Unattend XML Error During Windows 7 Deployment OSD Using Configuration Manager 2012 | Quisitive

I recently received this error in my OSD task sequence while attempting to deploy Windows 7 Enterprise via System Center Configuration Manager 2012 SP1. The Windows image would deploy and install on my virtual or physical machine but would not apply the settings of the unattend.xml leaving a non-customized installation of Windows 7.

Windows could not parse or process the unattend answer file for pass [specialize]. The settings specified in the answer file cannot be applied. The error was detected while processing settings for component [Microsoft-Windows-Shell-Setup].

Windows Automated Installation Kit or the  Assessment and Deployment Kit

There are now 2 choices for the deployment and management of Windows images, (Windows Automated Installation Kit or Assessment and Deployment Kit). I had the Assessment and Deployment kit installed on my MDT integrated Configuration Manager 2012 Server and on a x86 Windows Enterprise workstation,(as you may or may not know, if you have to edit a x86 unattend.xml file you need to install the x86 version of the deployment kit on a x86 computer). I edited the unattend.xml using the Windows System Image Manager from the Assessment and Deployment Kit and created my ConfigMgr package as usual. During the deployment I received the above error and could not get the unattend.xml to work.

To get the unattend.xml to work properly, I had to recreate the unattend.xml file using the Windows Automated Installation Kit,(WAIK) v2.0.0. Here is how I did it.

Steps to Create the Unattend.xml

  1. Download the Windows Automated Installation Kit WAIK  (Remember if you are editing an Unattend.xml file to be used with a x86 image you must install the x86 version of the WAIK on a x86 computer)
  2. Create a new Unattend.xml file using the Windows 7 Enterprise source media

Right click Windows System Image Manager > Select Run as administrator > Launch the WAIK > Select the Windows 7 Enterprise image catalog

Click Open

Select New Answer File

You will be prompted to save the file

In the Windows System Image Manager expand the image components under Windows Image,(I will add one component to demonstrate the process), as there are many components that make up an unattend answer file. The error message stated that the file could not be parsed during the specialize pass of sysprep.

We will add the Windows-Shell-Setup component to the specialize pass

Right click the desired component > Select Add Setting to Pass 4 Specialize

Go to the answer file > Expand the 4 specialize pass > Now you can add your customizations to the unattend.xml. As you can see there are many settings available under Windows-Shell-Setup-Neutral

You must associate the new unattend.xml file with the image that you intend to deploy with ConfigMgr by creating a new image catalog file,(.clg ). Right Click > Select Windows Image > Select the WIM file that you want to deploy with ConfigMgr

Click Open

Click Yes to create the catalog file,(this may take some time)

Browse to the Unattend.xml that we created > Open. This will associate the new unattend.xml file with our WIM catalog file. Now we can use this unattend.xml file to deploy our Windows 7 custom settings.

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