


These are my personal notes on how to create a good Windows 7 image that runs fast on older hardware and is easy to update and deploy.
This is not the only way to do this, but I find it the easiest.
Once you have done it the first time, you can simply run updates and then do a sysprep and upload the updated image to WDS.

Note: I assume anybody reading this is technical enough to understand how to install a WDS role on Windows Server, and how to create a Virtual Machine, so I have not included instructions on how to do either of these things.

Initial setup

If a new model of computer that has not been previously deployed boot into the manufacturer image and take a copy of the drivers
Lenovo keep a copy on their drivers under C:\SWTOOLS\Drivers, other manufacturers have different places to store drivers.
You may otherwise need to manually get all the drivers off their website.

Create a Driver group on WDS named after Machine, example Lenovo T440s
Insert the USB, NET and HDD drivers into the boot image on WDS



Create a Prep Machine 

There are two ways you can do this, the first is with Virtualization, VMWare ESXi or Workstation, or Oracle VirtualBox are the two Virtualization platforms I would recommend.
Second method is with a Desktop machine and keeping a set of disks with the dedicated images on them.

First thing is first, Install a Fresh copy of Windows on either a Virtual machine or a Desktop machine, if you are going the virtual route, I suggest taking a snapshot at each step so you can revert back if required.


Settings Pre Sysprep
I apply some Local GP settings, this is completely optional and some of you may want more or less restrictive options, you can obviously do this through domain group policy, however I like to make sure some settings are in place at the time of the install.
The reasoning for my options mostly to help the OS run a bit faster on older hardware but also to give the users less freedom, I tend to find some users always hibernate/sleep their machine, which will cause problems if they never shut down the machine properly.

Forcing a lower performance visual style, and limiting users from putting bloated desktop backgrounds or screensavers seems to improve the speed of the machine.


go into cmd as an administrator and type Powercfg –h off  – this turns off the ability to sleep or hibernate the machine

Next from the cmd window type Gpedit.msc and go into  > administrative templates > control panel > personalization

Enable the following

“Prevent changing color scheme”

“Prevent changing theme”

“Prevent changing visual style for windows and buttons”

“Prevent changing desktop background”

“Prevent changing screen saver”

“Force Specific visual style or force windows classic”



Next I remove any software or features that I find are not required.

Control Panel > Programs and Features > Turn windows features on or off

Remove Games

Remove all Media Features

Remove Tablet PC components

Remove Windows gadget platform

Remove XPS Services

Remove XPS Viewer


Software to Install Pre Sysprep

This is going to be totally dependent on what you need on your machines.
Initially a few years back when I first made a Windows 7 image, I installed *EVERYTHING* on it, however I started to realize this was not the most efficient way to do this, Java and Adobe products are updated so frequently that it made no sense.

So now I only install larger software applications like, Microsoft Office and Oracle Applications.


Run Windows and Office updates to ensure windows is up to date.

Other software like Adobe/Java that is frequently updated I keep in a Software repository and update with the latest versions, and only install these post deployment




Take a Snapshot of the Virtual Machine or use imaging software like Acronis if it is a physical machine.
Run Sysprep The file path is C:\Windows\system32\Sysprep. Open sysprep folder and run the sysprep application. Set the system clean up action to enter system Out-of-Box Experience (oobe), I recommend you set the shutdown option to shutdown, Check the Generalize box and click OK. Sysprep will run removing unique security IDs and other unique information.


Boot the machine into Windows PE

Type net use Z: \\server\directory
For Windows PE below version 5 you will need to use Image X

imagex /capture D: Z:\image.wim “WNA Image” /compress fast /verify

For Windows PE 5 you can use DISM

dism /Capture-Image /ImageFile:Z:\Image.wim /CaptureDir:D:\ /Name:”WNA Image

(the windows install will usually be D: or E: drive but may need to check)

Add captured .WIM file to your WDS server


This is how to create a Windows 7 image, if you have any questions don’t hesitate to contact me

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