Windows 10: Windows 10 Image - Customize in Audit Mode with Sysprep

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  1. Kari's Avatar
    Posts : 10,025
    Windows 10 Pro
       5 Days Ago #520

    MikeNomad said: View Post
    Does removing the apps prior to install cause a problem or removing IE 11?
    No. Windows activation has nothing to do with apps and software removed or installed.

    I can think of only three logical explanations:

    1.) Original, replaced Windows was version 1507 build 10240

    Windows introduced digital licensing (also called digital entitlement) first in November 2015 update, version 1511 build 10586. When Windows 10 is reinstalled on a machine which previously had an activated Windows 10 with a digital license, new installation will be automatically activated based on the machine's hardware signature.

    If the original Windows version was 1507 build 10240, the machine had no digital license available therefore a clean reinstall will not be automatically activated. Activation requires a product key or a volume license. To keep version 1507 activation you should use in-place upgrade install method, not clean install.

    2.) Wrong edition

    If the replaced Windows installation is version 1511 build 10586 or later but different edition than the new installed Windows it would not be automatically activated. Digital licenses are edition but not language or bit version specific.

    3.) Not enough patience

    For the digital license to be checked and Windows activated, you sometimes have to wait. I have had one reinstall I remember very well because of how long the activation took; keeping the machine on and online only rebooting it occasionally after clean reinstall of Swedish Windows 10 Education version 1607 on a previously digitally activated machine, doing the reinstall early in the morning, it took to next afternoon and several reboots before Windows was automatically activated.

    Having to wait an hour or two and a few restarts is not uncommon.

    That being said, I would never in any circumstances use a production machine in active use with a previously activated Windows 10 as a technician machine to prepare Windows! This whole tutorial and method told in it is based on that fact: use a specific non-activated technician machine (in case of this tutorial I use a Hyper-V virtual machine) to prepare Windows image, then deploy it to production machines. Windows does not need to be activated when preparing it in Audit Mode.

    When install image has been prepared and sysprepped, capture the image and deploy it. In this tutorial I use somewhat unorthodox deployment method, capturing the image as a Macrium system image then deploying it by using Macrium image restore function. Reason this tutorial tells about the Macrium method is that I tried to keep this somewhat complicated process as simple as possible to suit needs of private users.

    For more professional approach, to capture and deploy the image on corporate / organisational networks you can and should of course use more professional tools and methods, like for instance capturing image with DISM and deploying with Microsoft Deployment Toolkit.

    Anyway, if I should make a bet now my money would go to option 3 in above list

    Last edited by Kari; 4 Hours Ago at 19:45. Reason: Fixed some typos
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  2.    5 Days Ago #521

    Thanks for the reply Karl, I did create the sysprep on a spare machine, all the computers were digitally licenced as I had previously run a clean install to get them from x32 to x64 and that worked fine after the fresh install all machines were authenticated with a digital licence version 1511.

    I have run the new image on two of the lab machines, and noticed a recomendation on the start menu when I went to disable the recommendations thatís when I noticed the authentication had not worked, just a bit frustrating as school is back next week and was hoping I could get all the machines updated prior to the return of the students.

    I made two sysprep images the first I is a clean sysprep image the second I added an Admin account while the PC was offline - The reson I ran it on two lab machines was the first one had the Admin account setup so I ran the non admin on the second machine incase that was causing the problem - same result Activation not availible please try again.

    I will take a look today and see if the machines are activated, I hope it is your 3rd suggestion.


      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  3. Kari's Avatar
    Posts : 10,025
    Windows 10 Pro
       4 Days Ago #522

    MikeNomad said: View Post
    I will take a look today and see if the machines are activated, I hope it is your 3rd suggestion.
    A fact: when a PC has a digital license for a specific Windows 10 edition, the same edition will be automatically activated when reinstalled or re-deployed, regardless of install or deployment method. Hard disk can be completely wiped clean or existing partitions replaced by restoring a deployment image, when new installation gets online and can check activation servers for existing digital license, Windows will be activated.

    Sysprep is not, basically cannot be the reason why your test machine was not activated. Activation has nothing to do with if Windows has been sysprepped or not.

    A test you could make if you have patience and time: make a system image of a digitally licensed production PC, not the one you used for creating deployment image. Now deploy it to this test machine and see the activation status.

    When done with test you can restore the system image you made to restore test machine as it was before deployment test.

    Since reading your post yesterday I have done some testing. I can't replicate your activation issue. Of course I have to admit my tests have not been very extensive, I only tested following four scenarios on a physical machine which originally had Windows 10 PRO x64 UK English version 1607 build 14393 (in all tests I skipped the product key when prompted). After each test I restored a system image to be sure all tests could be compared, starting situation being the same.

    Test scenarios 1 & 3 were done being all the time connected to network / Internet, tests 2 & 4 are otherwise identical scenarios as 1 & 3 only difference being they were made disconnecting machine from network only reconnecting network when new install finally arrived to desktop. All tests done creating initial user as local admin account instead of Microsoft account.

    • Test 1:
      • Clean installed Windows 10 PRO x64 EN-UK version 1607 replacing original installation but not wiping HDD, booting to Audit Mode from OOBE, did some basic desktop customisations, sysprepped and finalised setup resulting fresh clean installed Windows with Windows.old folder containing the previous installation allowing roll back to previous installation if needed
    • Test 2:
      • Same as Test 1. but network disconnect until installation was done
    • Test 3:
      • Clean installed Windows 10 PRO x64 EN-UK version 1607 replacing original installation wiping HDD empty, booting to Audit Mode from OOBE, did some basic desktop customisations, sysprepped and finalised setup resulting fresh clean installed Windows with no possibility to roll back to previous installation
    • Test 4:
      • Same as Test 3. but network disconnect until installation was done

    In tests 1 & 3 Windows was automatically activated as soon as the initial user was signed in to desktop. In tests 2 & 4 activation status was shown as not activated 15 minutes after reconnecting network at which point machine was rebooted. After reboot Windows was shown as activated immediately when on desktop, in both scenarios.

    I know that's not extensive but it's enough for me to say I really can't replicate your issue.

    I'm online all weekend, do not hesitate to post whatever results you get when trying to fix this

      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  4.    4 Days Ago #523

    Hey Karl quick update checked the two machines today still the same, could not activate error try again later - ran a new install sysprep image (Same version ) on another machine and it was activated as soon as it loaded.

    So I re-imaged the two machines I had problems with and they worked fine after restarting all 22 PC's back up and running with new software and fully updated - I ran the windows update after install and despite it being the newest release there was a large update for the 1607. guess there was a clitch in the matrix...

    I used the offline Admin added account image and they all worked fine - just had to install the latest version of avast for business.

    The only odd thing was even though I had set the lock screen under GPE it still showed the windows slideshow - I had to disable the setting set it to the image I wanted and it worked for all the computers appart form two of the computers which still show the slideshow or whatever microsoft call it (changing images randomly and asking if you like it) even though I have set the image and set the use specific lock screen in GPE.

    So thanks again for a great tutorial - next time I will run the update on the pre sysprep image save some time.

    thank you
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  5. Kari's Avatar
    Posts : 10,025
    Windows 10 Pro
       4 Days Ago #524

    @MikeNomad I am happy everything is OK.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

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